A possible creekside bike trail proposed by some residents in north Santa Ana is generating controversy in an adjacent neighborhood, with neighbors arguing over whether the trail would create more crime and safety hazards in the area.
Noah Apodaca, a neighbor whose home sits beside Santiago Creek, says a new trail along the creek would likely add noise from barking dogs, require the removal of trees, and raise the risk of fires and burglaries to approximately 40 nearby homes.
"My home has been broken into more than once from individuals who use the creek as a point of access and escape," Apodaca said during a meeting last week of the Jack Fisher Park Neighborhood Association.
"If these criminals find successful ways of robbing our homes when they're having to scale over boulders and riprap, how can we expect that putting a paved path to the backs of our properties will make it harder on them?"
The trail, which several residents have proposed to city and county officials, would connect an existing trail near Interstate 5 to another along the Santa Ana River.
Apodaca also argued that given the city's bleak financial situation, it's not in a position to pay for the trail. He estimated the trail would cost $630,000, based on figures used in Orange.
David Schmid, a Fisher Park resident who supports the proposed trail, was limited to a five-minute response because he had not been invited to make a presentation.
Schmid agreed that "the issue of trash, environment, cost — that's all really important." But, he added, "if I had more time I would be able to make a really good argument why all of those things would be improved with the existence of the right kind of trail."
He also said proponents have been working to get opinions from neighbors.
"All there is is some people with good intentions who think it would be a good idea to have a trail here, and they've sought feedback," said Schmid.
The neighborhood group voted to have Schmid to address their next meeting.
Shirley Grindle, a supporter of the trail who was invited to the meeting but did not attend, described criticism of the trail as "red herrings" and argued that a trail would actually reduce crime because people would be more visible.
"The missing link to this trail is in Santa Ana," she added.
Gerardo Mouet, Santa Ana's director of parks, recreation, and community services, said the city's entire transportation plan — which includes bike trails — is being updated for the first time in 12 years. Fisher Park residents will have an opportunity to present their arguments to a consultant during a public forum, probably in February, and to the City Council before it votes.
"It needs to be on a master plan, if that's what the policymakers want," said Mouet.
The Fisher Park Neighborhood Association had been dormant for several years, and this week's meeting was only the second since the group was revived this year. At the meeting the group voted to rename itself the Jack Fisher Park Neighborhood Association, adopting the official name of the park.
The next meeting, during which Schmid is scheduled to make his presention, is scheduled for Jan. 11 in the log cabin community room at Jack Fisher Park, 2501 N. Flower St., Santa Ana.
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