Yorba Linda City Council Deadlocks, Scraps Letters to County on 420 Hillside Homes

esperanza-hills-map

Courtesy of OC Public Works 
An architect’s site plan shows the 340 proposed homes in Esperanza Hills. The land to the southwest would be Cielo Vista.

 

By Daniel Langhorne

After more than three hours of discussion on Tuesday night, the Yorba Linda City Council decided not to send the Orange County Board of Supervisors two letters proposed by city staff, which laid out the City’s recommendations on two proposed developments that would add 420 homes in the unincorporated hills.

At the debate’s heart was whether Yorba Linda should recommend that the County require Yorba Linda Estates LLC, the developer of the 340-home Esperanza Hills development north of Stonehaven Drive and east of San Antonio Road, to conduct a supplemental environmental impact report for a recently proposed bridge that would span Blue Mud Canyon.

The developer believes it shouldn’t have to conduct additional environmental analysis on the bridge’s impacts.

Mayor Pro Tem Peggy Huang said the bridge is a significant change to the project. As a deputy attorney general, Huang argued that she wouldn’t be able to defend analysis in an appellate court.

“[The project] must be done in a way that is correct and with the right information,” Huang said. “I would not be able to argue this in front of three justices.”

The City Council was deadlocked 2-2 on two different motions after Mayor Tom Lindsay recused himself because his residence is near the Esperanza Hills and the adjacent 80-home Cielo Vista development proposed by Sage Community Group.

cielo-vista

Courtesy of OC Public Works
An architect’s site plan shows the 80-home Cielo Vista that would be east of Dorinda Road and north of Stonehaven Drive.

 

When the supervisors meet Dec. 13 to vote on the project the only direction they will have from the City of Yorba Linda are minutes from the Dec. 6 meeting, documents that supported the city staff’s position and a message that the council members discussed the project for more than three hours.

The council members’ division garnered groans from about 40 neighbors wearing red shirts to display their solidarity with Protect Our Hills and Homes, a neighborhood group that sued Yorba Linda Estates in Orange County Superior Court.

“We have asked for four years that you protect the community- you have not,” said Kim Paul, a resident who lives at Stonehaven Drive and Heatherridge Drive.

Among Paul’s concerns is the traffic from the development could worsen the gridlock residents face during wildfire evacuations along Via Del Agua and Stonehaven, similar to what they experienced during the 2008 Freeway Complex Fire.

Councilman Gene Hernandez said he would hope that the supervisors have done their homework on the projects and take into account how they would impact Yorba Linda residents.

“We can only suggest to the County,” “We can’t dictate to the County. I hope they would listen to what we have to say but at the end of the day they’re going to do what they’re going to do.”

A motion proposed by Councilman Craig Young, who was unseated in the General Election, would have sent the supervisors a toned-down version of the letter asking the County to consider the impact both developments would have on Yorba Linda. Young hoped the County would make a deal that would annually generate an additional $800,000 to $1 million for the City’s General Fund.

Young was also against city staff’s recommendation that the County require Yorba Linda Estates to enter into a pre-annexation agreement with the City as a condition of approval. Earlier in the meeting, Doug Wymore, project manager for Esperanza Hills, said he is opposed to this condition but was open to discuss annexation after getting a green light from the Board of Supervisors.

“I don’t think it’s right to deny one property owner’s rights over another,” Young said.

Young’s comments earned jeers and shouting from the audience. One man wearing signature  shouted “He’s a lame duck!”

“We represent not the six members who were here two weeks ago, not the 40 or 50 residents that we have here,” Young said. “We represent 70,000 citizens in Yorba Linda. 70,000 citizens are looking to us to fund all of the roads, to fund new libraries and community centers, stop signs at Buena Vista Avenue and all of the different services that we require.”

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