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John Navarro, Dana Point

Below are my points and comments about Councilman Muller posting.

  1. Councilman Muller is characterizing the conversation in his terms when he says that the community has “implied” we are in financial straits, and he assures us “that this is not the case.”
  2. He also says that our general fund is 43 percent, 2.5 times the amount recommended. But are these empty statistics that don’t speak to the real problem? This would require deeper investigation and analysis than what Muller is providing.
  3. Councilman Muller also says that our budget will balance in FY 18 and FY 19. What he really means is revenue vs. expenses may balance. His interpretation doesn’t allow for capital accumulation for depreciation and future capital projects.
  4. Councilman Muller states that the option to cut expenses means cutting services he is unwilling to prioritize. Yes, it does mean making tough choices, but when there is a lot of overhead in salaries and contracts, the question is, are we getting what we need at a good value and reasonably price?
  5. Councilman Muller proclaims that the Lantern District “could” generate up to $1 million in property and sales tax revenue. This is a total overstatement; it is estimated that it will take a decade to build that district at which point it will only generate $600,000 per year.

While the above “could” be considered facts, these possibilities don’t take us to a solution.

The City Council must be proactive now and negotiate the best services, for the best value. This is a continuous improvement effort that should be integrated into the City Council’s never ending quest for the best services at the most valued rate.

Every line item on the budget should be challenged and have each justify why their budget shouldn’t be cut 15 percent starting now.

About the Lantern District

How can a prudently fiscal Councilman suggest that adding Lantern District expenses won’t drive the city further into debt? How will all this magic money show up on our door in 2020 when the projects haven’t started?

Prior to our moving to this great community, we stayed in an AirBnB east of PCH in the Lantern District. While we met very nice people, there were racing cars, people screaming at night, parties and lots of disturbance. Several nights we were awakened by loud music and parties.

Is this what we want more of when we go to the Lantern District? More noise, loud parties and more traffic?

No thanks, I’d rather have a Council that fights for our lifestyle and stands up to investors and investments that don’t serve our community interests. We need champions that are watchdogs with the budget.

Let’s stop playing the blame game by pointing to our Mayor. (Don’t shoot the messenger).

Let’s get to work on addressing the budget instead of “hoping” that we “could” receive revenue though the magic money of devaluing our lifestyle.

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comments (7)

  • Joe Navarro,

    Thank you for you well thought out letter. My greatest wish is for all DP residents to read your entire letter and understand what you have written. Most especially, your drawing attention to the Muller word, “implied”. Oh! my goodness, he was a lobbyist, his word are proving how lobbyists can change any meaning from the facts to fiction, and anything in between. Nothing will change Mr.Muller’s views, but we need to wake up and understand how we can be manipulated with words. I always say, caution, check the facts.

  • Long-Time Resident Reply

    I agree with you about the need for cutting expenses. However your letter contains a number of errors and omissions, a couple of which are:

    a) Your statement that our “balanced budget” doesn’t allow for capital accumulation for depreciation is wrong. Page 13 of the latest budget states, “This budget … stresses the importance of including investment in maintaining capital infrastructure …, with a total of over $4.9 million invested …”. In addition, we’re projected to have an operating surplus of $2.7 million in FY 2018 to cover any potential shortfall.

    b) Your comments on projected LD revenue aren’t correct or complete either. The Keyser Marsten report projected $673K in yearly revenue at full LD build out, not $600K. They also projected $4.45m in one time revenue to the city consisting of LD impact fees, Quimby act fees, and in lieu art in public places fees. So Mr Muller’s statement of up to $1 million in (yearly) revenue was actually correct, if you include the one time fees (coming in at the same rate) over your 10 year build out period figure.

    And good luck with your goal of curbing investments that will cut down on noise, traffic, and harm to our lifestyle. You’re about 30 years too late though.

    • And who says Keyser Marsen is correct. Alternative Facts Who paid for that report, and who was on the City Council when it was ordered?

      Just like Pat Bates and Bill Brough calling for an independent for an audit of SOCWA

      Now read the story. Who is making money here?

      Come ON LTR, you need to give some us more credit for doing our homework. I suppose you get through to the 34% who only read headlines.

      of By Eric Heinz

      Per a request by state Sen. Patricia Bates and Assemblyman Bill Brough, both of whom represent San Clemente and Dana Point, an independent audit of the financial procedures of the South Orange County Wastewater Authority (SOCWA) will be conducted.

      A legislative bipartisan committee approved the request on Wednesday, June 28.

      The request comes after the Moulton Niguel Water District, a participant of SOCWA, accused the district of having $1 million in unaccounted funds, a lack of transparency and other accusations, according to a press release from Moulton Niguel.

      But officials with SOCWA said Moulton Niguel has failed to make payments of about $900,000 for repairs on a water treatment facility in Laguna Beach, the Coastal Treatment Plant.

      “They haven’t paid their bills dating back more than one year,” said Steve Greyshock, a spokesperson for SOCWA. “Those members have been asking for a long time. After about a year, member agencies were forced to ask them to stop being delinquent. There are projects that are being delayed because there’s missing money. It’s vitally important that projects continue.”

      Greyshock said the Moulton Niguel district no longer requires the services of the plant and therefore did not want to pay for the repairs.

      “They’re basically asking to dissolve their contract and exit their agreement, and that’s fine, but other agencies are asking them to pay their bills,” Greyshock said.

      The SOCWA serves about 600,000 people in South Orange County, which includes San Clemente, Dana Point and San Juan Capistrano. Moulton Niguel currently owns about 30 percent equity of the treatment plant.

      Both parties appear to be eager to see the results of the audit. Greyshock said SOCWA welcomes it.

      A statement from Moulton Niguel also shows support of the financial review.

      “While the audit was met with ardent opposition by SOCWA, we are very pleased to see that the audit is moving forward,” said Joone Lopez, General Manager of the Moulton Niguel Water District. “We appreciate the tremendous support from Senator Bates, Assemblyman Brough and all of the JLAC members in advancing public transparency, fiscal accountability and effective governance.”

      According to the press release from Moulton Niguel, the audit is expected to take about six months.

      Share this:
      Senate Republican Leader Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) represents the 36th Senate District in the California Legislature, which covers South Orange County, North San Diego County and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

      Assemblyman William P. Brough represents California’s 73rd Assembly District in the Legislature, which includes the communities of Aliso Viejo, Coto de Caza, Dana Point, Ladera Ranch, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Las Flores, Mission Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano. Follow him on Facebook.

      • Long-Time Resident Reply

        Who says Keyser Marston is correct? Well Mr Navarro, the author of this letter, apparently does, because he (mis) quoted it.

        Do you even understand how KM’s methodology works? I doubt it, but if so please explain what part of it you disagree with.

  • In response to point 4. . To control cost we should consider lowering the capital expenditure budget for the Capo area. Numerous reports show that Capo receives 42% of the capital improvement budget (over the past 10 years) and yet the area only provides 15% of the revenue. Should we develop a small tax agency in Capo to raise funds for road and sewage repair work? Since the mayor is behind finding funds to cut, I sure hope she would look at the biggest piece that no one is talking about. It also would level the field with those in HOAs that pay monthly bills to cover their maintenance cost.

    • Bob, I agree with you. The residents of Capo are getting a sweet deal, 42% of the Cap Improvement Budget. Maybe the mayor can look into this issue, instead of cutting back services everyone wants (Concert in the Parks on Sundays, Police Services, Symphony, etc….). I think at that point some of those who scream the loudest, Capo Cares and Save DP, would finally see what a deal they are getting and why their anti-development attitude is hurting everyone. Plus, a small tax isn’t a bad thing, as long as it gets used in the right way.

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