Category Archives: orange county
The Tustin City Council will have a full plate at the Tuesday meeting beginning with the Closed Session. There are actually two Closed Sessions on the agenda with the last one taking place after the Regular session. The sole purpose will be discussion of labor negotiations for all represented and unrepresented employees. Let’s hope the city employees listen to their union reps this time and don’t screw themselves out of a raise (note: the recession is over).
Aside from the usual suspects on the Closed Session agenda, Item 4.1 Conference with Real Property Negotiators should be of particular interest to Old Town residents. The description indicates Habitat for Humanity is looking to improve the property at 140 South “A” Street. Most of us who live here know this is an eyesore on an eyesore. It is one of the few (are there any others?) empty lots in Old Town Tustin. The house was torn down years ago and the owners back then attempted to put up a shack which the city quickly took care of. Since then, it has sat empty, begging for a relocated house. I don’t know what Habitat has in store but I’m sure Elizabeth Binsack will keep them in line.In any case, it is good to see some action being taken on this lot.
After the usual presentations and fanfare, the city council has scheduled the first of two public hearings on the Code Amendment allowing Second Residential Units in the Cultural Resources District. This ordinance garnered a lot of attention during hearings by the Planning Commission. Sam Altowaiji just about blew a gasket over Elizabeth Binsack’s response to his demand to change the ordinance. Several residents spoke both for and against the ordinance.
Interestingly, Melissa Figge, who lives in Old Town and commented on a recent post about the ordinance, happened to come by my house as I was mowing my lawn (hey, it’s the only exercise I get) today. We had a nice conversation concerning the proposed ordinance as she was walking the neighborhood and distributing a flyer. The flyer was to inform residents of the Tustin Preservation Conservancy’s opposition to the ordinance and outlined their reasons. As someone who is on the other side of the street, I was interested in the arguments against.
What I really appreciated was the fact her flyer was well thought out and the Preservation Conservancy’s reasoning was clear. Just because we don’t happen to agree, doesn’t mean we can’t converse. We found ourselves in agreement on a couple of key issues, one being the parking. As a (little l) libertarian at heart, I find the city’s answer of “We’ll just issue permits” , abhorring. I already pay plenty of taxes that go to the maintenance of public streets. I should have the right to drive or park on them as I please. Melissa didn’t sound enthused about permits either. There has to be a better way.
In any case, both Melissa and I have the same message: If this issue is important to you, show up at the city council meeting and make your feelings known. They may have already made up their minds (well, everyone except Allan Bernstein) but, it wouldn’t be the first time an angry mob changed the minds of the city council.
The last item of note on the Regular Session is Item 15, Approve the Veterans Memorial Preferred Concept Plan. Now, to be clear, John Nielsen had nothing to do with this, no matter how much he tries to take credit for it. The memorial, long overdue, is a project the city sought input on from their natural stakeholders, the veterans themselves. And, there are plenty of them in Tustin. The city held two workshops and the project managers were very receptive to ideas they received. I think the finished memorial, to be placed at the recently renamed Tustin Veterans Sports Park, will be a jewel in Tustin’s crown.
Another important issue, although nothing the city can really do anything about, is Item 16, Resolution Opposing Assembly Bill 1217. This Assembly Bill seeks to reduce the number of the Board of Directors for the Orange County Fire Authority from 25 to 13. This, of course, means Al Murray would lose his lucrative position on the OCFA Board (What? You didn’t know he gets paid for that?). More importantly, it means Tustin would likely lose its voice on the board. While 25 members (one for each member city plus two from the OC Board of Supervisors) seems like a lot, it gives fair representation to a government district that would probably run amok on its own. The oversight is necessary and each member city should have its say on the board.
Moreover, as the staff report states, there is no history of problems or issues stemming from the size of the board. The new system, under this bill, would allow the Board of Supervisors an unfair balance of power, outweighing the population served. In addition, there could be undue influence in the selection process that could give the county an even larger edge. Why Tom Daly, a Democrat, is proposing such an idiotic scheme is beyond comprehension. Oh, wait, there is the politics of the matter. In any case, I hope the city council hasn’t fallen asleep by the time this issue comes up. They should be doing all they can to oppose this. Face it, the OC Board of Supervisors can’t even choose a reputable ambulance company to take care of us. Why would we trust them with oversight of OCFA?
As always, you are welcome to chime in on any of this. Just keep it civil. We’ll keep you posted on anything interesting.
Barbara Benson Memorial Scholarship
For our artistically inclined students, TACFA will award the Barbara Benson Memorial Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded to High School Seniors enrolled in either pubic or private Tustin High Schools. Up to seven $2,000 scholarships will be awarded to seniors graduating in June. Applicants must intend to pursue an education in visual or performing arts at a college, university or professional training program after graduation. Applications and more information are available online at http://www.tacfa.org. Applications are due by March 23th so don’t delay.
Annual Student Art Invitational
Middle and high school art students will have a chance to win cash prizes while displaying their art for Tustinites at the Annual Student Art Invitiational held April 1st through the 29th in the Tustin Senior Center art gallery. According to the press release, student created works include a variety of visual media including ceramics, 3-D, photography and graphics in a variety of media. Art will be judged by professional artists with a reception recognizing the winners to be held on April 15th at 5:3- pm. The gallery will be open 8-5 daily at the Tustin Senior Center in Peppertree Park.
Viewpoints: Orange County 2015
Rounding out the month is the Viewpoints: Orange County 2015 All-media Juried Show. The 8th annual exhibit will feature professional and amateur artists throught Orange County. More than 40 artists will present 80 original artworks in various media including acrylic, pastel, watercolor and photograpy. Judging will be done by winning artist Greg LaRock, a plein air artist from Newport Beach. Greg has won numerous awards around the country for his artwork and is sought after for plein air workshops. The show and display are located at the Chemers Gallery in the Enderle Center. Of coruse this makes for the beginning of a great day that could be followed by dessert at Zov’s Bistro and a Cigar at the Epicure cigar lounge.
TACFA has a pretty full schedule this year although they have not yet announced the Broadway in the Park selection. Broadway in the Park will run August 18-22. As usual, I expect a call for volunteers as well as the usual casting call for local talent to round out the company. You can receive updates on Broadway in the Park and other TACFA activities by signing up on their website here.
If you read this blog with any regularity (which we appreciate), you will recall our article announcing a Veterans Memorial Forum on February 6th. That forum, really a community workshop, gave the public the first taste of the proposed all-branch memorial to be located at the Veterans Sports Park complex.
I was pleased to see a number of veteran and non-veterans attending the meeting. Tustin Mayor, Chuck Puckett and Councilman Al Murray also attended in support of the project. And, although it made for a small and congenial group, the veterans made their voices heard. The city presented two possible proposals, one with an eagle atop an obelisk and another with military department flags surrounding a star.
An advantage of the small crowd was the informality in which the meeting was held. Veterans from The American Legion Post 227 were present and gave their opinion on the proposals. And there was plenty of opinion to go around.
Suggestions ran the gamut from criticism of a “flag adorned” seating bench to asking why there would be no flags around the one design proposal. After a 45 minute open discussion, it was clear the design group had it’s task cut out for them in marrying the ideas presented into a unified memorial theme.
A few weeks later, on February 23rd, the public was invited to a second forum to see what the design team had come up with and to make some final suggestions.
Although an even smaller crowd appeared (I blame this on poor publicity by the city), about the same number of veterans were there.
A presentation of the final proposal (sorry, we don’t have a picture) drew ooohhhs and aaahhhhs from the group. The design team had come up with a beautiful design that incorporated many of the features of the two original proposals. And, while there was still some work to be done, the overall concept drew a round of applause from the group.
This Tuesday, one of the items on the Tustin City Council agenda is the renaming of the park that will host the veterans memorial from Legacy Park to the Veterans Memorial Park at Tustin Legacy. We, of course, endorse this move and the memorial itself as a way for the city to say thank you to its veterans past, present and future.
Now, if that isn’t enough, the Orange County Fair Board recently received approval to go ahead with their Heroes Hall veterans museum. The museum will be housed in a World War II Army barracks that was very nearly demolished. Instead, it was moved to a new location on the fairgrounds and will house artifacts from Orange County’s military history. The fairgrounds, where the museum will operate, is a former Santa Ana Army Airfield that was used to train pilots and bombardiers. The museum, which won’t be ready before the fair season, will have a presentation for fairgoers this year. One of the main proponents for this museum is Fair Boardmember, Nick Berardino who manages the public employee union and is a Marine Vietnam Veteran.
With all our cities and county are doing to preserve the military history of our county, there are a number of detractors.
The city of Irvine is currently planning a state-sanctioned veterans cemetery to be located on the old El Toro Marine Corps Air Station. Former Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva introduced a bill last year that would make it possible to build that cemetery as a state VA project. Builders and devlopers quickly soured on the idea and attempted to derail the project by forcing it to the South County area.
Veterans, who number by the tens of thousands in Orange County alone, quickly rallied behind the project and effectively shouted down the opposition. While not calling them greedy directly, veterans pointed out the obvious: the old MCAS El Toro is the most natural location for a veterans cememtery.
Of course, the attacks have come anew. This time, a small contingency of the Asian community in Irvine is mounting opposition. Circulating a petition, the detractors are saying that most Asians are against having a cemetery, veterans or otherwise, in their neighborhood. So far, the campaign is going nowhere fast.
Claiming to have respect for OC Veterans, they go on to say how the human rights and “cultural tolerance” should trump common sense as to where to locate a cemetery to honor the county’s veterans. As we said, it is going nowhere fast with only 466 signators. There is also a Blogspot blog urging folks to attend the Irvine City Council meeting to address the issue. Perhaps our friends at The Liberal OC can tell us how many have spoken in opposition at the Irvine Council meetings.
It is pretty apparent that most people are proud of the military history and the vital role in protecting our country that Orange County has had over the years. With three major bases in the county during World War II and after, the military has left its stamp (and blimp hangars) on our land. And we want to hang onto that rich part of our history through memorials, museums and, yes, even cemeteries.
The planned memorial at the Tustin Veterans Sports Park will be our city’s contribution to this legacy. If you have the time and consideration, please email or call your city councilmembers. Their email addresses can be found here. Better yet, attend the next city council meeting and voice your support for the memorial.
Unless you are an avid local political junkie like me or one of the hundred or so readers that still subscribe to the Orange County Register, you may not know who Webster is. That’s Webster Guillory, former Orange County Assessor. For 16 years, until his defeat last year by Claude Parrish, Guillory collected and parsed out the various taxes from residents of Orange County.
Until last year, I can’t think of an election where he was seriously opposed. I mean, tax collector, while a well paying job, is not one most politicians vie for. It’s mostly a mundane managerial job supervising the folks that actually do the work. It’s also not all that controversial. So, why all the hubub lately?
It seems Webster was planning on retiring last year after 16 years on the job. That would have amounted to a dandy little retirement for the 70 year old who has the distinction of being the first African American to hold a county-wide elected office.
Instead, he decided to round out his retirement and, at the last minute, circulated nomination papers to enter the race one more time. And, that’s where his trouble began.
Allegedly, Guillory took out papers at the County Registrar and had an employee circulate them around the office. Other employees were asked (directed?) to sign off as he needed 20 signatures and time was running out.
All in all, Guillory is facing three felony counts resulting from the signature gathering. Additionally, but probably with no consequence, there is also the question of whether the signature gathering was done on county time as was alleged by employees of the former Assessor in a complaint filed last year with the Orange County DA.
According to the Voice of OC, Guillory’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 24th after being postponed due to scheduling conflicts. At that time, evidence will be presented to determine if a trial should be held. If Guillory is convicted, he faces over 4 years in prison. Well, actually, due to the way non-violent offenders are treated nowadays, he would more likely be the guest of Sheriff Sandra Hutchens. Maybe.