…. AND DISPLAYED FOR YOUR REVIEW
Zak has occasionally suggested that someone from the Wildomar City Council or the Blue Ribbon Committee should have contacted Steve Beutz and sought his input, however negative, into the process of creating an “replacement” tax for the $28 per year maintenance assessment that Steve’s lawsuit ultimately overturned.
Well, I decided to take some of my own advice and I contacted Beutz for an interview for the curious readers of Wildomar Magazine.
As a result, this morning, Steve and I met at the local Starbucks, where I conducted my interview.
For clarification and context, Wildomar Magazine has, in the past, robustly criticized Beutz for ending a rather modest $28 per year maintenance assessment that enables Wildomar to maintain Marna O’Brien, Windsong and Heritage Parks. Without the assessment, according to City Councilmember Bridgette Moore, “the parks will close.”
When we met for discussion, there were no prearranged boundaries or limits to the scope of my questions.
My first general question to Steve was, in essence, “What are you thinking? You’ve become the pariah of Wildomar, where little children want to come to your house and complain about the loss of their parks.”
In response, Steve began by discussing his involvement, as a coach, with the Little League in the 1990s, when he and his team suffered through the loss of playing fields provided by the Ortega Trails Recreation & Park District (“OTRPD”). As a result of the closures, his team was forced to play baseball games in Lake Elsinore and elsewhere.
At that time, Steve and his wife and daughter were living in a home in Sedco Hills, but they purchased a new home in the “Parkside” area of Wildomar, in anticipation of the fulfillment of the promises by developers that a large regional Park was planned/scheduled for development near their home.
Steve states that a portion of our ad volarem property taxes imposed on all of the parcels in Wildomar have, since 1995, been paying for that promised regional Park.
When the County was attempting to help Wildomar reopen their three parks, he began to attend meetings of the Parks Committee that included Bridgette Moore and John Lloyd.
However, he soon found out that Moore and Lloyd were not concerned with the promised Regional Park but only with the reopening of the three closed parks on the west side of Wildomar.
After that, he met directly with County officials, who indicated that there appeared to be sufficient funds to reopen the parks in Wildomar, but only for a total of three years before the money ran out.
However, that financial plan was never enacted. In its place, the County substituted an assessment district of $28 per year that was ultimately approved by the voters in 2006.
He states that the County illegally short-circuited the usual process by requesting a Report from their consultants, Webb & Associates, and somehow approved that report on the same day, despite the fact that the report did not exist, nor could it have.
In addition, the County later indicated that they intended to sell the land that would have become the Regional Park out from under the taxpayers, despite their having paid the taxes since 1995.
He considered the County’s conduct to be illegal so he initiated several lawsuits to prevent the loss of the promised regional park.
However, the length of litigation, as so often happens, continued beyond the City of Wildomar’s incorporation, and when his litigation was upheld by the Fourth Court of Appeals, overturning the $28 per year maintenance assessment, it unfortunately, for him, appeared that his litigation was directed primarily at the new City of Wildomar.
His current opposition to Measure D relates primarily to the inclusion of a Mello Roos/Community Facilities District, which is a financial boon for consultants, which will enrich consultants such as Webb & Associates, at the expense of the Wildomar taxpayers.
In contrast, he believes that the 2% cost of maintaining the existing parks can and should be funded from the existing budget, through cost cuts and by appropriately tapping the city’s annual 15% budget reserve, making Measure D unnecessary.
Zak inquired and found out that Beutz is not a “wannabe” lawyer, who is initiating litigation to enrich himself.
Rather, he appears to be what he portrays himself to be; a highly-motivated taxpayer attempting to preserve the Regional Park that he was promised when he moved his family to the southeastern part of Wildomar from Sedco Hills.
A part of Zak’s skill sets in his career-long role as a claims investigator is to evaluate the credibility of the person from whom he is taking a statement.
In Beutz’ case, I find him to be a believable and credible witness on his own behalf.
As Zak has previously suggested, it would’ve been far wiser of those who populated the Blue Ribbon Committee with their pro-park cronies, to have included Beutz in their deliberations, in order to mitigate his potential opposition to their recommendations.
As it has turned out, their recommendations inevitably instigated his formidable opposition.
It didn’t have to turn out this way.
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