Header image with Photo of Supervisor Pat Bates. Followed by office information
April 13, 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. E. Coli Outbreak Update

2. Boards, Committees and Commissions

3. OCTA Expands Carpool Lanes

4. OCTA Public Hearing

5. 2006 Measure M Annual Progress Report

6. 2006 OCTA Annual Report

7. Transportation Corridor Agency Update

8. County Commuter Newsletter

9. Supreme Court Upholds Proposition 35

10. Is Your Teen at Risk?

11. Affordable Homeownership Opportunities

12. Weed Abatement Program Public Hearing

13. Orange County Great Park

14. 2006 Annual Ocean & Bay Water Quality Report

15. Wetlands Recovery Project Work Plan Update

16. Pacific Marine Mammal Center

17. The Grunion Are Runnin'

18. Pet Expo Returns to OC

19. San Juan Capistrano Earth Day Fair

20. Earth Day San Clemente

21. Laguna Beach Earth Day

22. Tip of the Day

23. Fifth District Wrap-up


Patti Gorczyca:
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 9
E. Coli Outbreak Update

There have been several developments in the Orange County Health Care Agency's (HCA) ongoing investigation of E. coli O157:H7 cases recently reported in South County.

There are now 15 confirmed E. coli cases associated with the Souplantation restaurant located in Foothill Ranch - 14 among restaurant customers and one employee case. All of the confirmed cases reported eating at the restaurant between March 23 and March 25. The E. coli strain is the same for all of the cases on which testing has been completed.

The Foothill Ranch restaurant voluntarily closed last Friday afternoon. But after a case involving a person who dined there on March 25 was confirmed late Friday last week, HCA Environmental Health suspended the restaurant's health permit to operate and is coordinating with restaurant representatives on necessary actions and steps to allow the facility to reopen. The restaurant will have to meet several conditions before reopening - including testing of all employees for E. coli infection.

Of the 14 customer cases, three people required hospitalization. HCA is continuing to analyze information on food items provided by both those who have reported illness and those who ate at the restaurant during the same time period and did not become ill. Each confirmed case adds new information to the analysis. The investigation into the source of the outbreak is continuing and may take weeks or even months to complete.

The strain of E. coli O157 in these cases, considered to be rare, is very different from the strain involved in the spinach situation several months ago and does not match anything previously reported in California. Looking back at County records, this appears to be the largest number of E. coli O157 cases related to a single outbreak in Orange County. In a multi-county incident in 2003, there were 12 cases associated with eating at the Orange County locations of a restaurant chain (Pat and Oscar's). Cases in that outbreak were also reported in San Diego and Riverside Counties.

Symptoms of infection with E. coli O157 can include diarrhea, including bloody or severe diarrhea, abdominal cramps and, in some cases, fever. The severity of symptoms can vary from individual to individual. Any individuals who have eaten at the Foothill Ranch Souplantation restaurant and have developed symptoms should contact their physician and Orange County Public Health Epidemiology at (714) 834-8525 (weekend) or (714) 834-8180 (weekdays). Health care providers should also immediately report confirmed or suspect cases of E. coli O157, hemolytic uremic syndrome or positive shiga toxin testing to Public Health Epidemiology.

In response to customer and public concerns, Souplantation has established a toll free telephone number to address customer concerns or questions. The Souplantation customer service number is (800) 328-7761.

Boards, Committees and Commissions

Last week I announced the appointment of the following individuals to represent the Fifth District on the County boards, committees and commissions listed below:

Craig Alexander - Assessment Appeals Board
Thomas T. Hammond - Public Financing Advisory Committee
Doris Walker-Smith - Orange County Historical Commission
J. Donald Tryon - Orange County Historical Commission

The County of Orange has a number of boards, committees and commissions to which members of the Board of Supervisors may appoint qualifying constituent applicants. To see a list of boards, committees and commissions and/or to download an application, please click here.

If you reside in the Fifth District and would like more information about applying for any County boards, committees and commissions, please contact Maria Lopez (714) 834-5113 at the Clerk of the Board's office.

OCTA Expands Carpool Lanes

On Monday this week, the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) Board of Directors approved broadening a program that is currently being tested on stretches of the Garden Grove (22) Freeway. Based on positive feedback from drivers using the system on the 22, commuters with at least one passenger in their vehicle will soon be able to utilize carpool lanes at any point under a plan to expand the continuous-access concept to all Orange County freeways. In addition, the carpool lanes would be open to solo drivers during non-peak hours after OCTA works out details with Caltrans and other agencies.

The 22 is presently the only freeway in Southern California that allows drivers to enter and exit carpool lanes at any point. The lanes, which are part of a pilot project on a stretch of the freeway, opened in December as part of a $550-million widening project. It is a system that's already in place on some Northern California freeways.

OCTA and Caltrans will implement the concept first on the 405, 91 and 57 Freeways. Converting lanes on parts of the 5 and 55 Freeways will come later.

The advantages of opening the lanes to solo drivers could maximize efficiency during off-peak hours; and enabling carpool users to traverse the lanes continuously could ease congestion and reduce air pollution by cutting down on traffic jams and idling vehicles.

OCTA Public Hearing

The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) Board of Directors will hold a public hearing at 9 AM, April 23 at the Orange County Transportation Authority, 550 South Main Street, Orange, CA. The public forum shall be for the purpose of considering improvements to the County's bus system. All interested parties are invited to submit, either orally or in writing, evidence and recommendations with respect to the effects of the proposed bus system improvements. For more information, please click here.

2006 Measure M Annual Progress Report

Orange County and its 34 cities received $280 million last year from Measure M - the half-cent transportation sales tax originally approved by voters in 1990 to improve transportation.

In South County - Edinger, Irvine Center Drive, Moulton Parkway and Golden Lantern are being converted to "Smart Streets" with more lanes, bus turnouts and coordinated signals to keep traffic moving.

In North County - construction began to eliminate the bottleneck on the Santa Ana Freeway (I-5) at the Los Angeles County line. New lanes opened on the Garden Grove Freeway (SR-22) to speed up trips through the heart of the county.

Of the total funds, nearly $62 million went to the County of Orange and its 34 cities to maintain streets and roads. These Measure M funds helped cities fill potholes and make drives smoother and safer.

To read the 2006 Measure M Annual Progress Report, please click here.

2006 OCTA Annual Report

The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) is proud to have played a part in the momentous changes taking place in our county. While OCTA has historically led the way for transportation improvements, 2006 was an especially remarkable year with a number of transportation firsts - including Orange County voters' overwhelming approval of the Renewed Measure M Transportation Investment Plan. OCTA is pleased to present these notable accomplishments in the 2006 OCTA Annual Report. To view the report, please click here.

Transportation Corridor Agency Update

At this week's meeting of the San Joaquin Hills and the Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency Finance and Operations Committees, the Committees received the second part of an update from the Joint Financial Options Ad Hoc Committee on its exploration of the debt financing options available to each agency. The Ad Hoc Committee has recommended that the boards explore the financial feasibility of a merger between the two agencies. To view the committee's first presentation given last week, please click here. To view, the committee's second presentation given this week, please click here.

County Commuter Newsletter

The County Commuter Newsletter is published by the Commuter Assistance Program Office managed by the Human Resources Department. Their mission is to distribute commuter information to all County of Orange employees so that they can make informed decisions about how they travel to work. Perhaps you will find the information provided in the newsletter useful as well. In this edition you will find:

  • Sound Off About Traffic In Orange County - Share your thoughts on how to improve the transportation challenges facing South Orange County.
  • New Carpool Connector and Park & Ride Lot - The latest information for making carpooling safer and more convenient.

To read the County Commuter Newsletter - Spring 2007, please click here.

Supreme Court Upholds Proposition 35

On Thursday, April 12, the California Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision upholding Proposition 35 - giving Caltrans the right to contract out. This is a major decision. Proposition 35 was enacted by the voters in November 2000. It expressly removed a constitutional restriction on the ability of government entities to contract with private firms for architectural and engineering services on public works projects.

PECG, the state engineers union, challenged Caltrans' interpretation of Proposition 35, which included issues related to the status of regulatory statutes enacted pre-Prop 35 and Caltrans' use of a pre-Prop 35 statutory procedure for selecting architectural and engineering contractors (the Little Brooks Act).

The court held that Proposition 35 did implicitly repeal the prior statutes regulating private contracting for architectural and engineering services by government agencies, but did not invalidate the prior procedure for selecting private contractors. This decision removes any question as to the legal authority of California governmental entities, especially Caltrans, to contract out for architectural and engineering services.

Is Your Teen at Risk?

Being a teenager can be difficult. Good kids eager to grow up sometimes fall in with the wrong crowd, are confronted with situations they don't know how to handle, or end up in the wrong place at the wrong time. And being a parent to a teenager can be equally as challenging.

Both teens and parents can find answers to important questions at an upcoming community forum called "Is Your Teen at Risk?" which will be held on April 30, from 6 to 8 p.m., at the Bell Tower Regional Community Center, 22232 El Paseo in Rancho Santa Margarita.

This forum will not only address the consequences of bad life choices such as alcohol, illegal drugs and street racing, but also introduce programs to help teens avoid needless risk and become productive adults. For more information, please click here and here, or call (949) 216-9700.

Affordable Homeownership Opportunities

Through their Foundation for Families program, Habitat for Humanity of Orange County is seeking families for affordable homeownership opportunities. If you are a legal resident of the United States, have a steady income between 30%-80% of the median income in Orange County, are credit worthy and willing to partner with Habitat for Humanity, you are invited to attend one of their homeownership opportunity orientations. For information about necessary qualifications for the homeownership opportunities, please click here. For information about orientation times and locations, please click here. For more information about Habitat for Humanity's Foundation for Families program, please click here.

Weed Abatement Program Public Hearing

On Tuesday, March 13, the Board of Supervisors approved a resolution to initiate the 2007 Weed Abatement Program and authorize a public hearing to be set for April 17, 2007, to consider any protests to removal of fire hazards by the County contractor.

The objective of the Weed Abatement Program is to provide a reasonable degree of fire safety to unincorporated areas of the County and to abate serious fire concerns. By encouraging residents, businesses, and other property owners of Orange County to take responsibility for the removal of hazardous vegetation, as well as the consistent use and maintenance of fuel and fire breaks in designated areas, we hope to keep the public safe from the ravages of wildfires such as the Laguna Firestorm of 1993. By closely examining how and why these devastating fires occur in the first place, we can be better prepared to avoid the loss of life and property that might otherwise occur.

For more information about the Orange County Weed Abatement Program, please click here.

Orange County Great Park

The Orange County Great Park will transform the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station into one of America's largest metropolitan parks. In early 2005, the Department of the Navy sold the land at the Marine Base, which covered six square miles, through an auction process. The winning bidder for the entire property was nationally respected land developer, Lennar. Later in 2005, Lennar signed a development agreement with the City of Irvine that transferred 1,316 acres of land back to public ownership-this is the land that will be transformed into the Orange County Great Park. Lennar will develop the remaining land around the Great Park into the Great Park Community.

An important element of the Great Park plan is to link many already-preserved lands into a continuous open space and wildlife corridor that will stretch from the Cleveland National Forest, through the Great Park, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, Crystal Cove State Park, and finally, all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Ecologically complex restored native habitats will be found in three major sections of the Park - the Wildlife Corridor, Agua Chinon, and the Canyon. Native plant communities will be found in other areas as well, including the Botanic Garden. The Wildlife Corridor, off limits to the general public, will be reserved for animal movement from the mountains to the sea, building a sustainable diversity across Orange County.

For more information about the Orange County Great Park, please visit www.OrangeCountyGreatPark.org.

2006 Annual Ocean & Bay Water Quality Report

The 2006 Annual Ocean and Bay Water Quality Report provides an analysis of bacteriological water quality data for the 112 miles of Orange County's ocean and bay waters for the years 2000 - 2006; and incorporates sewage spill and related ocean and bay water closure data from 1987 - 2006. To view the 2006 Annual Ocean and Bay Water Quality Report, please click here.

Wetlands Recovery Project Work Plan Update

The Southern California Wetlands Recovery Project (WRP) is requesting proposals for acquisition, restoration/enhancement, and planning projects for wetlands in the coastal watersheds of Southern California from Point Conception to the U.S.-Mexico Border. Project proposals must be postmarked by June 15, 2007. Projects selected for the WRP Work Plan become eligible for technical assistance from WRP Staff and for funding by WRP partner agencies. For more information, please click here or visit www.scwrp.org.

Pacific Marine Mammal Center

Marine mammals can rehabilitate in brand new, cleaner swimming pools, thanks to a recent renovation at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center (PMMC) located in Laguna Beach. On March 31, 2007, the animals at PMMC had a "Make A Splash" celebration as they were the first to use their luxurious new pool system.

The project replaced three rundown pool enclosures with four larger ones and added a filtration system, providing PMMC with the space necessary to help more animals. Community donors, foundations and city community assistance grants funded the center's renovations.

PMMC is a non-profit organization staffed by dedicated volunteers and funded by donations. Founder Jim Stauffer obtained a federal license to shelter the animals in his backyard until the center was established in the 1970's on Laguna Canyon Road. The new facility can now shelter up to 75 animals at once. PMMC rescues, treats, rehabilitates and releases stranded marine mammals. Staff is specially trained to recognize marine mammals suffering from infection, malnourishment and other distresses.

To see "before & after" photos of PMMC's recent renovation, please click here. PMMC is a fun and educational experience for the whole family! For hours of operation and directions to PMMC, please click here. For more information about the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, please visit www.PacificMMC.org.

The Grunion Are Runnin'

California Grunion are a species of marine fish found only along the coast of southern California and northern Baja California. They are justifiably famous for their unique spawning behavior. Shortly after high tide, on specific nights, sections of these beaches sometimes are covered with thousands of grunion dancing about on the sand. The popularity of these grunion runs means that some nights there are more people lining the beaches than grunion in the run.

In 2007, for the sixth year, citizen scientists will observe the California Grunion's intimate activities on beautiful sandy beaches during the most ideal times for viewing. Grunion Greeters observe small stretches of beach on nights of Grunion runs during peak spawning season from April through early June. Grunion runs occur at night, twice a month, after the highest tides associated with a full or new moon.

For information about the Grunion Greeter Project, please click here or visit www.Grunion.org.

Pet Expo Returns to OC

Skate-boarding pigs, hoop-jumping dogs, and a visit from dog behavior specialist Cesar Milan, star of the National Geographic Channel's Emmy-nominated TV show, "The Dog Whisperer", are all part of the 18th Annual America's Family Pet Expo, the world's largest consumer pet show. This fun-filled, family-friendly event presents more than 1,000 animals in stage shows, competitions and demonstrations. The Pet Expo returns to the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (April 13, 14 and 15) from 10 AM to 6 PM. For more information, please click here or visit www.PetExpoOC.com.

San Juan Capistrano Earth Day Fair

San Juan Capistrano's 6th Annual Earth Day Fair continues to be a regional public education and outreach effort to inform and educate the public in ways to protect and preserve the environment. Fun for all ages, this fair is made interesting for kids due to the attendance of many students from the 5 schools that are in close proximity to the community center. Exhibitors this year include the Dana Point Ocean Institute, Mission San Juan Capistrano, Sempra Utilities, CalTrans, Earth Resources Foundation, County of Orange IWMD, and many others. There will be many hands-on displays and plenty of free information and giveaways. The San Juan Capistrano Earth Day Fair will be held on Thursday, April 19, from 9 AM to 3:30 PM at the San Juan Capistrano Community Center Gymnasium. To view the Earth Day Fair flyer, please click here. For information about this year's Earth Day Fair speakers, please click here.

Earth Day San Clemente

Earth Day San Clemente - presented by the City of San Clemente and the Watershed Task Force - will be held on Saturday, April 21, 10 AM to 2 PM. Bring the family down for a day of fun to celebrate Earth Day. The event will be held at Parque Del Mar, overlooking the beach and the pier. Enjoy live entertainment, demonstrations, children's activities, as well as free samples of Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and a Recycle Art Contest for kids 5 - 17. First Prize will be an IPod Nano. For more information, please visit http://scwatersheds.com/events.htm. To volunteer or sponsor this event, please email info@scwatersheds.com or call (949) 366-2326.

Laguna Beach Earth Day

Laguna Beach's 2nd Annual "Earth Day" Beach Cleanup / Music & Art Celebration will be held on April 21. The Earth Day Beach Clean Up efforts will take place from 8 AM to 11 AM at Main Beach and Aliso Beach. This event will also feature fun and creative ideas and contests for both kids and adults from 11 AM to 3 PM. For more information, please click here or call (949) 281-6850.

Tip of the Day

Have your car maintained regularly to prevent oil, antifreeze and other fluid leaks. Please remember, the ocean begins at your front door!

fifth District Wrap-up

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 comments or questions at (714) 834-3550.

It is an honor and a privilege to serve as your Supervisor for Orange County's beautiful Fifth District. Thank you so much for your support!