Here’s a rundown of the main issues we’ll be tracking this week throughout Orange County.
To get the latest updates on the latest civic action, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Santa Ana to Adopt Strategic Plan
After weeks of tension, Santa Ana officials and activists have come to an accord over the city’s strategic plan, which is expected to guide city policies over the next five years.
Local activists have called for the plan to address restorative justice, emphasize equity among neighborhoods, provide internships for youth and call for the end of the city contract with U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement to house immigration detainees.
While earlier drafts of the plan didn’t include those requests, that changed after the activists made a public show of frustration at the March 4 City Council meeting and reporters started calling city officials.
The strategic plan approval is scheduled near the end of Tuesday’s council meeting, which starts at 5:45. Click here to read our rundown of the issue and here to read the proposed plan.
Statewide Bike and Pedestrian Guidelines Up for Approval
Statewide transportation leaders are set to converge on Santa Ana later this week to hash out a series of key policy issues.
One of those topics up for approval by the California Transportation Commission is the statewide guidelines for transporting pedestrians, cyclists, cars and transit riders.
The goals of the 2014 Active Transportation Program Guidelines include:
- Increasing the proportion of trips accomplished by biking and walking.
- Increasing the safety and mobility of nonmotorized users.
- Enhancing public health, including reduction of childhood obesity through the use of programs like those eligible for Safe Routes to School Program funding.
- Ensuring that disadvantaged communities fully share in the benefits of the program.
- Providing a broad spectrum of projects to benefit many types of active transportation users.
(Click here to read the draft guidelines.)
Commissioners also plan to discuss the statewide policy for toll lanes, which local officials have warned could be on the table for Orange County freeways.
The state transportation agency, Caltrans, sees toll lanes or “managed lanes” as a key option for future freeway upgrades, particularly to comply with a federal mandate to speed up traffic for zero-emission cars.
Staffers at the Orange County Transportation Authority were generally supportive of that idea as well, though the effort has so far been met with significant pushback from local elected officials and chambers of commerce.
A proposal to put toll lanes on the Interstate 405 freeway, for example, was recently scrapped amid the backlash.
Caltrans is also reportedly running far short of cash it needs for freeway maintenance.
The meetings kick off at 10 a.m. Thursday at the the DoubleTree Hotel in Santa Ana (map available here). You can click here for Thursday’s agenda and here for Friday’s agenda.
Red Light Cameras Face Cutoff in Santa Ana
As a bribery allegations against Santa Ana’s red light camera operator expand to California, city officials are considering whether to renew their contract next year.
Phoenix-based RedFlex Traffic Systems, which has been running Santa Ana’s camera program since 2002, has previously admitted that its Chicago camera program was likely helped by a $2-million bribery scheme.
And RedFlex official Aaron Rosenberg, who signed the firm’s 2010 extension with Santa Ana, recently said the company had frequently engaged in “providing government officials with lavish gifts and bribes,” the Chicago Tribune reported in January.
Dozens of municipalities in states across the U.S., including at least one in California, received gifts and bribes from company officials, Rosenberg alleges in a court filing.
It’s unclear which city or cities in California Rosenberg was referring to.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Santa Ana City Council members will decide whether to take up a staff recommendation to not renew RedFlex’s contract when it expires in June 2015.
The company would be required to take out its cameras within 60 days of the contract expiring, and city staff did not recommend hiring another firm in their staff report.
The meeting starts Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. Click here for the Tribune’s recent article on RedFlex.
Planners to Formally Reject Housing Project in Orange
Planning commissioners in Orange are set to officially reject the controversial Rio Santiago project this week.
Commissioners are following up on a 3-0 vote March 3 to deny the project’s environmental impact report, which they viewed as inadequate.
They had previously raised concerns about the report having more “significant and unavoidable impacts” than any other project known to be approved by the city, among other issues.
Rio Santiago would convert the former Sully Miller mine, which is just south of Santiago Creek in east Orange, into a housing development for hundreds of residents. Sports facilities and nature trails are also proposed.
A formal resolution is up for adoption Monday night that would deny the project’s environmental impact report along with a series of other approvals it would need.
It’s unclear whether the project’s landowner will appeal the decision to the City Council.
The meeting starts Monday at 7 p.m. at City Hall.
Formal Labor Deal for Santa Ana Cops
Santa Ana City Council members are set to formally adopt a labor agreement with police officers on Tuesday that would run through the end of June 2015.
The city staff report, however, doesn’t explain what the changes are.
Instead, it states the new contract would ratify a previous “side letter agreement” from October.
That agreement calls for a 1-percent salary increase retroactive to last July. Sworn officers would pay an extra 1.1-percent of their paychecks toward pensions while nonsworn workers would pay 1.3-percent less toward their pensions.
The city would also pay $1,335 per month toward medical insurance for each officer, though the summary (here on page 177) doesn’t state how much the city was previously paying.
Sick leave and “personal necessity leave” would no longer be counted toward overtime hours, and new employees would be subject to unspecified changes to “career development pay,” among other changes.
In all, city staff estimated that the agreement will save taxpayers $515,000 per year.
The meeting starts Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. Click here for the staff report.
Major Meetings This Week:
- Huntington Beach City Council
- City of Orange Planning Commission
- Mission Viejo City Council
- La Habra City Council
- Los Alamitos City Council
- Cypress City Council
- Santa Ana City Council
- Irvine City Council (and Orange County Great Park Board)
- Costa Mesa City Council
- Fullerton City Council
- Lake Forest City Council
- Tustin City Council
- Yorba Linda City Council
- San Clemente City Council
- Laguna Niguel City Council
- Fountain Valley City Council
- Placentia City Council
- San Juan Capistrano City Council
- Dana Point City Council
- Laguna Beach City Council
- La Palma City Council
- Garden Grove Unified School District
- Irvine Unified School District
See something interesting in the agendas? Let us know!
Adam Elmahrek contributed to this post.
You can reach Nick Gerda at email@example.com, and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.
Since you've made it this far,
You are obviously connected to your community and value good journalism. As an independent and local nonprofit, our news is accessible to all, regardless of what they can afford. Our newsroom centers on Orange County’s civic and cultural life, not ad-driven clickbait. Our reporters hold powerful interests accountable to protect your quality of life. But it’s not free to produce. It depends on donors like you.
Join the conversation: In lieu of comments, we encourage readers to engage with us across a variety of mediums. Join our Facebook discussion. Message us via our website or staff page. Send us a secure tip. Share your thoughts in a community opinion piece.