First the Bark; Now the Bite

by on December 1, 2012

It appears the World’s Most Expensive Dog Park might be approved Monday by three members of the Mission Viejo City Council. They have selected December 3 as prime time for this controversial item – after the election and while the taxpaying citizens are distracted with the holidays.  In government-speak that’s known as “agenda management.”

Agendas aren’t revealed until three business days before a meeting, but supporters of this million-dollar pet project were tipped off by City Hall a couple weeks ago. They have been mobilizing their we-don’t-care-how-much-it-costs group to write emails and appear at Monday’s 6 p.m. Council meeting.

Hopefully the group’s dogs are less vicious than their masters, who have been calling opponents dog-haters. Project detractors, many of whom are dog owners, say they dislike the ridiculous and embarrassing cost, not the idea of a dog park.

The barkers have politicians backed against the wall. Only Councilwomen Cathy Schlicht and Rhonda Reardon have stood for fiscal common sense on this issue. The dog park lobby tried hard, but failed, to defeat Schlicht in last month’s election.

The City has already spent $230,000 in study and design costs, which is more than other cities have spent for a complete dog parks. On Monday the Council will be asked to take an $860,000 bite from City funds. Construction would begin after a bid is awarded in March.

Ury’s litter of political supporters is trying to justify the extravagance by claiming it will be paid from about $8 million in recreational fees the City generated from developers. The builders agreed to pay in exchange for zoning change approvals for permitting high density housing. Supporters are contending the dog park will therefore not be paid by taxpayers, but like any other revenue source, that money belongs to taxpayers. In addition, the $5 million Tennis Center renovation and the additional upcoming repairs and remodeling to the Nadadores Swimming Complex will already far exceed that $8 million. 

City Hall has used a  shell game with developer fees to justify its continuing spending frenzy. City reserves have decreased by over $10 million in recent years, and Mission Viejo’s reserves are in worse condition than adjacent South County cities.

The six acre dog park would be located off Felipe road just south of Gilleran Park.


{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

F. Stephen Masek December 1, 2012 at 6:33 pm

This is a disgusting situation. Please attend the meeting to oppose the continued waste on such silly business. If anyone has not noticed, we just had an election which will lead to acceleration of the current economic decline, so this is about the worst time to be spending money on such things (if there is ever a good time for waste on projects which benefit just a tiny few, and on tremendously over-priced design, construction, and operation).

Kevin Glenn December 2, 2012 at 9:56 am

How long will we continue to ride the dog park merry go round? I am a dog lover, and a dog park opposer. Bring fiscal sanity to the politicians who continue to make senseless choices when it comes to prudent budgetary management of our community. Please attend the council meeting on 12/3 and let your voice be heard! Just ask my miniature schnauzer – even he knows that a DOG PARK IS NOT GOOD FOR MISSION VIEJO.

Margo Kutner December 2, 2012 at 10:16 am

Again, why can’t common sense prevail? If those voting for a dog park would simply keep it simple, like other cities, then we would/should have had one quite some time ago. It’s obvious that agendas other than an actual dog park are involved – politics at its worst. I’m very sorry that “the powers that be” continue to choose extravagance over substance.

Nancy Brown December 2, 2012 at 3:36 pm

…and we continue to be the laughing stock and no one cares! Another reason why I don’t say what city I live in unless I have to.

Pat Ruecker December 2, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Once again the idiots are driving the train and setting the fares. We love our dog, but we don’t need $$$$$ to take him for a run in the dog park. Reduce our debt and come up with a sensible park using existing property that is going unused – a suggestion made years ago that would cost about $1,000 for fencing! Good Grief – won’t these free spending elected people EVER get real with our money?

Back up Cathy and Rhonda and next time vote the other idiots out.

Ed Sachs December 3, 2012 at 10:08 am

How many of the folks that are opposed to this dog park voted for Ury and Buckman? I stated that if elected we would have a temporary dog park within the first year of my election and it would cost less for a permanent one than what we have already sunk in this pit already. The only leverage we citizens have is Dave Leckness. He is the only council member up for reelection in two years. Can enough pressure be put on Dave to get him to vote with Cathy and Rhonda?

Next you can stand by for electronic billboards in MV.

Deborah Ankeny December 3, 2012 at 11:36 am

Not sure just when this started to get out of control, but…the dogs really don’t care, guys! They just need a nice fence and room to run, some water and a plastic bag station. This amenity should not drain the MV budget. Let’s please, if we are going to have a park, keep it s.i.m.p.l.e!!!

Gaby Escobar December 4, 2012 at 10:56 am

Could we please be better stewards of the money we have. How can we be spending millions of dollars on a dog park? People already walk their dogs everywhere in Mission Viejo, without a problem, why do we need a dog park? Why such an expensive one? and like Deborah said, “…the dogs really don’t care…”

Georges Fair December 4, 2012 at 3:16 pm

Since according to Leckness the money is flowing into the City coffer like beer during the Munich oktoberfest, why can’t they (instead of spending it all) refund us some back …like the State did some years ago when they had a large surplus, if I recall correctly… or in the form of reduced Property Tax to the 33,000 or so homeowners if that’s what we have in the City. It would still leave sufficient reserves (17 Millions).

Hans Duncan December 19, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Those in favor of the park need to speak up. I want another opinion. How about pay for play at the park?

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