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Meet Council Candidates Oct. 10 at Beach & Tennis Club

Voters are invited to a free public forum to hear from the seven candidates running for Lake Forest City Council.

Want to meet the citizens who could be Lake Forest's newest city officials come winter? Here's your chance.

Hear directly on Oct. 10 from the seven candidates running in the November election for two seats on the Lake Forest City Council at "Meet the Candidates' Night," hosted by the Lake Forest I Community Association.

It will be the first such candidates' forum hosted by the Lake I association. Since the city's incorporation, the Lake II association has regularly hosted election-year events.

Doors will open at the Lake Forest Beach & Tennis Club, 22921 Ridge Route Dr., at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 10, for the free forum. Light refreshments will be provided.

From 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., candidates will have the chance to respond to a series of questions from the moderator, Lake Forest Patch editor Sarah de Crescenzo.

Before the forum officially gets underway at 6:30 p.m., attendees will be invited to write down questions for specific candidates that may be used for a subsequent question-and-answer session, as time allows.

All seven candidates have RSVPed "yes" to the event.

TELL US IN THE COMMENTS: What questions do you want to hear answered at "Meet the Candidates' Night"?

Merijoe Axe September 27, 2012 at 12:14 AM
1. What is being done for the homeless population and where are they? 2. what are the thoughts on use of e-verify? 3. what is the city doing to encourage more buisness in Lake Forest?
Sarah de Crescenzo (Editor) September 27, 2012 at 12:54 AM
Merijoe, thanks for the input!
Myna B September 28, 2012 at 05:27 PM
What is your position on elected council members, such as yourselves, receiving retirement benefits and medical plan coverage at a cities expense, while serving for a four year term?
Merijoe Axe September 29, 2012 at 01:09 AM
1- I would like to know if Jerry from the planning commission is related to Kathy Zechmeister, if so, this seems like a conflict as any appeals get bumped up from the planning committee to city council and any ideas having to do with anything that has to go to planning committee could be influenced. I hope media will be covering this forum on 10/10
Merijoe Axe September 29, 2012 at 01:11 AM
Thanks Sarah, will you be covering this forum? Request that other media sources are on hand for this, as well.
Sarah de Crescenzo (Editor) September 29, 2012 at 04:06 AM
Merijoe, I'm actually acting as moderator for the forum, so I'll definitely be there. Lake Forest Patch will have complete coverage of the event up on the site for those who can't make it.
Sarah de Crescenzo (Editor) September 29, 2012 at 04:11 AM
Myna, thanks for the suggestion!
Jim Gardner September 30, 2012 at 10:57 PM
Hi Myna, I'm not in favor of city council members accepting retirement benefits and medical coverage whether they serve 4 years or 20 years. When elected I shall accept neither.
Jim Gardner September 30, 2012 at 10:59 PM
Hi Merijoe FYI - Jerry is Kathy's husband.
Merijoe Axe October 04, 2012 at 09:30 PM
Thank you moderator Sarah, please be sure to ask har hitting questions of everyone, I'd not only like to hear what they respond with, I'd like to see their body language as they respond. I am posting flyers for this event and have posted an event for it on facebook. The OC register advised me that they are coming out to it also, I will confirm closer to the date. I hope other media sources come out too. M
David Herzberg October 10, 2012 at 04:32 PM
The vast majority of residents who live in Portola Hills are very much against the new 4 way signaled controlled intersection proposed for Saddleback Ranch Road - to be located just 450 feet up from current Glenn Ranch intersection. This location right now is the most traffic congested area in Portola Hills. This new intersection is designed to serve only the 280 new homes in the new Portola Center development - it serves absolutely no purpose for the existing community - but if built, it will dramatically impact the over 2000 current Portola Hills households that use Saddleback Ranch Road as their primary route in and out of the community. This intersection is proposed by the developer Baldwin and Sons Co. and currently supported by the City of Lake Forest as their preferred alternative on current site maps for Portola Center. I would like to know very clearly where the candidates stand on this issue - are they for it or are they against this new intersection?
Gary Martin October 10, 2012 at 05:02 PM
I'm a very strong advocate for term limits. I talked to so many people that agree that it's almost a crime that most of the current LF City Council members have been sitting on the board for 20 years! It's wrong and it needs to change. Jim Gardner and others have asked why would someone spend close to $40,000 to campaign for a $650 a month position ...makes you wonder and want to ask so many questions. Too many negative results have happened with other cities that don't have term limits (and Washington too) So, please ask all seven candidates how they feel about term limits? Thank you
Merijoe Axe October 10, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Excellent question Gary, I sure would like an answer to this by not only ALL the candidates, but from Hertzog too.
Jim Gardner October 10, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Hi Gary, I am in favor of term limits. Specifically no one should sit for more than 2 consecutive terms and no more than 3 total terms. I will introduce this when elected, and even if this is not approved (which it probably won't be since the current city council members try to serve forever), I will abide by these guidelines.
Jim Gardner October 10, 2012 at 05:23 PM
Hi Dave, The real issue is "how can we stop the Traffic Tsunami and slow down the development until the rest of the traffic problems in Portola and in our city are solved, or at the very least, improved dramatically". This is where our efforts should be directed. That being said, from my understanding of the situation, this appears to be a bad design, but it seems to be the cheapest way the developers can handle the problem. Given that developers have paid thousands of dollars to city council members election committees, generally speaking, developers get to do it their way. I'm not an urban planner, but it seems to me that a better alternative could be offered. This, of course, is the crux of my original position. There are traffic problems RIGHT NOW in Portola (and elsewhere) so it's crazy to be talking about squeezing in 930 more homes up there and 3,000 new homes throughout the city. Let's slow down, correct the existing problems, and then plan for future developments.
Merijoe Axe October 10, 2012 at 09:47 PM
Gary, it's all about power and control. Another question regarding the 20 year people and you new candidates may want to note this, Why do we keep voting them back in office?
LakeForest Lifer October 14, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Soooo, Mr. Gardner. If the landowner already has the right to develop, with a legally binding contract in hand, how do we stop him without ending up like Mammoth Lakes where they tried to do the very same thing? They got sued in court, lost, and now have had to file for bankruptcy (not to mention all the legal expenses in trying to defend themselves). Your words sounds so sweet: "stop the traffic tsunami", "lets slow down". How do we do this without ending up in the soup? Is eminent domain the option?
Jim Gardner October 14, 2012 at 09:43 PM
Hi Lifer, I never said that we should stop the development process. If we did we would have the problem you are talking about. The city made an error in planning to add 3,000 new homes to our city, but it's an error we have to live with. But let's make the best of a bad situation. I advocate slowing down the process as much as possible to fix the existing traffic problems we have before we add 10,000 + new cars. In all fairness to the developers, we should let them know this right now so that they don't put more money into the projects and they can slow down with us. The research done is faulty. A host of factors were not considered. This has come up time and time again. But let's not resort to filing lawsuits and costing everyone a lot of money. Let's sit down with the developers, agree to slow things down as much as possible, halt everything we can, and if a project is so far along, let's be absolutely sure that the infrastructure is ready for it. It's the tsunami I am trying to stop, not development. Development can be a good thing, but not here and not now. Let's solve our traffic problems first, then slowly move forward.
LakeForest Lifer October 14, 2012 at 11:19 PM
Mr Gardner, I'm still not understanding your ideas. "The city made an error in planning to add 3,000 new homes to our city" - you would have preferred the original plan of commercial industrial? "we should let them know this right now so that they don't put more money into the projects and they can slow down with us" - you think a developer doesn't know his property rights? And what motivation does hes have to slow down? "The research done is faulty. A host of factors were not considered." - I'm sure you don't mean for this to sound like campaign rhetoric, so what research is faulty? And what factors do you believe the city has not considered?
Jim Gardner October 15, 2012 at 01:25 AM
Lifer, If you go back through my blogs about "traffic tsunami" and the blogs and comments about the Portola project you will see that many things were omitted from the studies. Do your homework and you will find them. Based on these errors of omission and comission and oversight, some of these projects, if properly challenged, could be shut down until proper research is done. I'm not advocating that, but rather that the city and the developers work out an agreement not to over stress the city with 3,000 new homes before the city is ready.
LakeForest Lifer October 15, 2012 at 01:30 AM
Mr. Gardner, for the sake of time (and the fact these are your writings) could you point me to the citations you want me to reference. I really want to understand what you are calling omissions and oversights. The more specific you can be the better.
Jim Gardner October 15, 2012 at 02:28 PM
Lifer, Many of the comments come from other people and you will find them in the comment sections and the news reports about the Portola project. The one I remember best was a man who reported that some of their research on the animal life in the area to be developed was seriously flawed. With regard to my own comments, off the top of my head, I do not recall consideration of (a) the impact of the Great Park on traffic in Lake Forest, and especially along the Trabuco and Portola corridors, (b) the impact of the school traffic re-alignment to accommodate the new children that come with the 3,000 new homes, (c) the fact that public resources (e.g., DMV, Library, Post Office, Court House) are already fully utilized and 10,000 more people can only worsen a bad situation, and (d) current traffic problems in the City as a whole and the impact of the additional traffic on the city, not just the specified areas. Each of these issues stand alone as significant. I know from your previous posts that you are a supporter of the current City Council. In fact because you choose to post anonymously, you may indeed be a member of the City Council. From their (or is it your) point of view, can you tell me how any of this development is going to help the traffic problems in our city? Do you really think we can accommodate 10,000 more cars on our roads the way they are? Is there something wrong with asking developers to slow down their work so that we are not overwhelmed?
LakeForest Lifer October 15, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Mr. Gardner, There you go again, making supposition and looking for ghosts. I don't believe in ghosts. Just because I happen to believe Lake Forest is a terrific city and does not suffer from the plethora of maladies you seem to believe exists, that does not make me a part of anything but our community. The reason for asking you such pointed questions is to enlighten myself as well as the community as to the accuracy of your statements. As a doctoral graduate, you know the importance of accurate references when writing. Proper citation is imperative to your argument. I believe the second paragraph of your Oct 15 posting tells me all I need to know. Your positions are based on unsubstantiated sources, anecdotes, and personal perspective. While each of us is entitled to our opinions, projecting them as "fact" is disingenuous. And as to your statement on slowing the growth: "From their (or is it your) point of view, can you tell me how any of this development is going to help the traffic problems in our city? Do you really think we can accommodate 10,000 more cars on our roads the way they are? Is there something wrong with asking developers to slow down their work so that we are not overwhelmed?", asking development to slow is like asking your child to not grow up. It's going to happen. My own research into our city staff and council show they ARE dealing with it - through urban planners and traffic engineers, both of which neither of us are.
Jim Gardner October 15, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Lifer, "You don't have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows" You don't need to be an urban planner to know that traffic in Lake Forest is a problem. It's the #1 problem raised by people in the City's bi-annual survey. I must have talked to 100 people in the last few months and all of them will tell you they are tired of waiting for green lights despite the fact that no opposing traffic is anywhere in sight. Or they can 't go from Rockfield to Portola without stopping many times for red lights. Or they are trying to go straight but are stuck in a right hand lane because there is no right hand turn lane. etc. etc. Now let's consider the "facts". Can you show me in the reports where the Great Park traffic has been factored in? where the school realignment has been factored in? where the impact on public resources has been factored in? etc. This is what you asked for (re-read your request) and this is what I gave you. I said I believed these were errors of omission, and maybe I missed them when I reviewed these reports so I was hoping you would come back and show me where these were covered and I could review them. I read so much and these reports are so long and complicated it's possible I missed them. We'd both be better served if you pointed out how the reports identified these issues and showed how they would be effectively mitigated. Lake Forest is a good place to live, but that doesn't mean it can't be better.

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