Lay of the land
What could have been a positive for the community, now reeks of taxation without representation and dishonesty. As a resident of Santiago Hills for over 30 years, I can attest that what was once a beautiful and charming community is now tired and worn out.
I attended the meetings for the tax assessment to restore the landscape. I supported the tax. It was necessary because of the poor planning from our mayor and council members at the time of the development. There was no HOA established for the community, and we were left with our local government to oversee the upkeep and changes necessary.
The meetings held by the city for the proposed tax increase promised enhancements to our area by replacing trees and bushes that died from neglect, age or improper irrigation. The city said that our irrigation and electrical systems would be replaced and upgraded. There was some discussion of using drought tolerant plants. The purpose of these meetings was to convince homeowners that the increase in taxes was the only course of action to keep our community landscape from deteriorating further.
We gave the city more money. It responded with a community committee that has not been named or identified, that meets twice a year, has no authority over decisions, and has become a rubber stamp to the city staff. Even some of the committee members have said that after the meetings, they still didn’t know what the city was planning.
We must have proper representation from qualified community homeowners that have some power of decision-making.
At the Aug. 30 meeting at Chapman Hills Elementary School, the community spoke with one voice: Leave our grass and shrubs alone. Replant the bushes and trees that have died as promised. Improve the irrigation system. Update the electrical system. Enhance the entrances to our community with lighting, appropriate foliage and attractive signage for Santiago Hills.
Not every tax dollar for the beautification of Santiago Hills has to be spent. We don’t need to rip out everything to start anew. The city is incorrect if it thinks the only problem is use of the meadow grass. What we have is what we like. We want the area to be improved and to have our money spent wisely. We want the city to listen to us.
The coyotes we live among have arrived on the scene. Their sightings have increased in and around Orange, and they are seen all hours of the day, in packs or alone, lounging on backyard lawns. People are talking “coyote.”
Here is a picture of a coyote peering over my wall on a Saturday morning at 10:30, ready to pounce on our family pet. It was unfazed that we stood close by, watching it watch our pet.
Residents have shared crazy stories of coyotes “so brazen that a pack of them had cornered a group of children playing in Orange Park Acres during the daytime on a private resident’s lawn.” The county did nothing. The sheriff was called and the homeowner was told that if it was a threat, he could shoot the animal, but he’d have to make sure it died on his own property. Really?
It’s clear that coyote aggression may be on the rise. Fearing humans and nocturnal hunting are seemingly diminished behaviors.
This is not a call to march in and kill them all. My point is to start the dialogue and look into educating folks on how to scare them, reinstate fear once again.
As a resident here for 18 years, living among them, I know they deserve to be here just as much as we all do. I just can’t help but think, “when will the line be drawn? How far does it have to go before we start a plan of action to change the direction of this course?” There are reports of pets on leashes being attacked. Residents are afraid to walk their pets without carrying some sort of stick to protect their pet. Homeowners are witnessing their animals being attacked right in front of them, in their own backyard. Aggressive coyotes are clearly here. My question is, what are we going to do about it?
Outside looking in
Remarks presented as public comments at the Sept. 19 Villa Park City Council meeting.
The September issue of the Foothills Sentry highlighted an issue that has come to characterize this group of city council members: specifically the bifurcation of the council into the voting block of Collacott, Nelson and Rossini versus the voting block of Fascenelli and Pitts.
Using published minutes, I analyzed the voting record of this council in 2017. Of the 93 votes taken through Aug. 22, 80 percent have been unanimous (mostly consent calendar items). Of the votes that were not unanimous, the voting block of Collacott, Nelson and Rossini prevailed 90 percent of the time.
In the August meeting, Mayor Nelson is quoted as saying to Councilmember Pitts, “I feel your pain. The same thing happened to me before. I was always opposed; my vote didn’t count. It was always a three-two vote, with me losing.” Your message appeared to be: This is the way the council has always worked and, instead of rising above the partisanship, I’m justified acting the same way now that I’m in power, rather than setting a new tone for what should be acceptable behavior.
The issue raised again last month was how the assignments to council committees are influencing the governing of the city. The five council members create 10 unique pairings, enough to cover each of the required assignments without duplication. Despite the fact there are sufficient unique combinations, only six of the 10 possible pairings were used. Notable pairings that are not used include Nelson/Fascenelli and Nelson/Pitts. Notable pairings that are used multiple times include Collacott/Nelson and, the most used, Collacott/Rossini.
I respectfully make three requests:
First, to Mayor Nelson. If you honestly believe that you made fair and impartial assignments, document the factors you used, and articulate the rationale for your recommendations.
Second, to the council. You should all be concerned that the current code allows the mayor and a simple majority of the council to make appointments that impact the governance of the city. I urge you to modify the Code to require the mayor to use all 10 unique pairings when making appointment recommendations and require all five council members to fill the spots on the council committees. Require a super majority, at least four votes, to ratify the mayor’s appointment recommendations to protect against the creation of a three-person city council.
And finally, since I have little confidence that a majority of the current council will show the fortitude to put checks and balances into law, I request that the city manager outline the process that is required for voters to make changes to the council’s governance rules and publish the procedure on the city’s website so voters can use the next election to make their voices heard.
It’s time to start thinking about Thanksgiving plans. For the past 10 years, our family has been part of a program that has brought much joy to not just ourselves, but more importantly, to the brave young men and women who have given up their lives at home to become United States Marines. These young people are now living at Camp Pendleton, Most of these Marines are 18-19 years old, and many just graduated from high school. For most, this is their first major holiday away from family and friends.
That is where this program comes into play. Thanksgiving morning, volunteer families (like yours!) from Villa Park take a fleet of stretch limos down to the military base. There, more than 100 Marines are adopted and taken to a caring home as repayment for their bravery and sacrifice to our country. We are currently looking for families to fulfill this duty so we can carry on the tradition of the Villa Park Marine Thanksgiving. We are asking each family to adopt two Marines this Thanksgiving. The Marines and their families have always been extremely grateful for what our community has put together, and we want you to be a part of it. Please go online today and choose to adopt two or more Marines. There is a donation to cover the cost of the limos and the memorable gift we give to each Marine. You can also read more about this great VP tradition at villapark.org/marines/ or see the Villa Park Marine Thanksgiving page on Facebook.
David and Evan Frackelton
Two news articles today headlined the homeless and poverty issues here, and indicate that government needs to do something. Government is the problem -- too much government, along with enormous government salaries and benefits. We cannot pay the unfunded liability debt in California, which is in the billions of dollars. I know an ex-landfill worker who retired after 21 years at 50 percent of his pay, plus no co-pay health insurance.
Government forced the closure of the old flophouses and prevented Mother Teresa from opening a rescue center by requiring an elevator to comply with ADA. East Long Beach and Lakewood were developed in the 1950s and, from buying the land to selling the last house, took the builders about 18 months. Now, due to government red tape, it takes over two years to get a tentative tract map approved and the permit fees on a $700,000 house are well into the five figure range.
If you want less inflation and more spending power – defund government.