Foothills Sentry - December 2022

NEWS INSIDE East Orange • Old Towne Orange • Orange Park Acres • Villa Park • Silverado/Modjeska Canyons • North Tustin A Monthly Community Newspaper December 2022 *********ECRWSSEDDM**** Residential Customer Letters To The Editor Page 5 Canyon Beat Page 4 Service Directory Pages 11-13 Prof. Directory Page 13 Classifieds Page 13 Community Sports Page 14-15 The Best News In Town Since 1969 RESPECT, JUST A LITTLE BIT OUSD board approves district-wide civility policy to encourage courteous behavior; three trustees object. See OUSD, page 2 FOLLOW US at Foothills Sentry SANDWICH BOARD Three canyon candidates conducted a catchy campaign using their initials B, L, T. They were a top menu item and were elected to the SMRPD board. See Canyon Beat, page 4 EVERY VOTE COUNTS At press time, ballots were still being counted. While many local races have been called, the final results have not been certified; several races remain close. SEASON'S GREETINGS Local cities and clubs plan holiday festivities to make us all merry. See Holidays, page 9 THE WRITE STUFF Retired teacher tells a multifaceted tale of suspicion, suspense, murder and mystery in a debut novel. See Novice, page 8 Veterans, from left, John V. Russo, Kirby Matter and David Piper were among those honored at the City of Orange Veterans Day Tribute, Nov. 11. See photos, page 3. Panorama Heights petition to change school districts rejected By Tina Richards Marlene Law Graham and Jennifer Lampson, two parents representing families with school-age children in North Tustin's Panorama Heights, waited seven years to find out if their neighborhood could be moved out of the Orange Unified School District and into Tustin Unified. The California Board of Education said "no." Their desire to change districts, they said, had nothing to do with the caliber of Orange Unified or the schools – Panorama Elemen- tary, Santiago Middle School, El Modena High -- their children were expected to attend. TUSD’s allure is proximity and commu- nity. As North Tustin residents, their ties are in that community. Their children participate in sports, clubs and activities with other North Tustin kids, but are subsequently separated from friends when school starts. “The kids across the street from me,” Graham says, “attend TUSD schools. Mine are sent to OUSD.” A stone’s throw Another Panorama Heights neighbor reports that Foothill High is within walking distance, but her kids are destined for El Modena. The same goes for Hewes Middle School, which is closer to the neighborhood than OUSD’s Santiago Middle School. Panorama Elementary, however, is closer than TUSD’s Arroyo El- ementary. In 2015, when their kids were in kindergarten, Graham and Lampson circulated a petition to gauge whether their neighbors would be interested in a bound- ary change between OUSD and TUSD. The answer was yes. They then petitioned the Orange County Department of Education (OCDE) to approve the change. After a series of public hear- ings held in both districts, the OCDE committee that rules on district boundary changes found that the proposed transfer met all See "Panorama Heights" continued on page 4 The Orange City Council agreed to move forward with a proposed skatepark, part of the 2022 Grijalva Park Master Plan, as no additional environmental analysis is needed, and funding for the $1,389,960 project was found. Contenders Boardshop, the skatepark’s primary advocate, announced at a previous council meeting that it had raised only $28,000 toward the project since 2019. According to Contenders’ owner Mark Conner, it would, at that rate, take another 56 years to raise the needed funds. The city agreed to look into other fundraising opportunities for the project. When the skatepark update was presented at the Nov. 15 council meeting, Councilman Chip Monaco noted that the Irvine Orange skatepark concept advances Company is paying the city in- lieu park fees for its Santiago Hills II development, and those fees are directed to Grijalva Park. He asked if that $1.7 million could be used for the skatepark, Housing on Village at Orange pitched as the only option By Tina Richards The takeaway from two pub- lic meetings held to discuss the future of the Village at Orange is that: the property owners are insisting on a residential com- ponent; pending state legislation may render the discussion moot; and neighbors may have to accept the inevitability of high-density housing on the site. Some already have. “Malls are dinosaurs,” resident Carol Chaney said at a recent meeting. “There will be housing. We have to deal with the developer. The property will not stay the same forever while we bicker over it.” “We have to understand the site and its possibilities,” resident Matt Hamilton concurred. “We have to work with these people [property owners]and reach a rea- sonable compromise.” Holding pattern The City of Orange was well into the process of rezoning the Village property from commer- cial to mixed-use as part of a broader North Tustin Street Spe- cific Plan (NTSSP). The goal was to provide more development op- tions, including housing, along that thoroughfare from Lincoln to Katella. The NTSSP was halted after residents expressed concerns about the impacts of density, traffic, and multi-story facades on their neighborhoods. Citizens were also alarmed that the rezoning process was moving forward with little or no input from them. The councilwoman representing the mall district, Kathy Tavoularis, asked her colleagues to abandon the wider range NTSSP, focus on the mall property only (for now), and set up an ad hoc committee to further explore the issues – with public input. Two committee meetings were held, Sept. 28 and Oct. 26, hosted by Tavoularis and Councilman Chip Monaco. The first meeting featured presentations by the three property owners; the second focused on proposed development plans by the owners who have a stake in the immediate future. It’s complicated The portion of the property where the Sears buildings sits is owned by the Hite family. Sears has 90 years of rights on the property. The current lease expires in two years, but Sears has the option to renew for another 30. The company is currently in bankruptcy and its financials are being handled by a court- See "Housing" continued on page 3 and was told yes. “I think I just found the money,” he exclaimed. The city had explored grant funding for the project, but was deemed ineligible due to popula- tion and poverty thresholds. Contenders Boardshop submitted a conceptual design for a 10,000- sq.-ft. skatepark. Photo by Tony Richards