Foothills Sentry - January 2024

NEWS INSIDE A Monthly Community Newspaper JANUARY 2024 Letters Page 4-5 Canyon Beat Page 9 Service Directory Pages 11-13 Classifieds Page 13 Prof. Directory Page 13 Obituaries Page 14 Community Sports Page 15 The Best News In Town Since 1969 FOLLOW US at Foothills Sentry TEACH YOUR CHILDREN WELL School designed for students experiencing homelessness has reaped rewards for decades; now county wants to change it. See Skyview, page 10 TROUBLED WATERS District board majority wants a 50m pool at one school; minority members say those funds were budgeted for elementary school upgrades. See OUSD, page 13 A GARDEN OF READIN' Popular library turns empty patio into a teaching garden and pastoral retreat for patrons. See El Modena, page 2 HOLD YOUR HORSES The OC Fairgrounds Equestrian Center pleads for support from a fair board whose staff would rather shut it down. See County, page 7 BY LAND, NOT SEA Villa Park’s annual boat parade lights up the streets with a variety of vessels. See Land, page 11 See "OUSD Board" continued on page 6 See "Trash rates" continued on page 2 OUSD Board weighs needs of district elementary school against county-based charter By Tina Richards The Orange County Classi- cal Academy (OCCA), a county charter school located next to OUSD’s Esplanade Elementary School, wants to expand onto that campus. The OUSD Board ma- jority is moving quickly to make that happen, even though it has no obligation to do so. OUSD Board President Rick Ledesma called a special closed- door meeting, Dec. 13, giving the public just 24-hours’ notice. The 4:30 special meeting was called ahead of the regularly scheduled 5:30 closed door session, then followed by the 7 p.m. public meeting. The last-minute meet- ing was for a “conference with real property negotiators, 381 N. Esplanade Street, Orange, CA 92869 and 2190 North Canal Street, Orange, CA 92865.” The Esplanade address is the elementary school; the Canal Street property was leased last year to a charter school that never opened, and did not command the attention of special meeting at- tendees. Not cool for school As expected, Esplanade stu- dents and parents, OCCA stu- dents and parents and OUSD con- stituents/parents showed up early, prepared to make public com- ments. Due to the large number of commenters, the board restricted each speaker to one minute, an acceptable time saver when the usual three-minutes per speaker limit would take hours. It would have taken longer, one OUSD parent pointed out, but the last- minute notice prevented many people from attending. “You’re stacking the deck against OUSD students,” she said. Registrar of Voters sets date for OUSD recall The date for the recall election of Orange Unified Trustees Rick Ledesma and Madison Miner has now been set by the Registrar of Voters, as the OUSD Board failed to act after receiving Notice of Certification at its November board meeting. The OUSD recall elections will be wrapped in the March 5 pri- mary ballot. Holding the vote on that date, as opposed to calling a special election, will save taxpay- ers about $1 million. The Recall Committee notes that its goal has always been to have the recall elections as a wrap-in election, so as to mini- mize costs and encourage voter participation. The Committee submitted over 18,000 recall peti- tion signatures for each trustee to the Registrar of Voters, six weeks earlier than required, in order to create a timeline that allowed for a wrap-in election. In a further ef- fort to minimize costs to taxpay- ers, the committee elected for ver- ification to be done via a sample (5% of signatures) rather than a full count of 13,046, at a savings of nearly $100,000. The Recall Committee, a volun- teer group of OUSD parents, was created after majority members of the board scheduled a meeting last January, during school vaca- tion, to fire the district superinten- dent without cause or transparen- cy. The decision was apparently pre-concluded and made without any stakeholder input. Orange renegotiating trash rates to aid horse owners Horse owners in Orange Park Acres were shocked to learn that the cost for city contractor CR&R to pick up manure would more than double in February. Under the new contract, all resi- dential and commercial rates will increase, but the cost to pick up manure bins jumped dispropor- tionately. CR&R currently charg- es $88 per month to pick up a two cubic foot bin twice a week. Com- mencing Feb. 1, that rate jumps to $223.67 for the identical service. Residents of OPA, the city’s sole equestrian community, com- plained to the city and to Mayor Dan Slater. Tripling the cost of manure pickup, they said, would be more than burdensome. The added expense might force people to sell their horses. “We’re working on it,” Slater reports. “We want to keep the cost of manure pickup as low as pos- sible. We are proud of our Orange equestrians, and want to do the best we can for them.” Horse owners dispose of ma- nure into discrete bins, which are collected separately and recycled by the waste company. The charge is higher for larger bins and more than twice-weekly pickup. State legislation now requires more separation and handling for recyclables and organic waste. Those recent requirements, cou- pled with the higher costs of labor, transportation and just about ev- erything else, have, CR&R notes, increased its operating costs. The current fee schedule for Orange residents and businesses was established in 2018, with in- cremental increases agreed to for five years. That contract has ex- pired, and this is the first opportu- nity CR&R has had to renegotiate its rates with the city. The new contract proposes rate increases, based on the consumer price index, over the next five years. Residential customers, now paying an average of $20.56 per month, could pay $28.06 in 2028. Commercial bin service, now $93.63 per month, may escalate to $206.74 in five years. OPA residents who live in the county portion of the community experienced similar rate shock several years ago, when their service provider, Waste Manage- ment, redefined horse properties from “residential” to “commer- Residents of Carleton Street are rallying to oppose a planned three-story housing project that will invade their privacy and block the sun from their backyards. See Neighbors, page 3. Michael Short directs the choir Orange's 29th Annual Tree Lighting ceremony at the Old Towne Plaza, Dec. 3 Photo courtesy of Heidi Thornton Photo by Tony Richards