Guest Commentary:

What you see is what you will get

By Peter Jacklin

 Some things never change, and if they do, they rarely change for the better. "Respect for your neighbors" falls into this category. A compelling argument is the decade-long treatment of the community surrounding the Ridgeline and Sully-Miller properties by its owners.  Trees have been removed. Tattered fencing blows in the wind. Seeds are sown on neighboring properties. Green is now brown. Litter abounds. The attitude bodes ill for development on the property.

For those readers who may not know, the Ridgeline and Sully-Miller properties are owned by real estate partnerships headed by Milan Capital, Inc., a developer of strip malls and manager of office buildings. The development of the Ridgeline property ended in litigation at the California Supreme Court, with the developer losing a long, protracted battle. The development of the Sully-Miller property was defeated at the Orange City Council after another hard-fought battle. The Orange Park Acres community and surrounding neighborhoods rose up against these developments for technical, legislative and emotional reasons. Human emotion is a powerful trigger, and in this case, the emotion motivating residents was a lack of respect for the community, its lifestyle and its wishes.

Neighbors have to live with it
The Ridgeline property was once a magnet for golfers and tennis enthusiasts from around Orange County. Today, the land lies fallow, waiting for the next crop of who-knows-what. The once-green fairways and putting greens are brown and untended. The pool and tennis courts are an unsightly mess. The golfers and tennis players can go elsewhere; the neighbors cannot escape and remain afflicted with lessened property values.

The Sully-Miller property lies abandoned and uncared for as well. Trees once lined the property along Santiago Canyon Road, hiding the commercial activities behind them. Today, covered fencing, used to accomplish the same purpose as the trees, and required by law, is tattered and torn, flapping in the moving air caused by the rapidly moving traffic passing westward in the afternoon. Construction debris left by concrete removal firms litters the entrance to the site, and has remained untended by the owners for what seems an eternity. 

Winds blow dust, seed and debris across neighboring properties from Ridgeline and Sully-Miller. The seed grows in the form of unsightly and unwanted weeds, infecting gardens, arenas and open spaces.

Residents of Orange have pride in their properties, and make an effort to maintain them attractively. Our neighbor, Milan Capital, does not. Concerns addressed to local government requesting “good neighbor policy” actions from our neighbor have been largely ignored.

The disrespect that our neighbor showed during the last decade has not changed. And since this kind of behavior rarely changes, one can imagine what the future will bring as the owners advance their mission to develop.