FCA annual meeting brings county and community together
By Tina Richards
Crime prevention was the focus of the Foothill Communities Association annual meeting, sharing the limelight with updates on North Tustin activities from OC Parks, Public Works, East Orange County Water District, and issues raised by residents.
The March 4 meeting highlight was a keynote address by Orange County Superior Court Judge Cheri Pham. She noted that crime is on the increase in Orange County (although down slightly in North Tustin), and attributed that rise to reforms in the state criminal justice system that required 30,000 prisoners to be released over two years to combat overcrowding, moving non-violent offenders to local jails and reducing a number of felonies to misdemeanors.
Juvenile offenders of serious crimes, she said, are now less likely to be tried in adult court, making them eligible for release at age 25. Many other non-violent offenders had their sentences reduced and became subject to early parole. While Pham reported that there is no data yet on whether or not justice system reform has impacted crime rates, she clearly believes that it has.
Defense, the best offense
Sheriff’s Department Crime Prevention Specialist Anitu Pattanaik offered tips to avoid being a crime victim. As residential and vehicle burglaries are the predominant form of malfeasance in North Tustin (and surrounding areas), Pattanaik stressed that locking doors and windows, keeping garages closed, and removing valuables from cars are obvious deterrents. She also noted that environmental design – lighting, motion sensors, and keeping large shrubbery trimmed and away from porches and windows – makes it harder for a perpetrator to get into your home unnoticed.
Package thefts, too, are on the rise. The sheriff’s department recommends having them shipped to another location so they will not sit unattended on your porch, asking for a signature upon receipt, using Amazon lockers, or tracking packages using internet tools. To prevent mail theft, Pattanaik warned residents to never leave outgoing mail in the mailbox or put the red flag up. “It is,” she said, “a red flag for thieves who recognize that a lot of outgoing mail contains checks.”
Beyond criminality, residents raised issues that, while not necessarily illegal, are annoying: overflow parking on residential streets from apartment buildings in Santa Ana; mountain bikers seen in Peters Canyon Park after hours; homes obscured by weeds; potholes created by heavy rain. FCA President Rick Nelson assured meeting attendees that the association would look into those complaints or refer them to the proper governing agencies.
Who ya gonna call?
Representatives from OC Public Works stressed that complaints (potholes, code enforcement) can be filed and tracked on the department’s website.
Lisa Ohlund of the East Orange County Water District reported that both Irvine Lake and Peters Canyon Lake are filling up, and that Prado Dam is releasing 3,500 cubic feet per second. “This is a great year for water in California,” she said. “Water is getting into the ground. We plan for seven dry years out of every ten, and this is a welcome wet year.”
She also said that a report on the district’s septic tank conversion project will be presented to its board of directors in April, and that residents would be welcome to attend.
Scott Thomas of OC Parks provided an update on the planned park at Crawford Canyon and Newport Avenue. Yes, he assured residents, it will be a park. The developer of the Clearwater Senior living residences has promised to spend $850,000 on the park, in exchange for entitlements to build the facility. The developer can either give that money to the county for park construction, or create the project himself. Clearwater has until July to let the county know which option it wants to pursue. Until that time, there’s nothing to do but wait.
Bill and Barbara Annan get updates from OC Parks' Scott Thomas and Peters Canyon Park Ranger Steve Jax.
Photos by Tony Richards
Sheriff’s Deputy Jeff Flaming brought K-9 Officer Nero to meet FCA members. Flaming has been working with the five-year-old Belgian Malinois for 18 months.