Foothills Sentry January 2020

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 January 2020 *********ECRWSSEDDM**** Residential Customer Guest Commentary Page 7 Letters To The Editor Page 7-9 Canyon Beat Page 10 N. Tustin Notes Page 11 Service Directory Pages 12-14 Prof. Directory Page 14 Classifieds Page 14 Real Estate Page 16 Obituaries Page 17 Sports Page 18-19 See "Petition" continued on page 2 FOLLOWUS at Foothills Sentry The Best News In Town By Tina Richards Orange citizens intent on re- scinding the city council’s ap- proval of The Trails at Santiago Creek, a controversial housing development on the Sully-Miller site, needed 7,001 voter signa- tures to get the referendum is- sue on the ballot next November. They gathered 13,192. The almost-double number of signatures provides plenty of pad- ding to ensure that the required 7,001—10 percent of registered voters in Orange — will be cer- tified by the registrar of voters. During the certification process, any number of signatures may be disqualified. Signers must be reg- istered voters and live in the city. Handwriting must be legible and signatures match what the regis- trar has on file. The signed petitions were turned into the city clerk’s of- fice Dec. 4 and transported to the registrar the following day. The registrar has 30 days to certify the signatures. Hit the ground running Thirty days is what petitioners had to collect the needed number of signatures. The city council approved a General Plan amend- ment and zone change, certified the Environmental Impact Re- port and signed a development agreement with investor Milan Capital on Oct. 22. The approvals were given over the objections of scores of residents who repeat- edly called the project’s flaws and lack of details to the city’s attention. Citizens were prepared to launch the signature-gathering for a referendum immediately fol- lowing the council’s decision. But Mayor Mark Murphy did not sign the resolution formalizing the ap- provals for almost two weeks. The 30-day clock, therefore, did not start ticking until Nov. 4. Petition to place dubious development approvals on November ballot weighs in with 13,000 signatures “We talked to 13,000 Or- ange voters,” petitioner Katrina Kirkeby reported. “We now know what’s on people’s minds more than the city council does. It was surprising how many people are fed up with Orange city govern- ment. They have different issues, different concerns, but many be- lieve that the city council doesn’t listen to them.” A citywide stake The 180 volunteer signature gatherers were listening -- and also apparently inspiring others to take action. “I’d be knocking on doors in a neighborhood,” peti- tioner Laurel Maldonado pointed out, “and after explaining what we were doing, the person would say, ‘give me a petition. I’ll get signatures in the rest of my neigh- borhood.’And they would. I can’t By Tina Richards The Orange Unified School Board accepted the petition from OC Classical Academy (OCCA) to join the district as a charter school, wrapping up a conten- tious Dec. 14 public meeting that lasted well into the wee hours. Board members John Ortega, Rick Ledesma, Alexia Deligi- anni-Brydges and Brenda Leb- sack voted to approve the charter petition; Kris Erickson, Andrea Yamasaki and Kathy Moffat vot- ed to reject it. OCCA plans to build a curricu- lum around classical Western Eu- ropean texts, the Bible and Latin. It is modeled after a K-12 plan created by Hillsdale University, a private Christian school in Michi- gan. Charter schools, although independent from state and local boards, are public schools open to all children and supported by tax- payer dollars. They operate under contract with, and are overseen by, a local district that authorizes them based on state-defined crite- ria. A shaky start OUSD staff recommended de- nying the OCCA petition based on a number of reported flaws. “The petition is a reflection of the school creators’ financial acumen, understanding of requirements, thoroughness and consistency,” the staff report noted. The school’s curriculum, staff reviewers found, did not meet state standards; there was no plan or funding for special needs students; the petition pre- sented two separate budgets, nei- ther meeting the needs of OCCA’s operational plan. There was an inadequate de- scription of the school’s gover- nance structure; no marketing plan to build enrollment; a be- low-market pay scale for teach- ers, with no credentials required or qualifications spelled out. The school’s facilities were not de- scribed, because it doesn’t have any. OUSD board approves charter school despite inherent flaws and negative public opinion The 4-3 board approval fol- lowed two-plus hours of public testimony that covered politics, the failings of the state’s educa- tional system, the inadequacies of OUSD, the value of parental choice, the pros and cons of sex education, the teachers union, the backgrounds of the school’s founding team and the integrity of board members themselves. Few of the 60 public speakers addressed OCCA’s merits specifi- cally, using their three minutes at the microphone to praise charter schools in general, denigrate the public school system or paint the charter and its creators as a drain on OUSD resources. Political spin Republican Central Commit- tee Chairman Fred Whitaker was on hand to impel a “yes” vote, as were two individuals running for Congress in districts not related See "OUSD" continued on page 11 Outraged Tustin residents sue city and launch recall of mayor By Anne Lee Project Tustin Ranch A group of Tustin residents has filed a lawsuit demanding an En- vironmental Impact Report (EIR) be done before a mega gas station is built within 640 feet of homes in Tustin Ranch, and seeking to recall the mayor who approved it. The Costco gas station at Tu- stin Ranch Road and Bryan Av- enue will have 32 fueling stations to serve 100-plus cars. Denise Berg, a Tustin Ranch resident, has been advocating against the project on behalf of her daughter Morgan, 18, who was diagnosed with POTS (pos- tural orthostatic tachycardia syn- drome), a condition similar to Gulf War syndrome that is trig- gered by air pollution. “I didn’t even know about [the gas sta- tion],” Berg says, “until a neigh- bor handed me a flier. I live right across the street. I consider this to be a human rights issue.” Take it to court Berg is among the many resi- dents who are part of Protect Tu- stin Ranch, the organization that sued the city for various irregu- larities with the mega gas station approval, the most egregious be- ing the elimination of an EIR, an obvious step in the approval pro- cess. The massive project in- cludes fueling stations for 32 cars, a queue for 72 more, three 40,000-gallon underground fuel tanks adjacent to the El Modena- Tustin water channel, demolition of the Goodyear Tire store, and five-plus refueling tanker trucks per day via Bryan Avenue -- all bordered on two sides by residen- tial homes. Deaf ears The Tustin City Council voted 4-1 to approve the project, Oct. See "Outraged" continued on page 4 Chapman University is seeking a specific plan amendment to increase its student body cap from 8,700 to 10,185. A public meeting will be held on Thurs., Jan. 16, from 6-8 p.m. at the Women’s Club of Orange, 121 S. Center, to receive public input. Comments may also be sent to kribuffo@ before the public comment period closes on Jan. 27. Petitioners shared camaraderie, along with mascot Little Bear, in front of the Orange City Hall before deliver- ing boxes containing over 13,000 signatures to the clerk’s office. The petitions ask that city council approvals of a housing development be placed on the November ballot to allow voters to judge. Lions, no tigers, but bears, oh my OC Zoo gets a new entrance, public restrooms and, coming, a large mammal enclosure. See Upgrades, page 6 No trust in trustees OUSD Board overlooks financial faults and cryptic coursework to approve controversial charter school. See Guest commentary, page 7 Savor the flavor The annual International Street Fair food fest gets three- year contract to carry on – with amendments. See Orange, page 10 Rock the boat Villa Park parade opens streets to scows, skiffs and makeshift ships, all seagoing sleighs for the day. See Jingle bell, page 12 Get up and go High achieving high school senior sees challenges as opportunities and reaps the rewards. See ElMo student, page 15 Photo by Tony Richards