Foothills Sentry - February 2024

NEWS INSIDE A Monthly Community Newspaper FEBRUARY 2024 Letters Page 4-5, 13 Canyon Beat Page 6 Service Directory Pages 11-13 Classifieds Page 13 Community Sports Page 14-15 The Best News In Town Since 1969 FOLLOW US at Foothills Sentry WRITERS IN THE STORM The OUSD Recall arouses readers on both sides of the issue. See Letters, page 4, 5, 13 THIS OLD HOUSE Historic city-owned homes in the Cypress Barrio are pitched as a perfect place for an Orange museum. See Barrio, page 9 READY . . . OR NOT An agendized board vote on a plan to license OUSD property to a charter school was called off because negotiations were still ongoing. See OUSD, page 2 WHERE THERE’S SMOKES A proposed housing project in a high fire zone wends its way through county approvals; inflamed residents protest. See Trabuco, page 3 AN INSIDE JOB Boring Insects are killing canyon oak trees. A multi-pronged campaign is underway to stop the spread. See Silverado, page 8 See "Trash rates" continued on page 7 The annual McPherson Magnet School Science Fair is successful because of the many parents and community members who volunteer their time to ask questions, interview and judge the students’ science projects during the two-day event. A number of the projects will continue on to compete at the regional level. See photos, page 16. Orange trash rate increases coming sooner, not later By Tina Richards The Orange City Council ap- proved a renegotiated contract with trash hauler CR&R that in- creases rates for residential and commercial users and nets the city $6 million for road repairs and maintenance. The 10-year contract, approved Jan. 9, supersedes the existing agreement between the city and CR&R, which didn’t expire un- til June 2025. The early renewal prompted residents and some council members to ask -- why the rush? The renegotiation was neces- sary, Public Works Director Chris Cash reported, because state leg- islation has placed more demands on cities and refuse companies to recycle and process waste more efficiently; labor, materials and capital improvement costs have risen, and the current contract did not provide services com- monplace in other municipali- ties. Orange’s rate schedule was not sufficient to meet increased legislative demands and ensure continued reliable and consistent service, he stressed. Talking trash Under the new contract with its higher fee structure, CR&R will ensure that state recycling man- dates are met and indemnify the city against refuse-related infrac- tions. It will give the city $6 mil- lion the first year of the contract, and an annual payment of approx- imately $2 million to mitigate road damage. It will also provide additional bulky item pickup ser- vice, an online platform to accept service requests and the ability for customers to get a refund for missed service. The resulting higher rates were originally described as “amend- ments” to the existing contract in a notice delivered to residents just after Thanksgiving. That’s when OPA residents noted the rates for manure pickup would more than double. Because horse owners and stables separate manure so it can be recycled, the new fees, they said, required some explana- tion. Mayor Dan Slater agreed to look into it, found that manure pickup was classified as “com- mercial” and those customers were being charged commercial, not residential, rates. Manure was subsequently reclassified as “resi- dential” and the equestrian com- munity was assured that those rates would increase at only 21%, the same as other residential pickups. Waste in haste But residents and Council- members Ana Gutierrez and John Gyllenhammer had additional questions about the “amend- ments,” the timing and the out- sized blow to commercial users. While the average residential rate will go from $20.56 per month to $25.93, three-yard bin service for commercial customers will rise from $93.63 to $183.60. Fees are expected to increase every year. The planned start date was Feb. 1. “This isn’t an amendment, this is an entirely new contract,” OPA resident Laurel Maldonado noted. “And residents didn’t even see the contract until five days before this meeting. Five days is not enough time to review 166 pages.” Orange Lutheran Peralta property proposal ignored by OUSD A proposal submitted last year from Orange Lutheran High School to lease the Peralta School site from the Orange Uni- fied School District was never presented to the board of trust- ees. Board members found out about it only after Orange Lu- theran CEO Mary Scott emailed each one individually, Jan. 17, and asked them to consider her school’s proposal before signing a 25-year agreement with the Or- ange County Classical Academy. According to Scott’s email, OLu had been in discussions with OUSD staff regarding the use of the Peralta site for athletic fields since June 2023. In November, OUSD staff asked Orange Lu- theran to submit a proposal that could be considered by the school board. The proposal was submit- ted that same month, but board members apparently knew noth- ing about it. It is not clear wheth- er then-President Rick Ledesma or current President John Ortega were also unaware of OLu’s out- reach, but that would mean staff had not shared the proposal with anyone. Typically, such a proposal is agendized for discussion at a board meeting. It was not; yet, OCCA’s request to take over classrooms at Esplanade Elemen- tary School and/or Peralta have been discussion items in closed session meetings for several months. A vote to license Peralta to OCCA, without mention of the OLu proposal, was slated for the Jan. 18 board meeting, but was continued (see OUSD, page 3). Regarding the November sub- mission, Scott wrote, “While we were promised a response within several weeks, we did not receive it. We are now learning that ap- parently school board members were not aware of the discussions between OUSD staff and OLu. We hoped to pursue a site ex- change, site acquisition or long- term lease for the Peralta site for a full build-out of athletic facilities financed by OLu, with potential joint-use for OUSD students. Our proposal provides considerable financial benefits for the district that deserve to be reviewed by the school board.” Orange Lutheran never re- ceived a formal response from the district from its June discussions, a request sent on July 10, or its November submittal. In her email, CEO Scott asked the board to “table the adoption of a 25-year agreement until a meeting with OLu representa- tives is held to discuss the options we have been proposing." Elizabeth Raburn crowned Miss Orange The city’s new Miss Orange 2024 is Elizabeth Raburn. Born and raised in Orange, she now attends Cal Poly Pomona where she is pursuing a bachelor of science in physics, with a mi- nor in astrophysics. She gradu- ated from El Modena High and is an Orange Chorale singer, but chose to tap dance for the talent portion of the pageant. Miss Orange will reign at the May Parade, and at events throughout the year. Tea McConkey was named First Runner-Up and Miss Con- geniality, and received an $800 scholarship. The winner of the Steve Am- briz Award was Lisbet Wences, and the Spirit of Orange was Ve- ronica Chapman, both of whom received $100. In total, $4,000 was awarded. Miss Orange 2024 Elizabeth Raburn.