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Archive for November, 2007

    Cities, like disgraced politicians and wayward celebrities, can hire companies to create PR strategies to re-cast their image.  The City Council is poised to buy “re-branding” and “re-imaging” for Mission Viejo – even though the City is already known as The California Promise and America’s Safest City.    

    A consulting company, brandStrata, has a series of “First Steps” to sell the Council on Monday evening.  The glossy plan is designed around three ‘tag’ words for the city, “Gracious-Esteemed-Harmonious.”  The concept includes a plan for Downtown and Neighborhood Redevelopment, a City Signage and Wayfinding System (to create unique identities for different areas of town), a Positioning Statement (to create a competitive advantage over neighboring cities), and a new “logo launch.”  The projected outcome envisions an “emotional connection” between families, businesses, and the City. 

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    On  Monday the Council will entertain a proposal opening the door to a ‘Mixed Use’ environment in Mission Viejo.  Mixed Use is the modern mantra by urban planners seeking to increase density by stacking residential, retail, and office uses on the same parcels.  In addition, these projects typically include affordable housing, higher rise buildings, parking structures and an acceptance of longer walking distances with less closeby parking. 

    The Council will consider an ordinance for mixed use zoning which could be “overlaid” onto existing commercial centers.  The large shopping plaza at Marguerite and LaPaz, across from the Library, appears to be a primary target.  Councilmen Ury and MacLean seem particularly enamored with creating city power to implement urbanized redevelopment under such an ordinance.  Other centers and strip malls have also been mentioned; for example, Plaza del Lago, at the lake. 

    Rezoning for mixed use and higher density can create windfall profits for real estate investors, developers and construction companies, so a strong statewide lobby exists promoting mixed use.  Side affects can include increased population, more traffic, more commercial signage and adverse impacts on schools.

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Click here for substantial update to the Roundabout Letter . . .

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Passing: Maye Russ

    Maye Russ passed away last night at her home in Casta del Sol.  Maye earlier served the retirement community as its liason to city hall.  She was a long-serving member of the City’s Senior Community Activity Team (SCAT) and past member of the Board of Directors for the Casta Homeowners Association.  When not serving in an official capacity she considered herself an independent activist seeking to improve the thriftiness and competence of elected officials.  Prior to moving to California, Maye owned a personnel agency for 20 years specializing in the placement of college-educated women.  She succumbed to cancer at age 86.  A memorial service will be announced in January.    

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    On October 22 the Planning Commission received an outpouring of residents protesting a proposed cellular antenna in Gilleran Park.  The Commission received a petition with 85 signatures, 21 emails, and several public comments.  There were no statements from the public supporting the proposed T-Mobile antenna. 

    Residents throughout the city have become increasingly concerned about cellular antennas near places where children play or congregate; and about aesthetic impacts.  The Commission denied the antenna application.  

    On November 19 Councilman Lance MacLean filed an appeal on behalf of T-Mobile seeking to reverse the Commission’s decision.  The appeal could be heard by the City Council on January 7.

    Among other findings, the Commission determined the proposed antenna and related equipment were not consistent with the nature of the recreational use of Gilleran Park and would not enhance the scenic character of the park or nearby residential area.  In addition, the panel concluded alternative sites were not explored and no significant gap existed in T-Mobile’s cell coverage along the corridor.     

    Federal law prohibits local governments from considering the health aspects of radio frequency (RF) radiation when deliberating cell antennas which will be placed at least 30 feet above ground.

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Letter: Dog Parks

    Our family owns two yellow labradors that love the Oso trail and numerous city parks and green belts where we exercise them (and us). We are very lucky to have as much green space in our city as we do to walk/run our dogs. The comments that I have received from various veterinarians is that dog parks are just not a safe or healthy place to exercise your dog. I too would much rather see that $1M used for infrastructure maintenance.

Barbara Anderson

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    On Monday evening the Planning Commission approved (3-1-1) a new cellular antenna for installation on an existing fake pine tree on the property of the Church of Christ at 26558 Marguerite Parkway.  The application was submitted on behalf of cellular service provider Metro PCS.  T-Mobile and Sprint currently have antennas on the same ‘monopine’ pole.

    The Commission amended the staff recommendation to require 1) disclosure to parents of children at the school on the property, 2) a mesh covering over the 6-panel array, and 3) proof of testing by the applicant following installation. 

    The item was opposed by Commissioner Rick Sandzimier who disagreed with findings that the nature and operating characteristics of the church and school property were compatible and harmonious with the installation of the cellular antenna.  He was also concerned placing too many arrays on a single monopine could diminish aesthetics.  Commissioner Dave Leckness recused himself due to an affiliation with the church’s school.  The application was approved by Commissioners Schweinberg, Atkinson, and Beauchamp.

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