Development Threatens Santiago Creek in Orange County

April 29, 2011 § 1 Comment

The city of Orange's Sully Miller site, where Santiago Creek is theatened. Photo courtesy Joel Robinson

An Orange County Creek Freak contacted us about helping get the word out on an effort to preserve a natural stretch of Santiago Creek, located in the city of Orange. In his initial email to us, Joel Robinson, the Watershed Coordinator for the Santiago Creek Watershed Preservation and Restoration Project, stated:

There are a few significant pieces of open space threatened by inappropriate developments along Santiago Creek.  Least Bell’s Vireo [endangered songbird species] occur in the area and the developer has already removed habitat within the floodplain and plans to develop in an area where open space is very limited.

Though I grew up not far from there, and know the area where Santiago Creek meets the Santa Ana River, I confess that I am not familiar with the actual threatened area, called the Sully Miller property, after a former sand and gravel company located there. It’s located in the northeast edge of the city, near the interesection of East Santiago Canyon Road and Cannon Street – just downstream of Santiago Oaks Regional Park.

Here’s an aerial that details the site: (Santiago Creek is, of course, the green band meandering near the top of the image.)

Aerial photo showing Santiago Creek through the Sully Miller property - courtesy of Joel Robinson

Jessica and I asked Joel Robinson to contribute an article about the threat to this stretch of Santiago Creek. His piece apears below. For additional information, see the Orange Park Acres Community Action website.

Over 100 acres of open space are threatened along Santiago Creek within the sprawling community of East Orange!  The Sully-Miller property, serves as a major wildlife corridor for large mammals, including bobcats, coyotes, and deer. It has the potential to be a neighborhood nature park with interconnected trails, various wildlife habitats, and a natural flowing creek.  It supports the occurrence of  the endangered least bell’s vireo (federally protected bird), pacific treefrog, the heron family, Nuttall’s woodpecker, northern flicker, California quail, roadrunner, red-tailed hawk, and many other wildlife species.  Unfortunately, the owner known as JMI Real Estate (John Martin) plans to break the rules set by almost 40 years of planning in our neighborhoods in Orange Park Acres and East Orange.
 
The rules were established long ago:
Orange Park Acres Specific Plan (1973)
East Orange Community Plan (1975)
Santa Ana River/Santiago Creek Greenbelt Plan (1973)
Santiago Creek Implementation Plan (1976)

Now Martin and his investors want to rewrite all the rules so they can profit from a 265 unit high-rise/high-density development plus a 130 unit-housing tract, and an 81,000 square foot YMCA building.  (The average Wal-Mart is 97,000 square feet)  JMI invested $40,000 in political contributions in the 2010 Orange elections, but they can’t buy the support of the neighbors who will have to live with the traffic and the negative impacts on our homes.

JMI bulldozed extensive wildflower meadows, mature willows, mulefat scrub, and vernal pools to accommodate a temporary landfill and concrete recycling center.  In addition, JMI closed a local farm and produce stand.  The Ridgeline Country Club, a valued community recreation center, was closed to be redeveloped as estates.
 
When Fieldstone tried for tract housing in 2003 over 9,000 people in the city of Orange said NO.

For more information and to get involved, go to Orange Park Acres Community Action.

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