Over 250 Yorba Linda residents, most wearing red to express their concern, came to a county-sponsored meeting last Thursday evening regarding the 340 unit Esperanza Hills project. The land lies in county territory above Yorba Linda. Half of the steep terrain is bordered by the permanent wild lands of Chino Hills State Park to the north and east.

Supervisor’s Chairman Todd Spitzer opened the meeting and pointed out that he would not be able to respond that night because he was there to listen. He wanted to be sure we knew that this meeting would not be part of the public record and he encouraged us to come back Tuesday to the Board of Supervisors’ weekly public meeting to make our comments. He also stated that he will not frustrate the crowd on Tuesday, when the Board of Supervisors will vote on the project, by making us wait a long time to testify.

So imagine our surprise late Friday afternoon (less than 24 hours later) when we learned from his Chief of Staff that the public would be limited to ONE minute each to make their point. Next, we were told that people could not donate their time to another speaker. Finally, our attorney will only get ten of the thirty minutes we requested for comments and rebuttal.

Over the last month, the leadership team of the residents opposed to the project, has been researching, writing remarks and developing graphics for 11 three minute presentations. These are fact-based cogent presentations, derived mostly from data obtained in public records. They cover significant issues that any open minded decision maker ought to be allowed to hear, and would want to consider, given the perils of this project.

We were prepared to follow the rules (published in every Board agenda) that speakers are allowed three minutes. Arrangements were made with the County Clerk to load the PowerPoints prior to the meeting. And now, at the last minute, our opportunity to provide cohesive testimony on significant topics has effectively been shut down. People want to be heard. They have a right to be heard. Most of them believe their lives depend on it, given what they went through in the gridlock and loss of the 2008 Freeway Complex Fire.

Perhaps, we are a victim of our own success. After all, 250 speakers at three minutes each would make for a very long day (although we know that would never play out in reality). So we are trying to negotiate for more time.

We have yet to hear back from Supervisor Spitzer’s office.

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