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East Orange v Orange Park Acres v Villa Park v Anaheim Hills v Cowan Heights Crawford Canyon v Silverado/Modjeska Canyon Areas v North Tustin

A Monthly Community Newspaper Est. 1969 Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Ballots bound for Santiago Hills

A public hearing on the pro-

posed rate increase for the Santi- ago Hills Assessment District will be held April 14 during the Or- ange City Council meeting. The council is slated to accept the pre- liminary engineering report that establishes the range of needed fee hikes and authorizes mailing of ballots to area property owners. If approved, Santiago Hills and Hillsdale residents will be asked to accept or reject an annual rate increase to cover landscaping and maintenance costs in the commu- nity’s common areas. The higher rates must be approved by a sim- ple majority of those who cast ballots. Ballots may be mailed as early

Chapman Elementary School Principal Sandra Schaffer promised students she would kiss a pig if they met fundraising goals for their annual jog-a-thon, held to pay for a part-time teacher. See story, page 11.

By Tina Richards A trial court decision uphold-

Court ruling gives county supervisors carte blanche to amend specific plans

ing the integrity of the Foothill Trabuco Specific Plan, and re- jecting amendments tacked on by the OC Board of Supervisors to accommodate a developer, was reversed by an Orange County appellate court, March 11. The higher court’s decision ef- fectively grants the board of su- pervisors the ability to amend the county’s general plan, or a com- munity’s specific plan, at its dis- cretion. Historically, significant changes to a general or specific plan were made only after intense review and public comment.

By Andie King The Villa Park City Council

will consider funding a prelimi- nary study to determine the feasi- bility of creating a special assess- ment district and calculating the costs of undergrounding utilities along Valley Drive, from Center Drive to Cerro Villa Drive. Councilmen Bill Nelson and

Bob Collacott, both members of the city’s Community Devel- opment Committee, were ap- proached by Valley Drive resi- dents about undergrounding utili- ties. The homeowners were inter- ested in enhanced views, safety and the improved aesthetics after the removal of the power poles and overhead utility lines draped in front of their well-kept lawns. At the March 17 city council meeting, the two councilmen brought a petition signed by homeowners representing ap- proximately 90 percent of the 65-70 homes on Valley Drive, be- tween Cerro Villa and Center, in- cluding Rama and Loma Streets.

Property owners and residents had some assurance that govern- ment agencies would adhere to the guidelines set forth in a given planning document. The Foothill Trabuco Specific

Plan (FTSP) was created in 1991 to protect the area’s rural char- acter, scenic assets and natural resources.

It imposed density

limits, grading standards, envi- ronmental protections and natural open space requirements that lim- ited tract-like developments. The goal was to preserve one of na- ture’s last stands in Orange Coun- ty, an environment appreciated by residents and visitors alike.

My way for this highway Rutter Development of Irvine

wants to build 65 houses on a pastoral piece of land on Santiago Canyon Road just north of Cook’s Corner. It could not do so under the tenets of the FTSP, and asked the county to amend the plan to enable its development.


the then-board of supervisors ap- proved those changes, the Sad- dleback Canyons Conservancy, joined by four other conservation groups, filed suit. The lower court found in favor of Saddleback, rul- ing the board’s amendments were

See"Court ruling" continued on page 6

The petition asked the city coun- cil to approve a contract of up to $15,000 with PENCO Engineer- ing, Inc. for a preliminary engi- neering study. Residents spoke pro and con, and the council vot- ed, 3-2, to delay the vote until its April 24 meeting. Councilmem- bers Rick Barnett, Greg Mills and Mayor Diana Fascenelli voiced concerns about spending city dol- lars to benefit only a small por- tion of the residents. The three dissenters also wanted time to review the applicable documen- tation that was not provided, per procedure, with the agenda.

How it works The study may be funded by

the city, or by the homeown- ers, and – if the undergrounding passes -- may be rolled into the total cost of the improvements. The preliminary study would determine the estimated costs of moving the low voltage wires underground, and the method of assessment for each parcel. The individual homeowners, after re-

viewing their applicable costs to underground the utilities, would then determine if they wish to pursue the special assessment district designation. Residents may work with the utility compa- nies as a private project, or may apply to form a special assess- ment district. The city council has the final authority to authorize the project. State Proposition 218 requires that the council conduct a public hearing and assessment district approval must be determined via a ballot vote by impacted resi- dents. The council may stipulate if a simple majority vote, or a supermajority vote, would be re- quired to proceed.

The costs Individual assessments may

vary greatly. Approximately two- thirds of the costs for projects like this are construction related, as power and telephone companies charge to design and convert to an underground system. Cable com- panies may pay their portion of

as April 23. State law requires all ballots to be hard copies; they must be signed by the vot- ing property owner before they are returned. No email, website or other electronic voting mes- sage is permitted. Ballots must be received at the city clerk’s office (not postmarked) by June 9. The ballots will be counted and results announced at the city council meeting that evening. The Santiago Hills Assessment

District was created in 1987 to fund the neighborhood’s turf, shrubs, ground cover and trees, irrigation, walkways, stairs and railing, lighting and utilities. The original annual assessment, which appears on property tax bills, has not gone up since its inception, and funding has not kept pace with inflation. The district fees cannot be raised without the ap- proval of property owners. The April 14 city council meet-

ing commences at 6 p.m. at 300 E. Chapman Ave.

VP's Valley Drive wants wiring underground

undergrounding. Other expenses include engineering, legal, ad- ministration, and bond issuance costs. The assessed fees could be paid outright, or financed via the sale of municipal bonds that are paid off over 15 or 20 years through property tax bills. Each property owner would also re- tain and pay a contractor to con- nect his home to the underground system. That obligation cannot be financed, and requires up-front payment. If the vote passes, property

owners included in the special as- sessment district are obligated to fund the improvements, even if they voted against the project. The process to form a special assessment district and complete the work may continue for three to five years, depending on the time constraints of the utility companies and crews. Though Valley is not a main thoroughfare in the city, this pro- gram may serve as a pilot project for additional areas that seek un- derground utilities.


Take a good guess

School trustees okay interim agreements with Peralta lessees without knowing financial fact from fiction. See OUSD board, page 2

Park and deride

Some school-side residents don’t want parent chauffeurs using their streets for parking or passage. See School traffic, page 8

Uno Mundo (at least in Orange)

Neighborhoods connect with each other to preserve their communities’ character. See Neighborhoods join, page 9

Let the music play

OUSD is restoring arts and instruments to its elementary school curriculum. See Arts return, page 15

Hot times in the old town

Mayor’s report says Orange agencies and organizations have come together to create a climate that’s good for business. See State of the City, page 20

INSIDE Canyon Beat

Letters To The Editor Soup's On

Prof. Directory Classifieds

Services Directory Real Estate Sports

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