Letter to the Editor

Park, not parking lot

Dear Editor:
Thank you for the recent article on the plan approved by the Board of Supervisors for alleged improvements to Peters Canyon.

I was dismayed to see that the plan includes an overflow parking lot at Skylark. 

One of the main problems at Peters is overcrowding. Most locals avoid the park on weekends. It is akin to hiking on an LA freeway.  

One way to control the crowds and potential destruction of the park was to discourage visitors once the parking lot was full. Now there will be another parking lot, which will encourage even more crowding of this already overcrowded park.

Perhaps the board could reconsider this change, as it certainly doesn’t qualify as an improvement to the park.

Catherine Green
Rocking Horse Ridge

A cancer grows

Dear Editor:
Read your article, “Residents ask city to stop spraying chemicals in Orange parks” with great interest and concern. As someone who actively opposed the approval and licensing of glyphosate in its trademark product, Round-Up, three decades ago, I am encouraged the general public is finally waking up to the long-term health risks associated with the use of this herbicide. 

Scientific studies have consistently shown these chemical compounds to be toxic, especially when applied repeatedly, even in low concentrations. The EPA and other federal or state regulatory agencies, however, have not seen fit to ban, or even significantly control, the use of these chemicals. A major factor affecting any such regulatory restriction(s) relates to the excessive influence Monsanto, Round-Up’s manufacturer, has had over the chemical regulatory bureaucracy. 

Although regulatory action has been at a stalemate for years, an important move against glyphosate has come from the courts. Multiple lawsuits have been filed against Monsanto on behalf of litigants arguing they, or their deceased relatives, contracted cancer as a result of long-term exposure to the chemical herbicide. In each case, the court’s judgment has been in favor of the plaintiff, and against Monsanto,  and awarded damages totaling hundreds of millions of dollars.

Where regulation has feared to tread, the legal system has forged ahead. The writing is on the wall for Monsanto, and other manufacturers, who have seen nothing but “green lights” when attempting to market toxic chemicals. Next may come class-action lawsuits and settlements, such as those entered into by the tobacco industry some years ago.

Los Angeles just banned the use of glyphosates in public areas. It would behoove our local governments to heed this new reality.                 

Nick Spain
East Orange

Cause for applause

Dear Editor:
Thank you to the Orange City Council for approving the development project at the Sully-Miller site. This must have been a tough decision for the city council, with compelling arguments both for and against the project. 

I respect the research and investigation they put into casting their votes and listening to the community these past years. I also respect the passion and activism this property has generated, both for and against development.

In my opinion, the ugly piles of waste concrete and industrial crushing operations don’t belong in this residential and equestrian area. 

This project will replace the piles with a neighborhood and a greenbelt, with public trails crossing the property. For this location, I’m against gravel operations and in favor of homes, open space, and trails. What a relief that this land will be upgraded from a dump to a beauty. I look forward to enjoying the new trails and welcoming the new residents. 

Addison Adams
The Reserve

The road not taken

Dear Editor:
It sickens me to see how far the OPA community has dragged the current Sully-Miller development proposal into the ground. OPA has equaled, or even gone beyond, the piles of refuse that exist at the site. Their arguments could have all been answered and appeased if only they would have negotiated. Instead, they have chosen to go the lawyer route and sue to stop a development that could have satisfied most everyone. 

The unsightly, hazardous and noisy situation that exists at Sully-Miller could all go away with some negotiating. 

Their argument concerning traffic from the site will not go away. Whether or not anything is built at Sully-Miller, traffic will continue, either through clean up or continued dumping. Additional car trips from the homes will hardly be detectable because of the ever-increasing traffic on Santiago Canyon Road. If homes are built, the truck traffic will be gone, and that is almost a wash for the extra car trips per day. 

OPA loses whether or not they win their argument at city council. They will have lost an opportunity to have their own arena site. Kids will lose the opportunity to have a place for 4-H. OPA will lose income of over $30,000 annually from those who pay rent right now.   

Ridgeline could go back to what it was originally, before someone’s scorched earth policy made it a blighted mess. There are private enterprises waiting to bid on fixing up the site at no expense to taxpayers. But, because OPA won’t negotiate, it could end up being a nightmare for residents.

We fought to save Ridgeline, and the present city council was integral in that fight. Now OPA is saying that doesn’t matter. If OPA loses its argument against this development, they will take to the streets getting signatures for another referendum. What are voters going to think? They signed a referendum to save Ridgeline, and now they will be asked to sign another. 

This is a big picture item, and everyone in the city matters, not just OPA leadership. There are people in OPA that are scratching their heads, wondering why the arena doesn’t matter or why Ridgeline is junk. They are going to be asked to cough up thousands of dollars to pay for lawsuits, when a little negotiating could have solved many problems. Our world needs more give and take. It has always worked. 

Tom Davidson
Orange Park Acres

Slap in the face

Dear Editor:
The monologue by the City of Orange traffic engineer wandered on for at least 15 minutes during the Oct. 22 city council hearing on the Sully-Miller project. He was responding to one of the few questions asked by a council member about the most complicated piece of land in the city -- a collection of methane, liquefacation, rusting and buried mining equipment, and an illegally operating and city-condoned concrete waste crushing operation. 

Mike Alvarez's question about traffic was completely appropriate. Many project opponents voiced concerns about the additional traffic it would cause. Of course, one should never risk a question that one does not know the answer to, and that is the case here – well, almost.

It seems that our city traffic engineer did not have the answer that would fit the tone of the deliberations when the council would vote unanimously in favor of the project. His monologue was so convoluted and unclear that Alvarez had to tell him what he wanted to hear. Alvarez asked if the changes that were made in Anaheim Hills, of all places, had the effect of reducing traffic at the Sully-Miller site. Our traffic engineer responded, “Yes, indeed!” The audience was dumbfounded. The councilmembers smirked.

The Weimer Room, directly behind the council chambers, is where participants gather during breaks in the proceedings. It was there that our traffic engineer heard that he would be called on by the council to voice an “expert” opinion. He had none, and was overheard saying to his superiors that he had no idea what to say on the matter. He was directed to double-talk a response – the council would cover him. He did that endlessly and the council reciprocated with a gracious “Thank you!”

The current city council may be the best friend any developer ever had.

Peter Jacklin
Orange Park Acres

Dear Editor:
The Orange City Council approved Milan’s proposal to develop 128 homes on the former Sully-Miller property, Oct. 22.

The assembled citizens were advised by Councilman Chip Monaco, (who had recused himself previously) that, “Just tonight, I spoke with the city attorney, and I can participate and vote.” How convenient. 

The council then heard from multiple citizens who, aside from one, opposed the plan. And then the problems began. The most interesting was how the City of Orange had asked Anaheim if re-striping an area in that city had reduced traffic. When told that action had helped ease traffic in another city, the council took it for gospel that the re-stripe would alleviate the traffic caused by more homes on Santiago Canyon Road in Orange.

The dog and pony show didn’t stop there, as Milan’s lobbyist and lawyer were called upon to “clarify” issues that weren’t even raised by citizens. When the “discussion period” ended, Councilmember Kim Nichols proceeded to tell the assembly how she had “spoken with many members of the community,” and was “ashamed, and angry that the community was so divided.” She failed to mention that our community is divided because Frank Elfend, the lobbyist for Milan, has done everything he can to cause this division.

Nichols then began an excoriating attack on the residents of OPA, telling us that, “You have bigger dangers in OPA than this plan, you have county spots in OPA that any developer can come in and develop at will!” Thank you for educating us poor, misguided people who are your constituents, chastising us, and telling us that Milan’s plan is not a threat.

Nichols’ tirade was a slap in the face to all who have tried to bring to our city council’s attention the real dangers in that piece of land.  

The next “player” in this melodrama was Chip Monaco. Monaco couldn’t wait to praise Nichols, and his pandering was so disgusting to the people assembled, that a mass exodus followed. The comments by Mayor Pro Tem Mike Alvarez and Mayor Mark Murphy made it obvious to those remaining that this “decision” was a foregone conclusion.

A referendum will follow. We, the chastised residents of this city, will continue to oppose this dangerous, incomplete and unwanted zone change. When re-election time comes (and the mayor is up next year), we will put in as much effort and expense as is necessary to make sure these people do not “represent us” ever again.

John Reina
Orange Park Acres

Dear Editor:
As a North Tustin resident and longtime reader of the Sentry, I was extremely disappointed to hear that the Orange City Council approved the zoning change for the Sully-Miller site. 

There is obviously overwhelming opposition from the current residents who would be adversely affected by this project, and it sets a dreadful precedent, which will be sure to cause other greedy outsiders to attempt similar end runs around current zoning laws. It appears to me that the elected officials are not listening to their constituents.

Connie Bowen
North Tustin

Dear Editor:
I am appalled at the Orange City Council’s approval of the Milan Development plan on Tuesday evening. It was my first experience attending a local city council meeting, and I witnessed a complete deviance of local government to the desires of the people who elected this city council.

Mary Nori
Orange Park Acres

Takin' it to the streets

Dear Editor:
Thank you for being our eyes and ears. Tuesday night’s council meeting was a disgrace. It was a clear example of what big money can buy. 

I have talked to many people in Orange, and everyone, except for one, had read your paper on Milan’s zone change. They were not “afraid” of OPA, but rather thankful that we picked up the gauntlet to do something about it. The one exception was adamant that “there is nothing we can do, big money always wins.” 

So, if you are like him and think you can’t make a difference, I am here to tell you ... you can! We can! Each of us deserves to be heard. Each of us deserves to be represented. Your children and my children deserve a better future in Orange. An Orange unchanged by the big bucks of Milan. Who, by the way, is not a developer but an investor. 

What can you do? You can sign our referendum and get it on the ballot. The referendum will allow us all to decide, not just four council members. We can send a united message to our city council. We can make a difference for Orange because we are worth it. 

Michelle Gregory

Dear Editor:
It is shocking.  The Orange City Council, of which three, the mayor and two councilmembers, live in the East Orange/Orange Park Acres area, chose not to recognize the dangerous impacts and voted to approve the zone change on the Sully-Miller site. This council is dangerous to Orange. 

It is obvious by the unanimous vote that the city council is attempting to make the city’s serious errors of oversight on the Sully-Miller operation disappear by covering it with houses. The evidence has been repeatedly brought to the attention of the city council, city attorney, planning commission and city staff in the spirit of helping our city.  All fell on deaf ears.  

Need validation? View the public comment records online, including the 38-page Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger, and Edgecumbe Law firm letters. How much more evidence did this city need to take corrective action and do the right thing?

Both the city council and planning commission accepted as gospel Milan consultant Frank Elfend’s response to Environmental Impact Report mitigation questions: “We’ll work that out later.” Would you accept that answer as a responsible elected official for Orange citizens?

Watch for your opportunity to sign the referendum petition and allow the Orange citizens to vote “no” to residential zoning. 

Laura Thomas
Orange Park Acres 

Dear Editor:
I have lived in OPA for 25 years. We are used to fighting for things. Our way of life and desire to protect our rural equestrian life is extremely important. 

We are working on group homes in our neighborhood; we are working on our historic district status, we work on everything. Continually.

What I failed to mention to our city council back in September, is that the people in their chairs change all the time, but the people in our chairs (the public) hardly change at all. Many of our neighbors have lived here 50, 60 or more, years.  Our goal is to preserve our way of life here, maintain the right to have horses in our backyard and trails to ride on. We also fight to keep urban sprawl and encroachment into OPA at a minimum. That includes heavy traffic. 

For those reasons, we are proceeding with a referendum to get the Sully-Miller development on the ballot for the people of Orange to decide what should be there. 

That is what it’s all about, right?  “We the people … ”?

Carolyn Aliotta
Orange Park Acres

Dear Editor:
The lessons I’m learning about politics from the Orange City Council have been eye-opening. I was under the impression you should voice your opinion, present your concerns, and step up and do something if compelled. Apparently that is no longer the correct action, lest you be labeled, “attacking” and “disgracing” your adversaries. My naivete had me believing the outcries from the majority would be considered and represented by those elected, yet we were unanimously disregarded. 

The foundation of the “no zone change” designation for the Sully-Miller property is not about entitlements for OPA, but about the rights of every community to rally behind their specific plans and zoning restrictions, against investors, developers, and even city officials who think what they want is what’s best for the community. 

The reasoning behind the council’s decision to approve this dangerous project eludes me. Even based on a view that Milan’s gifts and development creates heaven-on-earth for all of Orange, in reality, it is pie-in-the sky, because there is zero guarantee that any of it will come to fruition. Milan’s “professionals” responded to citizens' concerns with open-ended statements and no solutions. It was interesting to see how saying almost nothing was enough to placate our officials into supporting a project that has yet to make an ounce of practical sense.

 Watching this unfold has helped educate me in city government, with a special appreciation for a referendum. With enough signatures, every voter in the City of Orange has time to review, then agree or disagree with the council’s decisions.

Cindy Cousine
Orange Park Acres

Dear Editor:
December of this year will mark the beginning of our 39th year in OPA.  When we moved in, Santiago Canyon Road (Villa Park Road) was closed between Lemon and Hewes because it was washed out. 

Our first experience with brush fires was in October 1982. The "Register" ran a half-page picture of my husband on the roof of our house, hosing it down. Since then, we have endured about five major fires.  Two years ago we had mandatory evacuation of our horses, pets and homes because of the Canyon 2 Fire.  A home was lost about a half-mile from this proposed development. Had the wind not changed, many more homes would have been lost.

Safety from flood and fire is not hyperbole for people living in East Orange.  As we have experienced, red flag warnings for fires are on the increase, and the intensity of fires seems to be on the increase as well. 

In the years since we moved here, homes have been built east of Newport Avenue, in the hills along Cannon, in the hills north and east of Cannon, north of Serrano, and along Santiago Canyon Road. The toll road and Jamboree have increased the traffic that streams through East Orange daily. The ability to safely evacuate the increasing numbers of inhabitants in this area has decreased geometrically.  

Where does the city council stand on these safety issues? Strictly with the developer. The zone change that will allow the construction of upwards of 100 homes is evidence of the council’s priorities. Safety and protection of its citizenry was not their choice.  

The citizens of Orange must reject this action by a referendum to place this issue on the ballot. Please sign the petition that will empower Orange citizens to vote on this important safety issue. 

Jane Canseco
Orange Park Acres

November 2019