Foothills Sentry July 2024

NEWS INSIDE A Monthly Community Newspaper JULY 2024 Letters Pages 4-5 Canyon Beat Page 6 Service Directory Pages 11-13 Classifieds Page 13 Real Estate Page 15 Community Sports Page 16 The Best News In Town Since 1969 FOLLOW US at Foothills Sentry HEARTS AND SOULS Annual Memorial Day commemoration is solemn, yet celebratory with memorable talks, band music and song. See Fairhaven, page 7 HIT THE GROUND RUNNING Foundation formed to benefit public schools has given teacher grants, the arts, wellness centers and sports programs a big boost. See OUPSF, page 11 THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD Orange City Council overrules advisory committees’ denials and residents’ concerns to approve a tightly packed housing complex. See Small lot, page 2; Letters, page 4 NOT SO FAST Nonprofit fails to alert city of plans to convert single-family home into temporary multi-family shelter. See Foundation, page 7 ALL BOXES NOT CHECKED A developer’s appeal to skip a requirement in the city's land-use process is denied by the Orange City Council. See Orange, page 8 See "Orange budget" continued on page 5 See "New dump" continued on page 3 See "City sales tax" continued on page 5 Plans for new waste dump in Orange subject to environmental review By Tina Richards Chandler LLC cannot bury the natural riparian habitat next to Santiago Creek under 1,240,000 cubic yards of construction waste unless the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board votes to allow it. Before that can happen, an Environmental Im- pact Report (EIR) must be pre- pared and all impacts disclosed. Chandler LLC, operating as OC Reclamation, owns 14 acres near Santiago Canyon Road and Cannon St., bordering Santiago Creek. Much of the property is below grade, and the company wants to bring it up to street level, infilling the area with such construction debris as rock, sand, gravel, concrete, glass, brick, ceramics and clay products. The process, it says, will take four to five years. It has not indicated what it plans to do with the parcel once it is leveled. Chandler identifies the site, zoned sand and gravel in the City of Orange General Plan, as an abandoned mine pit, which it was 60 years ago. In the interim, na- ture has reclaimed the depression, and it is now home to wildlife, na- tive plants and, with enough rain water, fish. Slightly less than two acres of the property, considered a wetland, have been declared “Waters of the State.” That means they are protected, and any dis- charge of waste or fill into those waters is regulated. Mine reclamation is misnomer Chandler sought approvals for a “mine reclamation project” beginning in 2017. It planned to clear and recontour the prop- erty, then deposit infill material into the pit. It got the go-ahead from a number of public agen- cies, including the Air Resources Board and Fish and Wildlife. It attempted to secure a grading permit from the City of Orange. It also needed a waste discharge permit from the Water Quality Board. It applied for that in 2022, submitting a Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) instead of a full-blown EIR. A negative declaration is filed when a project’s impacts are deemed less than significant or, if significant, can be lessened by some form of mitigation. In this case, for example, biological re- sources were considered to suf- fer the most impact. That impact would be made “less than sig- nificant,” by site monitoring and relocating habitat to a place 10 miles away. The Water Quality Board was preparing to adopt the mitigated negative declaration and the waste discharge requirements for the project in early 2023. Resi- dents appealed to the board, ask- ing it to deny the MND, citing irreparable damage to the creek, native plant and wildlife, includ- ing several endangered species. They also noted the site’s prox- imity to Oakridge Private School and the negative impacts four years of truck traffic and waste disposal would have on that facil- ity. Tell it like it is The board received over 300 letters from the public and, over- whelmed, delayed the scheduled hearing on the topic three times. Water Board staff finally held a public meeting in the Orange City Council chambers. Staff told the audience it was “there to listen” and apparently, it did. The MND did not move for- ward. Instead, a Notice of Prepa- ration for an EIR was released on May 28. The project is no lon- ger called an “abandoned mine reclamation,” but is identified as an Inert Debris Engineered Fill Operation (IDEFO). An IDEFO is essentially a dumpsite and the moniker more accurately reflects what Chandler plans to do with the property. In calling for an EIR, the Wa- ter Quality Board cited a num- ber of concerns, including areas classified as Waters of the State, appropriateness of the site for inert waste disposal, removal of onsite habitats and impacts to endangered species, adequacy of proposed mitigation, the proj- The HUB Resource Center was presented with a $3 million dona- tion from the California Depart- ment of Housing and Community Development, June 14. The funds were secured through the efforts of State Senator Tom Umberg (34th District) and State Assemblyman Avelino Valencia (68th District). The HUB Resource Center in Orange provides services for un- housed individuals and families. From left, Tom Umberg, HUB CEO Holiday Zimmerman, Or- ange Mayor Dan Slater, Council- woman Ana Gutierrez, HUB Ex- ecutive Director Kylee Simonton and Avelino Valencia. Orange budget cuts not as brutal as expected By Carrie Graham The Orange City Council has identified almost $5 million in cuts from the city’s 2024-25 budget, but still fell $8.7 million short of the target. A special budget study session was held immediately before the council’s regularly scheduled June 11 meeting to finish the ex- ercise that began at the end of a marathon meeting, May 28. It was after 1 a.m. when the agenda item for proposed budget cuts came up. By 2 a.m., the weary council was ready to continue the discussion to another time. “Nothing good happens after midnight,” Arianna Barrios de- clared. The June 11 discussion was slow going as each councilmem- ber had their own non-negotia- bles. Just about the only cut that passed unanimously was a 50% decrease in the library budget, al- ready one of the lowest recipients of city funds. However, summer programs are still safe. Activities like the Summer Reading Club aren’t funded through the city, but through the Friends of the Orange Public Li- brary, a volunteer organization. City sales tax measure likely to go to voters By Carrie Graham The Orange City Council weighed the options and merits of a citywide sales tax at its June 11 meeting, but delayed making a decision until later in the month. Though they’ve been hesitant to decide, it’s becoming less likely that city services can remain un- changed without an increase in the city’s revenue. The council was presented with three sets of data, for 0.5, 0.75 and 1.0% sales tax increases over periods of time from 10-20 years. A 0.5% increase would leave the city still in the hole. A 0.75% in- crease would get the city close, but more cuts and belt-tightening would be necessary. Only a 1.0% increase would al- low the city to dig itself out and begin rebuilding reserves while retaining the same services resi- dents have become accustomed to. There are four sales tax brack- ets in Orange County ranging from 7.75% to 9.25%. Of the 10 cities that levy a sales tax, seven are at 8.75%, including Garden Grove, Placentia and Fountain Valley. Even with a 1.0% in- crease, Orange would still have a lower rate than Santa Ana and Los Alamitos. The truth be told Although many residents have said they would support a tax in- crease if it keeps services at the Students from McPherson Magnet School, the RoboPlayers, from left, Yuki Downey, Noah Slates, Gavin Fennel and Lorenzo Davis, are excited to see their robot successfully performing during the RoboPlay Challenge Competition. Teammate Laila Teworos Tamru is not pictured. See page 14 for more on RoboPlay.