October 2019

Cell intel

Dear Editor:
The Orange City Council is wasting its time by studying the safety of cell towers. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 states the following: “No state or local government or instrumentality thereof may regulate the placement, construction, and modification of personal wireless service facilities on the basis of the environmental effects of radio frequency emissions to the extent that such facilities comply with the Commission’s regulations concerning such emissions.”

In other words, as long as a wireless service provider complies with the FCC rules on radio frequency emissions (which include limits on power levels in human-accessible areas), a city cannot raise health concerns. I worked in the cellular industry when the Telecom Act of 1996 was being drafted, and provided technical input to the FCC’s standard. When I continued to work 14 years in the industry, I personally measured dozens of cell towers and rooftops, and found them well within compliance with FCC standards.

The Orange City Council can redeem itself by insisting that any new cell tower or rooftop structure be aesthetically pleasing.  Requirements to hide antennas using phony palm trees, fake water towers, rooftop antennas hidden behind screens, and antennas hidden in church steeples, “holy poles,” as we called them – are all within the purview of the city government. As an Orange resident who intends to stay, I welcome making wireless providers keep our city beautiful while they continue to improve wireless coverage.

FYI, I am a registered professional electrical engineer in five states, including California, and I have worked my entire 30-plus-year career as a radio frequency engineer.

Joseph A. Darlington

Name change

Dear Editor:
I was wondering if there is a way to correct a name in the September Sentry that highlighted Villa Park’s volleyball girls in the sports section. Erica Hanks was listed as "Erica Hawks" and her number 15 was left out. 

Thank you from a proud mom.

Martha Hanks

Ed. Note:  Thank you for the correction. Consider it done.

Pass it on

Dear Editor:
If you do much traveling on Santiago Canyon Road in Orange, you’re familiar with the eyesore of construction waste that is being stockpiled at the old Sully-Miller sand and gravel property.

Last month, the Foothills Sentry broke the news that there is an application at our city to grant a grading permit that, if approved, would allow construction waste to be dumped on a property that is adjacent to one of the most beautiful stretches of Santiago Creek in Orange.

Let’s compare this new fill operation with the mess you see at Sully-Miller. It’s Chandler Sand and Gravel LLC that is applying for the grading permit -- and that’s the same company that is running the stockpiling operation at Sully-Miller.           

The eyesore by the road at Sully-Miller will appear just a quarter-mile down the road if the grading permit is approved. The same noisy truck after noisy truck will arrive with the same kind of construction waste. This grading permit is for a significant project. It’s on 14.8 acres. It’s going to raise the property up nearly 40 feet, require 1,240,000 cubic yards of material, 70,000 truck trips, and will take five years to complete. 

It is useful to compare the two sites, because the one we see gives us a good feel for what the exposure to noise, dust and traffic will be at the new site. This is important, especially if you are a homeowner near the new site or your kids go to Oakridge Private School. According to the grading plans, all the incoming trucks will go right by the school’s entrance.

Our city is about to grant this grading permit without doing any studies as to what the impacts will be to the neighborhood, the school, the traffic and the environment. It is interesting that none of these studies have been done for the construction waste dumping at the Sully-Miller site either.  

Our city is NOT watching out for the welfare of its citizens. If our city was able to shut down the operation at Sully-Miller, wouldn’t most everyone be grateful? And when it comes to this new grading permit for the fill operation, if our city could deny the permit, I bet we all would be more than grateful.

Maybe it’s time our city becomes proactive.

David Hillman 

Mixed feelings

Dear Editor:
Orange High School recently began construction to build a new science center, library, snack bar, and a variety of other new buildings in order to improve student education and to give the City of Orange a new attraction. Soon enough, OHS will have a two-story science building that will provide students with a 21st century learning environment, which will appeal to many STEM students who want the best learning environment, technology and equipment available to them. Students will have better resources at their disposal and a clean, fresh campus. With this new appeal, I would assume that it would draw new families into the city who want to send their kid(s) to a science-oriented school, and when more students attend OHS, more government funding will be given to the school. 

However, with more families coming into the city, finding a place to live may become even more difficult than it already is. Orange may end up being overpopulated, and the cost of living here will rise. The construction itself has resulted in debris being released into the area, and has caused traffic issues around the school, due to big trucks bringing in materials and parking on the streets. For residents living near OHS, it has been noisy and bothersome. For current OHS students, the construction occurring during the school day is a distraction, with some classrooms sitting right next to bulldozers and front loader vehicles. But at the end of the day, I guess you could say that the negatives of the construction are necessary for the end result. The noise and distraction and overpopulation will be worth it for the future generations who will attend OHS. 

Andreya Gomez

Lemon law

Dear Editor: 
(Sent to Villa Park City Council)

As longtime residents off of Lemon and Serrano, we implore you to reconsider, and not raise the speed limit on Lemon. Rather, the speed limit needs to be enforced by city officers.

Our child was almost killed there as a driver blindly raced down the hill and ran the stop sign. I was taking our daughter to school. After stopping at the sign leading out from Alice, I noticed, out of the corner of my eye, a car speeding down the hill on Lemon. I hit the brakes, avoiding a catastrophe. It was due only to my quick reflexes that only the front of our car was sheared off, instead of the passenger being hit broadside. 

There are many more small children in our neighborhood (east of Lemon), many walking or riding their bikes to school, to the trails, to see friends in town, selling lemonade. The speed limit -- and stop signs -- on Lemon needs to be enforced. If the speed limit is 30, drivers tend to go 35 on average. If the speed limit is 35, how fast will drivers go barreling down the hill on Lemon?

Please help avert a tragedy. Enforce the posted speed limits, don’t raise them.

Greg Mills
Villa Park

Jaacks on tax

Dear Editor: 
Thank you for printing Kathy Davis’ letter concerning the two percent Santa Ana tax that is being charged to 92705 zipcodes. We purchased a new car at a South County dealership. We listed our address as Cowan Heights, 92705-1446. When we read Kathy’s letter, we pulled out our purchase agreement to check the tax. Sure enough, it was 9.25 percent. Also, we, like lots of others, make more and more of our purchases on-line. You guessed it. Online retailers are taxing sales to 92705 zipcodes at 9.25 percent. 

My wife did more research and found that the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (google it) will issue a refund of the two percent Santa Ana tax.  All North Tustin residents need to check the tax on their purchases and notify the vendor and the state. I told one vendor that I would not order from them again because they were overcharging me tax.  That vendor issued credits in five days. 

Gary Jaacks 
Cowan Heights 

Who's counting

Dear Editor:
I had to laugh at the article published in the Foothills Sentry (“Reclamation project promised more traffic on East Orange’s Santiago Canyon Road”) September 2019 issue proclaiming the pending disaster possible, and how many loads of dirt will have to come out of the gravel pit if this proposal is approved. In the article, they come up with a crazy number - something like 275,400 truckloads of dirt would have to be removed from the site -- but never give a source as to where they came up with this totally crazy number. 

Second, does anyone at the Sentry own a calculator? This number of truck trips is insane! Even if the dirt has to be removed from the site - which is does not - this estimate of truck trips is completely loco! 

If it takes five minutes to load a dump truck on average (and I would think it takes much longer) that is 12 trucks an hour. Assuming an eight-hour workday, five days a week, that is 96 loads a day and 480 trucks a week. That is 24,960 loads a year, assuming no weeks off. At that rate, it would take 11 years to complete 275,000 truck loads. 

Mark Moore
The Reserve

Ed. note:  The 275,400 truck trips appear on page 3.3.37 of the project’s Environmental Impact Report. Moore queried the engineering firm who provided that number, and it now says it miscalculated. The EIR reports that 877,000 cubic yards (cy) of dirt will be imported and 500,000 cy exported. It’s technical appendix, however, reports 3,348,200 cy of export and 1,100,000 cy of import.  Which amount the engineering firm used to incorrectly determine truck trips is not clear.

Reality check

Dear Editor:
As a resident of the area in question for over 40 years, I object to this proposed Trails at Santiago Creek. When my family purchased our home, the Sully-Miller site was designated as open space – we saw zoning maps, which were used to help convince us to purchase. The site is not zoned for residential. The city is critically deficient in park space – so rezoning this property as residential will only make the scarcity problem worse, when the majority of the residents in this area have been waiting for the day it will become a park.

As it stands now, I cannot get in or out of my neighborhood in the morning or late afternoon due to traffic on Santiago and Cannon. On weekends, a steady thumping of Harleys drones on at all hours. Adding additional housing will bring traffic to a complete stop.

Finally, the current developer should not be rewarded for the bad faith and questionable tactics in dividing the residents, as well as operating what is essentially a dump on the property to spite those who objected to the initial efforts made to rezone. Carrots and sticks, obfuscated mailers and dishonest signage. The list of negative tactics just goes on. 

It seems as if every few years we go through this process. Am I forever destined to attend planning and council meetings on this property? Will it ever stop? Is Orange the new stage for Groundhog Day?

Please do the right thing and decline the request for rezoning. Then put forth some honest effort to raise funds in order to establish an active/passive park area – when you break ground, put up a big sign that documents the tremendous work the council did in establishing a beautiful park in East Orange. Current and future generations of Orange citizens will be forever thankful. How did Grijalva ever get built? Can we implement a similar strategy? Put a stop to the madness.

Mike Walker

Brazen builder

Dear Editor:
It seems to me, that the Milan Company that owns the Sully-Miller property is getting special treatment and not following the rules. How in the world did it get a 78 percent reduction in property taxes? I am sure many of us would like our property taxes lowered, but how would that impact our roads, infrastructure, public employees and schools?

When you drive by the Sully-Miller property, one notices the giant mounds of construction waste, not related to any mining operation, but rather a non-permitted landfill lacking city oversight. Seems illegal to me. 

Milan’s bully tactics have been going on for years. We all remember the goons hired to interfere with the signature gathering during the Ridgeline referendum. Milan’s hired goons yelled cuss words and called Orange citizens who were gathering signatures “liars.” This was all engineered to create a disturbance to prevent people from signing. Their interference with the referendum took away our direct democracatic right to listen and be informed.

Milan has not been a good neighbor. Instead of harassing citizens of Orange, it should face the fact that it never should have purchased land that was not already zoned for houses. It should pay its fair share of taxes and get rid of construction waste stockpiles it created to intimidate us. The noise, dust and truck traffic is an eyesore and a public nuisance. It’s time for our city leaders to protect taxpayers and our property rights.

My question to Mayor Mark Murphy is: are you going to let this happen in our city again?

Pat Closson


Dear Editor:
I would like to respond to Tom Broz’s September Letter to the Editor.

Broz cited the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is an agency of U.S. Department of Homeland Security. FEMA is responsible for coordinating the federal government’s response to natural and manmade disasters. 

The FEMA report is lacking, in that it is based upon geology and elevation -- not actual events that have taken place in the past. The volume of water stored behind the Santiago Dam is twice the volume that can be stored behind the Villa Park Dam. If the mile-long earthquake fault, directly under the center of the Santiago Dam,  should ever rupture, the volume of water would greatly increase the land area for a 100-year flood.

The term “500-year flood” here is superfluous, as the 1916 flood of Santiago Creek over the proposed building site was over 100 feet wide and some 50 feet deep. There have been severe floods in 1938, and again in 1969.

Broz states that the Villa Park Dam is deemed “high risk” through the California Department of Water Resources (DWR).  The phrase “high risk” does not exist in the DWR website. Its sole responsibility is to manage and regulate the State of California’s water usage. FEMA does not use this terminology either.

The term “high risk” is used by the Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO). Such a classification is assigned to dams where failure or misoperation will probably cause loss of human life.

Furthermore, the DWR does not inspect water repositories in the State of California for structural safety. That responsibility lies with the State of California Department of Water Resources, Division of Safety of Dams (DSOD). DSOD provides oversight to the design, construction and maintenance of over 1,200 jurisdictional-sized dams in California.

Broz further states: that “the dam structure has been certified ‘satisfactory’ by the DWR and thus poses no failure threat.”  By the aforesaid clarification and discussion of the purpose and existence of DWR, it is obvious that Broz’s statement is misleading.

What Broz did not mention, is the fact that the whole area is subject to soil liquefaction. Reengineering the project site is not enough to ensure that the proposed housing development will not be affected by the liquefaction of the rest of the large area. Also, according to the County of Orange water table maps, there still exists an active free-flowing subterranean river along the Santiago Creek, which is subject to liquefaction during a seismic event.

Daniel Correa
Former city planner and planning commissioner