Foothills Sentry September 2023

NEWS INSIDE A Monthly Community Newspaper SEPTEMBER 2023 Letters Page 4 Canyon Beat Page 6 Soup's On Page 8 Real Estate Page 10 Service Directory Pages 11-13 Classifieds Page 13 Prof. Directory Page 13 The Best News In Town Since 1969 FOLLOW US at Foothills Sentry NO VACANCY Opponents of short- term rentals studied their impacts in Orange and passed their findings on to the city. See story, page 5 FIELD OF DREAMS CIF sanctions girls flag football. Local high school teams are ready, willing and able. See Community Sports, page 14 REST IN PEACE Orange residents are relieved to learn that plans for a cemetery to be built next door have been withdrawn. See Proposed, page 2 HOLLOW VICTORY A charter school seeking classroom space got a good deal from OUSD; now it needs students and a curriculum. See OUSD, page 3 STARS, STRIPES AND BIKES The nation’s flag, touring the U.S. with a motorcycle escort, stopped at American Legion Post 132. See American, page 9 See "Infill dump" continued on page 4 See "Study finds" continued on page 5 See "School Board" continued on page 5 Orange Acres Backbreakers 4-H members spent months raising dairy heifers, from left, Ava Steward-Puga shown here with Rosie, Grace Kahn with Jenny, Logan Sara with Skittle and Mika Horan with Azalea, were sadly unable to compete at the Orange County Fair. See Orange Acres, page 16 Proposed infill dump in Orange challenged by residents By Tina Richards The Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board staff held a workshop, Aug. 17, to hear public comments on Chandler OC Rec- lamation LLC’s intent to fill in a riparian depression with 700,000 cubic yards of inert waste. Chandler has applied for a water discharge permit from the water board, its last needed approval before work can begin. The area in question is a long- abandoned mine pit behind the Blue Ribbon Nursery on Santiago Canyon Road in Orange. Known locally as the Hurwitz property, the two-acre parcel has, over the last 60 years, been reclaimed by nature and is now home to lush plant life, endangered birds and mammals. Containing 0.92 acres of ripar- ian habitat, 0.04 acres of ephem- eral stream and 0.96 acres of wet- land, it has been named “waters of the state,” a designation given to aquatic resources. Waste not Chandler wants to bring the basin up to street level and divert adjacent Santiago Creek. Chan- dler claims it needs to infill the area due to the rapid erosion of the hillside above it. The project is expected to involve 60 truck- loads per day for the next 4.5-5 years. The water agency did not do an Environmental Impact Re- port (EIR), instead accepting a Negative Mitigation Declaration (NMD) indicating no substantial impacts to water, air, traffic or aesthetics. It says the waters of the state will not suffer a net loss as the existing wetland will be recreated downstream. And the habitat loss will be mitigated at a site 10 miles away. The water board was expected to rule on the application five months ago, but was so over- whelmed with more than 300 public comment letters opposed to the project, that it postponed a scheduled April public hearing. “We’re still going through the comment letters,” explained Ex- ecutive Director Jayne Joy. “It’s taking a long time, because we are answering the issues raised in each one.” The workshop, held in the Orange City Council chambers, attracted mostly residents of East Orange, but Villa Park and Santa Ana (downstream) were also represented. Coastkeepers, Friends of Harbors, Beaches and Parks and a retired Santiago Oaks Park ranger joined the throng of public commenters. Every one opposed the destruction of the Study finds El Modena does not qualify for CDBG funding By Tina Richards City Councilmember Ana Gutierrez and community leader Sammy Rodriguez wanted to find out why one map used by the City of Orange to apply for federal grant money included El Modena, and a second map, drawn for the same purpose, left a portion of the barrio out. And why, they asked, was grant money never directed to El Modena? The answer was more com- plicated than anyone imagined, reflecting the complexity of gov- ernment rules and regulations, competing statistics and arbitrary census tract maps. The Federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) agency provides Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) to jurisdictions with qualifying low- to moderate- income populations. The funding can be used for infrastructure, economic development, public facilities, public services and housing rehabilitation. Qualifying areas defined Every five years, cities create a Consolidated Strategic Plan that assesses the city’s affordable housing and community development needs and market conditions to establish priorities for the annual CDBG funding received. That Consolidated Plan is supplemented with Annual Action Plans that specify the city’s intended use of CDBG funds in that program year. The city identifies the low- to moderate- income areas that qualify for federal funding based on income data from the census bureau. In the 2020-21 map Orange generated for the Consolidated Plan, El Modena appeared to qualify for CDBG funding. In the map generated for the 2021-22 Annual Action Plan a year later, only a portion of the El Modena neighborhood qualified. Why were the maps different? What had changed? Why was a portion of El Modena singled out? Gutierrez asked the city manager how that happened. She couldn’t get an answer. Two years later, Rodriguez believed the city was stonewalling and wanted to know why. “Somebody knows why part of El Modena disappeared from the map,” he insisted. Analysis School board majority sticks to social agenda By Tina Richards The Orange Unified School Board majority has frequently voiced its concerns about dis- trict test scores, and agrees they should be better. Many elemen- tary and middle school buildings are in need of major repair and re- habilitation. A number of princi- pals and key administrators have left OUSD, and there is a looming teacher shortage. Yet the board spends hours of meeting time focused on such issues as a “Parents’ Bill of Rights,” (which already exists in district codes); flying only the American and state flag at OUSD facilities (it’s always been the case); and now, a policy requirement that school staff notify parents if their child expresses or displays “trans” tendencies. All of these policies were intro- duced by recall candidates Rick Ledesma and Madison Miner. They presented this latest one at the Aug. 17 board meeting for a first reading, meaning there would be no vote that night. The transgender notification policy mirrors state legislation intro- duced by Assemblymen Bill Es- sayli, R-Riverside, and James Gallagher, R-Yuba City. That pro- posed bill failed. Essayli claimed that he would take it to statewide school boards and let them do it – even though it remains illegal. A teaching moment The proposed OUSD policy states that: "The School District through the principal/designee, certificated staff, or school counselor, shall notify the parent(s)/guardian(s), in writing, within three school days from the date any administrator or certificated staff becomes aware that a student is asking to be identified as a gender other than officially recorded, accessing sex-segregated school programs, activities or restrooms or asking to use non-conforming pronouns. The policy also confirms that parents must be notified if a stu- dent expresses suicidal thoughts or threats, attempts self-harm, is injured on campus or is bullied. “The only thing new in this policy is if the child is trans- gender,” Trustee Kris Erickson pointed out. “Accidents at school, potential suicide, bullying are al- ready policies in this district. This is targeting trans students. These students will be treated differ- ently than every other student. If a student tells a teacher that his parents don’t like his girlfriend, that doesn’t have to be reported. Denying rights to only certain students is discrimination.” Erickson also pointed out that the policy was essentially forcing the government (school