Veteran of the Year Fred Whitaker, Sr. (center) is flanked by (at left) son Charlie Whitaker, wife Arlene, (at right) grandson Jack, son and Orange City Councilman Fred Whitaker, daughter-in-law Mignon. Photo by Aaron Jacoby
WWII vet Fred Whitaker Sr. honored for valor
By Richard Callahan
World War II veteran and member of the 87th Division of General Patton’s Third Army Fred M. Whitaker, 88, of Villa Park, was awarded Veteran of the Year for the 68th Assembly District by Assemblyman Don Wagner.
Whitaker was honored Oct. 30 at the weekly flag lowering ceremony held in the Orange City Plaza. His award follows a background of community service to his fellow veterans, serving as an officer in numerous veterans’ associations and, of course, his combat service. He was a Purple Heart recipient and received the Bronze Star for service in the Battle of the Bulge, which became a turning point in the war in December 1944. The Germans were convinced that by creating a vulnerable “bulge” in the Allies’ front lines they could break the unity and comprehensiveness of allied actions. Due to the dedication, bravery and sacrifice of American soldiers like Whitaker, who waged a ferocious fight in intense cold, the Germans were repelled. The Battle of the Bulge became the largest single battle fought in World War II and involved approximately 600,000 soldiers, with allied losses of some 81,000.
Whitaker also received the Distinguished Unit Citation for the crossing of the Rhine River under fire in the march to liberate Germany. He also participated in the liberation of the Buchenwald concentration camp.
“We’re proud of him,” said Whitaker’s son Fred, who is also an Orange city councilman. “Our entire family greatly appreciates Assemblyman Wagner’s recognition of everything Father’s done.”
Holiday spirits hosted by OPA
Orange Park Association will host a festive social gathering, Saturday, Dec. 7 at 6 p.m. Get in the swing of the season with holiday spirits to compliment a tasty Mexican buffet at Moreno’s on E. Chapman Ave. Wear your sparkles, sequins and reindeer ties to greet old friends and meet new ones. Entertainment will be provided by the Salem Singers.
Tickets at $35 per person can be purchased online at orangeparkacres.org or from an OPA board director. Tickets will not be sold at the door. For more information, call Laura Thomas (714) 264-4242 or email to email@example.com.
State Supreme Court agrees to hear Ridgeline land-use case
By Tina Richards
The California Supreme Court has accepted the case filed by Orange Citizens for Parks and Recreation challenging an appellate court ruling that zoning designations published in a city’s general plan can be superseded by historical planning documents that exist apart from the plan.
Attorneys for Orange Citizens contend that the appellate court ruling seriously undermines the role of a general plan, as defined by California law, as the “constitution” for development. If the face of a general plan is no longer a reliable source for land use designations, then every inquiry into a property’s status becomes a legal quagmire, Attorney Robert Perlmutter of Shute, Mihaly and Weinberger pointed out in a legal brief. “If a version of the general plan that differs from the one circulated to the public does, in fact, constitute the general plan within the jurisdiction, then nobody will know exactly what that general plan is.” Six of the seven Supreme Court justices agreed that the appellate court ruling requires a second look and accepted the case Oct. 30. The court receives hundreds of petitions each year and hears only five to 10 percent of them.
Never give up
“We’re very pleased and excited that the Supreme Court has accepted our case,” said Don Bradley, board member of the Orange Park Association, a co-plaintiff with Orange Citizens. “We of course don’t yet know what the ultimate ruling will be, but we see it as an encouraging sign that six of seven justices voted to hear it. It’s gratifying for the community. We were persistent, we didn’t give up and the California Supreme Court has heard our voice – at least to this point.”
What may become the final word on the status of general plans statewide started as a neighborhood fight to preserve the 52-acre former Ridgeline Golf Course in East Orange as open space/recreation. With the City of Orange falling far short of state mandated parkland, residents opposed building houses on one of the area’s last remaining undeveloped parcels. The city’s general plan designated it open space/recreation and the community rallied to keep it that way. Developer Milan Capital, having purchased the property in 2006, was aware of the zoning and asked the city to change it to low-density residential.
Midway through the zone change process, Milan “discovered” a city resolution drafted in 1973 that allowed for low density development on the Ridgeline site. The resolution was never officially recorded and soon forgotten. General plans updated by the city in 1989 and 2010 identified the property solely as open space.
In June 2012, the Orange City Council approved a general plan amendment that altered the long-held open space designation to include low-density housing. Orange Citizens subsequently collected over 12,000 signatures from city voters, enough to place the measure on the November ballot. When asked if the city should amend the general plan to enable a housing development on the site, 56 percent of the voters said no.
Milan Capital and Orange countered their loss at the ballot box with a lawsuit claiming that the amendment was not needed after all; that the 1973 resolution took precedence over the published general plan. An appellate court subsequently agreed. Nullifying the vote, the court ruled that the open space designation of the general plan was simply an error. “The city unintentionally allowed a single ambiguity to creep into its general plan. When the ambiguity was discovered, the city council concluded that a classification of the property as solely open space was inaccurate. That the erroneous information remains because the referendum does not alter the reasonableness of the city council’s conclusion that the open space designation is an error.”
The appellate court’s decision surprised Orange Citizens and its legal counsel because it conflicted with long-standing precedent regarding general plans and the voters’ referendum power.
Don’t look now
“California planning law would have been set back to square one if the appellate court’s decision had been allowed to stand,” says Bradley. “General plans would have become meaningless because the public and developers would no longer be able to accept them at face value and would always be wondering whether a document might mysteriously appear at the last moment. Zoning would become a moving target, which would be problematic for developers and concerned residents.”
The City of Orange had little to say about the court’s decision. “It’s the legal process,” City Attorney Wayne Winthers noted. “The Supreme Court accepted the case and we’ll just move forward.”
Orange Citizens’ opening brief is due within 30 days of the court’s acceptance of the case. The process -- further briefing and oral argument -- usually lasts four to six months. Oral arguments may be heard as soon as this summer, with a ruling next autumn. The California Supreme court, however, is under no deadline pressure; the case may not be heard for a year or longer.
Restaurants / Food Services
Paris in a Cup
Pacific Ranch Market
Santiago Canyon College
Villa Park Dental Center
Chapman Health Center
Thaddeus W. Smith & Associates, Insurance Services
Integrative Medical Institute
Peterson's Tree Works
All Guns Online
Pilates In The Canyon
Lee's Pool and Spa
Randall Coombs Architect
Handgun Training for Women
Law Offices of Marc L. Wilson, APC
Full Potential Pilates
Rambling Rose Estate Jewelry
Melissa Murphy for Nerium
Clipper D's Barber Shop
AAA Family Gems
On Time Signs
Pet Care / Veterinarian
Villa Animal Hospital
Wiggles and Bits