Residents of Olive, the historic county neighborhood where an 1820s adobe foundation was unearthed earlier this month, have asked the city to help protect the historical site and prevent the property from being developed into low-income housing.
The area is within Orange's sphere of influence and will eventually be annexed by the city.
"We do not want (single-room occupancy) housing, apartments, low-income housing. . . . We do not want budget-breaking code enforcement problems and city services overload, which seem to go hand-in-hand with certain projects," resident Dorothy Gibson told the council this week.
The 3.7-acre property near Lincoln Avenue and Orange-Olive Road where the artifacts were discovered is in an area recognized as the second oldest settlement in Orange County after Mission San Juan Capistrano. Some historians believe the adobe foundation may have been the base of the home of Jose Antonio Yorba, who helped found central Orange County in 1810 with a land grant from Spain.
The Housing and Redevelopment department of the Orange County Environmental Management Agency discovered the adobe foundation and a trash pit containing bits of bones, pottery and other items while conducting an environmental review of the property.
The county is still negotiating purchase of the property and has no final plan for the site, said housing department manager Rick Efger. But housing--including low-income units--or light industry is possible, he said.
The property is home to a county fire station and the shell of a citrus packing plant, built on the site in 1928 and destroyed in a 1987 fire.
An independent report on the site is being conducted to determine whether it warrants further study and excavation, Efger said. The report should be available within two weeks.
Wayne Gibson, a local historian and author of two books on the area, said he would prefer to have the entire site excavated and preserved as a living museum.
"I would like to see it as a cultural interpretation center to try to ameliorate the differences in culture," Gibson said. The ruins provide a "link between the Spanish, Anglo and Mexican heritage in our county."
Community input will be critical in determining what will be developed on the property, Efger added.
Mayor Gene Beyer said he would contact the County Board of Supervisors to discuss the future of the property.