Foothills Sentry - November 2022

NEWS INSIDE East Orange • Old Towne Orange • Orange Park Acres • Villa Park • Silverado/Modjeska Canyons • North Tustin A Monthly Community Newspaper November 2022 *********ECRWSSEDDM**** Residential Customer Letters To The Editor Page 6-7 Canyon Beat Page 14 Service Directory Pages 17-19 Prof. Directory Page 19 Classifieds Page 19 Community Sports Page 22-23 The Best News In Town Since 1969 ROCK THE VOTE Readers share reasons and recommendations for school board and council candidates. See Letters, page 6, 7 FOLLOW US at Foothills Sentry FAIR PLAY Canyon country fair combines cowboy culture with rural revelry. See Old time, page 10 DOWNTOWN LOWDOWN Orange Chamber of Commerce hosts annual status report on the city; awards the best in business and benevolence. See State of, page 5 OFF THE BEATEN PATH County conservation open space has limited public access for a reason. See East Orange, page 16 THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES Local museum gets a facelift, adding interior flexibility for more exhibits, antiques, and video presentations. See Tustin, page 15 See "Fire Dept." continued on page 2 City officials and Fire Department personnel look on as Fire Chief Sean deMetropolis severs the ceremo- nial ribbon to open the new headquarters. Orange’s new fire department headquarters officially opened Oct. 6 with a ribbon-cutting cere- mony and gracious acknowledge- ments to the scores of city person- nel, contractors, consultants and public officials who made the $23 million, 29,000-sq.-ft. state-of- the-art facility a reality. Construction began in January 2021 at 1176 E. Chapman on a lot that was once headquarters for the Orange County Fire Authority. The new structure combines the latest in construction technology Orange Fire Department Headquarters opens with a flourish Regulating short-term rentals is working in Orange By Tina Richards A City of Orange program developed to regulate short-term rentals (STRs) is, one year in, doing what it was intended to do, and going well. An update on the regulatory experiment presented to the city council, Oct. 11, indicated that there are now 125 licensed STRs, and the city has collected $64,000 in fees and $551,000 in Tem- porary Occupancy Tax (TOT). There have been only two dozen complaints received in the past 12 months. Orange chose to regulate STRs instead of banning them to support responsible landlords, and shut down those whose rentals generated frequent complaints. Before the city set ground rules for STRs, neighbors routinely contacted the police and code enforcement about noise, trash, parking problems and parties that spilled out onto the streets and unknown individuals wandering around at all hours. The majority of the complaints centered on just a few properties. Taming the tiger At that time, there were more than 300 STRs in the city, with no oversight, licensing or ability to collect TOT. Last spring, the city council agreed to issue licenses to STR landlords willing to pay an application fee, get a business license, collect TOT and abide by “good neighbor” rules, including a two-night minimum stay, no on-street parking and a 30-60-minute owner response time to complaints. The program began in September 2021. City staff reports that all 125 permits were issued within the first six weeks, and there are 88 people on the waiting list. To date, the city has issued viola- tions, with fines, to just four prop- erties; complaints against those rentals have since stopped. Illegal STRs continue to be a problem. City personnel ferret them out by monitoring hosting platforms, identifying unlicensed rental units and directing the property owner to stop. The city is currently following up on 85 illegal listings. Hosting platforms are notified of illegal listings, but, according to city staff, those rental platforms are uncooperative. Council members expressed concern that the extra administrative work for STRs requires about 40 hours per week of staff time, but is currently being handled by existing personnel. Arianna Barrios reminded her colleagues that when the council agreed to regulate STRs, the money brought in by fees and taxes would be used to augment code enforcement. “So where is that revenue ending up?” she asked. Staff stretched thin So far, the additional funds are going into the General Fund. That, she was told, is because there were no benchmarks when the program started, no way to know how much revenue would be generated. Now that the city has actual numbers to work with, hiring a dedicated person for code enforcement or for the finance de- partment (which has been manag- ing the program) is more realistic. Mayor Mark Murphy asked if the program could be expanded, noting that 24 complaints a year is only two per month, and even doubling that would still be man- ageable. “It passes all the tests,” he said, “Could this program go to 200 or 250? I’d like to provide encouragement to those on the waiting list.” Will Kolbow, administrative services director, agreed that it could be expanded if there was a dedicated person, paid for by STR revenues, to administer the program. He was asked to come back with a likely number by the December or January council meeting. Residents can report STR vio- lations or make complaints on the Orange 24/7 app, or by calling (714) 867-1626. Old Towne opposes Mills Act contracts for student housing By Tina Richards A number of Old Towne resi- dents attended the Oct. 11 city council meeting to register their objections to the pending approv- al of two Mills Act contracts. The Mills Act allows property owners in historic districts to get a break on their assessed property taxes in exchange for money spent on preservation and maintenance of their historically significant houses. Mills Act beneficiaries must agree to maintain and preserve their properties for at least 10 years, in accordance with specific preservation standards and conditions. Contracts are subject to the discretion of the local government, and are available to owner-occupied dwellings as well as income- producing properties. Residents say the corporate- owned income producing properties at 515 and 529 Grand Street should not be granted Mills Act contracts because the owners are “destroying history,” not preserving it. Residents report plans to build additional units at the rear of the properties, and note the interior has already been modified to house student tenants. “The Mills Act should See "Old Towne" continued on page 4 The Serrano Water District Board of Directors voted to honor 26-year board member C.L. "Larry" Pharris Jr. for his service, dedicating the new PFAS Filtration Plant in his name, Villa Park water plant dedicated to Larry Pharris Jr. Sept. 23. The plant, the first in the county, is located behind the district offices, and was funded by the county. Larry and his wife Patty are shown with the plaque that will be placed at the site. Photo by Tony Richards