This is the first in a two-part series on slope rehabilitation in Mission Viejo.
Rhonda Reardon, Mission Viejo’s newly installed mayor for 2013, has one thing in common with myself. She’s also a long-time city hall concerned citizen. Reardon and I, and in particular “watchdog´ Joe Holtzman, have advocated that more investment be allocated to the City’s infrastructure. As the City ages, more rehabilitation of our streets and landscaped slopes becomes a paramount issue.
Reardon encourages dialogue between concerned citizens and decision makers in City Hall, which had been missing in recent years. As mayor pro-tem she connected me with city engineers for a comprehensive report on the City’s shift toward more asphalt overlay of streets, which costs 10 times more than slurry sealing, which cannot cover up serious cracking and wearing of the pavement. Reardon and three concerned citizens who are retired or semi-retired engineers, participated in “street repair” meetings which included field tours of several streets.
And last month, Ms. Reardon set up and attended a comprehensive review of slope rehabilitation with Keith Rattay, assistant city manager and director of public works, and Jerry Hill, operations manager for the department of public works. We were joined by another concerned citizen, Dale Sandore, who has an extensive background in the nursery business.
My background is many years as a community journalist and publisher, including president of the Saddleback Valley News, and later as a business entrepreneur in the insurance industry.
I understood long ago that city government’s primary function must be to provide essential services not handled by other government entities. For Mission Viejo, that’s primarily public safety and infrastructure. Other essential services are provided by the state, county, utilities and water districts and other special taxing bodies.
When Mission Viejo incorporated in 1988, the new City of Mission Viejo inherited a huge responsibility taking over infrastructure from the Mission Viejo Company, which built our world-class planned community with 50 parks and miles of slopes to maintain. For the first 10 years, the City was primarily occupied overseeing the build-out of the planned community. But also infrastructure like traffic lights on busy parkways that rated low priority for the County of Orange, which governed the city prior to incorporation. The City also rehabilitated the Marguerite, Montanoso and La Sierra recreation centers.
In recent years our streets and slopes began showing their age. The landscaped slopes are not especially noticeable because even overgrown slopes are earthen colors and can give an overall calming ambience. But eventually they can become noticeably unsightly, and create hazards like trees falling on top of cars, top soil loss, and even slope failure.
I want to avoid a rant about what I consider City investment in nonessential or extravagant construction and services at the expense of infrastructure, which has been well documented in the Dispatch (celebrating its 5th anniversary this month). Instead, I hope to make a case for support of greater investment in slope rehabilitation.
In the second article I will follow up on the get-together with Reardon, Rattay, Hill and Sandore, including an inventory of slopes and rehabilitation work past, present and future.