NEWS INSIDE East Orange • Central Orange • Orange Park Acres • Villa Park • Anaheim Hills • Silverado/Modjeska Canyon Areas • North Tustin A Monthly Community Newspaper Est. 1969 March 2020 *********ECRWSSEDDM**** Residential Customer Commentary Page 7 Letters To The Editor Page 8 Canyon Beat Page 8 N. Tustin Notes Page 9 Service Directory Pages 12-14 Prof. Directory Page 14 Classifieds Page 14 Real Estate Page 16 Obituaries Page 16 Sports Page 17-19 See "Fate" continued on page 4 FOLLOWUS at Foothills Sentry The Best News In Town Since 1969 See "Anaheim" continued on page 4 The Serrano Center hosts more than a dozen businesses, includ- ing Orange County Performing Arts Academy with a reported 600 students. By Tina Richards Orange voters will decide whether the city council’s approv- al of a zone change on the Sully- Miller property in East Orange should stand or be reversed, as the issue will be placed on the ballot this November. The city council had the op- tion, at its Feb. 11 meeting, to either rescind its approval of the zone change, in response to a ref- erendum signed by over 13,000 residents; call for a special elec- tion; or put the item on the No- vember ballot. A special election would cost the city $450,000 to $500,000; putting the item on the November general election ballot would cost $8,500. The council opted to wait until the fall. The council, Oct. 22, approved the zone change and a general plan amendment to enable 128 houses to be built on the former sand and gravel mining site. The parcels have long been identified as open space by two governing specific plans and the city’s General Plan. The property owner, Milan Capi- tal, has been using the acreage as a dumping ground for construction waste, and promised neighbors most affected by the noise and dust that it would stop the activity once housing construction began. Promises, promises Aside from neighbors living immediately adjacent to the site, most Orange Park Acres and East Orange residents did not believe the promise. They noted that the dumping operation was likely il- legal, and continued only because the city turned a blind eye and did not enforce its own codes. Fate of controversial zone change will go to voters The development agreement be- tween the city and Milan allows the dumping to continue up to 15 years – the time the investor has to finish the housing project. In exchange for a “promise” to shut down the dumping, the pro- posed housing, residents insisted, would increase traffic congestion on Santiago Canyon Road and Cannon (already parking lots dur- ing rush hour), delay evacuation efforts during fire emergencies (as witnessed during the Canyon 2 Fire in 2017) and add density to the semi-rural area. Project op- ponents also noted that the site is a dam inundation zone, that San- tiago Creek is subject to flooding and building houses there would not only jeopardize future inhab- itants, but increase hazards down- stream. Residents also discounted Mi- lan’s promise to provide 60 acres of open space. Although the in- vestor agreed to install trails and a greenbelt, Milan has not said who will clean up the area, deal with any hazardous waste, restore San- tiago Creek or manage the land. Veiled praise During the council’s delibera- tions over its next steps following the successful referendum, sever- al members applauded the OPA/ East Orange community for its efforts to collect signatures and make use of the “democratic pro- cess.” “I’m prepared to put this on the ballot,” Chip Monaco said, “let you complete the work you started, and let the voters decide.” By Stephanie Lesinski A group opposing the destruc- tion of a neighborhood retail cen- ter cheered Anaheim City Coun- cil’s eleventh hour move, Feb. 11, to deny rezoning the Serrano Center. The council voted, 3-3, to deny the zone change that would have paved the way for 54 new condos. Many thought the battle was lost on Jan. 28, when the council voted 4 to 2 to uphold the prop- erty owner’s appeal to move for- ward with the Residences at Nohl Ranch at Nohl Ranch Road and Serrano Avenue. Rezoning re- quires a second reading, which was scheduled for Feb. 4. Typi- cally, the second reading is just a procedural move and, as such, was lumped with many other items under the consent calendar. However, at that meeting, Coun- cilmember Denise Barnes stated she needed more information to vote and requested a continuance. Barnes said that when she visited the center, she was appalled at the condition of the buildings,“I think we should look at how many times neighbors reported viola- tions on the property,” Barnes said. “The landscape is shoddy, at best.” A closer look The Environment Impact Re- port (EIR) submitted by property owner John Saunders claimed the center was “underutilized.” However, a walk through the center reveals that nearly every space is leased. Also, opponents said Saunders under-reported the monthly rents by omitting the maintenance fees tenants paid. By Tina Richards New Villa Park Mayor Rob- bie Pitts satisfied has first official task by assigning council mem- bers to the various county boards and city committees that require representation. He thought. His decision to assign Chad Zimmerman to the county sani- tation board was immediately challenged, as was his move to reconfigure several of the city’s overlapping advisory commit- tees. Pitts noted that “staff time weighed heavily in his decision” to dissolve several committees. He also pointed out that staff, specifically City Manager Steve Franks, spent over 200 hours a year with committees, that meet- ings were often cancelled and that any recommendations had to come to the council anyway. Council chairmen of any of these committees, he stressed, “could hold ad hoc meetings whenever they wanted. It would be a great act of volunteerism, but would not be agendized or re- quire staff time.” No muss, no fuss Historically, committee as- signments made by the mayor have been accepted by council members. That dynamic changed when Diana Fascenelli was mayor and then-councilman Bill Nelson protested his assignment. The disagreement led to the first council vote on committee as- signments. Last year, after leav- ing the council, he refused to rel- iquish his seat on the Vector Con- trol board, overriding the mayor's option for his own appointment. Pitts had intended to address VP council chooses compromise over conflict his assignments at the January council meeting, but continued it to February when he learned that cutting the Law Enforcement Ad- visory Committee (LEAC) was a non-starter. LEAC, the brain- child of Vince Rossini, is popular among his supporters. Rossini was unwilling to let it go. Pitts agreed to reinstate LEAC, and in return, the council voted to accept his other recommen- dations. Except for the Zimmer- man appointment. Bob Collacott has represented Villa Park on the County Sanitation District Board since 2017, earning over $6,000 per year for attending meetings. Tempest in a teapot Collacott did not want to step down. He enlisted the sanitation board chairman to write a letter of recommendation, noting that Col- lacott’s expertise was unmatched, he was likely to be named vice chairman this year, and he brought irreplaceable value to the board. Those sentiments were echoed in an email from another santitation district board member as well as Villa Park residents Donna Bux- ton and Wayne Silzel. “The santitation district is criti- cal to the health and welfare of Villa Park and Orange County,” Buxton reported. “Bob has the experience, he has the time. He gives a voice to Villa Park. Why would we not want the best of the best on this committee? The price paid to remove him is greater than the benefit.” “Bob has a position of influ- Anaheim City Council surprises by reversing condo decision Grassroots inns not out Orange will allow homeowners to rent their properties for less than 30 days – with restrictions. See Short- term, page 2 Thanks for the memories Stranger surprises young man with a gift bag of souvenirs from a 1950 Jamboree. See Boy Scout, page 6 Look on the bright side Rural residents and wildlife question the need to light up the night. See Canyon Beat, page 8 Behind the badges First responders thanked for all they do at annual awards dinner. See Elks honor, page 10 Fields of dreams High school athletes dominate on the court, the course, the turf and n the pool. See Community Sports, page 17 See "VP council" continued on page 16 Neighbors of the Serrano Center in Anaheim Hills helped convince a city council member to change her vote and deny a zone change that would have enabled condos to replace commerce.