Foothills Sentry April 2024

NEWS INSIDE A Monthly Community Newspaper APRIL 2024 Letters Page 4 Canyon Beat Page 6 Real Estate Page 11 Obituaries Page 11 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 THIRTY’S A CROWD Residents object to a homeless shelter for 30- plus people that moved in to their single-family neighborhood. See Temporary, page 5 DESIGNATED HITTER An El Modena High School alum adds new scoreboard to his ongoing financial support of the softball program. See ElMo scores, page 10 WHEN IT ALL COMES DOWN Aging, abandoned and not worth fixing, former Orange Fire Department headquarters on Grand will be demolished. See Old, page 2 COMMON GROUND North Tustin neighbors share concerns, listen and learn at annual FCA meeting. See Residents, page 3 WILL SPARKS FLY? Orange will ask voters to consider bringing safe and sane fireworks sales back to the city. See Orange, page 8 See "Housing project" continued on page 5 See "Budget deficit" continued on page 7 See "Recalled OUSD" continued on page 4 Fans of Mrs. Roper, a character in the 1970s-80s TV show, Three's Company, dress up in her image and go pub crawling. A local group sets off on a "Roper Romp," gathering first at American Legion Post 134. See Mrs. Roper, page 2. Recalled OUSD trustees attend one last board meeting By Tina Richards While the primary election results had not yet been certi- fied before the March 11 OUSD board meeting, a 3,500-vote lead by those saying “yes” to the re- call of Madison Miner and Rick Ledesma indicated that the Mon- day night meeting would be their last. The mood in the boardroom was subdued and the once-rau- cous crowd quiet. Before the business portion of the meeting, featuring such routine items as the annual transportation plan, interim budget report, Measure S audit update and the student cal- endar for next year commenced, Ledesma and Miner offered a few final words. “A smooth transition of power is part of democracy,” Miner said. "While those efforts have been hindered over the last year, I, as a board trustee, will not contribute to that destruction. The district is more than one board member. It is a community that is built together and I am excited to continue to be a part of those efforts.” Ledesma thanked the OUSD voting community for electing him to the board over the past 25 years. “This is a wonderful com- munity,” he said. “All the other districts in the county pull from here, so what does that tell you about the talent level. I will en- joy driving around and seeing the many improvements made during my time on the board, as well as the programs I’ve been a part of. God bless OUSD.” Legal fees unleashed The only board actions that generated any discussion at all were on the consent calendar. The consent calendar contains a list of routine items requiring board approval that are typically decided with a single vote cover- ing all of them. This night several consent items were pulled for discussion by Kris Erickson, including one to increase the fees for attorneys Parker and Covert by $200,000; another to increase fees for At- kinson, Andelson, Loya, Rudd & Romo by $250,000. The additional legal fees had also been noted by members of the audience. Dan Rothenberg, making public comments, called High-density housing project twice denied will go to Orange City Council for final reckoning By Carrie Graham The Orange Planning Commis- sion decided, Mar. 18, to agree with the city’s Design Review Committee (DRC) and recom- mend the denial of a project by Newport Beach developer, Intra- corp Homes to build 49 small lot housing units on the 1.7 acre par- cel of land currently housing the AT&T building at 901 W. Katella Ave. The denial came at the request of the Intracorp attorney when it appeared that the commission, missing one member, would vote 3-3 on the project. Assistant City Attorney Melissa Crosth- waite told the commissioners that if they recommended denial of the project, they would have to document their reasons why by wading through the approval resolutions prepared by staff and “changing the findings.” That would have required the decision to be continued until a future meeting. Planning Com- mission Chair David Vasquez suggested they recommend ap- proval with conditions. That, too, would have required a continu- ance while the conditions were documented, Crosthwaite ad- vised. Denial by design Seeking to avoid the delays of a continuance, Intracorp’s attorney asked the commission to recom- mend denial of the project (which a 3-3 vote would have been), al- lowing the developer to take the project to the city council sooner. The company apparently decided it would rather face the council with recommendations of denial than delay the project any further. Dozens of residents living near the intersection of Cambridge St. and Katella Ave. attended the Monday night meeting to again speak out against the proposed medium tract as they had at two previous DRC meetings. They noted their concerns about pri- vacy, traffic, parking, the mass of the structures, loss of sunlight and the project’s overall incompatibil- ity with the neighborhood. Several other uses have been proposed for the space, includ- Voters may be asked to help resolve Orange budget deficit By Tina Richards The City of Orange is facing a $10 million budget deficit and, short of cutting necessary public services, may ask residents to help solve the problem. The deficit is due to a number of factors. Federal funding doled out to help cities navigate the COVID pandemic ended. While revenues from sales tax, property tax and service fees are going up, they are not keeping up with expenditures. Everything -- from maintenance, repairs and supplies, to salaries -- costs more. “We are not overspending,” City Manager Tom Kisela says. “Employees, for example, are 17% of the budget. We’re run- ning 50 vacancies. We don’t have people in community develop- ment or finance. I’m going to do some council briefings that will be shockers. I’m not saying ‘the sky is falling,’ but we have major challenges.” To help fill the gap, the city council may ask voters to consid- er either a 1% sales tax increase, or a 5% boost to the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT), or both, possibly as ballot measures in November. As a last resort, the city would be compelled to cut services. Survey says To determine the public appe- tite for tax increases and identify city services most important to residents, last fall the city hired a consultant to survey 947 likely voters. Half were asked about a sales tax increase; half were asked about a TOT raise; all were asked to prioritize city services. The survey found that 25% of respondents perceived a “great need” for additional city funding; 59% believed there was “some to no need”; 16% didn’t know. Asked about a sales tax increase: 50% said yes, with 27% “definite- ly.” The noes totaled 43%, with 7% undecided. TOT fared slightly better, with 64% saying yes, 25% no and 11% undecided. The “yeses” to both taxes rose by a few percentage points when respondents were told how a rev- enue shortage would impact city services. Those who would agree with a sales tax hike increased to 60%, with 31% saying "defi- nitely.” Support for a higher TOT grew to 70%. Priorities among those sur- veyed were: maintaining 911 emergency response, fire protec- tion, preventing property crimes, addressing homelessness, recruit- ing and retaining paramedics, firefighters and police officers. Tell it like it is In a subsequent discussion, councilmembers acknowledged that residents are largely unaware Photo by James Gomez