December 21, 2007
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.
IN THIS ISSUE...
1. Happy Holiday Greetings From Our Family To Yours!
2. Board Bulletin Board
3. Transportation Update
4. South County News
5. County Connections
6. Post-Santiago Fire Report
7. ‘Tis The Season
8. Fifth District Wrap-Up
Chief of Staff
Executive Director of Public Affairs
Executive Policy Advisor
Executive Policy Advisor
Executive Policy Advisor
Executive Secretary II
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|HAPPY HOLIDAY GREETINGS FROM OUR FAMILY TO YOURS!
This holiday season, residents throughout Orange County will gather with family and loved ones, rekindle old friendships, revive time honored traditions, and renew the hope and love that is part of this most joyous and reverent time of year. On behalf of the Fifth District, I extend our heartfelt wishes for a Happy Holiday!
|BOARD BULLETIN BOARD
Independent Oversight of Law Enforcement
Nearly six months ago, the Board of Supervisors received a report from our County Executive Office on various models of a Citizen Law Enforcement Review Board (CLERB). After receiving the report, my colleagues and I directed the CEO to establish a stakeholders working group to discuss various alternatives for providing additional oversight of law enforcement in the handling of investigations and a grievance process for citizen complaints. After months of my staff working with the stakeholders working group representing from the Sheriff-Coroner, District Attorney, Probation Department, County Counsel, and other Board offices, we held a workshop on Tuesday to receive a final report on the results of this group’s extensive research.
Since our original discussions, the research concluded and recommended a professional mechanism known as an Office of Independent Review (OIR) similar to the model in place in the Los Angeles Sheriff’s office. We heard from all stakeholders on the subject matter including the Chief Attorney for the OIR in Los Angeles regarding the benefits this oversight will bring to the citizens of Orange County.
The Board directed the working group to meet once again to work out the final details for an agreement to implement this program. We have made great progress on the issue of providing confidence that citizen concerns will be handled in the most appropriate manner and with the highest of ethical standards. The final agreement will be on the Board’s agenda early next year. I look forward to any additional input you may have. I encourage you to go online and observe the workshop in its entirety to hear the discussion from all parties involved. To view the workshop held during Tuesday’s Board meeting, please click here.
Investment Authority of the Treasurer-Tax Collector
The Board of Supervisors is responsible for approving the investment authority of the Treasurer-Tax Collector on an annual basis. During this past meeting, the Board was faced with two choices:
1) Continue with the Treasurer leading the County Investment Team; or
2) Transfer investment authority to the Chief Financial Officer in the County Executive Office.
At this time, I did not support removing investment authority from Treasurer Street. If we removed Treasurer Street’s investment authority now, the director for our investment team would be the CFO of the County who has administrative experience but is not an investment specialist. I believe transferring investment authority to an individual who has not been involved in the complexities investment market could create the same risk concerns that have been raised with regard to County Treasurer’s investment decisions.
Given Orange County’s bankruptcy history, it is always important to carefully consider our role as stewards of the County’s financial health. To that end, I supported a motion for a risk assessment of the Orange County portfolio through an expert third party review. The CEO will return with the initial report at our next Board meeting on January 8, 2008, and a more comprehensive report at the end of January at which time we will make final determination on who will oversee investment strategies and make decisions for investment of our County funds.
Joint Powers Authority Agreement with OCFA
In 1995, the County of Orange established a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) agreement creating the Orange County Fire Authority with its own Board of Directors including representation from all cities contracting with the county for fire services. This agreement expires in 2010. On Tuesday, my colleagues and I supported the ratification of the OCFA Board approved amendment to renew the JPA. For the past year, Fire Chief Chip Prather and OCFA administration have worked with OCFA member cities and the County to receive input on the approved changes including adjustments to caps on cost increases for our cash contract cities and structural fire fund cities. The approved agreement includes fiscal controls and updated annual cost growth percentages that exercise fiscal restraint and meet the needs our cities.
Strategic Financial Plan
The California Finance Department and the Legislative Analyst Office predict a $10 billion state budget deficit. With this statistic in mind, the CEO presented a Strategic Financial Plan that followed the Board’s direction for a conservative budget plan. The County Strategic Plan identifies the County’s top ten strategic priorities, including the County Master Facilities Plan, the expansion of Musick Jail, and a High Tech Crime Unit Expansion.
In order to “Live Within Our Limits,” the Board decided on a three-tier reduction plan for Fiscal Year 2008-2009. Step 1 on the Budget Reduction Plan involves deleting positions that have been vacant for more than 13 months and deleting the corresponding budget allocations. Step 2 asks Departments not to request an augmentation of staff positions. Finally, Step 3 keeps net County cost flat for FY 2008-2009. These three steps should ensure that the County is living within its means.
To see the presentation to the Board on the Strategic Financial Plan, please click here. To view the Strategic Financial Plan in its entirety, please click here.
Emergency Medical Fund
The implementation of SB 1773 – the Emergency Medical Services Fund - has been discussed during previous Board meetings. When this item came up during previous Board agendas, I supported using general funds for the Emergency Medical Services Fund. I wanted to use our general fund allocation as a “proof of purchase”, so that the County would be in a better position to lobby the state for increased reimbursement on uncompensated care as part of a health care reform package. However, that was earlier this year when health care reform seemed to be a certain bet. Our local hospitals and emergency room doctors cannot rely on increased state reimbursement, nor can the County continue supporting this program from our general fund.
Testimony from several medical professionals and hospitals outlined the need for Orange County to better support emergency rooms and emergency room physicians. The ability of the County to bring in specialty medical staff such as cardiologists and hand surgeons is eroding because of the lack of reimbursement for uncompensated care, and we are at great risk of losing these essential trauma team specialists. Although the implementation of SB 1773 will provide short-term relief for local medical professionals, I believe the Board needs to maintain pressure on Sacramento to increase funding of this uncompensated care.
241 Impact on Trestles Beach
The 241 Toll Road will be constructed to ensure that the world class surf conditions at Trestles Beach will be fully protected. The road which has long been included in regional transportation plans will join existing Interstate 5 more than a half mile from the shoreline. Among continuing false and misleading statements made by project opponents are claims that the San Mateo Watershed will be “obliterated” and the surf at Trestles will be “ruined.” Both assertions, made in the face of critically needed congestion relief for Southern California, are incorrect.
Expert analysis confirms that the classic breaks at Trestles and other nearby surf spots are formed by the large cobble deposits in the delta of the San Mateo Creek. “These cobbles episodically delivered to the shoreline every 20 years or so are what form the surf break” said Dave Skelly, a coastal engineer who has made careful studies of that stretch of beach. To view a short video explanation by Skelly as well as the full report, please click here. For more information, please click here.
$41 Million for Transportation Improvements
Orange County cities will have an opportunity to apply for transportation improvement funds after the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) Board last week approved a $41 million call for projects.
The funding which will be distributed on a competitive basis is the final allocation through the original Measure M half-cent sales tax approved by voters in 1990. This is an exciting milestone for OCTA and all residents of Orange County as this closes out Measure M and ensures that OCTA delivered in completing all M1 projects on time and on budget. For more information, please click here.
Ring In The New Year With A Free Bus Ride
If you wish to ring in the New Year safely without driving a car, consider riding an Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) bus on New Year’s Eve. OCTA will provide free bus services on all routes between 6 p.m. on New Year’s Eve (Dec. 31, 2007) and 4 a.m. on New Year’s Day (Jan.1, 2008). OCTA offers numerous bus services for new and existing customers and we want to help ensure that local residents can travel safely to and from their New Year’s celebrations. For more information, please click here.
|SOUTH COUNTY NEWS
Road Maintenance Improvements
By late March of next year, Fifth District residents will begin to see improvements to roads in the communities of Ladera, Las Flores and Wagon Wheel. At Tuesday’s meeting, my Board colleagues and I approved the award of a contract that will improve overall ride quality, appearance and safety as well as protect and preserve the condition of our streets. This project is part of an ongoing pavement maintenance program designed to preserve existing County roads by identifying and addressing areas in need of maintenance. The work will include slurry sealing as well as removal and repair of damaged pavement.
Great Park Survey Results
In early December, members of the public were invited to attend an Open House at the Great Park, meet and talk with the Park designers, and participate in a short survey on proposed Park programs. Among the key findings were that people want a mix of uses within the Park, features and programs that take advantage of the outdoors and unique space of the Park, as well as facilities and amenities not otherwise available.
Popular attractions included:
- Outdoor Performance Space
- Botanical Garden
- Hiking Trails
- Biking Trails
- Nature Trails
- Farmer's Market
- Regional Festivals
- Outdoor Cinema
- Wildlife Observation Areas
- Community Gardens
If you would like to receive a copy of the complete survey results, please call 949.653.1775. For more information, please click here.
Orange County Sample Ballots
The Orange County Registrar of Voters office has made changes to the Sample Ballot pamphlet that voters will receive prior to the 2008 Presidential Primary election (February 5, 2008). In the past voters received a Sample Ballot based on the ballot type for their precinct and party. Now voters will receive a consolidated Sample Ballot with all of the party style ballots for their precinct. The new Sample Ballot will alleviate the need for large numbers of employees working on this effort prior to the election. For more information, please click here.
|POST-SANTIAGO FIRE REPORT
Santiago Fire Aerial Hydromulching Restoration Project
On December 17, the USDA Forest Service began aerial hydromulch operations designed to minimize soil erosion and reduce run-off in the canyon areas of Silverado and Modjeska Canyons. The Santiago Fire burned a total of 28,476 acres, but most of the high-intensity burned acres were on the 6,701 acres of Forest Service lands located at the east end of the fire in the higher elevations.
Pilots will apply a layer of hydromulch, a wet mixture of shredded wood and paper, with a guar gum based tackifier – a sticky substance that helps the mulch material cling to hillsides and steep slopes. The hydromulch helps protect the soil from erosion and traps moisture, creating an environment in which native seeds and roots can sprout. Eventually, the new vegetation will take over its natural role in stabilizing the soil.
Aerially applied hydromulch is a major component of a rehabilitation plan that will cover areas that are mostly inaccessible by other ground-based methods or cannot be treated in a timely manner. The Forest Service selected this mixture because it is all organic and extremely safe for people, animals, and the environment. Guar gum may sound exotic, but it’s actually a plant substance commonly used as thickener in ice cream and other foods.
Flight hours will be from 8am to 4pm, seven days a week. A holiday break is planned from December 23 until December 27. Operations begin again on December 28. If the weather cooperates and there are no delays, operations should be completed during the first part of January. For more information, please click here and here.
Free Sand Bags for Lake Forest Residents
The areas of Lake Forest recently burned by the Santiago Fire are especially susceptible to flooding and landslides. In order to help residents protect their homes and properties, the City of Lake Forest has provided 500 empty sandbags and 10 yards of sand to Fire Station 42 (19150 Ridgeline Rd.). You will need to provide the labor (filling sandbags takes at least two people) and a shovel. The materials are free of charge to Lake Forest residents. For more information, please click here.
Prepare for Disaster Today
What can be learned from these recent fires to help us prepare for the next disaster? Here are some tips from Orange County Animal Care Services staff who worked day and night at the temporary shelters:
- Bring a carrier, leash, and collar with ID for each pet in your family
- Plan ahead for who will care for your pets if you are evacuated to a shelter (you will most likely have to do it in shifts).
- Bring toys to keep your pets occupied.
- Pack flea medicine in your emergency to-go kit.
- Make sure pets are up to date on vaccinations.
- Be prepared for extreme weather conditions.
Planning for a disaster does not have to be a disastrous undertaking. Remember that a positive, proactive approach is the best plan to make sure everyone and every pet stays calm, cool, and collected during an emotionally charged situation. Any disaster that threatens humans, threatens animals as well. Prepare your whole family for disaster! For more information, please click here.
|'TIS THE SEASON
Holiday Volunteer & Donation Opportunities
Adding one more gift to your shopping list can make holiday dreams come true for a needy child or teen, an impoverished senior citizen, or a low-income family. For a number of wonderful volunteer and donation opportunities available this holiday season, please click here.
Gifts of Christmas
The Toll Roads is partnering to collect toys for Camp Pendleton's Military Outreach Services, an organization that helps meet families' basic needs while their loved ones serve overseas.
Each year, they host a "Gifts of Christmas" event where base families have the opportunity to "shop" for gifts. Each family receives toys for their children and a basket of food. For information on suggested gift items and TCA locations to donate them, please click here.
Adopt A Christmas Bunny
During the entire month of December, Animal Care Services will be promoting rabbit adoptions by offering a plush rabbit toy with all rabbit adoptions. For information on how to find some bunny to love, please click here.
|FIFTH DISTRICT WRAP-UP
Fifth District Wrap-Up
Among my many meetings, briefings, and other supervisorial activities, I also:
- Met with the Dana Point Harbor Department Director to discuss various harbor issues
- Attended a Public Hearing in Ladera Ranch regarding the Margarita Energy Center
- Met with representatives of the Dana Point Lighthouse Society
- Met with advocates of the Aliso Creek Watershed Super Project to discuss potential funding sources for the project
- Adjourned Tuesday’s Board meeting in memory of Marilyn Hansson Montgomery
My office also:
- Attended the First Responders Appreciation Ceremony in Lake Forest to honor key emergency personnel who responded to the Santiago Fire
- Attended the Local Agency Formation Commission meeting
- Attended a meeting of the Bell Tower Foundation and toured the Bell Tower in Rancho Santa Margarita
- Attended a meeting of the Treasurer's Oversight Committee
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, and I wish you and your loved ones a very safe and joyous Holiday Season!