Letter to the Editor - La Times - March 5, 2000
by Dale Tyler
It is clear from a study of the initial report by the consultant hired by Mission Viejo that annexing either Ladera or Los Flores would have a negative impact on the citizens of Mission Viejo, unless the residents agree to massive tax increases to cover the costs to Mission Viejo taxpayers.
Of course, the consultant 'scrubbed' the report of the negative conclusions when Sherri Butterfield objected. Unfortunately for her, the original report was made available to the public prior to her attempts to hide the true facts from the people of Mission Viejo.
The problem with Mission Viejo annexing Ladera is primarily one of parks, police and money. Ladera was built to lower standards than Mission Viejo and has almost no parks for its resident's use. Mission Viejo, on the other hand, has many fine parks where youth leagues can play soccer, baseball and other sports. If we annex Ladera,
the already crowded sports fields will become even more so, because they would be using our parks, since they have very few of their own. The residents of Ladera paid less for their houses because they did not have the same level of amenities that we in Mission Viejo have and now Sherri Butterfield and Dan Joseph want to add them to Mission Viejo to increase their own authority and power. Ask these two about the number of employees they will have to hire and the increase in the city budget to handle the new area.
Policing is a similar problem. Ladera and Mission Viejo are separated by a strip of land with few roads that cross it. This will make it difficult for police in what is now Mission Viejo to get to calls for service in Ladera. Likewise, if several police units are in Ladera, they won't be able to quickly return to Mission Viejo if help is needed there.
As to the money, Ladera is mostly houses, condos and apartments. It has little retail or commercial tax base to help pay their fair share. In Mission Viejo, we have a large mall, with all of the traffic it creates, that should be giving our city some revenue (It would have if our city council had not given the developer a rebate of much of the sales and property taxes they owe and a $85 million dollar loan besides). Lacking a retail/commercial base, the residents of Ladera would have to greatly increase their own property taxes to pay their fair share of the costs of running a combined Mission Viejo/Ladera city. Of course, it is unlikely they will agree to do so, preferring to have current Mission Viejo taxpayers carry the burden.
Ladera was built as a separate community and should stay that way. For information on community issues within Mission Viejo, take a look at http://www.missionviejoca.org