Shari L. Horne, Mayor Pro Tem of the City of Laguna Woods and a Laguna Woods Village resident, was our guest speaker at the Friends of the Village General Meeting, Friday, April 22, at 2 pm in Rooms 2 and 3 of the Village Greens/19 Restaurant Building. She updated us on “The State of the City.”
Following Mayor Horne’s overview on the state of the city, audience members were invited to participate in an open question-and answer-session. The meeting was open to all residents and their guests without charge. Club membership was available for new or renewing members. $15/1 and $20/2 for the year.
Following are meeting notes by Mary Lopata, FOV Publicity Chair.
Meeting opened by President Catherine Brians
Opening remarks welcomed all in attendance, informed FOV website is up and running although still being tweaked. Received good reviews of last meeting by guest speaker, Village Management Systems, Inc. (VMSI) CEO Brad Hudson, who was impressed with caliber of questions. Looking into change of meeting room back to CH 3 so that we can have snacks.
May 27 General Meeting will be about shared costs; we have confirmed Cynthia Conners will speak and Betty Parker, the Finance Chair of VMSI, will have a Power Point presentation.
June 24 General Meeting looking to get new VMS IT person (Chuck Holland) to talk about communication in the Village.
July 22 General Meeting subject is Clubhouse 2. Thought it would be completed but now looking at August. Friends of the Village will extend an invitation to Judith Troutman (GRF Board Member coordinating renovation) to speak on Clubhouse 2 renovation.
August 26 General Meeting is our annual “Meet the Candidates” (for Village mutual boards).
By way of introducing Mayor Pro Tem of the City of Laguna Woods, Shari L. Horne, Vice President Mike Straziuso gave an impressively long list of the multiple jobs our guest speaker has held and now holds in civic organizations.
Shari L. Horne’s remarks
Ms. Horne began stating that she knew how well-informed the audience was, so was going to give a State of the City 2.0 presentation. The purpose of the city government is to make Laguna Woods healthy and safe, provide a high quality of life, and be environmentally conscious, economically prosperous, and fiscally responsible.
The city has supported appropriate zoning and signage, the Mother’s Market expansion, and shopping center facelifts. New tenants are coming in: the Home Savings building on Moulton is being demolished to make way for a new drive-thru Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, and a new grocery will occupy the old Von’s on Moulton, but she can’t disclose which one. Was working on getting the Library out of City Hall building, but then Sheriff Department fees were increased by $1 million as the result of needing to pay our share of night time call-outs. As a result of this safety expense, the City had to cut services and lay off personnel. While the city has $10 million in funds and is completely solvent, there are no funds to relocate Library and free up space in City Hall, so a Civic Fund has been established to pay for extras, eg a “Shop and Dine” event in Laguna Woods and a “Friends of the Library” group.
The city still has 8 full time employees, and website enhancements have been done which provide a place to find out all the news. The latest story was on the Vector Control meeting on April 21, 2016, regarding the possibility of aerial spraying for mosquitoes. Since the spraying only kills night-biting mosquitoes, and the concern is about new day-biting mosquitoes, the vote was 23-6 for no spraying. Instead safety hints were provided to dump all water, wear long sleeves, and use insect repellent.
The site of the former Home Town Buffet is 9,000 sq. ft. and needs a specific tenant. Would like Golden Corral, but area is a bit small for them, and it is up to landlord. There is a company searching for a tenant which does not charge a fee until the lease is signed.
To clarify, the Civic Fund is not competition for the Foundation of Laguna Woods Village. The Foundation’s funds are specific to give financial assistance to Village residents in need. The Civic Fund is earmarked to relocate Library and to fund organization of a shop and dine event.
Audience question: Is Library not a branch of Orange County Library? Answer was that OC Library pays for basics of operation expense, not for extras. Libraries do not make money. Almost every branch has a “Friends of the Library” volunteer group to fund extras.
Audience question: Does City own shopping centers? Answer, no City only owns land that City Hall is on. GRF owns 23 acres besides Laguna Woods Village, and there are a few other private landowners in the City of Laguna Woods, including religious organizations.
There is a coalition of neighboring cities such as Aliso Viejo, Laguna Hills, and us who joined together to address the run-off from Aliso Creek that formed a dirty pond that ran through Laguna Beach to the ocean. It took 15 years to create a wetlands to clean up that water. The city is working with five cities, including San Clemente, about the waste issue of San Onofre and other issues they have in common, including Senior Mobility Program (SMP). Ms. Horne sent a letter to the Mayor of San Clemente about the Orange County Transit Authority (OCTA) funds always being in danger of cuts since they are only annual, and changes to the SMP funding formula was going to decrease Laguna Woods’ share. The answer was given that OCTA is going to supplement funding for the next five years.
Yesterday (April 21), the City of Laguna Woods became the first city in Orange County to endorse CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women ) which is a United Nations resolution. The USA was not a signatory to the resolution, so a Cities for CEDAW was begun. Laguna Woods is 65% female, but there are no statistics kept by gender after age 60.
City Hall is being renovated, so the City Council meetings are being held the Laguna Woods Village Community Center. There will be no access to City Hall this Saturday and Sunday, as the City Manager scheduled demolition for the weekend.
There is new waste contractor for City. There is a new law to take wet garbage (food waste) to a biodegrader that recycles. So far, 46 restaurants and the Towers are using this service. The Village is doing well recycling.
The Senior Summit is scheduled for May 20, 2016, in CH 3 from 8 pm to 1 pm. Lots of different non-profits are presenting.. There will be raffles, prizes and food. The County sponsors this and is charged a $2,900 facility fee by GRF, which may cause it to change venues because of this expense. We need to lobby GRF to give the Senior Summit a club rate instead because it is important to keep this activity here as here is where many of the beneficiaries of the Summit live.
Audience question: About vagrants in city: Ms. Horne not sure of what city ordinances apply, but knows vagrants approaching citizens is not OK, and you can call police to report that. Audience member said she gives vagrants business cards referring them to outreach services. Ms. Horne said 10,000 people are turning 65 daily; there is a Silver Tsunami occurring and Orange County is ground zero, with social services being overwhelmed. She will ask City Manager if there is an active program addressing vagrants and panhandling. Audience member shared that he had spoken with police officers, and majority of panhandlers are not needy, but rather are targeting aged compassionate population to exploit.
Audience question: Asked about 2016 term expirations of City Council members including Ms. Horne, who said to the best of her knowledge, all are planning to run for re-election.
Audience question: About coyotes. Ms. Horne replied best response is to keep small pets safe and not to encourage coyotes by being friendly and feeding, as that makes them lose fear of humans, upsets balance of Nature. Coyotes are now being trapped four times a year at Laguna Woods Village and trapped animals are killed not re-located.
Audience question: Re hazardous waste: Call Waste Management, the new vendor, they will pick it up at your door. There is a County Hazardous Waste location also.
Ms. Horne left information flyers at the reception table in the back of the room on the City of Laguna Woods 2015 Highlights Dashboard, Mosquito information, and the 2016 Senior Summit.
Closing Remarks by President Catherine Brians
She thanked speaker Shari Horne and extended an open invitation to return next year. Reminded audience to let Shari know what stores you are interested in having in fill vacancies in City areas. Prior to closing of meeting, audience member Denny Welch spoke on how well respected Ms. Horne is in the area of the Senior Summit; audience member Suellen Zima requested help with difficulty regarding Taxi Bucks. Ms. Horne responded that she has a dogged determination to have workable bus system and transportation available for citizens; City of Laguna Woods just signed new contract with Yellow Cabs that should take care of fare pick up problems. Audience members commented that FOV member Pat Wilkinson’s husband Ron had just passed away. President Brians thanked and invited all to attend our next meeting and bring friends. To join or renew please see Aloha Saxon at back of room. Next meeting is scheduled for 4th Friday in May, May 27. Meeting adjourned at 3:05 PM.
BACKGROUND INFO ON SHARI L. HORNE…
“Since my husband Hal and I moved here to take care of my mother in 2005, I have been the building Captain. Later on I became Regional Rep and in 2012 I became President of GVA (Garden Villa Association) when Harry Curtis decided to step down. I was President until I got appointed to the Council in 2014. I was also an officer in Earthworks and part of the small group who started the recycling program years ago and made it successful.
“On City Council, I serve as a Trustee on the Mosquito and Vector Control board, I serve on the Energy and Environmental policy committee of SCAG, the Southern Calif. Association of Gov’ts, I am part of the Legislative committee of the Senior Citizen’s Advisory Council. I was appointed to SNAC, the Special Needs Advisory committee, by Supervisor Lisa Bartlett. I am also active on Coastal Greenbelt and the Library Board. I am also on the Audit, the solid waste and the Investment Ad Hoc committees for the City.”