Cook's Corner is about to get a little more crowded.
The Orange County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a 65-home development on nearly 114 acres in the Trabuco Canyon area over the objections of dozens of residents, including a Native American, who said there is a sacred cave in the area.
Alfred Cruz, who said he is of American Indian ancestry, fears that the cave in the area will be desecrated. He hasn't asked for access to the cave, which is on private property and beyond the planned development.
"I really didn't like the decision—there could be burials there," Cruz said after the board's meeting.
Cruz said he has been frustrated in general that developers and elected leaders don't take more of an interest in sacred sites for American Indians.
"They really don't care how they do it," Cruz said. "They know we don't have any money and we can't fight them.
"They don't pay attention to what we say. We don't have any money to fight this. We don't have any casinos... After all these years, they're still sticking it to us. A lot of (American Indians) have given up because they can't fight the developers."
Supervisor Bill Campbell, who represents the district where the development will be built, said after the meeting that he made a mental note to follow up with Cruz.
"I would be happy to have him talk to the land owner and our planning department for some way to include (the cave) in open space to be protected," Campbell said. "I respect and understand what he's raising, so I'll see what I can do to help him."
People living near the planned development complained that it would ruin the rural character of the area.
Campbell said he had to balance the rights of the property owner against the county's official plan for the area. The board had to amend the general plan for the area to make way for the Saddle Crest Homes project, which will include 50 acres of open space.
The homes will be built near Cook's Corner, a popular bar in the area with motorcyclists.
The project also sparked discussion among the board on revising the Foothill-Trabuco plan, which has been on the books for about 20 years.
"I think the point my colleagues made was an important one—it is time to reconsider that entire plan," Campbell said. "I'm not going to be around to do that. It'll be my successor who will have to face that."
The developer—Rutter Santiago, LP—had received earlier permission from the board to build in the area, but an appeals court ruling struck it down to include more natural space.
The Orange County Transportation Authority has acquired some of the property in the area that will be preserved as open space, so the agency can use it as mitigation for widening freeways in the county, Campbell said.
—City News Service