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Keep the Bulldozer Out of O.C.'s Canyons

September 08, 2002

Re " 'Keep Out' Echoes From O.C. Canyons," Aug. 22:

Residential opposition to intensified mountain development is certainly echoed here in Yorba Linda, the "Land of Gracious Living." I want to ask if you could follow up on our anguish as you did with the story on the incursions into Silverado, Modjeska and Trabuco canyons.

More than 100 residents recently attended an "informational meeting" on the environmental impact report for three large residential developments proposed by Shapell Industries involving 1,580 acres of hillside. Comments from 20 residents pointed out flaws and omissions in the EIR and asked for an extension. Two weeks were granted, moving the submission date to Sept. 23.

Shapell Industries is proposing sweeping changes in the city's master plan that will change the character of the entire city. One of the mountain areas to be developed was already the subject of a Times article on Aug. 11 on its earthquake-prone character.

This mammoth development poses huge problems.

Patrick F. Flynn

Yorba Linda

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I would like to thank the L.A. Times for bringing the issue of proposed development in the Santiago Canyon area to the public's attention. The local residents should not be alone in resisting foothill development. The negative environmental impact of tract mansion development in this canyon will affect all Orange County residents who appreciate and walk in the Santa Ana Mountains.

Developers must not be allowed to prevail here. If they do, the new tracts and their homeowners associations will seal off all access to the mountains behind their houses and to the wilderness parks in front of their houses. They will seal off public access to public lands they do not own but effectively control. How do I know? It has already happened in Rancho Santa Margarita and Coto de Caza.

One Saturday, I spent three hours cruising among the tract housing searching for access to the Cleveland National Forest just behind them. My search was in vain. Every street I tried ended in a cul-de-sac bounded by a high wrought-iron fence. There were gates, but they had been padlocked by the homeowners association.

Are the citizens of Orange County to be abandoned by officialdom and left to our own independent resources to fend off the rapacious incursions of multimillion-dollar investors? After ruining our views of the San Joaquin Hills and the coastal zone with miles and miles of tract houses, these same people want to escape the everyday ugliness they have created for us by developing the pristine foothill canyons. There they, and the embezzling CEOs who are their clients, plan to enjoy the splendors of nature from their ostentatious, 10,000-square-foot mansions and hoard access to publicly owned nature by keeping the rest of us out.

Christine Speed

Newport Beach

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So self-styled activist Sherry Meddick, speaking about her opposition to development in Silverado, Modjeska and Trabuco Canyons, says, "Show me how many of us have 4,000-square-foot houses with huge lawns up here." Sounds like plain old jealousy to me, rather than environmental activism. Maybe she should consider getting a better job.

C. Heinz

Irvine

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