APRIL 2018

Canyon Beat:

Plan appeal

By Scott Breeden

The Inter-Canyon League, Rural Canyons Conservation Fund, and Saddleback Canyons Conservancy appealed the county planning commission’s approval of the Red Rocks Garden project to the board of supervisors.  This is now on the agenda for the April 10 supervisors’ meeting.

County planning staff had recommended denying approval, stating that the proposed commercial use of a Santiago Canyon residence near Modjeska for weddings, parties, and other events for up to 200 guests would not be consistent with (1) the county’s General Plan, (2) the Silverado-Modjeska Specific Plan, and (3) the county Zoning Code.  But commissioners opted to “interpret” planning documents as allowing the requested use anyway, despite wording such as the Silverado-Modjeska Plan’s explicit prohibition of commercial activity in the project’s location.

ICL, RCCF, and SCC all cited the above land-use issues as reasons for their appeals.  RCCF and SCC also stated that the planning commission improperly granted a de facto zoning variance, and that it failed to meet California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requirements regarding impacts on traffic, noise, fire hazard, and wildlife, among other things.  ICL added that the commission abused discretionary power by prioritizing commercial interests over neighbors’ enjoyment of their rural residences.

The public can comment on this issue before supervisors decide whether to support or overrule the planning commission.  This can be done before or at the April 10 BOS meeting: write Supervisor Todd Spitzer (whose Third District includes the canyons) at Todd.Spitzer@ocgov.com or Orange County Board of Supervisors, 333 W. Santa Ana Blvd., Santa Ana, CA  92701.

Contact information for all five supervisors is at media.ocgov.com/gov/bos, which also includes a link to more information about this project:  click on “HTM” for the March 13 meeting agenda, then go to agenda item 32.

Undamming
Joel Robinson of Naturalist For You reports that the U.S. Forest Service plans to continue removing dams from local streams like Silverado Creek.  That work began last year, despite protests from some residents to leave the pools or “swimming holes” created by the dams undisturbed.  Joel said that the timing (during peak stream flow) violates USFS’s own rules, has created sharp rocks and unstable slopes, impacts water quality from concrete dust, and eliminates cultural and historical resources.

The State Water Resources Control Board is now investigating the project, and someone at Representative Mimi Walters’s office has promised to work on addressing residents’ concerns with the Forest Service.  Joel is also collecting stories about the Trabuco, Holy Jim, and Silverado swimming holes.

Tree killers
Fire Safe Council East Orange County Canyons sponsored a community meeting, March 15, about threats from two types of beetles—the goldspotted oak borer (GSOB), plus the polyphagous shot hole borer (PSHB) and related Kuroshio shot hole borer (KSHB).  Experts from CalFire and the University of California Cooperative Extension described how these invasive insects kill trees, gave tips on spotting and controlling damage, and brought samples of beetles, larvae, and damaged wood.  The borer talk was anything but boring.

These insects were first noticed locally relatively recently, and are believed to have arrived in firewood and packing material.  That is why campgrounds are beginning to prohibit bringing in firewood.  Borers have been found at two campgrounds about ten miles from the Silverado-Modjeska area.  The potential cost of removing and replacing affected trees has been estimated at over $15 billion.

Signs of GSOB include bark staining and small D-shaped holes on oaks.  PSHB/KSHB are tiny, making holes the size of a ballpoint pen tip on many types of trees, not just oaks.  But regular inspection of trees increases the odds of treating problems before they get worse.  For more information, including photos of beetles and their larvae, see gsob.org and pshb.org, where photos of suspected borer infestation can also be submitted for evaluation.

Park improvements
Saturday, March 17 saw a ribbon cutting and potluck at the Modjeska Community Center, to celebrate the facility’s recent renovation and to welcome newer residents to the canyon.  Meanwhile, ongoing repairs at the Children’s Center created a temporary waiting list for prospective customer tours.

Book this date
This year’s Friends of the Library blowout swap meet extravaganza will take place Saturday and Sunday, April 21-22 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Silverado Community Center.  Support your local library by donating stuff to sell and then buying more stuff.  Repeat annually.  Also, any help with setup, etc. starting the day before would be appreciated—call Fran Williams at (714) 649-2069 for more information.

It was cold
The large bushes in Santiago Canyon that turned brown a few weeks ago appear to be laurel sumac, a locally native plant with taco-shaped leaves that “has little tolerance for cold and is occasionally killed by frost” according to “Roadside Plants of Southern California” by Thomas J. Belzer.  Whether the leaves have tolerance for salsa is not discussed.


The Inter-Canyon League, Rural Canyons Conservation Fund, and Saddleback Canyons Conservancy appealed the county planning commission’s approval of the Red Rocks Garden project to the board of supervisors.  This is now on the agenda for the April 10 supervisors’ meeting.

County planning staff had recommended denying approval, stating that the proposed commercial use of a Santiago Canyon residence near Modjeska for weddings, parties, and other events for up to 200 guests would not be consistent with (1) the county’s General Plan, (2) the Silverado-Modjeska Specific Plan, and (3) the county Zoning Code.  But commissioners opted to “interpret” planning documents as allowing the requested use anyway, despite wording such as the Silverado-Modjeska Plan’s explicit prohibition of commercial activity in the project’s location.

ICL, RCCF, and SCC all cited the above land-use issues as reasons for their appeals.  RCCF and SCC also stated that the planning commission improperly granted a de facto zoning variance, and that it failed to meet California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requirements regarding impacts on traffic, noise, fire hazard, and wildlife, among other things.  ICL added that the commission abused discretionary power by prioritizing commercial interests over neighbors’ enjoyment of their rural residences.

The public can comment on this issue before supervisors decide whether to support or overrule the planning commission.  This can be done before or at the April 10 BOS meeting: write Supervisor Todd Spitzer (whose Third District includes the canyons) at Todd.Spitzer@ocgov.com or Orange County Board of Supervisors, 333 W. Santa Ana Blvd., Santa Ana, CA  92701.

Contact information for all five supervisors is at media.ocgov.com/gov/bos, which also includes a link to more information about this project:  click on “HTM” for the March 13 meeting agenda, then go to agenda item 32.

Undamming
Joel Robinson of Naturalist For You reports that the U.S. Forest Service plans to continue removing dams from local streams like Silverado Creek.  That work began last year, despite protests from some residents to leave the pools or “swimming holes” created by the dams undisturbed.  Joel said that the timing (during peak stream flow) violates USFS’s own rules, has created sharp rocks and unstable slopes, impacts water quality from concrete dust, and eliminates cultural and historical resources.

The State Water Resources Control Board is now investigating the project, and someone at Representative Mimi Walters’s office has promised to work on addressing residents’ concerns with the Forest Service.  Joel is also collecting stories about the Trabuco, Holy Jim, and Silverado swimming holes.

Tree killers
Fire Safe Council East Orange County Canyons sponsored a community meeting, March 15, about threats from two types of beetles—the goldspotted oak borer (GSOB), plus the polyphagous shot hole borer (PSHB) and related Kuroshio shot hole borer (KSHB).  Experts from CalFire and the University of California Cooperative Extension described how these invasive insects kill trees, gave tips on spotting and controlling damage, and brought samples of beetles, larvae, and damaged wood.  The borer talk was anything but boring.

These insects were first noticed locally relatively recently, and are believed to have arrived in firewood and packing material.  That is why campgrounds are beginning to prohibit bringing in firewood.  Borers have been found at two campgrounds about ten miles from the Silverado-Modjeska area.  The potential cost of removing and replacing affected trees has been estimated at over $15 billion.

Signs of GSOB include bark staining and small D-shaped holes on oaks.  PSHB/KSHB are tiny, making holes the size of a ballpoint pen tip on many types of trees, not just oaks.  But regular inspection of trees increases the odds of treating problems before they get worse.  For more information, including photos of beetles and their larvae, see gsob.org and pshb.org, where photos of suspected borer infestation can also be submitted for evaluation.

Park improvements
Saturday, March 17 saw a ribbon cutting and potluck at the Modjeska Community Center, to celebrate the facility’s recent renovation and to welcome newer residents to the canyon.  Meanwhile, ongoing repairs at the Children’s Center created a temporary waiting list for prospective customer tours.

Book this date
This year’s Friends of the Library blowout swap meet extravaganza will take place Saturday and Sunday, April 21-22 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Silverado Community Center.  Support your local library by donating stuff to sell and then buying more stuff.  Repeat annually.  Also, any help with setup, etc. starting the day before would be appreciated—call Fran Williams at (714) 649-2069 for more information.

It was cold
The large bushes in Santiago Canyon that turned brown a few weeks ago appear to be laurel sumac, a locally native plant with taco-shaped leaves that “has little tolerance for cold and is occasionally killed by frost” according to “Roadside Plants of Southern California” by Thomas J. Belzer.  Whether the leaves have tolerance for salsa is not discussed.