Why is the Aliso Viejo City Council ignoring the needs of part of their community? Aliso Viejo Council Members Carmen Cave, Bill Philips and Phil Tsunoda all voted to spend over a million dollars on the Little League fields (privately owned by Aliso Viejo Community Association), but have turned their backs on the one segment of their community that needs the most help.
Many residents say they love the Aliso Viejo’s Iglesia Park, but they’ve asked for public restrooms for more than five years, and the park’s design creates safety risks: a soccer field covered in gopher holes and mud, an unkempt trail behind the tennis courts littered with trash, poor lighting in the back of the park. But many say the city doesn’t seem to notice these problems, according to the O.C. Register.
Now, Cave is pushing to spend $19M on a Boys and Girls Club at the city’s Ranch Park, but still nothing for Iglesia Park. Iglesia Park already has a Boys and Girls Club branch as well.
It is ironic that the city officials that the O.C. Register claimed not to know about the problems at Iglesia Park, but a 2007 article about that neighborhood, in the L.A. Times, revealed that the problems in Iglesia Park have been around for years. Here are a few excerpts from that article:
Iglesia Park is the only neighborhood that does not belong to the influential Aliso Viejo Community Assn., because it was not part of the original master-planned development. When Aliso Viejo became Orange County’s newest city six years ago, Iglesia Park came with it.
Most of the residents’ kids attend public schools in neighboring Laguna Hills. Half their mail still gets addressed to bordering cities, a remnant of the old days. Many of them work at restaurants and stores in wealthier communities nearby that other Aliso Viejo residents patronize. The neighborhood is majority Latino in a city that is almost 80% white.
“There are many things that are out of our reach,” said Perez, a preschool teacher and mother of five.
Her family can’t afford to pay for Aliso Viejo’s soccer leagues, and they balk at the cost of family outings in a city with a median income of nearly $80,000; a family trip to the city’s Ice Palace skating rink would run them nearly $100.
The city of 45,000 has worked to claim Iglesia Park as its own, locating its first community center there, and holding bilingual self-help classes for residents. The Boys & Girls Club operates an after-school program for neighborhood youths.
According to 2000 Census data, the neighborhood population is about 1,700; but residents think it’s nearly twice that. Dumpsters are always full, parking is hard to find even though every home has a detached garage, and there are more people on the streets walking and biking.
And here is the kicker:
Aliso Viejo Mayor Carmen Cave said the city had made a significant effort to reach out to Iglesia Park. “When we went through the incorporation process, we knew we would need to do some extraordinary outreach,” she said. “We knew we would need to make sure to have programs that would make them feel they were part of Aliso Viejo.”
Cave did not fool the residents of Iglesia Park:
“They just wanted the park,” Amanda Gonzalez, a 20-year resident, said of the shady strip of hilly land that holds a playground, baseball diamond, tennis and handball courts that gives the neighborhood its name.
Overcrowding is obviously an issue in Igelisa Park. Yet Cave continues to push for more development, including high density affordable housing, in Aliso Viejo. How out of touch is she? What is her malfunction?