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Saddleback Should Be Left Undeveloped

November 17, 2002

Re "Saddleback OKd for Development," Nov. 6:

When will we stop developing the precious little land that remains? There comes a point when development of land (yes, even private land) is a crime against the environment.

Even small developments within a wildlife corridor cause significant habitat damage. And what about the first time a coyote kills a pet? There will be outrage and a demand for the removal of the very wildlife that the people sought out before they moved there. What starts out as a small development becomes a large one. Humans cannot live in harmony with nature. When man and nature interact, nature suffers the most apparent damage. But it is we who suffer the most in the long run. It's time to let the wild areas remain wild and for us to use our intelligence to determine how to live within the current infrastructure.

J.B. Litvak

Costa Mesa

*

On Nov. 5, the Orange County Board of Supervisors delivered unincorporated Trabuco Canyon another unneeded and unwanted mass-graded development for hundreds of tract homes. Named by the developers Saddleback Meadows but more aptly described as Where the Saddleback Meadows Used to Be, the project sits in the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains at the uppermost reaches of the Aliso Creek watershed, between the Ramakrishna Monastery and St. Michael's Abbey.

The project requires amendment of the Foothill/Trabuco Specific Plan, enacted in 1991 by a more visionary Board of Supervisors, to preserve the area's rural character and provide a buffer between urban development and the Cleveland National Forest. Saddleback Meadows goes precisely in the opposite direction.

The current board's approval of this project entirely disrespects the Specific Plan and is yet another example of our county's insatiable desire to pave over even the most bucolic and resource-rich locales. Casting the lone dissenting vote, at least Supervisor Tom Wilson had the courage and foresight to say no to this development, citing urban runoff and other environmental issues. Maybe it's because the development will contribute to more contaminated beaches in the cities in his district, and he'll be around to have to answer for it.

Todd Spitzer, on the other hand, snubbed his district, choosing instead to sympathize with the shortsighted, profit-oriented goals of the developer. Maybe he feels distanced from the importance of preserving Trabuco Canyon now that he's on to "more important" issues in Sacramento. But, having brushed aside the pleas of his constituents, including two religious groups and the federal and state wildlife agencies who say the development will destroy a crucial wildlife corridor, one has to be concerned about what Todd Spitzer will do representing his constituents at the state level.

Gloria D. Sefton

Saddleback Canyons

Conservancy, Trabuco Canyon

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