After a pretty exciting city council meeting on Feb 5, in which Council members Nick and Herzog got into a verbal sparring match and former Council woman Rudolph referred to the three new council members as “babies”, this week’s public city council meeting promises to return to the days of watching paint dry.
The real action will take place before the 7:00 pm start of the public meeting. Behind closed doors the Council will consider the case of “Nick v. City of Lake Forest”, the case involving a lawsuit initiated by now Council member Adam Nick against the City for favoritism in helping a rival store obtain a liquor license. Councilman Nick has described the details of this case many times, so I’ll simply refer you to his own explanation if you want to read more.
The other closed session is a “conference” with two real estate companies who are now embroiled in a scandal involving payments to City Council members and also setting up a pseudonymous committee that funneled funds to be used for attack ads against then Council woman Rudolph and City Council candidate Anderson. The ads also promoted the candidacy of Council members Nick and Robinson, both of whom were subsequently elected, and both of whom subsequently voted to push forward the process for the two real estate companies in question. Though not technically illegal, neither the Council members nor the real estate companies chose to mention the financial arrangements, nor did the Council members decline to participate in the discussion and voting due to a conflict of interest (or, at the very least, the appearance of a conflict of interest). Details about this case have also appeared elsewhere and you can follow them by clicking here.
(FWIW – I will be covering this issue in excruciating detail in a few weeks in a revival of my popular series “Follow the Money”. Stay tuned)
So while we’d like to be a fly on the wall in those conversations, the public will be relegated to hearing about new provisions for emergency shelters and transitional housing, and a change to the speed limits in the City.
According to the City, to meet State requirements we must survey the need for emergency shelter, transitional, and supportive housing every few years, and currently we are at risk for losing funds if we don’t do a better job than we have in the past defining the who, what, where, and how we meet the needs. Because we are a relatively rich city, we tend to forget about the problems of homelessness. Few people are “on the street” in Lake Forest, and in 2011, the last time they counted, the City found only 2 people that were classified as “homeless”. From what I see the new proposals are merely window dressing and nothing substantive is actually planned.
If homelessness is not on people’s minds, traffic surely is, and item 9 on the agenda is a plan to change the speed limits in 13 of 120 road segments - 2 increases and 11 decreases. Most will be only 5 mph. The biggest change will be along Alton Pkwy where the posted speed will be reduced from 55 to 40. The city plans to spend $7500 to change the signs, in addition to the tens of thousands that were spent on the traffic study by Rick Engineering (a San Diego company). Apparently all of this needs to be done so that the City can issue traffic tickets without fear of them being dismissed because they were based on “speed traps”.
Of course, with the addition of more than 4,000 new homes (= 12,000 new people = 20,000 new cars, vans, and trucks on our streets every day) in the coming years, there really isn't any need for traffic studies or reduced speed limits. Traffic is going to come to a standstill all by itself.
One interesting aspect of the traffic study is an appendix that lists the accident history from 2009 to 2012 for the 120 roadway segments. Accident rate is based on accidents per 1,000,000 vehicle miles. Here’s some of the worst areas
Santiago Canyon Rd: Ridgeline to No City Limits – 5.23
Gowdy Ave: Cavanaugh to Freeway – 5.17
Cherry Ave: Crestbrook to Trabuco – 4.77
Osterman Rd: Regency to Pittsford -4.13
El Toro Rd: So City Limits to Rockfield – 3.28
El Toro Rd: Rockfield to Muirlands – 2.72
Cherry Ave: Jeronimo to Crestbrook – 2.50
Lake Forest Drive: So City Limits to Rockfield – 2.38
Serrano Rd: LF Drive to Ridge Rt – 2.07
Canada Rd: Rockfield to Aspan – 1.75
Canada Rd: Birenda to Dimension – 1.67
Alton Pkwy: El Toro to Northcrest Drive - 1.45
Alton Pkwy: SR241 to Towne Center Drive – 0.97
Bake Pkwy: Rue De Fortuna to LF Drive – 0.99