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Agenda 2013—New Business

Here are some old problems that need solving by the new City Council

In a previous article we looked at seven measures that should be instituted in 2013 to make Lake Forest a leader in the movement to make government more transparent, a movement endorsed by the majority of Council members. Today we’ll look at some of the major challenges confronting the City and suggest some additional measures that should be taken in 2013.

I've labeled this subject "new business" but in fact it is very very old business that hasn't been dealt with. Hopefully this new Council will work on these issues.

Traffic

Everyone knows traffic is a problem and with the short-sighted decisions by the previous City Council to add 4,000+ more homes and more than 20,000 new cars, trucks, and vans into a city already choking on traffic, we know this problem is only going to worsen. See our previous articles if you need more convincing.

There seems to be universal acknowledgment that we need better planning for traffic. Several people recommended this in the recent campaign:

Adam Nick: “I will also take measures to improve our roads and traffic.”

Dwight Robinson: “I want to create a Traffic Commission, solely focused on improving traffic congestion.”

Let’s go ahead and create the traffic commission. Many other cities have one, including Laguna Hills, Westminster, Orange, Encinitas, Torrance, Los Alamitos, etc.

One might also consider a “working group” inside the Planning Commission if the creation of a full blown commission requires too much paperwork and will take too long to get going (The old City Council was notorious for taking too long to do just about anything). This working group might eventually grow into a commission but could “hit the ground” more quickly.

Term Limits

Just about everyone is in favor of term limits. Following the 2012 candidate forum, The Patch reported “Each of the candidates said they would consider some type of term limit except for Rudolph…” And we all know what happened to Rudolph.

Our neighbors in Laguna Hills (LH) went through the long, tedious, and expensive process of putting it on the ballot. Let’s spare ourselves the pain. The LH ballot limited office holders to two consecutive terms and then required them to take at least two years off before continuing.  That seems OK to me. Let’s get the process started. Do I hear a motion?

Business

In the last election, most people recognized that the City wasn’t doing enough to promote our own people and businesses. Dwight Robinson campaigned on the basis that “he knows how to create jobs”. Adam Nick was even more specific. His vision included the following -

“Establish a “Lake Forest Comes First” program whereby when all other things equal, the business that is located in Lake Forest is awarded the contract assuming a qualified contractor is available in the city and they have submitted a proposal for consideration.”

Getting this done will not be so difficult. I suggest that the City ask the Chamber of Commerce to set up a “working group” to work with the City on developing the nuts and bolts of such a program. Their mission: To spend more of our money on people and businesses in our city. Do I hear a motion?

Dog Park

According to the Chinese, this is the “Year of the Snake”, but I’m inclined to think it’s the “Year of the Dog.” Last week the OC Register asked its viewers to indicate what they wanted from their cities in the new year. Though this isn’t a scientific poll, it does have some information worthy of note. Here’s what Lake Forest residents asked for


• Dog Park – 85 percent
• Humane animal shelter – 38 percent
• Improved traffic management – 23 percent

In my previous article about dog parks, I noted that “Nearly half the cities in Orange County have their own dog park. Eight cities with fewer people than Lake Forest nonetheless have a dog park.”

Most of the people running in the last election favored a dog park. Our new City Council member Dwight Robinson even mentioned a dog park in his comments upon taking office.

Let’s go ahead and establish a “working group” under the Parks and Recreation Commission to study the issue and report back, within three months, on the best way to proceed. I’ve already outlined my idea for “pocket parks” which I think is the best way to proceed, but let’s see what the new working group comes up with. Do I hear a motion?

Summary

Here are some steps the new Council can take to address the challenges we all acknowledge are waiting for solutions.


1. Make Local Government More Transparent
2. Help solve the traffic problems by setting up a Traffic Commission or a “Working Group on Traffic” within the Planning Commission
3. Introduce Term Limits
4. Help local businesses by setting up a “Lake Forest Comes First” program in coordination with the Chamber of Commerce.
5. Set up a “Working Group to Establish Dog Park(s)” within the Parks and Recreation committee. 

These are old problems that have been out there for decades. Let's move forward and put them behind us.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Dennis Fletcher January 11, 2013 at 10:18 PM
Transparency....its all about Transparency. The more that columns like Gardner's exist, and people like JustUs call a spade a spade, the closer we just might get to it. Attending City Council meetings on a regular basis as citizen watch dogs wouldn't hurt either.
JustUs January 11, 2013 at 10:23 PM
Thanks, Dennis. I am glad you are on our side.
Dennis Fletcher January 13, 2013 at 09:49 AM
Definitely on your side JustUs. The more we participate in City Council matters, the better it will be for understanding how our city is being run.
Omolu January 14, 2013 at 04:23 PM
Hi Dr Gardner. Thanks again for another great article. Of the 5 things you list, do you have a priority order in mind? Here is my preference 1. Transparency 2. Dog park 3. Lake Forest First 4. Traffic 5. Term limits
Jim Gardner January 14, 2013 at 06:27 PM
Hi Omalu, Good question. If I had to separate my own needs from what I think the greater needs of the community are, my list for the city would be - 1. Transparency 2. Lake Forest First 3. Traffic 4. Dog Park 5. Term Limits For me personally, since I am retired and have 2 dogs, my list would be 1. Dog park 2. Lake Forest First 3. Traffic 4. Transparency 5. Term limits I think term limits has less importance now that we have seen 2 long time council members defeated and another retired. In the "old days" council members had the joint advantage of name recognition and money since they were funded by special interest groups. But now that "outside" money is making such a difference, sitting council members no longer have a monetary advantage, and thanks to The Patch and increased media scrutiny, name recognition now cuts both ways. At this point term limits is more symbolic than necessary.

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