Foothills Sentry - October 2023

NEWS INSIDE A Monthly Community Newspaper OCTOBER 2023 Letters Page 4 Canyon Beat Page 8 Service Directory Pages 11-13 Classifieds Page 13 Prof. Directory Page 13 Community Sports Page 14-15 The Best News In Town Since 1969 FOLLOW US at Foothills Sentry SHELL GAME Endangered, rare and misunderstood turtles and tortoises are protected, rescued and rehomed by dedicated preservationists. See Shellabration, page 11 FAIR WEATHER FOOD FEST The Orange International Street Fair, unhampered by 100-degree temperatures, boasts one of its best years ever. See story, page 16 NOT FROM AROUND HERE Readers respond to out- of-towners' tumultuous takeover of school board meeting and trustees' tacit approval. See Letters, page 4 ONE STEP AT A TIME Octogenarian hiker traverses the steep and deep national park rim to rim in one day. See Grand Canyon page 6 WIDE WORLD OF SPORTS From balls to nets to targets to team sports and solo endeavors, local athletes cover it all. See Community Sports, page 14,15 See "OUSD Board" continued on page 7 See "County Supervisors" continued on page 3 OUSD board majority approves controversial policy, ignores threats to nonsupporters By Tina Richards The Orange Unified School District Board majority approved a policy, Sept. 7, that would re- quire principals and counselors to notify parents if their child exhib- ited transgender behavior. More specifically, if a student asks to be called by a pronoun that does not reflect that child’s birth gender, wants to participate in activities or use restrooms in- consistent with the sex listed on the birth certificate, a teacher must notify the principal within two days. In turn, the principal must notify the parents, in writ- ing, within five days. The policy also applies to conversations be- tween a student and counselor. The vote was 4-0-3, the number three indicating the absence of board members who had left the building earlier due to personal safety concerns. Trustee Kris Er- ickson had been specifically tar- geted. She, along with Trustees Ana Page and Andrea Yamasaki, were escorted to their cars when a shouting and shoving match between policy supporters and opponents threatened to become violent. The boardroom erupted into chaos as people leapt from their seats to defend “their side” and take videos of the skirmish. Come on down Board President Rick Ledesma did nothing. The rabble-rousers were eventually removed by se- curity staff and a police officer. Board majority members – Rick Ledesma, Madison Miner, John Ortega and Angie Rumsey – car- ried on. That incident, as well as re- peated loud comments and slurs that disrupted the 2.5 hours of public comments, was not the work of local OUSD constitu- ents. The transgender policy has been explored by multiple school districts (five have adopted it), and has attracted national atten- tion. Ledesma and Miner had invited “parent’s rights” groups to the meeting to support the policy. They came to the OUSD board meeting from Los Angeles, South OC, and as far away as An- telope Valley. The meeting also attracted LGBTQ and transgen- der supporters. A few individuals identified themselves as members of the Revolutionary Commu- nist Party. Those protesters have been following the parent’s rights groups to school board meetings throughout Southern California, and do not reflect the ideology of anyone on the OUSD board. State Assemblyman Bill Essay- li (R-Riverside), who authored a filed bill that would have legis- lated the trans notification policy, flew down from Sacramento. The news media was there. The influx of out-of-towners turned the dis- trict office parking lot into a mob scene of bullhorns, handmade signs, rainbow outfits and angry gestures. The boardroom interior did not look much different. Who’s right about rights? Advocates of the policy asserted that allowing teachers to withhold gender information from parents violated their rights, was commu- nistic and government overreach. Opponents of trans-notification advised that forcing teachers to “out” young people before they are ready violated student privacy rights, reeked of fascism and was government overreach. The Chino Hills School District recently passed a similar policy, and is now facing a lawsuit filed by California Attorney General Rob Bonta. The suit claims that the policy is discriminatory and violates civil rights and privacy statutes. A temporary restrain- ing order, prohibiting the district from initiating the policy, was is- sued Sept. 6. Kris Erickson suggested post- poning the vote until after the Chino hearing slated for Oct. 13. “It makes sense to wait and see how that case turns out,” she said. “The restraining order was issued because the judge found the likelihood of irreparable harm to students and the likelihood of success based on the merits of the case. For us to set ourselves up to be dragged into a lawsuit when the case will be heard in just over a month is irresponsible. Let Chino foot the legal bills. We can spend that money on our students. Let’s be fiscally responsible.” Rush to judgment Andrea Yamasaki noted that prior to the 7 p.m. public meet- ing, the board received an email from Bonta saying he would not hesitate to take action to protect students’ civil rights. “It would be prudent for us to wait,” she said, “and not use our resources and time when we should be focused on the education of our students.” John Ortega and Madison Min- er pressed to move forward. Orte- ga noted that, despite the lawsuit, another school district had just passed a similar policy. Miner pointed out that they couldn’t wait, “Gender dysphoria is al- ready an issue that we face. Our staff and counselors need direc- tion.” Ana Page asked for more time, noting that the policy the board was considering was different than what was in the agenda, and that she had received the revised version just one hour before the meeting. “I’d appreciate having time to review it,” she said. Ledesma, admitting he hadn’t read the revised policy even County supervisors OK housing project; deny residents' appeal By Tina Richards The county Board of Supervi- sors denied an appeal, Sept. 12, filed by North Tustin residents to overturn a planning commission approval of a 37-unit housing complex where the Tustin Rac- quet Hills Club now stands. Residents have been fighting the project since it was originally proposed in 2018. Their opposi- tion is based on the higher-density development’s incompatibility with the large lot, single-family homes that surround it, loss of the area’s only recreational facility, inadequate access and egress in a fire emergency, and a deed cov- enant that limits any development to that consistent with the neigh- borhood. In denying the appeal, Super- visors Katrina Foley, Vicente Sarmiento and Doug Chaffee relied on county zoning and fire codes, state housing mandates and the advice of county counsel. Su- pervisor Andrew Do recused him- self because he owns a house near the racquet club. Developer Peter Zender of Newport Beach assured the board that the project had no environ- mental or traffic impacts, was not high density, and had nothing but positive impacts on the commu- nity. Zender’s attorney Ken Stahl elaborated, noting county zoning allows for 18 units per acre, that the new housing would produce no more traffic than the racquet club, and that the county fire au- thority had OK’d the project. State support He also cited state housing leg- islation that protected develop- ment projects. “This is exactly the project the state is looking for,” he said. “Jurisdictions cannot deny projects if they are consistent with general plans. The Housing Accountability Act limits local discretion.” And, he added, "the housing crisis is impacting all lev- els of income. There is a shortage of million dollar homes.” Supervisor Don Wagner, who represents that North Tustin com- munity, opposed the project and wanted to accept the resident’s appeal. He read a letter from Tu- stin Mayor Austin Lombard, also STRs in Orange capped at 125 The Orange City Council veri- fied Sept. 12, that it has no in- tention of increasing the number of licensed Short Term Rentals (STRs) in the city beyond the cur- rent 125. That revelation followed an up- date on the STR program provid- ed by City Manager Tom Kisela and surprised many STR support- ers and opponents alike. When the topic last came before the council in May, it was to explore increasing the number to 200. The council chose to delay that decision until more information on the current program became available. Kisela’s update, in his words, “focused on what we are doing now, moving forward and im- proving the program.” He report- ed that city Code Enforcement has hired two more officers, one dedicated to STRs. To date, some 216 complaints have been dealt with, and there are 159 open cas- es. A total of 97 unlicensed oper- ators have been identified. “The program was initiated before be- ing vetted,” he said. “Now we’re dealing with violators.” Councilwoman Arianna Barri- os stressed that the city ordinance relating to STRs needs updating, and asked for a timeline. Kisela said he’d get back to her. Mayor Dan Slater agreed that they were moving in the right di- rection but much about the STR program had not been resolved. "Are we going to increase the number or not?," he asked. “We have no intention of ex- panding it,” Barrios said. “The ordinance needs to be changed and updated. That’s all we’re do- ing.” Rabble rousers from near and far disrupted the OUSD board meeting, Sept. 7, forcing out many local parents and constituents.