September 2018

One good deed

Dear Editor:
A very honorable man found my purse left in a shopping cart in Ralph’s parking lot on the afternoon of Aug. 21. He immediately carried the purse into Ralph’s (17801 Santiago Blvd., VP), putting it into the hands of the responsible manager in charge. Within minutes, caring store personnel were able to return the purse to me, all intact. But, the gentleman had not left his name ~ giving me no way to express appreciation.

Thinking this noble man might live in the Villa Park area, where he just may read the Foothills Sentry, it is my hope he will recognize himself in this story and know that with a “most” grateful heart, I say THANK YOU.

Karen Reese

Lay down the law

Dear Editor:
Re: “Villa Park affirms ban on short-term rentals”

How unfortunate that some on the Villa Park City Council have decided to expand their dominance over quasi-private property rights by banning short-term rentals on private property.             When it comes to STR’s, a law to ban them is nothing more than a pre-crime, the go-to gadget from the political toolbox that churns an inexhaustible supply of complaints into rules. This is why city attorney Todd Litfin’s statement that, “ignorance of the law is no defense” is an offense to my rational sensibilities that only a lawyer would make.  Such a statement is something someone says to avoid engaging in a rational argument and shut it down by blunt force instead.

Renting your property, or a room, does not inherently violate anyone else’s rights. Creating a rule to ban the practice of STR’s is based on the possibility that your renter might infringe on someone’s natural rights in the future – a pre-crime. You’ve been judged and sentenced before you even got out of bed. The appropriate response is to enforce existing laws that already address the violation of anyone else’s personal freedoms, whether by the homeowner or the home renter. 

Homeowners who are renting out, or would have rented out, will now lose that additional revenue. They now have less money to spend in the local economy. And the potential renters, now with fewer rental property options, will face higher rental costs, including from hotels that will now enjoy less competition. 

It is such a sadly predictable shame that a local government failed to engage in a comprehensive assessment of the tangible and intangible costs for all of those involved on both sides of the question. This failure to address unintended consequences is what French economist Frederic Bastiat described in “That Which is Seen, and That Which is Not Seen,” and over 160 years later, city councils still haven’t learned. 

Scott Logue
North Tustin

Two sides to a story

Dear Editor:

I was an Orange resident in attendance at the city council meeting you describe in “Orange resolution called out by ACLU" (August 2018).

I’d like to point out that the room was not an even split on the issue of the resolution, as you incorrectly described in your article. In fact, the majority of Orange residents were against the resolution. Opinions were fairly evenly split amongst the people who attended, but that is because much of the support of the resolution was bussed in from communities near and far. They transported those people to nearly all of the city council meetings who were debating these kinds of resolutions.

Brad West

Dear Editor:
I enjoy reading your local newspaper. I was disappointed to see, however, an error – and an egregious one – in your article “Orange resolution called out by ACLU.”  

I was present at the entirety of the April 10 hearing at which the resolution in question was passed. It is a gross misrepresentation to assert that “Orange residents were fairly equally divided between support and opposition.”

In fact, the overwhelming majority of people who spoke against the resolution (and its anti-immigrant animus) were residents of Orange (as made clear during public comments). In contrast, those who spoke for the resolution were a notorious, motley group – many of whom are known anti-immigrant activists and white nationalists – who travel from town to town throughout Southern California to support resolutions such as the one before the Orange City Council.  Few – if any – are Orange residents.

Actual residents of Orange on the night of April 10 were – and remain – opposed to the resolution at issue.

Gregory Pleasants

Dear Editor:
I have recently read your article “[Orange] Resolution called out by ACLU.” 

I attended this meeting on April 10th.  I sat there from 4:30 until 11:30 p.m.  First of all, the resolution number is 11074. Secondly, the majority of the opposition to CA SB54 was not Orange residents. I attended other city council meetings, and they were the same individuals claiming to be residents of another city.  The Orange residents were not as you stated: “equally divided between support and opposition.” This is not a fact. Please make the correction immediately. 

Laura Villa

Dear Editor:
I am emailing on behalf of several Orange residents who attended the city counsel meeting referenced in the article, “Orange resolution called out by ACLU,” and we wish to have a few inaccuracies cleared up.

The loudest voices of opposition to CA SB45 were from persons who were not, in fact, Orange residents. Those same folks were present at city council meetings in several local cities attempting to represent residents. It looks like their ruse was effective.

In fact, Orange city residents were not “...fairly equally divided between support and opposition.” Orange residents agree with the ACLU on this, and their feelings were ignored at the city council meeting, in favor of strangers who spouted their rehearsed lines.

Christine Rivers

Four-wheel folly

Dear Editor:
There is a well-known trail in the Cleveland National Forest that recently has been subject to prohibited vehicle traffic. Many of you are familiar with Santiago Truck Trail and Joplin Trail, which are designated as hiking, biking and equestrian-only (STT is authorized vehicles only). Off of Trabuco Creek Road is an off-road trail that trespasses on private property and then connects with Joplin Trail. There are no gates or barriers that obstruct vehicle passage.

On a few recent mountain bike rides on the Santiago Truck Trail/Joplin Trail, I have witnessed Jeeps trying to maneuver their way on the non-vehicle trail. Years ago, the trail was only three to four feet wide, but with the recent vehicle traffic, it is up to eight feet wide in spots. The traffic has destroyed a tree canopy that was a welcomed shade retreat.

There was a group of four vehicles that got stuck and realized they had to turn around in an area with a hill on one side and a drop off on the other.  It was quite the commotion to get them turned around, even blocking the trail so not even a hiker or a bike could pass.  A couple years ago, a vehicle went off the trail, down the hill and was removed by helicopter days later.

What is more concerning is the fire danger that is apparent. In the above incident, the truck was hovering over dry brush while trying to turn around.  A hot catalytic converter can start a huge brush fire in an instant. Last weekend, at a crest overlooking Trabuco Creek Road, there was evidence of small campfires and an abundance of beer cans and trash.

I have made efforts to bring this scenario to the attention of the Trabuco Forest Rangers, California Highway Patrol, and the OC Sheriff, but they have turned a blind eye and have said they do not have the funds or staff to investigate.  They acknowledge the issue, but refuse to accept any responsibility or have any interest in stopping the illegal activity.  

There are plenty of recreation areas for vehicles in Orange County, but the Cleveland National Forest trails are not it. 

Kathryn Monteleone 

Ed. note: Monteleone’s letter came in two days before the Holy Fire started.

The defense rests

Dear Editor:
On Aug. 28, I spoke at the Villa Park City Council meeting on behalf of residents angered by a frivolous lawsuit filed by Councilperson Diane Fascenelli against City Manager Steve Franks and Mayor Bob Collacott. The suit alleges that election documentation was completed improperly and Collacott should be removed from the November ballot. 

This is yet another in a series of personal and professional attacks against Collacott by Fascenelli that has gone on for four years. Following his election in 2014, Collacott discovered that Fascenelli was not reimbursing the city for her healthcare policy premiums and ignoring staff demands for payment. Collacott had a fiduciary responsibility to disclose this matter to Villa Park residents and he did just that. Since that time, Fascenelli has turned the city council into a platform to unleash her personal vendetta against Collacott.

Since taking office, Collacott has compiled an impressive resume of improvements and accomplishments benefitting the city, some of which are highlighted in my presentation. He has been focused on community safety and the integrity of city infrastructure. 

I have received confirmation from the city that defending this suit is not covered by the general counsel retainer. The taxpayers of Villa Park will have to foot this bill – as well as the cost of considerable staff time. Meanwhile, it is costing Fascenelli nothing as her husband is her attorney. 

At the November election I urge residents of Villa Park to put an end to Fascenelli’s distractions and vote in a council that will be focused on the business of the city. My entire presentation can be viewed on the Villa Park website.

Donna Buxton
Villa Park

Dear Editor:
In the past I have criticized the animosity that exists on the Villa Park City Council. It appeared to be getting better lately, however, the last council meeting was beyond words. 

The mayor created the whole mess by apparently forgetting when he had to file his documents for reelection. This lapse resulted in a lawsuit being filed against him and the city stating that proper election procedures were not followed.

This then incited the mayor’s supporters to attend the meeting. They attacked and tried to intimidate. They were disruptive and rude to members of the city council. The meeting then turned into a political campaign, extolling the many accomplishments of the mayor, who had started the whole debacle in the first place.

I don’t know how much the mayor was involved in all this donnybrook, but he surely must have known about it, because he took no obvious action to stop it at the meeting. Luckily, there was a Deputy Sheriff in attendance who tried to calm things down.

This is a wonderful city and we do not need such actions from members of the community and city council. The mayor apparently made a mistake and got sued. Let the chips fall where they may. There is already too much divisive politics at the state and federal level. Why bring it into our great city?

James P. Reichert
Former VP city councilman