Thumbs up

Dear Editor:
I would like to thank Scott Breeden for a great article on the history of Orange County. I always wondered why Portola chose his geographical route going inland, instead of along the beach from San Diego to Los Angeles. Looking at the map, it appears that maybe he chose the path of less resistance for his men and animals. Or maybe he chose that route as the established route by the natives. 

I also like the children’s humor in their illustration of the parable.

Carlos Herrera

No good deed

Dear Editor:
Recently, while researching public records for the Sully-Miller property, I came across a bit of information that is not well known, yet should be.

A little background: Hanson Aggregates West, Inc. sold the more-than-100 acres of property north of Santiago Canyon Road near Cannon Street to JMI Properties/Santiago Partners, LLC. The grant deed was recorded on Aug. 31, 2007. A stipulation in the grant deed prohibits the LLC from the “manufacture, storage, import, sale or distribution of aggregate” or certain other materials produced on the site. The prohibitions have been ignored for as long as they have existed.

A quitclaim deed filed on Sept. 8, 2016 removed the LLC from ownership of the property in favor of Milan REI X, LLC. In a similar filing, recorded on Aug. 10, 2016, fewer than 30 calendar days earlier than the quitclaim deed, the LLC entered into an agreement with Milan Capital and TRG Group, LLC by which “Milan has agreed to make certain payments to TRG which relate to” the Sully-Miller property and “the potential development thereof.” The agreement is not exposed in the filed document. The payment obligations “run with the land and … (are) binding upon Milan … and shall inure to the benefit of TRG.” The TRG filing for LLC status was approved on May 13, 2016.

Suddenly, after almost 10 years, this shadowy figure of TRG emerges. It was not difficult to discover who TRG is. A search of state records brought the answer in a few minutes.

TRG is none other than Frank Elfend. He is the lead man on the Trails at Santiago Creek project, designed to eliminate a couple of white elephants from Milan’s inventory at the expense of City of Orange taxpayers, and to extract revenge upon the Orange Park Acres citizenry for a distant defeat at the California Supreme Court.

For those of you who have met Elfend or heard him pitch the project, I ask if he has ever exposed the fact that he holds what is essentially a lien on the Sully-Miller property. Could this be affecting his truth telling? 

The next time you come across Elfend, please take the time to probe a little deeper when he promises you a world of far-future benefits in exchange for a mere change in zoning that destroys long-standing protections for open space in East Orange. Ask Elfend what’s in it for him – and don’t expect to get the whole story. You haven’t heard the whole story at this point.

Peter Jacklin
Orange Park Acres

You said it

Dear Editor:
Mike Spurgeon, thanks for owning up to the fact, in your recent letter to the editor, that, in 1993 when you were on city council, you rezoned the 12.6 acres north of Santiago Creek as “residential” and still believe, after 26 years, your decision was a correct one. I agree with you completely, as did all the folks that live on Mabury Road.

Obviously, you believe in property rights for all, and Resolution 8182 that you approved in 1993 stands. The city council made it very clear in that resolution that future development proposals for the remainder of the Sully-Miller property will be governed by the Orange Park Acres Plan and the East Orange General Plan. Both of those plans designate 96 acres as open space. Those are the facts.

There’s no argument, Milan is allowed to build houses in front of your home, and the balance is to remain open space. It doesn’t need to be a park. It just can’t be houses. By the way, the fewest homes that are legally allowed would be 25, not 128. Thanks for approving the houses north of the creek and clarifying future development for the balance of the site. 

Charlie Leffler 
Former OPA resident

Can't stop the feeling

Dear Editor:
Deja vu, Milan fliers are in the mailbox again! Note that the endorsers of this project are either directly impacted by the orchestrated nuisance Milan has created and are desperate to stop Milan’s operations at any cost to the city and Orange residents, or they want to turn designated open space into residential so that a select few in Mabury can get rid of the residential zoning that was approved in 1993.

How is more housing and traffic; disaster entrapment and gridlock; living in a flood zone downstream from two dams atop two earthquake faults; buried toxins; exposure to methane gas and dangers of explosions from an adjacent landfill; and exposure of taxpayers to liability a “boon?”

There can be no debate that Milan’s operations at Sully-Miller have been an egregious affront to the community. But the road to correction should not lead us into an even worse disaster that could actually cost human lives and financial pain to all residents. Those who responsibly care about the community, and not just themselves or the best interests of their friends, should demand that the city reinforce the codes on Sully-Miller, and have Milan reclaim the land. Come join us, by first stopping The Bailout at Santiago Creek.

Sharon Mulé
Orange Park Acres

Reserve: yes

Dear Editor:
As the elected board of The Reserve at Orange Park Acres HOA, we unanimously resolve that we support the proposed open space and residential development plan submitted for The Trails at Santiago Creek, currently under consideration by the City of Orange, assuming that all sand and gravel operations are terminated immediately.

The site is currently zoned sand and gravel and has large, unsightly piles of dirt, gravel and broken chunks of concrete, as well as heavy machinery. Since we are adjacent to the site, we suffer the direct impacts of noise and dust, which motivates us (as well as anyone else living nearby) to vote in favor of a quick cessation of the current activities. The developer proposes to build single-family homes on 40 acres, which is supported by our neighborhood. Single-family homes in this area are consistent with the surrounding neighborhoods, and a tremendous improvement to sand and gravel operations.  

Development was discussed for this property as long ago as 1993, when part of the property was zoned residential.  This property needs to be cleaned up immediately. A small neighborhood with open space is a huge improvement over the dump that is there now. We hope to see the development proposal, in one form or another, approved. The time for opposition has passed. 

The vast majority of the residents of The Reserve support some form of the current proposal for The Trails at Santiago Creek and urge approval.

Mark Moore
Member of the HOA Board The Reserve

Reserve: no

Dear Editor:
We, along with other neighbors, strongly oppose the Trails at Santiago Creek development. We are original Reserve owners, and knew not to purchase a home overlooking the sand and gravel site.  In hindsight, the city never should have approved homes next to Sully-Miller. I’m sorry, but the Reserve homeowners who bought next to Sully-Miller knew what they were buying, no different than Milan’s bad business decision to purchase the property without entitlements. 

Milan’s proposal will create negative impacts that Orange residents will have to deal with for many years to come, long after the investors are gone. Clearly, it is dangerous to build homes on the site. We will not support a zone change. The traffic is gridlocked every night, so much so, our neighborhood is unable to make a right turn onto Santiago from Windes. Putting houses on Sully-Miller, no matter Milan’s empty traffic solutions and promises, only adds more gridlock. Evacuation is a serious issue for us, as we witnessed in the 2017 Canyon 2 Fire. The project site is in a flood zone, may be toxic, and is adjacent to methane gas vents and many other hazards. It is not our responsibility to bail out investors who took a gamble, and now seek to make a considerable profit if the city council grants a zone change to residential. It’s the city council’s responsibility to protect our property rights and not expose residents to economic and safety liabilities. No one can truly know the ramifications this project will bring. There are just too many liabilities. The questionable benefits simply don’t outweigh the risks.

Kim and Kirk Plehn
The Reserve

July 2019