May 2016

Canyon Beat: ​​

Paving the way

By Michelle Mainville


The Silverado Community Center was bursting at the seams at April’s Inter-Canyon League meeting. Canyonites came out in droves to hear special guest Supervisor Todd Spitzer and his staff address critical canyon concerns. Following the presentation of a “Friend of the Canyons” plaque to Spitzer by our very own flip-flop-wearing, dog-accompanied SMRPD President Kevin  Topp, Spitzer and his staff bravely fielded questions from the audience.

The question du jour pertained to the validity and power, if any, of the “antiquated” Silverado-Modjeska  Specific  Plan.  After apologizing for a flippant remark about its worthlessness,  Spitzer explained that the plan, written in the 1970s, is not a legally binding document,  according to the county; it is a policy, which does not supersede the Orange County General Plan.

The document, written by community  members  decades  ago, was among the first of its kind in Orange  County,  outlining  measures needed to keep the canyons rural, and “governing” future development. It was adopted as a “resolution” by the OC Board of Supervisors in 1977. During the adoption  phase,  approximately 75 meetings were held, and the county paid the $35,000 needed to complete the process.

OC  Planning  Director, Colby Cataldi, also in ICL attendance, said that the plan should have been adopted as an “ordinance” to be a legally binding document. A resolution, according to him, is merely a formal policy, and specific plans now need to be categorized as “ordinances” to hold any weight with the county. Paving the way for specific plans seems to have backfired on our policy pioneers,  as  the county clearly sees a resolution as non-binding. “The government declares a ‘resolution’ for war. You would think that that would be good enough for  a  specific  plan,”  said  Judy Meyers,  long  time  canyon  resident and co-writer of the document.

Citing the three-year process needed to create a new “true” specific plan ordinance, the county’s push seemed to be towards the formation of an Advisory Review  Committee.  Its  members, appointed by the board of super-visors, would review and create policy for canyon development. A solution is quickly needed, as 90 acres for sale behind Hillside Road are being advertised as “a developer’s dream,” and land in Williams Canyon is being eyed for housing tracts. A land-use attorney,  working  for  canyon groups, claims that zoning is subservient  to  specific  plans.  The Sil-Mod Plan has been enforced to date and referenced in lawsuits.

Curiosity permitted

Hikers, puzzled by the sight of massive grading and dirt dump-ing onto the nearby chaparral in Williams Canyon, decided to contact the county. The owner of the property in question did have a grading permit, but according to Timothy Sun, OC Code Enforcement officer, “After our investigation, we found that the grading was beyond the limits of the permit, and immediately directed the permittee to stop work. We’ll be discussing our next steps with the owner.”

Watch what you heat

Preventing fire is no joke. On April 1, a late night trashcan fire ignited the surrounding Arundo, which  exploded  like  fireworks, sending embers, some over two inches long, into the air. Apparently, unnoticed sparks from the chainsaw used to cut up a dead tree smoldered inside the closed trash bin for three or four hours, until the wood scraps burst into flames and blew out the side of the plastic bin. This past weekend, a separate house fire caused major damage to a home located across from Station 14. This fire was the result of a cigarette left too near the resident’s oxygen tank. First responders and volunteers Brett Peterson and Joshua Collins were quickly  on  the  scene,  operating the water truck for the first time since their graduation from that  program.  Thirty  firefighters battled the fire, which caused an estimated $120,000 in damages. The Modjeska Fireman’s dinner  was  a  smokin’  hot  event, thanks to the generosity of Mis-sion Viejo Elks Lodge, volunteers Jean Chapman, Paula and Bill La-Bar, and a host of others.  Station 16 Captain Bruce Newell opened the event by acknowledging volunteers, attendees, and presenters Supervisor Todd Spitzer and Representative Mimi Walters, as well as local legend Rusty Richards. Richards received a standing ova-tion in recognition of his induction, this month, to the Cowboy Hall of Fame. This year’s recipient of the Royal Gamble Firefighter of the Year Award went to Ed Barrera for his outstanding service.

Canyon calendar

The pet vaccination clinic, with “extremely discounted prices,” for dogs and cats, will be held on Sat., May 14 from 2 to 5 p.m. at Silverado Community Center. The  first  of  the  10th  annual Summer Concert Series will be Saturday, May 21, 6-10 p.m. at the Silverado Community Center, and will include the Freightshakers and Roadwork, covering classics from all eras. All five concerts are on the  third  Saturday, from May to September.