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Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

    Yesterday the Moulton Water District Trustees approved a price increase that will step prices up over the next three years.  The action will result in a $20 monthly hike in the average residential bill.  The Santa Margarita District is expected to approve similar increases at its meeting on July 8.

    On June 1 the average Moulton bill will surge from $37 to $43, or 16%.  On June 1 of 2010 and 2011 another $7, and then $8, will be imposed, respectively.  The raises amount to 57% inflation in water rates over the three year period.

    Last month the District also announced water use restrictions effective June 1 as part of its ‘Level 2’ shortage alert.  MV residents can irrigate yards only on Monday, Thursday and Saturday before 10 am or after 5 pm for periods not to exceed 15 minutes.  The rules prohibit washing driveways or other paved surfaces and ban washing vehicles unless by bucket or with a hose equipped with a positive water shut-off nozzle.

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I am so dissapointed in this decision I can barely find words.  I find the whole point of the Oso Creek Trail is to “escape” from the street traffic and to provide a small respite from the suburban sprawl that encroaches on our daily life – even in beautiful Mission Viejo.  I have, much to my dismay, a very limited knowledge of how our city government makes decisions, but I hope that they are able to reconsider this issue and keep the trail pure and simple without the blight these giant kisoks would bring.  I understand that the prospect of a grant is enticing – but at what cost to our beautiful city?  I urge the council to reconsider.  Sometimes simple is best.

Kim Baley

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Oso Trail Kiosk    Let’s say the federal government offers to put a 13-foot tall monument in your backyard.  They’ll pay $50,000 of the $60,000 cost if you’ll contribute $10,000.  The height and nature of the design can’t be changed, and the structure may conflict with the natural setting, but you can place information on the monument describing the foliage in your yard or post other self-congratulatory information for guests to peruse.  Deal?

    Commissioners took the deal Monday, on behalf of taxpayers, by approving the installation of the controversial 13-foot tall ‘kiosks’ in MV’s backyard, Oso Creek Trail.  The vote was 6-1. 

    The City Council approved the kiosks last month but then ran into unhappy feedback from some residents who use the trail.  At a subsequent meeting the Council decided to refer the matter to the Community Services Commission, with Mayor Ury hinting something smaller might be more acceptable.   

    Chairman Brian Skalsky, an appointee of Cathy Schlicht and himself a hiker, opposed the injection of the large structures into the natural setting on the Trail in Mission Viejo’s backyard.  “I felt the 13 ft signs were not appropriate for the area and a more scaled down size would be appropriate,” he said.  

    Business signs are limited to less than half that height in the commercial parts of town.

    Other Community Service Commissioners seemed swayed by staff’s opinion that the kiosks could not be redesigned, nor the money used for an alternate purpose, because the federal grant was predicated on a specific proposal and drawings.  They also didn’t want to give up the ‘free’ money.  The grant is for $285,000 and the City will ante up $40,000. [Thank ’em or Spank ’em]

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Sheep   Mission  Viejo  High’s  Future Farmers program has parted with three sheep raised by students.  The animals were exported to San Diego, not for their wool, but for their propensity to eat weeds, according to Wine Tasting San Diego

    The Eagles Nest Winery and Cottage doesn’t use herbicides or chemicals, so the three male Olde English Southdown Babydoll Sheep help the vines stay healthier and produce more wine.  The Babydoll sheep are docile and about the size of a medium sized dog.

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Jeronimo Cr Restoration    An Orange County environmental organization is gathering volunteers to help restore native habitat at Jeronimo Creek in Mission Viejo. 

    The Back to Natives organization will be assisting the Earth Resource Foundation in the effort. Back to Natives Restoration is dedicated to encouraging and actively participating in the restoration and conservation of Orange County and California wildlands, through education and restoration programs featuring native plants and biodiversity as a centralizing theme. 

    Volunteers will be doing weeding and general clean-up along the Creek near Pavion Park on Saturday, May 30th, from 9 am until noon.  For parking and directions, click here, or call 949-509-4787.

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    On Monday the Council seemed to signal a change in direction less than a month after approving final contracts and the bidding process for a $325,000 kiosk and sign project along Oso Creek Trail.  A series of 13-foot tall kiosks and large signage drew the ire of residents who wrote to the Mission Viejo Dispatch complaining the City was spoiling the natural beauty of the trail.

   It took less than five minutes for the Council to unanimously send the issue to the Community Services Commission for hearings and deliberation.  Cathy Schlicht voted against the proposal last month, but the vote was an about-face for the others.

   Frank Ury agendized the item, saying, “the change in the economy warranted the review,” and that he would like the Commission to consider “retasking [the money] for something a little bit more subdued in terms of size.” 

    Dispatch readers seemed to object to the existence of anything unnecessary along the trail, not for just a size reduction in kiosks from 13-feet to 6-feet, for example, so the Commission will need to sort it out. 

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The simple fact is that a bunch of gravel and scraggly bushes in a front yard is ugly. Grass is beautiful and I don’t mind paying an extra $10 a month to have an attractive looking front yard. (Re: Photo of Drought Resistant Yard)

Chris Colwell

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