Apr. 11, 2017
Hon. Todd Spitzer
Third District Supervisor
Orange County, CA
Director, Public Works
Orange County, CA
Dear Supervisor Spitzer and Director Silsby:
Attached please see photos of large oak trees along Santiago Canyon Road on the Saddlecrest project site that were razed in recent weeks. Mature cacti that are prime habitat for the threatened cactus wren are also being bisected by roads and destroyed. This is of course the worst possible time to be doing earth-moving, during the best nesting and flowering season in years.
The trees were healthy, spring-blooming coast live oaks, exactly the kind needed to sustain heritage populations at a time when drought followed by heavy rains, borers and other stressors are wiping out trees across California en masse.
Yet the oak razing and other destruction appear to be perfectly legal in Orange County, thanks to inexplicable foot-dragging by county officials. Staff say it would take $100,000 in consulting fees and a year to 18 months to do anything on a tree ordinance or other protection. This is inexcusable. We urgently request that you expedite work on the proposed tree ordinance, which has languished for a year. A team of land use law and biology experts developed draft language for Orange County last spring. Friends of Harbors, Beaches and Parks submitted it to county planning staff last June. It was supposed to come before the Board of Supervisors last December. That was scrapped. Supposedly some funding may be allocated in July but there is zero sense of urgency.
It should not take another year or more to finalize an ordinance and/or implement other protective measures. Orange County is not breaking new ground here - we are woefully behind. Most other communities, the University of California and others promptly adopted or expanded tree protection programs to combat pests and to preserve trees that remain. At a minimum, developer-friendly jurisdictions require special, publicly noticed permits for the possible removal and transplantation of large native trees.
Here? Current law allows the SaddleCrest developers and others to replace mature trees with acorns. To phrase it politely, this policy is cause for astonished disbelief among prominent tree experts. We are sure you will agree that preserving the trees that remain in Orange County should be a top priority.
In addition, the time is long past to rectify the terrible evisceration of the Foothill Trabuco Specific Plan by a former supervisor who has been out of office for several years and his colleagues. Please act promptly and responsibly to overturn their actions and once again allow reasonable development consistent with the county's rural edge. These areas provide valuable breathing space and recreation for all county residents and the region. Bulldozing hillsides, bombing creeks and axing live oaks is surely not the legacy you want to leave behind.
As always, please let us know how we can help.
The Inter-Canyon League Board of Directors
Linda May, Janet Wilson, Geoffrey Sarkissian, Dion Sorrell, Scott Breeden
This is a complex matter both technically and legally, so it will take a little time to complete all the reviews and engineering. Verizon also is planning to install a backup generator and batteries at the Community Center so there will be service during power outages and disasters (the SCC is a designated Red Cross shelter.) These need to be installed on raised platforms, and space and esthetic design is needed for this equipment and platforms.
Hopefully by summer all of this will be settled and the roll-out can commence, though that is only a guess at this point. So don't toss out those Network Extender boxes just yet, but be hopeful.
Verizon will be installing cell radios on existing electric poles: 6 in Modjeska and 12 along Silverado Canyon Road. More information for this are in prior blog posts. Click the "Wireless" category to the right to see all those, or click here to view the post from May 2016 with Verizon's coverage and site maps.
At its Nov. 2016 meeting, the ICL board voted to send the following letter to O.C. Development Director Colby Cataldi. The letter was originally drafted by local realtor Russell Taylor. It asks for a meeting to resolve permitting issues with older canyon homes.
Click the read more link below/right to read the letter.
Thank you for your recent email to me regarding the questions raised in the legal opinion from John G. McClendon (June 21, 2016) related to validity of the Silverado-Modjeska Specific Plan (Sil-Mod Plan). I am writing in response to your request for me to direct County staff to comply with and enforce the Sil- Mod Plan.
In April, I spoke at the Inter-Canyon League (ICL) to help answer community questions related to updating and upholding specific plans in addition to other canyon issues. I attended in the spirit of providing the community access to the County by bringing representatives who provide services to the Canyon to help answer questions.
I apologize that the characterization of the Sil-Mod Plan that was shared during the ICL meeting was found offensive by the community volunteers who helped craft the Sil-Mod Plan and to those who want it enforced.
Please rest assured that while the Sil-Mod Plan was adopted by the Board of Supervisors by Resolution in 1977, the County’s recent interpretation of the zoning for the Sil-Mod area does not render the Sil-Mod Plan invalid, or “not binding”. The Sil-Mod Plan may be interpreted by the Board and must be read in conjunction with the underlying zoning and the uses of land permitted under that zoning. The Sil-Mod Plan contains legally enforceable policies and guidelines.
It is important to me as the Third District Supervisor to protect the natural beauty and resources in the Canyons. That is why, I have instructed County staff to comply with and enforce the Silverado-Modjeska plan and its conditions.
Thanks again for your service on the Inter-Canyon League and to the community. If I can be of service to you on any other county-related issue, please feel free to contact me again.
The slides also list changes under consideration at OC Planning for Santiago Canyon Road in the medium and longer term. These include adding four one-mile-long passing lanes, flashing speed warning signs, high-friction surfacing, lane delineators and metal guardrails.
If you have questions or comments on this project, here is the OCPW contact:
Khalid Bazmi, P.E.
Below are slides presented by O.C. Public Works given at the Oct. 2016 ICL regular meeting on bridge repairs being conducted throughout Silverado Canyon. They have promised there will be no road closures, though there may be delays at times during the day.
You can view the slides here. Use the arrow box at the lower right of the frame to view them full screen. If you want to download these slides, you can download the full meeting document package for the Oct. 4th, 2016 regular ICL meeting by clicking here.
At its Oct. 2016 meeting, the ICL board voted to send the following letter to O.C. Public Works in support of a standardized memorial sign for a cyclist recently killed by a DUI driver on Santiago Canyon Road. The family of the victim and OCPW had both requested ICL's input. Click the "Read More" line see the letter.
We have received an email from OCPW that they will be installing cameras to monitor road & flood channel conditions in preparation of storm events. You can download the full notification PDF from OCPW using the link below. For more information, contact Melanie Tep at OCPW:
Strategic Communications Specialist OC Public Works
Orange County Fire Authority has obtained a grant that runs through March of 2018 to provide assistance to homeowners in clearing back brush and tree branches from private roads and driveways. Sorry, no yard cleanups.
All work will be performed free of charge. For more information, contact Kim Brown at OCFA:
(Update 6/7/16: OC Public Works has told us Verizon has not yet responded to the original plan check comments. We will keep tabs on the issue and let you know of developments)
Following our May meeting where the Verizon proposal was outlined to the membership, ICL submitted its comments letter to O.C. Public Works regarding the project. These comments had been requested by OCPW in April. At the May ICL meeting.
The ICL comments letter is available for download on our 2016 Documents page, click here. Our original blog post on the matter is below. We will continue to post here as we get more information.
For those who were unable to attend the April 2016 ICL meeting with Supervisor Spitzer and other county representatives, we have posted below both the video record of the meeting as well as O.C. Development director Colby Cataldi's slides.
There is also a time-annotated summary of the video prepared by so you can find the highlights. The audio a little difficult in places, you may need to turn up your volume in places. (Click the Read More link below to view the rest of this post.)
At its Feb. 2016 meeting, the ICL membership unanimously voted an amendment to the by-laws proposed by the board, to allow meetings to be rescheduled to the second Tuesday of the month in cases where circumstances, such as road closures or evacutation orders, make that necessary. Previously, ICL by-laws did not allow a regular meeting except on the first Tuesday of the month.
(Click the "read more" link to see the full post including the amendment)
This post contains information previously posted on other pages
regarding the 2016 El Niño and weather patterns. The most recent updates are at the top.
Click the "Read More" link to view this post
This might seem far afield from our canyons. However it is anything but. As with Saddle Crest, it was yet another orchestrated effort to try and crack open a clearly-written county specific plan by a powerful institution with resources and inside connections.
Please click the "Read More" link if you cannot see the rest of this post.
The ICL Blog
News and updates from the ICL board and its committees.