In this, the day of greed, grade and growth, I have had the good fortune to meet, albeit only by phone, a true conservationist. For the past 3 weeks, I have been inquiring as to what is happening to a lovely hill near my home in San Juan Capistrano.
The city Planning Department told me the owner is simply building an access road to his reservoir, digging up an old well and installing irrigation to enable him to plant the land to agriculture. (It’s zoned agriculture.)
I must admit I thought this story a bit farfetched, since he is obviously spending upwards of tens of thousands of dollars grading, not plowing, making steep slopes and flat areas, not gentle slopes and terraces; in essence, completely rearranging the whole hill, as though for building.
My doubting mind and I took my question to the City Council meeting. “What is happening on the Mauer property?” I reported what the Planning Department had said, and the City Council told me that everything I was told was exactly true, and that the council is watching this project “very closely.”
In the meantime, I had called Mauer Development, and the following day Mr. Mauer himself returned my call and reaffirmed what city staff and City Council had told me.
He is grading, cutting, rearranging that whole hill merely to build an access road to his reservoir, to dig up an old well, to put in a water line, to irrigate to try to save the existing eucalyptus from the Australian beetle blight, and to plant to agriculture!
Here is a rare man and he should be applauded. His values have not been compromised by monetary success. Here is a man so grateful for his past successes in San Juan (he has developed and sold several housing tracts here), that he is spending a small fortune to preserve this one small area to agriculture.
And so, good neighbors, all of you who have been concerned with me, as we awake each morning to the rumble of earthmovers and the tell-tale ding, ding, ding of the water truck, we can rest assured that soon we will see strawberries, peppers, or perhaps tomatoes, growing on that hill, and it will be lovely again.
Forgive me for doubting. And let’s hear it for Bob Mauer, an unsung hero in our midst.
San Juan Capistrano