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The Code, Hard Facts in Trabuco Canyon

April 21, 2002

Re "O.C.'s Code Rulings Are Unfair, Say Longtime Canyon Dwellers," April 15:

I read with interest the article about Orange County rulings on matters involving canyon property as being unfair to residents but liberal to commercial interests.

I was particularly fascinated by the strenuous denials by county staff and Supervisor Todd Spitzer. Though not in favor of a loosening of standards for canyon dwellers (I am a 13-year resident of Trabuco Canyon), I agree wholeheartedly with the accusations of bias and political favoritism.

Some of the most egregious examples of county bureaucratic largess occur at the southern end of the canyons. Several lawsuits have been filed over the years regarding county-approved plans for Trabuco Canyon, including a gas station and strip mall at the canyon's gateway (Cook's Corner) and major housing developments that are also in the works.

The worst example of all is the decision by the county to create a special exemption to allow a jail (Rancho Potrero Leadership Academy) that is contrary to environmental laws. The jail project is being proposed at exorbitant cost (the most expensive jail per bed in the United States) and is against the wishes of the vast majority of canyon residents.

Spitzer is supposed to be our representative. Yet as a guardian of the little remaining open space in Orange County, Spitzer sets a poor precedent for his ability to provide balanced leadership as an assemblyman.

As for Thomas B. Mathews, director of the county's Planning and Development Services Department, he protests that suburban norms are finally reaching the rural areas--but he is the one actually providing minimal oversight and in some cases facilitating the destruction.

John Sefton

Trabuco Canyon

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