O.C. Supes OK 65-Home Development in Trabuco Canyon

Despite the objections of dozens who claim it will ruin the rural nature of the area, a developer gets the OK to develop 114 acres as Saddle Crest. Bill Campbell says he had to balance rights of property owner with county's official plan.

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

Vince Rockford October 03, 2012 at 09:20 PM
Campbell is a full fledged crook. He hurried this onto the Board of Supervisors' agenda before the election ends his term. A crook because he represented Rutter's wishes, not the constituents'. A crook because Rutter paid him campaign contributions. Also, to circumvent laws limiting political contributions, Rutter made even more payments through his land planning firms. A crook because he knows Rutter did not correctly go through the approval process - despite a very clear requirement stating a developer must create a plan complying with the Specific Plan for comparison to his own proposal, none was ever done. In fact, Rutter was very arrogant in steadfastly saying he did not need to discuss anything other than the plan he was proposing. Rutter knew all along he had Campbell on his side to the end. Campbell is a crook because he reigned over the acquisition of private property with millions of dollars in public funds, the conversion of those properties to permanent open space (very little was buildable anyway), the resulting elimination of potential competition for Rutter, and then allowing Rutter to build right in the middle of it. PLUS, Rutter received $6,000,000 from the County for other land in Trabuco that had very little market value. Campbell is a full fledged crook because he lead Rutter to the gutter. He screwed Rutter more than anyone else. Why? Because Rutter broke so many fundamental laws he is in for a very, very painful court battle. Campbell, don't leave town.
Linda October 03, 2012 at 09:30 PM
Campbell said he had to balance the rights of the property owner against the county's official plan for the area. This is total BS. Bill Campbell made up his mind long before this hearing. Two plans were in place when the owner bought the property. Property was bought for development. I thought Bill Campbell was a capitalist. What happened to due diligence, an "informed buyer" and buyer beware. Where do I get in line for this socialism for investors? The Constitution is over 200 years old and obviously needs updating. Let's put that job in the hands of cronies to do behind closed doors.
Martin Henderson October 03, 2012 at 11:02 PM
I thought similarly about his comment that he had to balance the rights of the land owner with the county's plan; it seemed like there's a disconnect there. So, he opted to support one landowner who will sell to 65 families rather than support the county plan which is to benefit the thousands who live in the area and would prefer the land remain open. The decision, for lack of a better word, seems kinda fishy.
Justin Ames October 04, 2012 at 04:51 AM
So April, what can we do to help?
April Josephson October 09, 2012 at 09:39 AM
Justin, we could use volunteers in many areas, including managing the website. Our monthly meeting is Tuesday, October 9th at 6:15 p.m, in the Quiet Room at the RSM library. The public is welcome to attend.


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