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Nyahh Naaah Nuh, Nah, Nah

Calvin-thumb-on-noseOK, they didn’t really thumb their noses at the Bishop Vann. But, North Tustin residents did get a bit of good news at the January 13th Orange County Board of Supervisors meeting. If you ever drive on Newport Avenue north of 17th Street, you have seen the large, empty lot, owned by the Diocese of Orange, that was earmarked for a Catholic-oriented senior living facility. In past years, my family bought live Christmas trees off this lot (now, do you remember?). We previously wrote of a victory by the Foothill Communities Association to overturn a spot-zoning attempt by the county board of supervisors. That court victory quickly turned to defeat when an appeals court reversed the decision.

Saying the face of the county had changed, it was necessary to address the concerns of senior citizens. Three justices on the 4th Appellate Court concurred and the hard work of the FCA legal team was undone. Interestingly, the county did not pursue the issue. It was the diocese’ management partner, Kisco, that sought the appeal. Of course, millions of dollars in expected income were at stake.

All of the expense and work were futile, it seems, as the OC BoS headed by soon-to-be Chairman Todd Spitzer derailed the proposed project by moving to rescind the Senior Residential Housing Zoning designation. Supported by Supervisor Shawn Nelson, the board voted 4-0 in favor of the change. The recommendation must still go before the planning commission but Supervisors made it clear they expect the recommendation to come back in favor of FCA.

I emailed Richard Nelson, spokesperson for the Foothill Communities Association, asking what the chances were the action would stand court scrutiny. He inidcated he felt it would. In any case, kudos to the North Tustin folks who saw this fight to this point. I remember seeing them protesting in front of the property as well as sending out information. Heck, before this, I didn’t even know there was an FCA.

For his part, Todd Spitzer came through for the community under his governance. We like to rag on Todd (mostly because he presents such a tempting target) but he has proven loyal, both this term and his previous years on the board, to the community and the county. Now, if he would just take a lesson from his cohort Shawn Nelson on how to be lo-pro, he’d stay off the radar of the OCW and OTT. Maybe just an occasional cigar fest at the house, Todd. Todd, by the way, was last mentioned in the OCW “Best of 2014” as part of the Best Political Battle with his nemesis Susan “Dragon Lady” Kang-Schoreder over the ongoing fight for the district attorneys office when T-Rack leaves.

The foothills folks are also in the middle of a nasty water fight with their current provider. Unhappy with the high cost of water provided by Golden State Water,black-tap-water activist residents embarked on a campaign to change water companies.

Two years ago, FCA made a presentation to the community of a plan to change water providers from GSW, a private utility, to a public utility (looks like Irvine Ranch Water District is the favored candidate). Citing costs that have skyrocketed since 2003, it looks like GSW is proposing even higher rates in the not too distant future.

The biggest obstacle is, of course, money. Proponents are suggesting bonds to purchase GSW assets that serve the area. From the looks of things, residents aren’t too keen on something that could actually cost them in the end.

One thing that may help is the bad publicity GSW has garnered from one of their other customer communities. Folks in Gardena aren’t too happy with GSW as black, foul smelling water has been issuing from their taps and toilets. The results can be seen on this video. If that doesn’t compel them to find a solution, I don’t know what will.

So, what else are those nefarious rebels in the foothills up to? You can find out by checking out their website, maintained by Rick Nelson, at www.fcahome.org.

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North Tustin Update

FCA logoApologies to Rick Nelson and our friends in North Tustin. I am on Rick’s email list and he sends me occasional emails on events and items of concern for our neighbors to the north. He also sends me a regular “North Tustin Update” which I received a couple of weeks ago. He is probably wondering when I would publish anything. So, here we go.

The annual FCA meeting was held on March 4th. They had several interesting speakers including, John Sears, OCFA Deputy Chief Laura Blaul and the ever entertaining, Honorable Todd Spitzer. I would like to have come to the meeting just for that but I was still recuperating from my injuries. Todd spoke about projects around his district, which includes North Tustin, and talked about issues facing the community. One of the issues was the impact long term park planning will have on North Tustin.

FCA is busy gearing up for their campaign to switch water companies. In order to fund the effort to change from Golden State Water to another water company, the board is asking for a $100 contribution from each member. All funds for the effort will be segregated and dedicated for the sole purpose of funding the change. FCA alleges that GSW has been ripping off their customers for years with some of the highest rates around. Now, GSW intends to hike rates again (join the crowd) even though they are turning a substantial profit. A committee will look into changing water companies for the Cowan Heights and Lemon Heights customers. One of the companies they are looking at is Tustin Water.

One item that is still on the boiler, although it has taken a simmer for the time being, is the Senior Living Facility proposed by the Catholic Diocese for property they own on Newport Avenue. The outcome of the lawsuit forbidding the construction is far from over. Appeals were made by both sides of the argument for different reasons. In a bit of good news for North Tustinites, the Orange County Board of Supervisors withdrew as a party to the appeal, leaving the Diocese on their own. FCA expects everything to be settled by this summer. We say, it ain’t over til the fat lady sings.

Other items of interest to our rural neighbors include the formation of a Coyote Committee and vine maintenance on Red Hill Avenue. They are also looking for volunteers who can help with computer input, accounting and their website.

If you want to know firsthand what is happening in North Tustin, check out their excellent website. If you are in a hurry, check out the news bulletin.

News From Our Neighbors to the North

Some time ago, around the time the Catholics were losing their foothold in North Tustin, I got an email from some folks in that area who wanted to make sure I had all the information. That led to me being put on their mailing list and newsletter. I recently received their latest news letter and thought I would share a bit with you.

The Foothills Community Association recently held a Fire Safety Vendor Fair on June 16th. They have not updated their website to say how successful it was. However, the information is always good to have in their area. They promised to have folks there to discuss vegetation and hardening of homes against fire. Recently, I know the Fire Authority attempted to implement fire maps that would have been detrimental to these folks. As usual, government thinks they know best and should badger citizens with their “expertise” until they succumb to the pressure. FCA doesn’t seem to have that problem as they take a pro-active approach to protecting their own.

You might have also seen them at the Chili Cookoff where they made their presence known.

There is also a planned community picnic for September 23, 2012. Their first picnic was a huge success with a lot of activities including clowns, games and magic acts. Local restaurants will have a chance to showcase their goodies. The picnic will be held in Irvine Park, same as last year. I hope I get an invite. More importantly, I hope they break even (although FCA didn’t appear to unhappy about it).

You may remember that FCA fought diligently against the building of Spring at Bethsaida, a planned senior community, on Newport Avenue. The Orange County Superior Court ruled against the Diocese of Orange and the OC Board of Supervisors, led by Bill Campbell (who just happens to be Catholic), saying the Board illegally spotzoned the location to allow the Diocese to build what they wanted instead of the  original church. If there are appeals in the works, we haven’t heard anything and I seriously doubt an appeal would be successful. Unfortunately, it would be expensive, something the FCA could ill afford. Now, if someone would just call Bishop Tod Brown and ask him to remove the sign.

From the Foothill Sentry Newspaper, we have this:

Tustin shares the bounty
The Harvest Club in Tustin provides fresh, healthy food to the hungry in Orange County by harvesting excess backyard produce and donating it to local food pantries, churches and soup kitchens.
The  club  is  seeking  harvest captains  to  lead  harvests  either on  weekdays  or  weekends  and volunteers to pick backyard fruit in the greater Tustin area. If you are a gardener with an overabundance of fruit, you can register your  trees  at  theharvestclub.org and someone will be in touch with you to coordinate the picking. For more information on how to  help,  visit  theharvestclub.org or  email  info@theharvestclub.

Admittedly, the Foothills Sentry is geared more toward Orange than Tustin but, there are some interesting articles. I can’t tell you exactly how to navigate to the newspaper as it is a print page that is posted to a website. Here is the latest if you find yourself bored with Tustin news.

I hope our friends in North Tustin find themselves well and with few fires this year. They are our kind of people, they just know better than to join the city. You can check out their excellent and informative website here.

Catholic Diocese Closes Escrow on Crystal Cathedral

The Crystal Cathedral, once owned by the Hour of Power ministries, has been acquired by the Catholic Diocese of Orange. The property, located in Garden Grove has been an icon of Orange County faith for years. From its humble beginnings as a drive-in church, the Reverend Robert Schuller took an outdoor stage and made it the centerpiece of what would be a worldwide ministry. Few people in Orange County and much of the world have not seen or heard of the Hour of Power and the Crystal Cathedral. As with many “worldwide” ministries, family feuds and scandal eventually rocked the church and many of its faithful followers found other flocks to gather in.

According to the Diocese press release, the Crystal Cathedral Ministries may continue to use the church and some other campus structures for a period of up to three years. The memorial garden and other operations will be transferred immediately to the Diocese. A pastoral center is planned for the site and the deal allows for the transfer of St. Calistus Catholic Church to be transferred to the CCM faithful so they will continue to have a place to call home.

Prior to the Crystal Cathedral coming up for sale due to bankruptcy proceedings, the Diocese of Orange had been planning to build a Cathedral in central Orange County that would house a new pastoral center and bishop’s seat. Purchasing the Crystal Cathedral property resolves the issue and will allow the Diocese to establish their Cathedral more quickly and economically.

So, the only question that remains is, will Bishop Tod Brown redecorate?