Conservation Update, 2018 Nov | Esperanza,
CHINO HILLS: ESPERANZA HILLS, AGAIN!
On Sept. 25, the OC Board of Supervisors voted, 4-1, to approve, for the third time, the 340-unit Esperanza Hills housing development proposed for 470 acres of steep hills abutting Chino Hills State Park. This approval is despite that the Board’s previous two approvals of the project were overturned in the Superior Court (2015, 2017), and that the overturnings were upheld by the Appeals Court (2015, 2017).
The re-re-approved project is essentially unchanged from what the courts rejected. It has the same very severe access and fire safety problems. It has increased known impact on gnatcatchers, due to new studies of their populations onsite. Impact on gnatcatchers strongly implies impact on Coastal Sage Scrub, adding to the CNPS nexus of impacts to the site’s populations of Braunton’s Milkvetch (Astragalus brauntonii, CRPR 1B.1) and Intermediate Mariposa Lily (Calochortus weedii intermedius, CRPR 1B.2).
Due to the new information on the site’s gnatcatcher population, the EIR should have been recirculated and a new public comment period held. This was not done, thus the new approval is in violation of CEQA.
See https://mailchi.mp/6ab871d3f54f/four-supervisors-approve-esperanza-hills-project?e=088f2c3a5a for details & links. CNPS/OCCNPS has been a co-litigant on this issue, which continues to be spearheaded by Hills for Everyone and Protect Our Homes and Hills (POHAH, a Yorba Linda citizens group).
OC’s new Tree Ordinance continues to wend its way through the approval process, being discussed at Planning Commission meetings with public input. The current version is reasonable:
- Written by Celia Kutcher
OC PARKS HISTORY IN NEW VIDEO SERIES
OC’s regional park system is one of the County’s most interesting, appealing, and unique features. The system is the result of a legacy of park stewardship that began in 1897 with the establishment of Irvine Regional Park—the first park of its type in California.
Friends of Harbors, Beaches and Parks (FHBP) has recently released a 14–‐part series of videos that relate the history of OC Parks and of each OC Parks facilities: parks, harbors, beaches, historic sites, and trail systems. The comprehensive history was produced for FHBP by Eric Jessen, retired OC Parks’ Chief of Planning, Acquisition, and Development. Much of the material in the videos comes from Eric’s personal archives and recollections, and his narration of the presentations adds the color and insight that can only come from someone who had a big part in it all. The videos may be viewed at www.fhbp.org/news/videos/.
OC PARKS FUNDING AGAIN IN PERIL! Between 1994 and 2017, a total of $250 million was redirected from OC Parks’ budget toward paying off OC’s bankruptcy. Parks’ capital improvements, land acquisition, and deferred maintenance suffered during those 23 years. With the bankruptcy finally paid off, there was a great sense of “now we can get things done” among Parks’ staff and supporters, and plans to do so began to be put into motion.
Planning to revitalize Dana Point Harbor’s aging facilities has been under way for a decade–‐plus. The harbor was under the old OC Harbors, Beaches and Parks Dept., so came under OC Parks when the old HBP Dept. was reorganized as OC Parks. DP Harbor revitalization was to be a public/private partnership and revenue–‐neutral—not impacting OC Parks budget. However, in July, the OC Board of Supervisors approved a DP Harbor Revitalization Plan that will get much of its funding from OC Parks’ budget—nearly $500 million over 66 years. In other words: after barely a year of a fully functional budget for OC Parks, the Revitalization Plan proposes to use nearly $7.6 million annually for just the Harbor.