MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — 34th Senate District — August 31, 2014

Today’s OC Register clarifies a radio ad that former Assemblyman Jose Solorio is airing in his campaign against Orange County Supervisor Janet Nguyen in their race for the California 34th State Senate District seat. It revolves around a recent agenda item before the Board of Supervisors (see MOORLACH UPDATE — OCFA Study — March 26, 2014 and MOORLACH UPDATE — ALS/CCW/CCP/AOT — March 5, 2014). Supervisor Nelson and I were not amused with a fee that the Orange County Fire Authority has been charging. We were in the minority in opposing its continuance and its lack of full disclosure.
First, Supervisor Nguyen has a habit of abstaining or voting against any fee increases, even when they are justified and appropriate. In this case, she did not vote for a new fee or a current fee increase.

Second, Jose Solorio was the only Orange County specific Assemblyman in June of 2011 to vote for SB 89. This act of treason alone makes him unworthy and unqualified to serve this County in any elected capacity in the future. To refresh your memory, the successful passage of the budget trailer bill SB 89 has cost the County $150 million and reduced its revenues by $73 million per year. For a refresher course, see MOORLACH UPDATE — AB 701 — September 14, 2013, MOORLACH UPDATE — Chair Nelson — January 9, 2013, MOORLACH UPDATE — VLFAA — April 6, 2012, MOORLACH UPDATE — R&T Code Sec. 97.70 — November 15, 2011, MOORLACH UPDATE — BOS Actions — September 14, 2011, and MOORLACH UPDATE — OC Register — September 3, 2011 (another Labor Day Weekend UPDATE).

It would appear that Jose Solorio just can’t seem to get much right, and his campaign is being called out for it.

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OC state Senate candidate attacks foe in commercial

A radio ad from Jose Solorio wrongly implies that Supervisor Janet Nguyen voted to increase a fee charged by paramedics.

BY MARTIN WISCKOL / STAFF WRITER

Former Assemblyman Jose Solorio, a Santa Ana Democrat, has rolled out a series of radio ads in his campaign against county Supervisor Janet Nguyen, a Garden Grove Republican, in the race to fill the open state Senate District 34 seat. “911,” which attacks Nguyen, is one of those ads.

Title: 911

Length: 30 seconds.

Script: “Supervisor Janet Nguyen used a loophole to get around Proposition 13’s property taxpayer protection. The Register reported on March 13 this year that Nguyen voted for ‘an additional fee of nearly $400’ on seniors and those who need ‘advance life support’ from paramedics.”

Analysis: In March, county supervisors set the terms for ambulance companies wanting to bid for the right to cover parts of the county served by the Orange County Fire Authority. The disputed issue that led to a 3-2 vote was how the ambulance companies would bill those they transported.

Previously, when a patient was in serious condition and needed “advanced life support” attention from paramedics, there was a surcharge of nearly $400 in addition to what was charged for routine ambulance transport. Both of those charges were billed by the ambulance company, which then forwarded the surcharge to the fire authority.

Two supervisors – Shawn Nelson and John Moorlach – opposed the surcharge and wanted to strip it from what the ambulance companies collected under the new contract being bid. Under the proposal by the two, the fire authority would still have the power to make the charge – it adds about $4.5 million to the department budget annually – but it would have to bill the patients directly if it wanted the money.

The board majority, including Nguyen, voted to have the new contract have all collections continue to be done by ambulance company, in part to avoid the bureaucracy of billing by two entities for one trip to the hospital.

The new contract does not add new charges.

Proposition 13 limits property tax hikes and requires two-thirds voter approval for most new taxes. But the type of “fee for services provided” that the fire authority is the beneficiary of is not uncommon. Other similar fees, which are imposed without voter approval, include civil marriage ceremony fees and fees for using public campgrounds.

Contact the writer: mwisckol

This e-mail has been sent from my personal account.

Posted in California

MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — Supervisorial Candidates — August 30, 2014

I hope you’re enjoying your holiday weekend. It’s Labor Day Weekend, so the summer break from campaigns is over and the final push to November’s General Election is underway. This past week I had the honor of keynoting a fund raising event for Robert Ming. Robert is the real deal and has the attributes to make an outstanding County Supervisor. The Dana Point Times provides the perspectives of the top two candidates for the Fifth Supervisorial District in the first piece below. For fun, as this is the County’s Quasquicentennial, I have one small clarification. Orange County is the sixth most populous county in the nation, not the fifth (San Diego County edged the OC out a couple of years ago).

The Orange County Breeze provides a story on a legislative rarity in the second piece below. The State Legislature allowed a Republican’s bill to successfully move on to the Governor’s desk. Congratulations to Allan Mansoor for this very uncommon Sacramento successful effort.

Dana Point Times

Meet the Candidates: 5th District OC Board of Supervisors Hopefuls Speak Out

By Andrea Swayne

With Orange County Fifth District Supervisor Pat Bates terming out and making an unopposed run for the State Senate’s 36th District seat, Dana Point Mayor Lisa Bartlett and Laguna Niguel Councilman Robert Ming are in the running to replace her.

Both Bartlett and Ming are terming out of their city council seats, having each served two consecutive four-year terms in their respective cities.

The county supervisor race is a top-two election format where, originally, four were in the running for the Fifth District seat. Ming and Bartlett won their spots on the November ballot by beating Mission Viejo Councilman Frank Ury and county Deputy District Attorney Joe Williams in the June 13 primary.

The Fifth District includes the cities of Dana Point, Irvine and Aliso Viejo, along with portions of San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Laguna Woods, Lake Forest, Mission Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita, the Shady Canyon community in Irvine, as well as the unincorporated communities of Ladera Ranch, Coto de Caza, Las Flores and Wagon Wheel.

Each of the county’s five districts elects one board member to a four-year term.

In the days leading up to the Nov. 4 election, more on this race will be included in the Dana Point Times ongoing election coverage.

Following are the official candidate statements, unedited, followed by highlights and excerpts from the candidates’ appearance at the Aug. 22 community forum in Dana Point hosted by the Dana Point Civic Association.

Questions for the forum were submitted by the public in advance and the meeting was moderated by Jim Miller, Civic Association president. Miller posed 12 questions to the candidates. Ming’s and Bartlett’s answers to those questions and others will be featured in upcoming election coverage.

Lisa Bartlett

Lisa Bartlett

CANDIDATE STATEMENT FOR:

Lisa Bartlett
Mayor/Orange County Businesswoman

As a Mayor, Businesswoman, past Chairwoman of the Foothill Eastern SR-241 Toll Road and 25-year resident of Dana Point, I have decades of experience to provide residents with strong, effective leadership on issues that impact our quality of life.

I hold a Masters Degree in Business Administration and have extensive hands-on experience in executive management and operating my own business. As Mayor, I have consistently delivered lean, balanced budgets that include prudent cash reserves, minimal unfunded pension liability, no debt, and promote economic growth for our local economy to counter the failed policies of Sacramento and Washington.

Public safety is government’s number one job. That is why I worked with the Sheriff and other Mayors in creating the Contract Cities Group to reduce crime and increase law enforcement resources for our region.

As a regional transportation leader, I have the leadership and experience needed to provide solutions for improved mobility and traffic relief.

My years of private and public sector experience have prepared me to serve as your Supervisor and oversee America’s fifth largest county.

I am honored to have the endorsement of Congressman Darrell Issa and many of our respected local leaders. I respectfully ask for your vote.

www.LisaforSupervisor.com

Robert Ming

Robert Ming

CANDIDATE STATEMENT FOR:

Robert Ming
Orange County Businessman/Councilmember

Integrity. Fiscal Responsibility. Leadership. These are my guiding principles and what our elected officials should deliver. As Laguna Niguel mayor and councilmember, I’ve been committed to these principles.

Integrity is about being honorable and keeping promises. In Laguna Niguel, I promised to repave streets, maintain low crime rates, improve parks, and protect our environment. That’s what I did. As Supervisor, I’ll do the same, while bringing transparency and accountability to government.

Fiscal responsibility means making principled decisions while living within our means. I consistently voted to reduce regulations, not raise fees, or incur debt. We built our city hall on time, under budget, and paid cash, while keeping healthy reserves.

Leadership requires listening, creative problem solving, and, building consensus. That’s been my track record on regional boards and nonprofits. My 20 years of business experience will help government work smarter.

My endorsements include Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, Supervisors Nelson and Moorlach, Congressman Rohrabacher, Senator Mimi Walters, Assemblywoman Diane Harkey, California Republican Assembly and leaders from every South County city.

Married to Susie for 22 years with four children, I care deeply about their future. I’ll preserve our quality of life, for my children and yours.

I respectfully ask for your vote.

www.robertming.com

FORUM INTRODUCTIONS

Robert Ming spoke of his campaign as a great experience, getting to know all of the communities in the Fifth District by spending time with the public. He referred to the Dana Point Harbor as the “jewel of the county” and Dana Point as a wonderful part of it. The Harbor Revitalization Project, he said, is “a great opportunity in front of you” along with all the other progress that’s been made in Dana Point and said he’s looking forward to seeing how all of these projects can get done.

On the type of leader he would be, Ming made the following comments:

“I’ve always believed the way we should lead is to listen to local residents. That’s why I’ve been focused on making sure that local control is fought for and listened to, so as you are involved in this process—as you have for many years, 10, 20 maybe even 30 years for some of you—It’s important to keep in perspective the competing interests.

“It’s not only the boaters, because the boaters are very important, it’s not only the public, because the public is very important. It’s also the county in general because we all benefit from this great asset and I would love to see it continue to be taken care of, advanced and see progress made here.

“Three things my campaign is focused on are integrity, fiscal responsibility and leadership. Integrity means say what you mean and mean what you say, and do what you say you’re going to do. That’s what I believe every elected official should do.

“Fiscal responsibility—we run balanced budgets and in Laguna Niguel we have no debt.

“Leadership is finding solutions to problems and bringing people together so that we can move forward. And that’s what I intend to do.”

Lisa Bartlett said one of her main reasons for running for City Council was a desire to see some of the projects in Dana Point move forward.

She pointed to her land use background as a real estate broker being helpful in her first four years on council with getting master plans approved by the city, county and California Coastal Commission for the Town Center-Lantern District and Harbor projects.

Her second four years, she said, were spent working on the Doheny Village revitalization plan, for which a master plan is expected to be completed in the spring of 2015.

Bartlett said she is excited to see the Doheny Village plan move forward, as it will effectively tie the city’s three major land use areas together.

“That’s part of the legacy I would leave behind … to have some of these projects we’ve waited for, for so long, actually moving forward and to have been a part of that process,” Bartlett said. “As county supervisor I want to continue with that and make sure these projects continue to move forward.”

On the type of leader she would be, Bartlett added the following:

“I’ve always had an open door policy … I’m one of the very few elected officials who puts their cell phone number on their card … It’s great to hear from residents, community leaders and business leaders … In Dana Point we really listen to the community when projects come forth and at the county level I would continue to do the same.

“I’ve got a great track record for fiscal responsibility. Our city is well run, we have no debt, a balanced budget every year, cash reserves and in 2009 paid off our unfunded pension liability … I would carry that forth to the County of Orange.”

A QUESTION FROM THE FORUM

What are some of your top priority issues facing the County of Orange? Give at least three.

Bartlett said transportation and mobility issues are of major concern, as gridlock negatively affects quality of life.

Public safety is also of high priority, she said, adding that, “With the early release of prisoners coming into our communities, it is important to keep cities safe by crafting good policy decision on the Board of Supervisors.”

She also mentioned the importance of working toward a goal of finding ways to make county government work more effectively and collectively together for better delivery of services and more cost effective operation.

Ming highlighted the need to fix the current compensation structure for pensions, pointing out that, “If the county can’t operate on a budget, we are going to have a problem.”

Efficiency is also on his priorities list, an issue, he says, holds plenty of room for improvement.

Making a “huge push forward” for county projects such as revitalizing the Harbor and transportation projects, such as completing the La Pata extension, also top his list.

Orange County Breeze

Bill to require greater accountability at residential treatment facilities sent to governor

Allan Mansoor. Courtesy photo.

Assemblyman Allan Mansoor’s (R- Costa Mesa) Assembly Bill 2374, alcohol and drug residential rehabilitation home measure passed out of the Legislature with unanimous bipartisan support. AB 2374 now heads to the Governor for his signature.

“There have been a lot of problems with how rehab homes operate and this bill is a first step towards increased accountability,” said Mansoor.

AB 2374 requires deaths that occur at licensed residential treatment facilities to be reported to the Department of Health Care Services in a timely manner; it also requires private organizations that register or certify substance abuse counselors to verify that an applicant has not had another registration or certification revoked.

Assemblyman Mansoor proudly represents Orange County’s 74th Assembly District, which includes the cities of Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Laguna Woods, and large portions of Huntington Beach and Irvine.

The article above was released by Assemblyman Alan Mansoor, who is running for Second District Orange County Supervisor in the November general election. The Second District is currently represented by John Moorlach, who is termed out of office this year.

This UPDATE was sent from my personal account.

Posted in California

MOORLACH UPDATE — Los Coyotes — August 29, 2014

Every city in my District has a module on its website to advise residents on how to properly deal with coyotes, except for La Palma and Stanton. The County of Orange has a page on dealing with coyotes at http://ocpetinfo.com/civicax/filebank/blobdload.aspx?BlobID=6082, but it is not easy to locate (another project to complete before the end of this year). I’ve also seen helpful signs in certain neighborhoods informing that one is in a coyote area. Here are some resources for you:

Buena Park: Link to California Department of Fish and Game – http://www.dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild/coyote.html

Costa Mesa: http://www.costamesaca.gov/index.aspx?page=1485

Cypress: http://www.ci.cypress.ca.us/whats_news/coyotes.html

Fountain Valley: http://www.fountainvalley.org/residents/Coyotes.php

Huntington Beach: http://www.huntingtonbeachca.gov/residents/videos/hbtv3/coyote-meeting.cfm

Los Alamitos: http://cityoflosalamitos.org/?page_id=105

Newport Beach: http://www.newportbeachca.gov/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=14777

Seal Beach: http://www.sealbeachca.gov/ServiceUpdates.aspx?id=1950

I’ve covered this topic previously in MOORLACH UPDATE — Coyotes — October 12, 2010, MOORLACH UPDATE — Wild Animals — August 5, 2011, and MOORLACH UPDATE — Predator Management — November 1, 2013.

BONUS: Although coyote sightings are disconcerting in neighborhoods with pets, the bigger concern that our office has been working on this week is mosquitoes and the transmission of West Nile virus. A Seal Beach woman died of West Nile virus this past week, making her the second this year in Orange County (the other fatality was a resident of Huntington Beach). So, for the Labor Day weekend, take the appropriate precautions. For advice provided by the Orange County Vector Control District, go to http://www.ocvcd.org/wnv3.php). For the latest on this topic and to assess your health risk, visit the OC Public Health website at http://ochealthinfo.com/phs/about/dcepi/epi/disease/wn.

Protect Yourself

  • Avoid Mosquito Bites
    1. Apply insect repellent containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-metatoluamide), picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535 (3-[N-Butyl-N-acetyl]-aminopropionic acid, ethyl ester) to exposed skin whenever you go outdoors. Be sure to follow the product directions for use.
    2. Wear long-sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors, whenever possible. Spray thin clothes with repellant to provide extra protection but do not spray repellants containing permethrin directly on the skin and do not spray DEET under the clothing.
    3. Avoid outdoor activities from dusk to dawn, which are peak mosquito biting times. If you must go outdoors in the evening and early morning, be sure to use repellant and protective clothing as described above.
  • Mosquito-Proof Your Home
  1. Drain standing water (which serve as mosquito breeding sites) around your home. This includes empty containers, flowerpots, bird baths, and pet dishes.
  2. Install or repair tight fitting screens on your windows and doors to keep the mosquitoes out.
  • Help Your Community
    1. Arrange or participate in neighborhood clean-up days to pick up empty containers, tires, and other standing water sources to eliminate mosquito-breeding sites in your community.
    2. Report dead birds (if they have been dead less than 24 hours) to Orange County Vector Control (714) 971-2421 or to the State of California 1-877-WNV-BIRD. Some birds may be tested for WNV infection. Dead birds may indicate that WNV is circulating in the area.

Let me wish you a relaxing and predator-free Labor Day weekend.

Coyote trapping petition launched

By Charles M. Kelly

A Seal Beach resident has launched an online petition drive to have the city trap coyotes.

As of mid-morning, Tuesday, Aug. 26, the drive had gathered 71 signatures at iPetitions.com. The goal: 5,000 signatures.

“I created the online petition for trapping the coyotes because I want the community to feel safe against coyote attacks,” said Nate Kranda.

“Coyotes in town barely react to the hazing techniques that the city claims will help deter them. Getting rid of these coyotes is a small price to pay for the safety of our community. We must act before something horrible happens,” Kranda said.

The petition calls on city officials to trap and sterilize or euthanize coyotes. California law does not allow the relocation of coyotes.

“I am aware of the iPetition and can tell you we are investigating all avenues to deter coyotes,” Patrick Gallegos, assistant city manager.

Mayor Ellery Deaton was aware of the strong emotions that coyote activity has triggered in the community. She said it was important to take, not a long-term view, but an “aerial” view of the problem. She said she has been looking at the UC Davis coyote study as well as Glendale’s coyote management plan.

Deaton said Glendale is the city that you hear so much about, because in 1981 a coyote killed a little girl there. Deaton said neighbors had been feeding coyotes over the objections of the child’s parents before the attack.

“The coyotes have certainly become a problem throughout Seal Beach. We are looking forward to having a town hall meeting with other cities who have and are experiencing the same problems so we can see what others are doing, what has worked and not worked and see what would best work for our residents here in Seal Beach,” Deaton said.

The mayor also said it was important to remove habitat that provides coyotes with shelter to protect their young. She said the Bay City Partners would be removing potential coyote habitat from the beachfront property that the BCP intend to develop as a housing project.

Ed Selich, project manager for the Bay City Partners, said they were scheduled to perform their semi-annual disking of the area inside the fence.

“We will have the equipment and a water truck there to keep the dust down. We hope that the turning over of the soil will not only remove the vegetation but will also remove any potential coyote habitat,” Selich said.

As for trapping coyotes, Assistant City Manager Gallegos said he expected to have estimates on the cost of trapping the animals sometime next week.

Deaton said public safety was the priority.

“As far as the budget is concerned, any decisions we make about coyotes will put the health, welfare and quality of life of our residents first,” Deaton said.

Asked if the city could afford to trap coyotes, Finance Director City Treasurer Victoria Beatley said: “If the Council were to direct that money be spent on/for coyote issues, we would have to reallocate funds from an area in the budget where funding may be available. This decision may or may not affect the surplus.”

Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach said all the coyote activity seemed to be occurring within the borders of Seal Beach.

“I stand ready to assist, but coyotes have become ubiquitous to this area of the County,” Moorlach said. “Just about every city in my District has a web page dealing with coyotes,” Moorlach said.

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Posted in California

MOORLACH UPDATE — Bicycle Safety — August 26, 2014

In the late 1970s, I rode my 10-speed bicycle to work. My first home was not that far from my firm’s office, so the exertion was minimal. I enjoyed the open air, the exercise, the savings on gasoline and less wear and tear on my car. And I did it in my suit and tie, using a backpack as my briefcase. But, riding a bicycle requires that you know and follow proper safety rules and etiquette. For a tutorial on this topic, go to https://www.octa.net/Share-the-Ride/Safety-Awareness/Adult-Bike-Safety/?terms=bike%20safety. Sharing the road with vehicles is a serious undertaking. I am amazed here in the Civic Center when I see bicycle riders on the wrong side of the road or blazing through intersections where there are not four stop signs and the rider assumes that I’m supposed to stop. There’s nothing more terrifying than having to slam on the brakes to avoid a bicycle rider who is not paying attention. When asked, I refer to the last mile or so of my commute to the office as the Bermuda Triangle. It’s best to drive very slowly and to make eye contact with every pedestrian and bicyclist. I shared my concerns about untrained bicyclists at Monday morning’s Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) Board meeting and the Voice of OC picked it up in the first piece below.

The second piece is from the Fountain Valley Patch and provides an update on AB 1453 (see MOORLACH UPDATE — You’re Being Political — April 9, 2014, MOORLACH UPDATE — Man of the Year — April 11, 2014, and MOORLACH UPDATE — You’re Being Political — April 9, 2014). Promising something to someone and then not delivering on that promise can become a root cause of bitterness and mistrust. You have to be very careful with your children, your friends, and, in business, your colleagues and clients, when you tell them that you will do something and then you don’t. For the veterans in Orange County, please be fully aware that providing a cemetery on the former El Toro Marine Base may be a very long-term proposition.

BONUS: For a recent speech, I provided the condensed consolidated balance sheets of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs as of September 30, 2012, which shows a net deficit of $1.7 trillion (not $1.2 trillion, as mentioned in the piece).

OC Cities Leaving State Money on the Table for Bike Safety

By NICK GERDA Voice of OC

Despite an ongoing awareness effort, many Orange County cities are still not taking full advantage of state money to improve their infrastructure to make things safer for bicyclists and pedestrians.

In a recent competition for $184 million in state grants for active transportation projects, 11 Orange County cities — including some with relatively large populations like Buena Park and Mission Viejo — didn’t submit proposals, according to state records.

And of the cities that did apply, some were more ambitious than others.

Santa Ana, for example, submitted 11 projects worth up to $6.7 million, and received $3.3 million in funding. But Garden Grove – which has about half the population as Santa Ana – requested just two projects worth $350,000 and ended up getting no funding.

Together, Anaheim and Santa Ana were able to garner $5.7 million for bike and pedestrian projects.

In Anaheim, improvements include a pedestrian signal on Western Ave. and closing sidewalk gaps on South St. and Cerritos Ave.

In Santa Ana, funding is slated to help with the city’s complete streets plan, safe school route improvements for Heninger, King and Washington elementary schools, and the creation of a bike boulevard identified as “Bishop-Pacific-Shelton.”

The new state funding comes amid a nationwide movement toward making cities safer and more accessible for cyclists and pedestrians.

“We’re definitely seeing this whole space of bicycle projects catching on,” said Orange County Transportation Authority Chairman Shawn Nelson at Monday’s board meeting, where the bike projects were discussed.

Advocates argue cycling boosts physical and mental health, encourages a sense of connection with communities and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, tensions have sometimes arisen over to how balance space between cars and bicyclists.

Increasing rates of injuries and deaths among cyclists prompted an April forum at which government officials from across Orange County gathered with dozens of activists to hear their ideas about increasing bike safety.

At the meeting, OCTA officials unveiled a public awareness video and website aimed at teaching cyclists and drivers how to navigate the road safely. The agency has budgeted $250,000 in the current fiscal year for the effort.

After the event, the transportation agency’s officials said they planned to take a close look at the advocates’ ideas and keep the conversation going.

At Monday’s meeting, a local biking activist chided OCTA officials for not continuing to meet with activists and moving more quickly to implement safety improvements.

“Why is it Long Beach and other cities are buying into this and we” as the county of Orange can’t, asked resident Craig Durfey.

OCTA spokesman Joel Zlotnik said the agency plans to follow up on the spring meeting with a roundtable workshop in San Juan Capistrano on September 17.

Going forward, local cities are competing for a larger share of active transportation funding through the Southern California Association of Governments.

Orange County communities are slated for $13 million in that round of grants, more than double what local cities received in the first round.

OCTA board members have chosen 16 projects for that process, including several to help complete the cross-county Orange County Bicycle Loop.

The bike loop is also the subject of two community forums this week designed to gather public input on how to complete the loops.

Tuesday’s forum is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Seal Beach Community Center (3333 Saint Cloud Drive). Wednesday’s is planned for 6 p.m. at the Fullerton Community Center (340 West Commonwealth Ave.).

The issue of bike safety has certainly been on the minds of local elected officials, who themselves often face dangerous situations as cyclists or drivers.

Transportation board member John Moorlach, who is also a county supervisor, noted on Monday that the streets where he works in Santa Ana can be fraught with danger.

“I drive through Santa Ana every day, and I get so scared watching these guys riding their bikes, thinking, ‘no wonder we have people getting hit,’ ” said Moorlach.

Legislation to Create O.C.’s First Veterans Cemetery Headed to Governor’s Desk

The bill appropriates $500,000 for the Department of Veterans Affairs for a study on planning for the cemetery at the Great Park in Irvine.

By Penny Arévalo

Legislation was on its way to the governor’s desk today that could eventually lead to the only cemetery for veterans in Orange County at the site of the old El Toro military base that is now home to the Orange County Great Park in Irvine.

The state Senate today approved the bill introduced by Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton. It appropriates $500,000 for the Department of Veterans Affairs as “start-up” costs for a study on planning for the cemetery, Quirk-Silva said.

“The actual official next step, if the governor signs it, would be to create a study and plan that needs to be submitted to the federal government in a formal application process,” Quirk-Silva told City News Service.

State officials will be counting on the federal government to pay for the cemetery with grants that are awarded annually, Quirk-Silva said.

There’s urgency to build a cemetery in Orange County because the one in Los Angeles is at capacity and there’s a “long wait” for veterans to be buried in the one in Riverside County, Quirk-Silva said.

Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach, who spoke out in April at a county board meeting against the way the push for a cemetery has been handled, said he supports having one in Orange County, but the political leaders advocating for it ought to be honest with veterans and their supporters that it is a long shot.

Moorlach said he hasn’t changed his mind.

“What I have real trouble with is you’re manipulating veterans with such a low likelihood of getting the funding,” Moorlach said.

“When you kind of give out hope — when the chance of getting funding is so remote — and then use it in campaign mail pieces to say, ‘Hey, I’m doing this for veterans,’ then you’re manipulating a group of people I’m very sensitive to.”

Two other counties in California are vying for new cemeteries, so any Orange County bid would be third in line, Moorlach added.

Moorlach also noted that the Veterans Administration has a balance sheet that’s “upside down $1.2 trillion and they can’t even run their hospitals right.”

With veterans, “This is one group I don’t want to over promise and under deliver,” Moorlach said.

Quirk-Silva said the county has no shot whatsoever without passing the bill she introduced.

“We can’t apply to the federal government without the legislation,” Quirk-Silva said.

Quirk-Silva pointed out the bill has been supported by 19 Orange County cities and more than 3,000 people have contacted her office to back it.

In July, the Irvine City Council designated up to 125 acres of the Great Park, once home to the Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, for use as a cemetery.

–City News Service

Disclaimer: You have been added to my MOORLACH UPDATE communication e-mail tree. In lieu of a weekly newsletter, you will receive occasional media updates, some with commentary to explain the situation, whenever I appear in the media (unless it is a duplication of a previous story).

I have two thoughts for you to consider: (1) my office does not usually issue press releases to get into the newspapers (only in rare cases); and (2) I do not write the articles, opinions or letters to the editor.

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Posted in California

MOORLACH UPDATE — Santa Ana Homeless Shelter — August 21, 2014

I have worked on homelessness issues in Orange County a long time, even before I entered the public arena. I go as far back as knowing Lewis Whitehead, founder of the Orange County Rescue Mission, which was a client of my former C.P.A. firm (see http://www.rescuemission.org/history/). I’ve been an annual donor to the Orange County Rescue Mission for more than three decades. I tried to address the homeless situation in the Civic Center shortly after assuming the position of Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector. The first Board of Supervisors Study Session in 2007 focused on the Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness. When I became the first Chair of the Orange County Commission to End Homelessness, I really became immersed in this topic. The Commission worked with all 34 cities to form SB 2 zones, a state mandate to have at least one zone within the city where a homeless shelter would be allowed. When the city of Santa Ana approved their SB 2 zones, I did not attend the city council meeting, but I stayed informed on the process. I did attend the Orange County Planning Commission’s meeting when it approved the SB 2 zones for the unincorporated areas within our County’s borders. When many claimed they were unaware of the process and it caught them by surprise, that made sense. Of course others would not be watching the City Council’s agendas and understanding what was being approved as closely as I have been. But, I don’t believe the goal was to surprise people. This process has been moving along and has been very visible to those of us addressing this need for quite some time (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Homelessness Review — December 19, 2013, MOORLACH UPDATE — Homeless Shelter — October 18, 2013, and MOORLACH UPDATE — Year-Round Emergency Shelter — January 16, 2013).

I am sorry to see that the downtown bus depot was not put into an SB 2 zone by the Santa Ana City Council. Then-City Manager and former Police Chief Paul Walters was a fellow member on the Commission to End Homelessness, and he was not in favor of doing it. I found this odd, as the homeless have been here in the Civic Center longer than I have been working here, that means more than 20 years. In my private-sector days, I found myself in the Santa Ana City Council Chambers more than twenty-five years ago, when the City Council wanted to move the Rescue Mission out of the downtown area. Well, a quarter of a century later, the Rescue Mission has moved to a distant location, but the homeless are still here. Now the current Santa Ana City Council wants to duplicate the strategy. I doubt that it will work this time, either. Consequently, my biggest lament is that the Santa Ana City Council didn’t pursue the bus depot as a temporary shelter for six months to see if it would work successfully with the homeless population, surrounding businesses and governmental offices.

So I’m enjoying tensions. I’m excited that the Santa Ana City Council approved SB 2 zones. I’m disappointed that it did not include the bus depot. I’m excited that the County found a building in an SB 2 zone. I’m sorry that the neighbors are frustrated. I’m excited that everyone wants to establish a year-round homeless shelter. I’m disappointed that those who live near the 1217 E. Normandy Place location do not want it there. I’m excited that the County of Orange followed all of the necessary protocols to fulfill its efforts to establish a year-round homeless shelter. I’m sorry that the process is perceived as secretive (which is the fault of the laws that implemented the process, not the people following that process).

The Voice of OC provides the details of Wednesday evening’s community meeting that was organized and run by local residents. Sometimes it takes a situation like this to get residents involved in local government. It behooves the County and City to do the appropriate education to assure the nearby residents that their fears may be unfounded and that the shelter will be a good neighbor (as all of the other shelters in the County attempt to be). Or perhaps this community has to convince the City Council that the bus depot just may be a more appropriate location for the County’s first year-round shelter. Either way, I’m sure that as this process continues moving forward that adequate notice will be provided to all parties involved and that they will participate in a successful effort to address this critical and longstanding need.

Hundreds Turn Out to Protest Santa Ana Homeless Shelter

By ADAM ELMAHREK Voice of OC

A proposed year-round homeless shelter in Santa Ana’s eastern quarter has triggered opposition from hundreds of residents in the surrounding neighborhoods – some of the most impoverished in Orange County — who say they are already dealing with enough problems.

Over 300 people attended a community forum on the issue Tuesday night at Kennedy Elementary School. Speakers expressed fear that homeless residents would include “sex offenders” who “hide among them,” talked about hypodermic needles from drug use, and even raised the specter of potential serial killers.

But perhaps the most common theme was that these neighborhoods are already battling the challenges of urban poverty, including gang violence, among other problems. Residents say they shouldn’t be expected to also have to carry the burden of housing hundreds of homeless people.

Meanwhile, homeless people and their advocates who showed up at the forum took offense at the residents’ fear and negative stereotypes of homeless people presented at the meeting.

The residents said they weren’t properly notified or consulted before July 15, when the county Board of Supervisors approved the purchase of a 23,000 sq. ft. warehouse at 1217 E. Normandy Place. The county’s only community outreach meeting occurred July 2.

“We are a community that deserves justice and consideration… we deserve and demand to be informed about what goes on in our community,” said Dora Lopez, a resident of the Madison Park neighborhood, to applause from the crowd.

“Respect,” whispered an audience member in response to Lopez’s comment.

Orange County is among the few large metropolitan areas in the nation that does not have a permanent, year-round shelter. The county instead relies on the National Guard armories in Fullerton and Santa Ana as temporary shelters from December to April.

Other permanent shelter proposals have so far fallen apart in the face of community resistance. A site in Fullerton was floated as a possibility, but that idea collapsed after the Fullerton City Council rejected the plan in a 3-2 vote last year. County supervisors opted not to override the council.

And in 2012, county Supervisor John Moorlach’s plan to turn a shuttered Santa Ana downtown bus depot lost steam after stiff resistance from top city officials. Then-City Manager Paul Walters strongly opposed the site because it was just blocks away from a dense cluster of downtown businesses, including a blossoming restaurants scene.

So far, Santa Ana leaders aren’t offering the same level of resistance to the current plan. But they are offering some rare attention to a community where residents feel a sense of neglect.

Several council members and the city planning director attended the forum, but spokeswoman Tanya Lyon said that the site selection was under the county’s jurisdiction and city officials were only there to listen to community concerns.

The council last year approved zoning to allow homeless shelters in industrial zones by right, but not within 500 feet of residences, parks, child care centers, schools, or within 300 feet of another shelter. A zoning action to allow homeless shelters was required under the state’s 2008 law, SB2.

Residents say the proposed site is a bad idea because several schools – including Kennedy Elementary School – are nearby.

They also said the area’s industrial businesses – including heavy trucks, narrow streets and no sidewalk – make it dangerous not just for current residents but also for the planned influx of homeless people.

They said they want to be compassionate toward homeless people, but that the location wasn’t right.

“It is a mandate. We do have to have a heart,” said Irma Jauregui, president of the Wilshire Square Neighborhood Association.

Yet clearly the biggest concern was the idea that homeless people are generally more prone to be dangerous.

“Having more homeless people would be a little more of a risk toward us,” said Juanita Perez, a recent Century High School graduate.

Members of the group Civic Center Roundtable – a group whose homeless members sleep outside at the Orange County Civic Center – who attended the forum took issue with the assumptions made by the residents.

“I don’t do drugs. I don’t drink… not every homeless person is the same,” said a homeless man who claimed his name was Boston Massachusetts. “I’m just down on my freaking luck.”

Massimo Marini, a former Occupy Santa Ana activist who helped the Civic Center homeless people form their group, said the forum didn’t include room for all stakeholders other than neighborhood residents.

Marini said the residents had engaged in “hate mongering.”

And he criticized the crowd – mostly Latino – of not showing the tolerance and compassion demanded of true Christians.

“A lot of these people go to church,” Marini said. “Jesus Christ needs a place to stay, and you just kicked him out of your house.”

Please contact Adam Elmahrek directly at aelmahrek and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/adamelmahrek

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Posted in California

MOORLACH UPDATE — Toll Lane Reverberations — August 20, 2014

The announcement of the proposed unilateral taking by Caltrans of lanes to be built with the hard earned tax dollars of the residents of Orange County is having reverberations around the state. And it should. The adaptation of Aesop’s classic fable, “The Ant and the Grasshopper,” in the Pixar movie, “A Bug’s Life,” depicts what’s going on here. A hard toiling colony of ants (Orange County residents) is now being commanded to open up its storehouse by greedy grasshoppers (Sacramento) who did not prepare themselves for the winter months (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Toll Lane Opponents — July 29, 2014 and MOORLACH UPDATE — I-405 Hold Up — July 26, 2014). Outside observers get it. And the editorial board of the Ventura County Star, whose readership resides in a non-self-help county (a county that has not successfully voted for a sales tax increase like Measure M), has taken notice in their piece below.

Toll lanes raise questions about a tax measure

Ten years ago, Ventura County voters turned down a proposed half-cent sales tax to fund transportation improvements.

The 2004 electorate nixed the idea by almost 3 to 2 (59 percent to 41 percent), but the idea hasn’t completely gone away.

Some officials continue to say such a tax would aid this area by generating local matching funds that could help us obtain state and federal dollars for freeway widening and other highway and bridge projects.

Unlike Ventura County, 19 other counties in the state, including several in Southern California, levy a local sales tax earmarked for transportation projects. One is Orange County, where a controversy is unfolding that might affect how Ventura County voters perceive any new proposal for a sales tax increase for transportation.

In late July, the state Department of Transportation announced it wants to install 14 miles of toll lanes on heavily congested Interstate 405 between Seal Beach and Costa Mesa. However, local officials in Orange County are denouncing Caltrans’ idea because it would take away carpool lanes funded by Orange County’s half-cent transportation sales tax.

According to The Associated Press, officials who have come out against the Caltrans proposal include local mayors, state legislators and members of the county Board of Supervisors. As reported by the Costa Mesa Daily Pilot, Los Alamitos Mayor Gerri Graham-Mejia compared Caltrans to a schoolyard bully taking lunch money from Orange County residents who approved the tax.

When voters passed the tax measure in 2006, nothing in it mentioned funding for toll roads, said Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach , who complained that Caltrans is trying to take unfair advantage of the tax. “The taxpayers of Orange County have been paying an additional sales tax to improve traffic, but Sacramento is usurping that,” Supervisor Moorlach said, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.

Caltrans came up with the proposal for toll lanes to cut travel time for drivers on that stretch of Interstate 405. Government figures indicate it’s one of the most heavily used freeways in the nation, and travel times there are predicted to grow even longer unless some action is taken.

Ventura County has no toll lanes and none are proposed here, but other Southern California counties have implemented them or are in the process of adding them or weighing whether to add them.

Much of the outcry against the Caltrans proposal in Orange County springs from public hostility toward the cost for drivers to use toll lanes, but it’s clear that officials are unhappy with Caltrans on the tax angle, too. Those are points for residents and leaders in that county to address. Though we’re not taking a position on them, we will watch with interest because the debate — and any Caltrans policy related to it — could have effects here in Ventura County if a transportation tax is discussed again.

We anticipate critics will ask whether adequate controls and guarantees will be in place regarding use of the tax proceeds and whether promises made to local voters may be ignored or terminated by the state. Those are matters of public interest that deserve wide discussion if such a measure is put on the ballot.

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Advisory Ballot Babies — August 16, 2014

A fascinating topic is governing-board member relations. For publicly traded corporations, consultants are customarily brought in to assist boards in working together effectively for the betterment of the shareholders. For municipality governing bodies, harmony and commonality of purpose is not necessarily the norm; not with independently elected members who may have different principles and perspectives. So differences on style and policy can get interesting, especially when they spill out into the public. The opening paragraph of the Daily Pilot piece below leads with this subject.

Voters may see measures, propositions, initiatives and referendums on their ballots. They may also see an advisory ballot measure, which is usually nonbinding and provides for an ultimate poll of those who actually voted. It is a tool to get the pulse of the community. In any good debate, it would be helpful to have strong pro and con written arguments, so that voters have both sides of the issue when casting their votes. On the way to such a discussion, personality conflicts and suspicions have gotten in the way.

When one is questioning motives, the fun will never end. The art of speculation is boundless. It allows me to wonder if we’re seeing psychological projection. Sometimes people communicate what they would do under similar circumstances when they suspect it of others. Therefore, it would appear that the two disgruntled Costa Mesa City Councilmembers, given the same opportunity, would probably obtain signatures of political allies for an advisory ballot measure. My perspective is that the elected officials that have been visibly voicing the concerns of their constituents on the topic of Caltrans’ plans of unilaterally imposing toll lanes on the San Diego Freeway have been asked to sign the ballot argument for this advisory measure (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Toll Lane Opponents — July 29, 2014). If this potential selection was disturbing to the two offended Councilmembers, it seems that they should have voted against putting the matter on the ballot. Then they would have been consistent. Now a critical component to this discussion is missing. The opposition argument should have been made by a recognized party in support of the toll lanes, like the Orange County Business Council. Then the ballot measure would have more value. Instead, we get to see two elected officials throwing an immature temper tantrum to air out their frustrations on the process and/or for not being personally included as signatories.

Costa Mesa councilwomen call toll-lane ballot measure political

By Jeremiah Dobruck

In Costa Mesa, even what should be a kumbaya political moment has a way of becoming contentious.

Last week, the City Council unanimously decided to ask voters what they think about a state plan to put toll lanes on the 405 Freeway.

The question will appear on the city’s November ballot, though it will be symbolic, simply asking voters whether they agree with the council that the lanes are a bad idea.

Mayor Jim Righeimer said he hoped to show Sacramento that an overwhelming majority of Costa Mesans oppose what critics call "Lexus lanes."

But on Tuesday, Councilwomen Sandy Genis and Wendy Leece — both of whom oppose the toll lanes and had voted to put the issue before the public — submitted a ballot argument against the measure.

They called the resolution an ineffective political stunt that will waste taxpayers’ money.

"To me, it’s a brazen attempt to basically get some political candidates’ names in the ballot book associated with something that’s polling good," Genis said.

Genis and Leece objected during last week’s council meeting when Righeimer said he planned to have politicians from neighboring cities sign on to the ballot argument against toll lanes.

"We’d be looking to have that signed by people who are well-known throughout the area," Righeimer said.

The final document now includes signatures from Righeimer, Huntington Beach Mayor Matthew Harper, Westminster Councilwoman Diana Carey, Assemblyman Allan Mansoor (R-Costa Mesa) and Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach.

"I think it’s a political stunt to not have the whole council and [instead] to do it with you and other mayors who may be running for public offices," Genis told Righeimer at last week’s meeting.

Harper is running for an Assembly seat in November, and Mansoor is seeking a position on the Board of Supervisors. Righeimer is up for reelection to the City Council.

The California Department of Transportation has already said it intends to move forward with the plan to build the toll lanes between the 605 Freeway and Costa Mesa.

Costa Mesa’s voice will be stronger if it is joined by neighboring politicians, Righeimer said.

"By ourselves, this doesn’t work," he said. "This has to a be a political message to the governor’s office [that] this is not the way to run a business."

jeremiah.dobruck2

Disclaimer: You have been added to my MOORLACH UPDATE communication e-mail tree. In lieu of a weekly newsletter, you will receive occasional media updates, some with commentary to explain the situation, whenever I appear in the media (unless it is a duplication of a previous story).

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Streetcar Control — August 13, 2014

At Monday morning’s regular Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) Board meeting, every board member present, except for three, voted to assume the costs of constructing and then operating and maintaining the Santa Ana/Garden Grove streetcar system (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Streetcar Feedback — June 21, 2014, MOORLACH UPDATE — Streetcar Warning — June 16, 2014, and MOORLACH UPDATE — Streetcar Desire — June 9, 2014). This puts the liability of this enterprise in your pocketbook. And, without your sales tax dollars, the streetcar line does not pencil out. The Voice of OC covers the discussion in the first piece below.

I’m chomping at the bit to share some reactions, so here goes:

· “We can’t widen freeways forever” – The system is projected to have 3,400 boardings, which translates into 1,700 passengers going to and from. Since it is an alternative to buses on inner city roads, what does that have to do with widening the County’s freeways? There already is a bus service that transports County employees from the Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center (trains station) to the Civic Center. Consequently, not one car will be removed from the freeways.

· “Los Angeles County’s efforts to expand their light rail network” – Somehow I don’t envision a streetcar system as a light rail system, such as the Gold Line.

· “There’s nothing as old as buses” – I’m just an amateur historian, but horse drawn street cars date back to the 1820s; while the modern automobile was invented in 1886. And buses are mobile and agile, while streetcars are slow and stuck on a fixed rail.

There, I got that off of my chest. But, I started to wonder. What if one-fifth of the County’s population was frustrated with seeing their tax dollars going to fund the widening of the San Diego Freeway’s bridges, just to insert four toll lanes? What if another one-fifth found the streetcar proposal offensive? What if another one-tenth found the building of a massive train station building along the 57 Freeway (opposite Angel Stadium) as government spending gone wild? And what if another one-tenth decided that the anticipated 30 percent gas tax increase in January of 2015 was ludicrous? That would be more than enough voters to approve a ballot measure that would revoke Measure M2. I just recently became aware of a well-organized effort that is attempting to stop the gas tax increase, see http://www.californiadriversalliance.org/. If you need a recent editorial on this topic, go to http://www.voiceofoc.org/community_editorial_board/article_27d07e98-1f5a-11e4-babf-0019bb2963f4.html. What if a similar effort were organized in the OC? I’m just saying that if enough people were agitated, it would be much easier to stop the flow of funds (sales tax revenues) to OCTA than it would be to remove its Board members, as they are not directly elected to serve on this Board. So I asked about the vulnerability of this critical funding source. The answer: Measure M2 could be revoked with a 50 percent, plus 1, vote. That was Monday’s fun.

For Tuesday’s fun, the OC Register, in the second piece below, provides the debate on the staff recommendation to approve a challenger to serve as the valet parking vendor at John Wayne Airport. The incumbent is putting up a valiant effort to retain the contract. After a spirited discussion, it was decided to have JWA clear up some unanswered concerns regarding the required use of a specific software. So it will be back to the Board next month.

The Daily Pilot, in the third piece below, provides a Letter to the Editor on the recent Grand Jury report on maximizing John Wayne Airport (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Puzzling — August 6, 2014 and MOORLACH UPDATE — Mil-Walkie — July 7, 2014).

Santa Ana Streetcar Project Taken Over by Transit Agency

By NICK GERDA Voice of OC

Orange County’s transportation agency took control over Santa Ana’s streetcar project this week, with two board members continuing to question whether there are more effective ways to spend the project’s $250 million expected cost.

“I think it’s wildly expensive compared to other alternatives that I think are better,” said Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait, speaking as an Orange County Transportation Authority director at Monday’s board meeting.

The county could have electric buses that “look almost like a streetcar, but as demand changes” as years go by you can change the route, said Tait, who is one of the most vocal opponents of a similar and also controversial project in Anaheim.

“It’s wildly cheaper. You don’t have the upfront capital costs,” Tait added. “You could have a system almost countywide.”

Meanwhile, the project’s chief supporter, Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido, said the streetcar would be a major leap forward to accommodate the growing urbanization of Central Orange County.

“We’re basically setting a framework which I think long term is going to make this county – and I mean this entire county – a better county,” said Pulido.

“We can continue to widen freeways,” he added, but “ultimately we can’t widen freeways forever. We just cant.”

OCTA Chairman Shawn Nelson agreed, pointing to Los Angeles County’s efforts to aggressively expand their light rail network, known as Metro.

“You’re ignoring the facts if you think that their implementation of light rail hasn’t been” the most successful implementation of light rail in U.S., said Nelson.

“The future of this county is employers are going to either be on rail – not because I say so – but because” it’s not realistic not to, he added.

Monday’s takeover was approved on a 13-2 vote, with directors Tait and John Moorlach opposing. Director Janet Nguyen abstained, and Director Frank Ury was absent.

“I just see it as an old technology in a high tech world,” said Moorlach, who is also a county supervisors, pointing to issues like pedestrian deaths due to longer stopping distances than buses. “I see it as a boondoggle.”

Supporters on the board disagreed.

“I would argue with Director Moorlach about the old technology, as you call it. There’s nothing as old as buses,” said Director Jeff Lalloway, who is also Irvine’s mayor pro tem.

“I think this project will over time…prove to be something we’ll be proud of as a board,” said Lalloway.

From here, the transit agency will handle the project’s development, implementation, operations and maintenance.

The streetcar remains divided between supporters – including a new wave of businesses credited with making downtown Santa Ana an urban hot spot – and residents and older businesses suspicious that the project is yet another gentrification tool that will ultimately price them out of their homes and commercial spaces.

Nearly all of the five public commenters on Monday supported the project.

“Anything that we can do that can make it really easy and convenient” to reach downtown Santa Ana is “going to be a boon for the community,” said Jon Gothold, a co-owner of DGWB Advertising & Communications on Main Street.

“Santa Ana is at the forefront of being the heart and the soul of Orange County,” said Sean Coolidge, a resident of Santiago Lofts near Santa Ana’s train station.

But Santa Ana resident Steve McGuigen noted that several west Santa Ana residents are concerned about the trolley’s expected prompting of development at the Willowick Golf Course.

Last year, the city of Garden Grove, which owns Willowick, considered selling the course to McWhinney Enterprises, the developers of an upcoming water park hotel in the city.

“The value of the Willowick Golf Course…for a medium density mixed-use development is estimated to be $50 million,” Garden Grove City Manager Matt Fertal wrote in an email to developer Steve Sheldon.

A streetcar stop is planned between the golf course and the Santa Anita neighborhood, and Santa Ana officials have so far been tight-lipped about what type of development could be in store.

“Several of my residents have had concerns about this project,” said McGuigen, president of the Riverview West Neighborhood Association.

“They feel that their area is sort of going to be blighted and the prices driven up,” and that they could be driven out of their homes, he added.

Moorlach, who opposes the streetcar in general, has previously said he wouldn’t be surprised if a back-door deal is in the works for the golf course.

Nguyen noted she’s witnessed such concerns herself, asking whether the city has tried to address the concerns of Westside residents.

But Chairman Shawn Nelson interjected that it wasn’t an appropriate question.

“There may be a multiple of other things going on…but this item is about Project S,” said Nelson, referring to the formal name for transit projects under the Measure M2 sales tax.

Nguyen defended her question, saying it “has to do with the system itself.

“I believe I have every right to ask the city manager…and so I would still like to hear the answer,” said Nguyen.

Regarding blight concerns, Santa Ana City Manager David Cavazos replied that the streetcar “actually encourages development.”

As for worries that housing costs would rise near the project, Cavazos committed that “Santa Ana will work with people to make sure we have affordable housing,” without getting into specifics.

To piece together funding for the project, OCTA will now seek federal New Starts funding for the project.

If the Federal Transit Administration signs off, federal grants could cover half of the project’s $250 million projected cost.

OCTA officials are optimistic that the feds will sign off.

Nelson said he met with the federal transit administrator recently in Washington, D.C., who was keenly aware of Santa Ana’s status as one of the densest cities in America.

FTA is “anxious” to be involved in this, said Nelson. “They really understand it and they seem very excited about it.”

From here, OCTA staff plan to prepare a request for proposals for a project management consultant and bring it back to the board for review.

The use of Measure M2 sales tax funds was also approved for the streetcar’s operations and maintenance. It would cover 90 percent of those ongoing costs, until the sales tax expires in 2041. Santa Ana would pick up the other 10 percent.

Moorlach, meanwhile, questioned how taxpayers will react to their M2 transit dollars being used almost exclusively for projects in Central Orange County.

Given Caltrans’ plans to put toll lanes on the 405 freeway after an M2-funded widening, Moorlach suggested that an anti-tax group might run a ballot measure to overturn the tax.

“I’m just worried about the vulnerability” of M2 if “you get enough people frustrated,” Moorlach said.

You can reach Nick Gerda at ngerda, and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.

Valet parking, car wash prices may increase at JWA

BY NICK GERDA / VOICE OF OC

Prices for valet parking and car washes could soon go up at John Wayne Airport, with Orange County supervisors expected to finalize discussions on a new parking contract next month.

Under the proposed new contract with the county government, which runs the airport, LAZ Parking plans to boost car wash prices, depending on the service, by $5 to $27.

Regarding valet parking, Supervisor Pat Bates said the proposal “spells to me another increase” in prices.

In particular, Bates wondered aloud whether LAZ’s proposal to take less of a cut of the parking revenue than the current vendor – from 36 percent down to 32 percent – would be accompanied by an increase in overall rates to keep profit margins healthy.

Meanwhile LAZ’s president tried to reassure supervisors Tuesday during their public meeting that the parking prices won’t go up. But, supervisors later noted, that commitment has not yet been made in writing.

The issue will come back to supervisors on Sept. 9 for another round of debate and public input.

Tuesday’s debate also highlighted the longtime dominance of LAZ’s competitor, Parking Concepts Inc., in receiving the county government’s parking contracts.

Other potential parking contractors have been discouraged from bidding, Supervisor John Moorlach said, because of concerns that “we don’t look to hire anyone other than the incumbent.”

A Register investigation last year found that PCI was repeatedly awarded millions in county parking contracts “at county beaches, parks, the Civic Center and John Wayne Airport – in at least three cases after county staff recommended another vendor.”

Those contracts brought in more than $10 million in revenue to PCI, the Register found.

The firm’s vice president is Lyle Overby, a longtime county lobbyist who has contributed tens of thousands of dollars to county supervisors’ campaigns through his Committee for Improved Public Policy. Overby and his other clients often contributed to supervisors on the same day, the Register found.

PCI has won every major contract at the county for more than a decade, Harth told supervisors.

The company has run the airport valet service since 2001.

Questions were also raised Tuesday about how the county’s contract evaluation panel, which rated LAZ much higher than PCI, ended up giving the exact same scores on various ratings of LAZ.

Supervisor Todd Spitzer said the probably of that being a coincidence was extremely low.

Mailbag: Grand jury report gets it wrong on JWA

Those of us who are affected by John Wayne Airport’s noise and air pollution thank Supervisor John Moorlach for his recent critical comments regarding an Orange County Grand Jury report on the facility.

Moorlach rightfully stated, in the Orange County Register, that the idea of extending a runway in a heavily populated area showed "a naivete that is almost eye-rolling."

Moorlach is absolutely correct. The grand jury report advocated ways for airport expansion, while ignoring the thousands of residents who endure excessive noise and pollution from an airport that should never have been designated for commercial use. It’s exceedingly close to homes, schools and parks, some mere blocks from a runway, making the airport dangerous as well as overly intrusive.

Why did the grand jury report ignore published scientific reports that detail the harmful effects of noise and air pollution on a population? Planes overhead emit dangerous chemicals, including particulates, which have proven to be particularly harmful to health.

Worse yet, they travel many miles through the air, infecting unsuspecting people far from the original source. Everyone should seriously question a report that excluded the harmful effects of John Wayne Airport on people while advocating ideas for expansion.

Bonnie O’Neil

Newport Beach

Disclaimer: You have been added to my MOORLACH UPDATE communication e-mail tree. In lieu of a weekly newsletter, you will receive occasional media updates, some with commentary to explain the situation, whenever I appear in the media (unless it is a duplication of a previous story).

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Posted in California

MOORLACH UPDATE — Bren Donation — August 12, 2014

Good news! Donald Bren has decided to donate more land to the County of Orange to be dedicated for open space (see MOORLACH UPDATE — OC Parks — June 30, 2010, MOORLACH UPDATE — Media Present — March 28, 2011, and MOORLACH UPDATE — OCBJ — December 5, 2010). This matter was to be discussed during the Board’s closed session this morning, but yesterday evening it was continued until next week. It’s an early Christmas present and the residents of Orange County, current and future, should be extremely grateful for this very generous gift.

Irvine Co. donates 2,500 acres to the county for open space

Two massive parcels, in Anaheim and near East Orange, would be protected wild land and not hold 5,500 homes as once planned.

The Irvine Co. will offer the county 2,500 acres of land for open space. The land, located in Orange (pictured here) and Anaheim Hills,

was planned for home development. The company decided to end its final masterplan vision by donating the land.

MATT MASIN , STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

BY ERIKA I. RITCHIE/ STAFF WRITER

The Irvine Co. will offer 2,500 acres of undeveloped land in Anaheim Hills and near East Orange that was once to hold 5,500 homes to the county today, in hopes of ensuring the massive swath remains open space forever, company officials said.

Documents of the proposal, which have been kept quiet, will be privately handed over to the Board of Supervisors concerning what likely would be the landholder’s last big gift of open space. The panel is not scheduled to discuss the proposal during today’s meeting.

“As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Irvine Co., this is the perfect opportunity to add to our open space and park lands legacy,” Irvine Co. Chairman Donald Bren said in a statement. “With this gift, we complete our open-space vision.”

If the county accepts the donated land – there could be costs to maintaining it – 55,000 acres of the Irvine Ranch’s original 93,000 acres will be a protected, natural landscape.

“We are most grateful for the Irvine Co.’s 20,000-acre donation in 2010 and try to be the best stewards of the land we can be,” said Supervisor John Moorlach, referring to a gift that included 2,000 acres of wilderness in Black Starr Canyon.

“If they want to make another offer, we’ll do the same for the benefit of our current and future residents,” the supervisor said.

The land gift could add a large swath of preserved space on the northern parts of the Irvine Ranch, joining other protected natural terrain in the stretches of Weir Canyon, Fremont Canyon, Black Starr Canyon, Limestone Canyon, Irvine Lake and Irvine Regional Park.

Protected areas of the ranch land are used by more than two million outdoor enthusiasts each year, Irvine Co. officials said. People hike, bike, run and ride horseback on the ranch lands. The latest gift, like the others, would offer docent-led tours and nature classes.

In Anaheim Hills, 2,500 homes could be built on the 1,100 acres of rolling hills, oak woodlands, rocky parts and native grasslands among canyons. The land, within the city of Anaheim, is bordered on the north by the 91 and is alongside the Eastern Toll Road.

The city approved the homes in 1991, with some residents in Anaheim Hills and Yorba Linda worried about traffic impacts. The recession slowed down the project from moving forward; the city-approved development agreement allows the Irvine Co. to begin construction any time before October 2030.

“I think it will be a beautiful recreation area for residents in Anaheim and the county,” said Anaheim Councilwoman Kris Murray, who lives in Anaheim Hills.

In the East Orange area, a plan was approved allowing 3,000 homes on hills including ridge lines and meadows. The 1,400 acres are east of the 241 and alongside the southeastern shore of Irvine Lake.

The land slated for this development is outside of city limits, but if developed, the city would have annexed the land, City Manager John Sibley said. If preserved, Orange will not pursue the annexation.

Orange Mayor Tita Smith said the city didn’t oppose the homes but appreciates the Irvine Co.’s effort to preserve open space.

“In Orange, we highly value open space even if it’s adjacent to the city because we think it’s an important facet of life in Orange,” she said.

If the county accepts the land, the preservation of 60 percent of the Irvine Ranch land as open space far exceeds an original 11 percent planned by developers in the 1960s, said Daniel Young, president of the Irvine Co.

It could take months for the supervisors to reach a decision on the land.

“While we know homes in Anaheim Hills and East Orange would resonate with homebuyers, we also realize that preserved open space will enhance and help complete the network of trails in that area,” Young said.

Esmael Adibi, an economist at Chapman University, applauded the Irvine Co.’s offer.

“One of the things we get criticized for is that we’re getting too crowded and there’s too much traffic,“ he said of Orange County. “The Irvine Co. is large enough that 5,500 homes, relatively speaking, is not important.

“If the supply of homes is restricted that also supports existing home prices,” Adibi said. “In the end, it’s a business decision. They have to decide, ‘Do we build homes or dedicate land, which is more important?’”

Staff writers Rebecca Kheel and Art Marroquin contributed to this report.

Contact the writer: 949-492-5152 or eritchie or twitter.com/lagunaini

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Posted in California

MOORLACH UPDATE — Laura’s Law Journey — August 11, 2014

Dan Morain, Editorial Page Editor for The Sacramento Bee, has been in contact over the past few years on the topic of mental illness (see MOORLACH UPDATE — April 15th — April 15, 2013, MOORLACH UPDATE — Finding Monica — April 27, 2013, MOORLACH UPDATE — Homelessness Review — December 19, 2013, MOORLACH UPDATE — Kelly Thomas Reverberations — January 15, 2014, and MOORLACH UPDATE — Begets — June 15, 2014). He and I go back to his LA Times days (see LOOK BACKS for MOORLACH UPDATE — Fighting/Leading — July 1, 2013, MOORLACH UPDATE — Los Angeles Daily News — October 4, 2011, and MOORLACH UPDATE — Voice of OC — December 8, 2010). During one of our recent chats, he challenged me to share my journey after it had concluded. I collaborated with him and my thoughts were published in yesterday’s Sacramento Bee. It is the first piece below.

The OC Register covered Agenda Number 6 for tomorrow’s Board meeting in yesterday’s edition, and it is the second piece below. The conclusion of my remarks in MOORLACH UPDATE — Chiefs of Staff — August 9, 2014 mirrors those below; the top of the range needs a review.

BONUS: My wife and I were able to check something off of my bucket list yesterday morning: observing a Blue Whale off of the OC coast (see http://www.ocean-institute.org/visitor/blue_whale.html). I took the photo below, with Dana Point Harbor and Saddleback in the background. Big thanks go to longtime friend Dan Stetson, President of the Ocean Institute (see http://www.ocean-institute.org/about/timeline/stetson.html). It was a wonderful excursion on the Ocean Institute’s R/V Sea Explorer with Dan and his wife, Roxanne (see http://www.ocean-institute.org/programs/sea_explorer.html). The Ocean Institute is a wonderful resource and I would encourage you to visit with your children (or, in my new stage in life, your grandchildren) as it is well worth the time (see http://www.ocean-institute.org/). Let the record show that I took my wife on a (brief) cruise on our 34th wedding anniversary weekend.

Laura’s Law can save lives of people with mental illnesses

Special to The Bee

By John Moorlach

After a homeless and schizophrenic young man named Kelly Thomas was killed in an encounter with the Fullerton Police Department in 2011, parents of mentally ill children made pleas to me and other members of the Orange County Board of Supervisors.

If Laura’s Law had been in place in Orange County, perhaps Kelly Thomas would be alive today, they said. It prompted me to ask: What is Laura’s Law?

I followed up with research, lots of it. I was a business major, not a science or medical wonk. But being a county supervisor requires that you be knowledgeable in a wide range of subjects.

Initially, I was skeptical. When you’re not familiar with mental illness, you truly have no concept of what really is involved.

Throughout the process, I was surprised at the number of individuals who told me stories about close relatives who had mental illness. This is not a topic that is often broached; we usually don’t discuss these family secrets.

My wife recalled her childhood memories of one of her many aunts, and now certain things dawn on her.

A county manager confides that her father was schizophrenic and committed suicide early in life.

A member of the media shares the story of his institutionalized brother.

A Sacramento lobbyist informs me about his son.

There had been someone in my life who I had been observing for some time. My reading helped me to understand their actions. And my observations were confirmed in my reading. First-hand experience was driving the lesson home.

In the course of my research, I became a convert. It became apparent that loving but struggling parents needed tools to help with their adult children’s lives. Laura’s Law was one of those tools.

Laura’s Law might help change matters under the appropriate circumstances. Assembly Bill 1421, Laura’s Law, by then-Assemblywoman Helen Thomson, D-Davis, was signed into law in 2002. But for the next 10 years, it languished.

Only Nevada County, where the law’s namesake, Laura Wilcox, was murdered by a mentally ill man, had adopted this provision to utilize court-ordered assisted outpatient treatment.

With the assistance of a judge, also known as the black-robe effect, the individual in need may realize that someone is reaching out to provide a solution.

Laura’s Law is applicable to a narrow group of individuals, particularly people with a history of psychiatric hospitalizations, jail sentences, threats or attempts of serious violent behavior toward themselves or others.

It’s a tool for people who care for mentally ill loved ones, should it be necessary, where they can turn to authorities for help. A proper plan of treatment will be advised to help that individual.

When I asked my colleagues around the state what their counties were doing about Laura’s Law, the response I heard most frequently was, what is Laura’s Law?

I requested that Orange County’s Commission to End Homelessness make a determination and recommendation to the Board of Supervisors on whether to implement this legislation. The conclusion: If the county can find the funding, then it should consider this strategy.

The recession plus Sacramento’s decision to abscond with vehicle license fees and property tax revenue left Orange County’s budget with a devastating $74 million hole. Consequently, the county could not afford any new initiatives.

The county did use revenue from Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act, to treat some mentally ill people. But Proposition 63 was not available for voluntary treatment.

In 2012, I met in Sacramento with legislators who were looking at a bill to extend Laura’s Law for another five years. But if counties couldn’t afford to adopt it, what good would an extension be?

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, the main proponent of Proposition 63, took to heart Orange County’s request and authored legislation that would allow Mental Health Services Act money to cover the costs of implementing Laura’s Law.

Once Steinberg’s bill was signed into law, I requested that the Orange County Health Care Agency do three things: Draft the resolution to adopt Laura’s Law, prepare the fiscal 2014-15 budget to pay the law, and design a program to implement it.

On May 13, with a unanimous vote by the Board of Supervisors, Orange County became the first urban California county to fully adopt Laura’s Law. In June, the budget was approved. This fall, the program should be ready for its first candidate.

In my research, I also found many professionals who strongly oppose Laura’s Law. But Orange County, with its expansion of mental health housing and services, will have another tool available for those dealing with mentally ill family members.

I’m hoping that we can prove to the critics that Laura’s Law, applied in a compassionate and professional manner, will be a godsend to those suffering from mental illness and for parents who, until now, were unable to assist them.

Posted in California