Introducing San Juan Capistrano City Council Candidates Dr. Roy Byrnes And Kim McCarthy
Posted by Greg Woodard on October 23, 2012
From the tip of South County in San Clemente, we move up the 5 North a bit to San Juan Capistrano, home of the beautiful and historic Mission San Juan Capistrano (Orange County’s only mission), and the amazing annual return of the swallows. SJC has two open seats, and we now introduce you to two council candidates: Dr. Roy Byrnes and Kim McCarthy. Ginny Kerr and council member Sam Allevato also are running and they sought the Orange County Republican Party’s endorsement. However, I made multiple attempts to contact Allevato and received no response, while Kerr has been out-of-town and unavailable.
Dr. Roy Byrnes
Roy previously served on the City Council from 1972-1976 and he is running again because he feels that the City Council has taken the wrong direction in the last few years. He believes there has been a focus on spending where the residents have been misled, and that the water reclamation plant has resulted in higher costs to the residents.
Roy feels that the city has to better manage its public parkland. For example, the 132-acre “riding park” the city bought has been leased to a commercial venture and the residents cannot even use it for hiking, picnicking, walking dogs, or any of the uses the public typically has for parks. Roy said the purchase of the riding park was done in secret, based on cronyism, and in disregard of any potential or existing conflicts of interest. Roy said he would study the documents relating to the park to analyze what the city’s position is from a legal standpoint, and explore if there is any way to address the public’s lack of access.
Roy also noted the problems with the city’s water reclamation plant. He said that the city had been buying water from the Metropolitan Water District (“MWD”) for 100+ years, but that in the last 15-20 years there was a movement within the city to build the existing groundwater recycling plant. Roy believes that the plant was poorly designed, resulting in water that costs the residents double what it costs to purchase the water from MWD. Roy noted that the plant is owned by the San Juan Basin Authority, a group comprised of local South County water districts. He said that the city is bearing the sole cost, approximately $2 million per year, to operate the plant for the next 25 years and he believes the Authority should bear some of the cost. Roy believes in a three-pronged approach to deal with the water rate problem. First, he wants the city to buy water from the cheapest source. Second, he wants to stop tiered water rates that punish residents for higher water usage, and currently have been challenged in the courts. Third, Roy believes that the contractual relationship with the Authority is flawed and, like with the riding park, he wants to have the city’s attorneys go through the documents to see what the city’s legal obligations are and if they can change the contract in any way. Roy believes that a small city like San Juan Capistrano should pursue options with other partners to solve its water problems.
Roy has no specific information on compensation for city employees. He is concerned about the growing trend in California of high public employee compensation and benefits in general. He noted that the city recently required new employees to pay for their pension costs, but they were given a raise to offset those costs. Roy said that if he is elected, he will gather data related to employee compensation and work with other council members to determine fair compensation and benefits.
Roy said that the city is built out, and there is not too much open space that would be appropriate for new development. The city decided years ago to become more of a bedroom community, avoiding excessive commercial and industrial uses, which Roy noted means lower sales taxes and limited development potential. He said that the residents also want the city to acquire and maintain large open spaces and parks for public use. Roy wants to maintain that quality of life, but he recognizes the difficulty with raising the funds necessary to maintain those parks. Roy said he chooses to take a middle-of-the-road approach with a balance between excessive development and the need for city revenue to support the city’s services and activities.
Roy has been endorsed by the Orange County Register and the Family Action PAC. Roy believes in organizational endorsements but feels individual endorsements from politicians may present a conflict of interest when he is making decisions on the council and he is seeking small contributions from residents instead.
You can get more information about Roy at http://www.commonsense4sjc.com/.
Kim is running for City Council to fix the traffic problems in the city, pay down the debt, and fix how the groundwater plant is run.
Kim feels that the current council has no overall plan for the city. She mentioned the “ghost train” at Del Obispo where she says the city spend more than $1 million on a train crossing, but the traffic arms often come down with no train in sight. She wants to take the defective crossing out. Kim also noted that the current council tried to fix the 5 freeway exit at Rancho Viejo and Junipero Serra, but she thinks they only made it worse, so they are trying to fix it yet again. She also stated that the 5 freeway has an onramp at Stonehill and Camino Capistrano, but no offramp. Kim believes that the town is a “door mat” for traffic from Dana Point and Laguna Niguel, and that an offramp at Stonehill/Camino Capistrano would help alleviate some of that traffic. Kim feels that the traffic problems are the result of self-inflicted city mismanagement. She said that several residents have written to the Capistrano Common Sense (her publication) suggesting ways to fix the traffic problems, and she would entertain resident input in evaluating how to address the city’s traffic issues.
Kim would stop gifting money to everyone to address the city’s debt (Kim said the debt is over $110 million for a city of 38,000). She stated that the city gifted $560,000 to a downtown development plan, and $44,000 for a dog park. She believes the city is addicted to grant money for the underserved. As an example, she said that the city put up bus shelters on Camino Capistrano in downtown with some grant money, but the city also had to chip in $66,000 of its own money. She also said they put solar panels on top of the shelters, but that the shelters are located under trees. According to Kim, the city council recently gifted approximately $300,000 in several different decisions that she believes should have been used to pay off the debt on the old dance hall. Kim does not want to spend money unless it is necessary for infrastructure or other vital city issues.
Kim wants to buy water from the cheapest source. She said that they currently have a failing groundwater recovery plant that she wants to fix.
Kim believes that the city, with over 100 employees, has too many positions for a city of 38,000. She stated that the groundwater plant employs 23 people at an average of $100,000 in compensation and benefits. She also noted that the city has a fleet of cars that are unnecessary. Kim would look at outsourcing positions after reviewing the entire staff and their performance. She would eliminate unnecessary positions and consider part-time positions where appropriate.
Kim said that the city is built out and needs to address the traffic and infrastructure problems before considering any future development.
Kim is endorsed by, among others, the Orange County Register, the Family Action PAC, South Orange County Republican Assembly, and she will not take any money from special interests, but only residents.
You can get more information about Kim at http://www.commonsense4sjc.com/.