Header image with Photo of Supervisor Pat Bates. Followed by office information
November 9, 2007

Pat Bates's Picture

Welcome to this edition of the Fifth District Report, an electronic newsletter keeping you updated about the events taking place in Orange County and in the Fifth District. It is my hope that you find this distribution informative and I would encourage you to contact me regarding any thoughts, comments, or concerns you may have.



1. Board Bulletin Board

2. Santiago Fire Aftermath

3. Important Post-Fire Information

4. Heroes of the Santiago Fire

5. Transportation Update

6. South County Calendar

7. South County Spotlight

8. Fifth District Wrap-Up


Justin McCusker:
Chief of Staff

Sergio Prince:
Executive Director of Public Affairs

Eileen Takata:
Executive Policy Advisor

Jeff Corless:
Executive Policy Advisor

Elise Lampe:
Executive Policy Advisor

Ruth Strachan:
Executive Secretary II

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Volume 1 Issue 21

Proposed Charter Amendment

Earlier this week, I voted with several of my colleagues to oppose an ordinance that would have placed on the ballot a charter amendment that if passed would increase the power of the Board of Supervisors over countywide elected officials that run various agencies including the Sheriff-Coroner, Treasurer-Tax Collector, Assessor, Auditor-Controller and Clerk-Recorder.  Over the last several days I was provided with a number of drafts all the way up to 30 minutes before our Board meeting began.  I believe that if I vote to place a proposed measure on the ballot before the people that it is my duty to properly examine the specifics of it to make sure it is a sound proposal.  Some of the concerns I raised to my colleagues include:

  • Potential legal and constitutional conflicts have not been fully vetted. The limited availability of this Ordinance to the Board, County Counsel, and the Public has not allowed for adequate analysis and review.  Why risk having an Ordinance thrown out for lack of legal and constitutional review?
  • Does the Board of Supervisors wish to act as a Legislative Body creating strong policy, or does it wish to act as a Judge and Jury usurping the existence of our Judicial Branch and trying elected officials from the dais?  

The final iteration that I received minutes before the Board meeting suggested possibly giving the Board powers to affect administrative leave on elected county officials.  I believe this requires further legal and managerial analysis as it pertains to the legal duties of elected officials and the issue of paid versus unpaid leave.  At the end of the day, I will stand firm on opposing the expansion of centralized power for the Board of Supervisors and preserve the power that belongs in the hands of the electorate.

Local Emergency/Fire Response

I voted with my colleagues to continue the declaration of the Local State of Emergency to November 20 in light of the continued efforts to finalize containment on the wildfires in Santiago Canyon.  As of this report, the fire is close to 100% contained and our local Emergency Operations Center continues to work with the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and FEMA to implement the recovery phase of this incident which will require months of work and additional resources in an effort to assist the families and businesses who have suffered losses in this incident.  A major effort is underway by our Resources Development & Management Department to prepare the affected lands and areas surrounding our residential communities for incoming storms and to prevent major flood disasters as we close in on the Winter season.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who suffered losses in these wildfires. My staff is available to provide any member of the community with direction on resources that are available to victims and their families.

WiFi Contract

The Board of Supervisors approved an agreement with the Orange County Business Council to conduct a feasibility study on implementing a countywide WiFi Wireless Network.  The vision would be to provide a low-cost, high-speed, outdoor, wireless internet connection throughout Orange County.  Local citizens, businesses, and visitors would be able to connect to e-mail, conduct web-based transactions anywhere the network is in place, as easily as they do at home.  This would provide more opportunities to the citizenry for increasing productivity.  In addition, this would provide streamlined network accessibility to public safety, transportation, and community services agencies for search and rescue, communication and in-home or field services provided to citizens.  This may also contribute to streamlining communication technology costs to the taxpayer where agencies are contracting for wireless services for computers used in the field.

Substance Abuse & Crime Prevention Act

At our November 6 meeting, the Board approved the yearly Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act (Proposition 36) Work Plan. Under SACPA, adults sentenced for certain nonviolent drug possession offenses, or who commit nonviolent drug probation or parole violations, may receive probation with treatment in lieu of incarceration. In 2005, UCLA prepared a report for the State Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs on how SACPA substantially reduces incarceration costs. To view the report, click here.

In a recent issue of my newsletter, I reported that at the September meeting of the Orange County Coastal Coalition which I Co-Chaired, we were given a presentation by Dr. Phil Shaller on the long term effects of wildfires on the ecosystem; and from the Orange County Fire Authority, Laura Blaul, Assistant Chief Fire Marshal, spoke about wildland defense planning and ways to protect homes along the “urban-wildland interface” zone. We learned that fires trigger changes in watershed behavior, often resulting in mudslides and flooding, and that vegetation recovery occurs slowly over decades. For more information about these presentations, please click here.

However, what we did not know at the time was that Orange County would soon experience one of the worst firestorms in its history. The challenge before us now is to prepare for the effects that are sure to come as a result of the Santiago Fire and contend with these as we now enter our rainy season.

The Santiago Fire that ravaged Orange County consumed approximately 28,500 acres. As the blaze is brought under containment, County crews have already begun conducting assessments of burned areas in support of efforts to remove debris, clear flood channels, and mitigate erosion. Cleaning of culverts and detention basins is underway. County road and drainage facilities are being protected by the placement of erosion control measures to control the flow of future storm water and debris flow in support of flood protection. The Resource and Development Management Department’s (RDMD) Public Works Division will be working collectively with the Orange County Fire Authority, Integrated Waste Management Department (IWMD), the Sheriff’s Department, and Army Corps of Engineers to coordinate the most effective and efficient use of available resources for removing debris and silt and restoring watershed protection.

In the Fifth District, Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park experienced the most fire damage of all County parks with 3,200 acres of brush burned. Park Rangers are remaining active with perimeter security and traffic control assignments.

Although current rain water predictions are for less than 10 inches through the wet season, it is important to prepare for any remote chance of any type of flash flooding. Therefore, post fire recovery plans will focus on the immediate removal of debris from tributary areas; cleaning of culverts, diversion structures, channels, and debris basins; hydrologic analysis; reinforcement of creek embankments and levees to prevent erosion.  Road, directional, and monument signage damaged by the fire and winds will also be replaced.  Plans for reseeding and habitat restoration in burned areas are also being developed. For more information, please click here.


Important Links

For links to important post-fire information including Disaster Relief & Assistance, Donation & Volunteer Opportunities, as well as Important Safety Tips, please click here.

Latest Fire Data

The Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) continues to provide up-to-date information on the Santiago Fire. For the latest fire data, please click here.

Park Information

O'Neill Regional Park has reopened in the wake of the Santiago Fire while Irvine Regional Park and Limestone Canyon / Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park continue to remain closed until further notice. For more information, please click here.

$250,000 Reward Offered

The cause of the Santiago Fire has been confirmed as arson. A reward of $250,000 is being offered for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for this heinous crime. If you have any information relating to the fire or if you have photographs and/or video taken in the Blackstar/Silverado Canyon area between 5:55 and 6:15 PM on October 21, 2007, you are encouraged to call the OCFA Arson Tip Line at (800) 540-8282.

Orange County Fire Authority Meeting

In addition to serving as Supervisor for Orange County’s Fifth District, I also serve on the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) Board of Directors. The OCFA Board holds bimonthly meetings which are open to the public. The next public meeting will be on November 15 at 6 PM. Meetings are held at the Regional Fire and Operations Training Center, One Fire Authority Way, Irvine (at the intersection of Jamboree and Tustin Ranch Road).  For more information, please click here.

Blue Ribbon Fire Commission Report

In 2004, Governor Schwarzenegger established a Blue Ribbon Commission to make recommendations after the tragic wildfire siege Southern California suffered in the Fall of 2003. To read the Blue Ribbon Fire Commission's Report to the Governor, please click here.


I’m sure we all share in our admiration and gratitude for the brave men and women who stood at the frontlines battling this terrible inferno as well as those who worked in support behind the lines, giving ‘service above self’ to ensure that victims – both human and animal – were well cared for.

The stories recounting the courageous acts of local citizens rushing to the aid of fire victims are too numerous to mention, but I do wish to acknowledge a few such efforts that took place in the Fifth District.

During the chaos of the recent wildfires, hundreds of evacuees desperately seeking sanctuary from the flames descended on coastal state parks located in South County. The effected parks were San Mateo, San Clemente and Doheny State Park Campgrounds. 

I am not certain how many escapees of the fire received assistance in our local state parks, but it is estimated that somewhere in the neighborhood of 750 meals were provided to these refugees over a two-day period.

South County churches and residents involved in the humanitarian efforts at our local state parks include:

  • Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in San Clemente with the help of Robin Margraf, Cathy Domenichini and Ron Ronaldson and numerous other parishioners coordinated and prepared meals, toiletries and supplies for refugees at all three state parks.
  • Pacific Coast Christian Church and Pastor David Archuleta, his congregation and two other San Clemente churches – Shoreline Christian Church and Living Hope Christian Fellowship – also coordinated meals, toiletries and supplies for those who sought haven at the three state parks.
  • Doyle Manning and The Knights of Columbus assisted with dinners and served breakfast at Doheny State Beach.
  • Family Assistance Ministry with the help of Nancy Martinez collected donations and provided storage for supplies and dry goods that were distributed to the refugees.
  • Robert Ramos, owner of La Tiendita and Cafe Del Sol Restaurants in San Clemente, generously made over 400 meals at his cost for County workers assisting in fire relief efforts.

Having personally witnessed the incredible courage and dedication of our firefighters as well as that of countless government workers and local volunteers, all working around the clock to save lives and protect communities, we can be assured that we live in a county where residents truly care about one another. To the numerous nameless heroes who rushed to the aid of their fellow man during the course of this disaster, I offer a heartfelt THANK YOU on behalf of the residents of the Fifth District.


Renewed Measure M Early Action Plan

In August, I voted with the OCTA Board of Directors to approve the Final Renewed Measure M Early Action Plan.  Early Action Plan projects will require funding prior to the collection of Renewed Measure M sales tax receipts in 2011.  Today, I voted to approve a financing plan for these Early Action Plan projects.  The Board heard from Dr. Esmael Adibi, Economist from Chapman University, who outliend the importance of the agency locking in interest rates on this financing with the possibility of inflation driving up the cost of money in future years.  South Orange County will see $37 million for our freeway rehabilitation and safety improvement projects beginning in 2009. In addition, these dollars will provide expanded Metrolink Services, Grade Crossing Improvements and Signal Synchronization. Some specific projects include such as the Intestate 5-Ortega Highway 74 Interchange and widening from Pacific Coast Highway to Pico Avenido.


Veterans Day

On Sunday, November 11, we all will pay tribute to the brave men and women who have served in our armed forces. To see a list of Veterans Day Ceremonies taking place throughout Orange County, please click here.

17th Annual Winter Fantasy

The magic continues at the 17th Annual Winter Fantasy over four weekends, November 17 thru December 9, at the world-famous Sawdust Art Festival in Laguna Beach. Visitors can experience the artistic wonders of 170 Laguna Beach artists and craftspeople amidst towering eucalyptus trees and tranquil waterfalls within a three and half acre canyon setting. The Winter Fantasy includes art projects for children and adults, live holiday entertainment, artist demonstrations including glass blowing, a snow playfield, 3 outdoor cafés, and visits with Santa! For more information, please click here.

30th Annual Turkey Trot

The 30th Annual Dana Point Turkey Trot, one of America's most scenic coastal runs and largest Thanksgiving Day races, will take place in beautiful Dana Point Harbor. Dubbed “America's Turkey Trot”, the event has attracted participants from more than 40 states. This year’s event is expected to be the largest yet, with more than 9,600 participants for the annual 5K & 10K run/walk, and the kids Hot to Trot race. Please run so others can eat! Thursday, November 22, 7am to 11am. For more information, please click here.


Ladera Ranch’s Coble Family

We all rejoice in the news that Ladera Ranch’s Chris and Lori Coble will be new parents of two girls and a boy in the coming year.  Sharing their sorrow and then seeing how they have moved from grief into activism for truck safety measures that will protect us all is a significant lesson as we wrestle with our own personal challenges.  Working to turn our negatives into positives ensures not only a personal brighter tomorrow but an incredible enhancement to the lives of those around us.  Congratulations, Cobles!  We thank you for your immeasurable courage that has provided us all with a stronger resolve to work for changes that benefit our communities. 

To join the Cobles and others across the nation in advocating for stronger truck safety, especially in light of the dramatic increase in truck traffic on South County roads, please contact the Truck Safety Coalition via the web at www.trucksafety.org.    


Among my many meetings, briefings, and other supervisorial activities, I also:

  • Toured areas of South County threatened by the Santiago Fire, and later met with Lake Forest officials at the Emergency Operations Center to be briefed on the latest details of the firestorm
  • Joined Governor Schwarzenegger and leading state fire officials as well as a number of state and local elected leaders at an evacuation shelter at El Toro High School in Lake Forest, and later assembled with them at the Orange County Fire Authority Command Center at Irvine Regional Park to be briefed on the increase in firefighting aircraft and resources to combat the Santiago Fire
  • Attended the Governor’s press conference in Los Angeles on the southland wildfires
  • Videotaped a segment for the Government On-Line Channel (more on this soon)
  • Met with representatives of the Southern California Water Committee to discuss their current efforts
  • Met with Irvine Mayor Beth Krom to discuss the Irvine Guideway Demonstration Project
  • Met with representatives of Sentinel Offender Services regarding GPS monitoring of offenders on probation
  • Presented a Certificate of Recognition at the Dedication Ceremony of San Juan Hills High School
  • Delivered the keynote address at a special meeting of the Financial Planning Association of Orange County
  • Met with Aliso Viejo officials regarding the proposed development of a United States Post Service distribution facility
  • Co-chaired a meeting of the Orange County Coastal Coalition and presented proclamations in honor of the Ocean Institute and the Miocean Foundation (more on this in my next newsletter)
  • Met with advocates of the Dana Point Lighthouse
  • Attended a San Clemente Exchange Club event to present proclamations in honor of the recipients of the 2007 Police and Fire Recognition Awards
  • Attended the First Anniversary Celebration of the James & Rosemary Nix Nature Center in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park to present a proclamation in honor of recently retired Laguna Canyon Foundation Executive Director Mary Fegraus
  • Attended a meeting of the San Clemente City Council to present a proclamation in honor of recently retired City Clerk Myrna Erway
  • Attended an Open House hosted by FUSCOE Engineering
  • Was the keynote speaker at meeting of the Lake Forest II Master Homeowners Association to address a number of local issues
  • Attended an orientation of the Orange County Grand Jury to discuss 5th District concerns and issues facing Orange County
  • Met with Ladera Ranch residents to discuss local concerns
  • Adjourned the October 30 Board meeting in memory of Jane Cheroske
  • Adjourned the October 30 Board meeting in memory of Sharon Rae Economos

My office also:

  • Attended regular briefings at the Emergency Operations Center (Loma Ridge) Unified Command and Incident Command Post during the wildfires
  • Toured the fire lines with the firefighters in evacuated areas of the Fifth District during the wildfires
  • Attended the Press Conference announcing Undersheriff Jo Ann Galisky as Acting Sheriff during the Administrative Leave of the Sheriff-Coroner
  • Presented Certificates of Recognition at an Orange County Association of Realtors celebration honoring major donors of Habitat of Humanity / Homes for Heroes in San Juan Capistrano
  • Attended the Joyful Child event at The Grove of Anaheim
  • Met with representatives of the Orange County Marine Protected Area Committee to discuss the group’s goals
  • Attended a Senior Summit event hosted by Laguna Beach Seniors, Inc.
  • Attended a South Orange County Regional Chambers of Commerce reception to present a proclamation in honor of Bill Woollett, Lifetime Achievement Award recipient
  • Attended a CalOptima Legislative Luncheon to learn about Orange County’s efforts to develop a Regional Health Information Organization (RHIO), an update on SCHIP, and key developments from the 2007 legislative session
  • Attended the Health Care Agency’s Point of Distribution Exercise at SOKA University in Aliso Viejo
  • Attended the Alzheimer’s Memory Walk event sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association of Orange County

My staff and I look forward to continually providing you updated information in our Fifth District Newsletter and website.

Please feel free to contact my office with your concerns, comments or questions at (714) 834-3550.

It is an honor and a privilege to serve as your Supervisor for Orange County's Fabulous Fifth District.

Thank you so much for your support!