Stop the Dangerous Santiago Creek Development: Vote No on City of Orange Measure AA!

I urge my friends in the City of Orange to stop the dangerous Santiago Creek development. Vote No on Measure AA.

The proposed development — which would squeeze 128 expensive homes on 40.9 acres just south of Santiago Creek, near the already excessively congested intersection of Santiago Canyon Road and Cannon Street — is too dangerous to be approved.

Just about everything about this proposed Santiago Creek Development is wrong:

  • The area of the proposed development is prone to wildfire and has few evacuation routes. Those few evacuation routes are already excessively congested.  During the recent 2017 Canyon II Fire, cars were backed up for miles with people trying to flee.  This proposed development will create even more congestion, which could prove fatal in the next wildfire.
  • The area of the proposed development is subject to serious flooding danger. The area is in a flood plain and has a history of dangerous flooding.  Major floods in Orange County have occurred in 1810, 1815, 1825, 1884, 1891, 1916, 1927, 1938, 1969, 1983, 1993 and 1997.  In February 1969, heavy rains led to catastophic flooding of Santiago Creek that washed out bridges and roads, destroyed homes and cars, and caused hundreds to be evacuated. The danger of flooding in the area remains unabated.
  • The proposed development is on a known fault line and subject to liquefaction in an earthquake. In addition, two earthen dams upstream of the proposed development are also on a fault line and subject to liquefaction, increasing the danger of catastophic flooding.
  • There are active methane vents next to the site. The homes built on the proposed site will require methane gas detectors to monitor dangerous levels of methane.  The release of methane into the air can cause debilitating health problems, ranging from rashes, nosebleeds and wheezing to headaches, nausea, vomiting, brain injury and death.
  • The development project is also an affront to democracy. Residents of the area have opposed the development for years, yet the developers and the Orange City Council has ignored their concerns.  Despite the people’s opposition, the Orange City Council pushed ahead with approving this project, putting the financial interests of the developers ahead of the wishes and the safety of the people. When this most recent development plan came before the Orange City Council, more than 80% of the Orange residents who spoke at the public hearing opposed the project.  The Orange City Council approved it anyway, forcing the residents to overturn their decision through the referendum process.  Residents then collected more than 13,000 signitures — nearly double the number needed — in less than 30 days to put Measure AA on the ballot.  The people do not want this project!

I believe that California’s housing and homelessness crises must be addressed with effective, meaningful action.  I have worked hard to create more affordable housing.  As Chair of the Irvine Community Land Trust, I’ve helped reduce homelessness and create affordable housing for families, veterans, and people with disabilities, and I’ve gone to Sacramento to fight for tax reductions for investments in affordable housing I am a strong advocate for action on the local and state level addressing the housing and homelessness crises, but not at the cost of lives lost due to development plans that fail to properly account for the high danger of flood, wildfire, and other natural disasters. Plus, more multi million-dollar homes are not what the City of Orange, Orange County, or California need right now.

Vote No on Measure AA to stop this dangerous development!

Watch a video on the Santiago Creek development here:

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State Action Needed to Control Teen Rehab Group Homes

Thank you to the residents of Orange Park Acres who invited me and other candidates to a panel discussion yesterday on problems associated with the profusion of minor treatment group homes in the community.

There are now 9 teen rehabs operating within the 1.4 square miles of Orange Park Acres, an equestrian-oriented residential community with no sidewalks or street lights. Two more groups homes are pending.

Location of proliferating teen rehab group homes in Orange Park Acres

If approved, there would be 11 group homes in this small community, all operated by the same owner, housing up to 66 children. At a cost of more than $1,000 per child per day, these 11 group homes could generate revenue of about $2 million per month to the owner.

Since 2017, law enforcement has responded to more than 200 emergency calls connected to these teen rehab group homes in Orange Park Acres, including more than 40 reports involving “missing juveniles” or runaways, and 17 calls for minors posing a danger to themselves or others.

Teens running away from the group homes in Orange Park Acres have been found hiding in foliage, behind garages, wandering at night in dark and dangerous streets, neighbors said. Some have appeared on front porches at the crack of dawn, pleading with neighbors to help them escape or call their parents.

The residents have had enough — but their efforts to get government to control the expansion of the group homes, or to solve the problems caused by their chronic mismanagement, have been frustrating at best.

In my view, solving these problems requires state legislation and enforcement, and the commitment of state resources. But our current local state legislators in this district have stood on the sidelines of decision-making in Sacramento, failing to bring anything back to our local communities to solve this problem and others.

Our voices have not been heard in the rooms where state decisions are made.

As a result, we’ve been unable to secure the legislation and resources necessary to control the expansion of group rehabs or effectively regulate their operations.

I look forward to working with community members and members of the state legislature to ensure the passage of legislation that effectively regulates the expansion and management of group homes, and that provides Orange Park Acres, and other Orange County community with the resources needed to keep group homes from exploiting their vulnerable teenage patients and negatively changing the character of our neighborhoods.

When I am elected to serve the communities of the 68th Assembly District in the state legislature, you can be sure our local voices will be heard loud and clear in Sacramento!