Foothills Sentry July 2023

NEWS INSIDE A Monthly Community Newspaper JULY 2023 Letters Pages 4-5 Canyon Beat Page 6 Obituaries Page 10 Real Estate Page 10 Service Directory Pages 11-13 Prof. Directory Page 13 Community Sports Page 14-16 The Best News In Town Since 1969 FOLLOW US at Foothills Sentry SOUND AND FLURRY A city ordinance to further restrict leaf blower noise is discussed and dismissed. See Council rejects, page 5 NIPPED IN THE BUD Singular canyon cactus and other “protected” plant life bulldozed in wilderness preserve. See OC Parks, page 9 DON’T LET THE GRASS GROW Orange entertains a proposal to transform city hall lawn into native plant park. See Nature, page 3 RAISING THE ROOF Residents object to the “hotel next door,” disguised as a short- term rental. See Guest Commentary, page 4 OFF THE DEEP END OUSD trustee majority pushes pricey pool project; minority members and parents raise concerns. See OUSD Board, page 7 Out of order OUSD board meetings are becoming commonplace By Tina Richards Board meetings of the Orange Unified School District have become a rudderless exercise in last-minute rule changes, indecision, agenda juggling and lengthy dockets that delay the real business of the board to the midnight hour. When the board established its 2023 meeting calendar last December, Trustees Rick Ledesma and John Ortega refused to include several “placeholder” dates to be used if needed. Historically, the board has always penciled in three or four placeholders. Newly-elected Board President Ledesma advised that scheduling placeholders was unnecessary, and that they could call special meetings if needed. So far this year, three special meetings have been called. The agenda for the June 1 meeting, called to order at 7:27 p.m., contained seven separate ceremonial acknowledgements and opportunities for trustees and student board members to speak. It listed four “action items” (board business), two “discussion items” (board business) and 116 consent items. The agenda is established by the board president. A slow start Onthisnight,the“announcements and acknowledgments” portion of the meeting ended at 9 p.m., with the bulk of the agenda and the business of the board yet to come. With the clock ticking, Ledesma acknowledged that he had received complaints that the last few meetings lasted until after 2 a.m. He suggested that public comments be limited to 20 minutes per topic to save time. That limit has always been on the table, but never enforced. Trustee Kris Erickson balked, noting that, “it would be nice to let the public know of the time limit change. For you to do this unilaterally and surprise everyone in not right.” She further suggested that they take action items first in the interest of getting down to business. Ledesma announced that they would do public comments on non-agenda items first. For as far back as anyone can remember, public comments on non-agenda items have been Item 6 on the agenda. But, Ledesma changed that several meetings ago, without notice, moving them to the end of the agenda at Item 17. Who’s on first? For the June meeting, he had quietly moved the non-agenda See "Out of Order OUSD" continued on page 5 See "El Modena" continued on page 2 El Modena residents question Orange’s use of federal grant money Tenacious handball tourney marks 29 years By Tina Richards Residents of the El Modena Barrio have asked the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) agency to investigate the City of Orange’s use of grant funding intended to improve low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. HUD issues Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) to eligible jurisdictions to revitalize neighborhoods, improve facilities and services, and boost local economies. Funds are also allocated to eliminate blight. While a portion of CDBG funding can be used for administrative purposes, and 15% for public service programs operated via nonprofits, 70% must be directed to projects that will “enhance a community’s living environment and expand economic opportunities for low- and moderate-income residents.” There is a provision, however, that CDBG funds may be used for other community needs if the city certifies that those conditions threaten citizens’ health or welfare, and there are no other financial resources available to meet those needs. No benefits for Barrio And that, says El Modena resident Sammy Rodriguez, is the problem in Orange. El Modena has not benefitted from CDBG funding. Instead, he claims, the city’s public works department has been diverting those funds for citywide street rehabilitation and infrastructure improvements. Some of those improvements include installing ADA ramps at various crosswalks, which the city says will benefit low- to moderate-income residents, among others. None of those ramps, however, have been installed within the El Modena Barrio. The city applies for grants based on its own programs and funding priorities, which HUD grants, with little oversight. Orange identifies its eligible low- to moderate-income communities using a map based on census and other data. In 2021, half of the El Modena Barrio was eliminated from the map, even though the demographics of the area did not change. Councilwoman Ana Gutierrez, who represents District 5 and El Modena, says she spent two and a half years trying to find out who drew the new map, and why it changed. Her repeated requests for an explanation from then-City Manager Rick Otto and City Attorney Gary Sheatz In a tradition that dates to 1994, the 2023 Jeri Knox-Fred Barrera District Final handball games were held on the campus of El Modena High under June-gloom skies. Richland High was unable to compete, leaving a keen three- way competition between the ElMo Vanguards, Orange High Panthers and Villa Park Spartans. The handball tournament was initiated almost three decades ago by Johnny Johnson, a former coach and teacher, with financial support from the late Knox and Barrera. Johnson, who still manages the tournament, often uses his own funds to provide a lunch for the players and prizes of T-shirts and sweatshirts. Johnson started traveling to middle schools to teach the fast and simple game of handball, providing young athletes a game that is fun, competitive and requires very little equipment – a ball and a wall – but teaches teamwork, strategy, and sports etiquette. The competitors referee themselves, determining if a ball is out or no good. Many of the players in the 2023 tournament have been under the tutelage of Coach Johnson since they were in junior high. During this competition, the best players from each of the three schools competed in doubles and singles matches. During the intermission Chapman University 1985 Hall of Famer Marvin Thurman, a close friend and backcourt partner of Coach Johnson, spoke to the athletes about what it takes to make it to a Hall of Fame: “Anyone can do it. Be the best.” Thurman and Johnson had played basketball together at Chapman during the 70s. After four hours of intense play, Villa Park’s top two handball players battled it out for the top spot. Brian Alonzo took the singles championship with a close 15-3 win over Jerry Herrera. In the final doubles competition, Spartans Brian Alonzo and Brian Trinadad defeated Jerry Herrera and Jesus Velasquez, 15 -11. Villa Park took overall honors. Should you wish to support handball and the tournament, contact johnsonjohnny786@ Marvin Thurman Coach Johnny Johnson The Canyon High School baseball team streams into a celebratory huddle after winning the CIF State Championship, 6-5, in Division 4 against Crean Lutheran High School. See Sports, page 14.