July 18, 2008
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. Board Bulletin Board
2. Transportation Information
3. Health Herald
4. Notes From The Field
5. Environmental Memos
6. South County Calendar
7. 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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|Board Bulletin Board
Sheriff Hutchens’ Audit of Jail Operations
In April, 2008, the District Attorney released the Investigative Report from the 2007 Special Grand Jury Inquiry into the Death of John Derek Chamberlain. The report identified several areas of concern related to the operation of the Orange County Jail System.
The Sheriff-Coroner Department took immediate action upon release of the report to respond to the most critical public safety issues. Upon being appointed, Sheriff Hutchens also promised a direct and thorough audit of jail operations to identify any other potential problem areas that could affect the safety and security of inmates, staff, and the residents of Orange County.
I supported Sheriff Hutchens’ request to hire Crout & Sida Criminal Justice Consultants. Crout & Sida conducted a comprehensive audit of Los Angeles County Jails in 2006 and I am confident in their expertise to review our jail operations. For more information, please click here.
Securing Orange County’s Water Supply
While the County of Orange has only a peripheral role in water supply, the Board of Supervisors recognizes its responsibility to ensure Orange County residents and businesses have the amenities that define our region: a safe environment, a healthy economy, and an excellent quality of life. Clearly, a secure local water supply is critical to all of these.
As you may be aware, Southern California imports most of its water from the Colorado River or the California Delta in northern California. Unfortunately, California has been unable to move forward with definitive actions in the California Delta for decades, although the problem has been well known. The recent State of Emergency Declarations underscore the need for immediate action as reduced water supplies will drive up the cost of water and food for California businesses and residents.
To emphasize Orange County’s concern, the Board of Supervisors will send a letter to Governor Schwarzenegger, strongly urging his support to fully fund the budget of the Department of Water Resources. This action will enable the State to take immediate action in preparing an environmental impact report to begin addressing long-term remedies to the State’s broken water supply infrastructure. The action will also promote interim measures to address and improve existing conditions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
The Board will also encourage the Governor to support installation of temporary rock barriers at strategic locations in the Delta to provide added protection to fish and wildlife in the area as well as enrich our water supplies. These actions are immediate and critical to our continued supply of safe drinking water. I will continue to update you as this issue progresses.
Preserving Orange County’s Prehistoric Artifacts
OC Parks staff will be negotiating an agreement with California State University in Fullerton to help manage, curate, preserve and display Orange County’s historical, cultural and scientific discoveries currently being stored in a County archaeological and paleontological warehouse. The County established the Archaeology and Paleontology (A/P) program in the late 1970s and early 1980s to address the preservation of cultural and scientific resources and sites.
Many fossils are jacketed and unprepared; however, more than 50% of the total collection has been prepared to the point of identification. Fossils include vertebrates, invertebrates and plants, which collectively span a 90 million-year geologic time interval (late Cretaceous-late Pleistocene).
Key elements of the collection are Miocene-early Pliocene marine mammal fossils, embracing a wide variety of cetaceans, including whales, dolphins, and porpoises; pinnipeds (marine carnivores), such as sea lions, fur seals, walruses, and the extinct imagotarians (ancestral walruses); and sirenians, including sea cows as well as impressive assemblage of desmostylians, an enigmatic extinct order of Miocene marine mammals. These extinct marine mammals have been poorly understood and recent discoveries in Orange County have raised many new questions.
The collection is of great interest to scientists outside the County and several experts are presently analyzing specimens on loan. The County collection is likely the largest and richest raw collection anywhere.
Improving Orange County’s Recycling Efforts
The County of Orange takes great pride in the regional leadership role we play in the many facets of local government. One particular area of great interest to me is our regional role in effectively managing our solid waste needs and enhancing our local recycling opportunities. Aside from preparing to launch a countywide public outreach campaign, the County provided cities with a grant to address a local recycling effort that posed the greatest challenge within their local jurisdiction.
The $1 million grant program is currently being implemented. This effort combined with many other exciting programs has helped the County increase its diversion activities by nearly 6% from the unincorporated areas alone. This is an outstanding achievement and I look forward to continuing to partner with our local cities and stakeholders as we continue our efforts to enhance recycling and reuse programs.
Quality Assurance Board for Institutional Health Services
In the past year, numerous concerns regarding Jail Medical Services in Orange County have been raised by members of the community and staff working within jail facilities. To address these concerns and increase coordination between Sheriff Jail Staff and Health Care Agency Staff, the Institutional Health Services Quality Assurance Board (IHSQAB) was created. The IHSQAB membership will consist of the following:
Semi-annual summaries of quality improvements will be forwarded to the Board of Supervisors, the CEO, the Sheriff, and the Director of the Health Care Agency.
- Two (2) physicians from the Orange County medical community
- One (1) Licensed Registered Nurse from the Orange County medical community
- One (1) physician working with a state or other county correctional institution
- The IHS Medical Director
- The HCA Emergency Medical Services Medical Director
- The Correctional Medical Services Director of Nursing
Virtual Aging and Disability Resource Center
CalOptima, the Orange County Office on Aging, and the Dayle McIntosh Center will work together to develop a "one-stop" system of providing information to assist older adults, persons with disabilities, and caregivers. This “one-stop” center will empower individuals to make informed choices about long-term services and support.
Public Hearing on the 241 Cancelled
The public hearing planned for July 25 at UC Irvine has been cancelled. I will provide additional details as they become available. For more information, please click here.
Honoring Marian Bergeson for Her Service to Orange County
The Honorable Marian Bergeson – as a teacher, former Orange County Supervisor, State Assembly Member, State Senator, Secretary of Education, and California Transportation Commissioner – has been a public servant to Orange County residents for over 30 years.
At Monday’s OCTA Board meeting, we recognized Marian upon her retirement from the California Transportation Commission for her dedication to preserving the quality of life in Orange County by advocating for a better education system, improved transportation infrastructure and a host of issues important to our taxpayers during her illustrious career in public service. Marian is the paradigm of servant leadership and a true representative of the people. Thank you, Marian, for your outstanding service!
South Orange County Major Investment Study
This week, after nearly two years of planning and study the Policy Advisory Committee for the South Orange County Major Investment Study (SOCMIS), which I Chair and includes representatives from every South County city, formally adopted our recommended Locally Preferred Strategy (LPS).
The goal of this study has been to develop a long-range, balanced transportation plan that includes varied solutions such as improved streets, roads and freeways; transit, commuter rail and express bus service.
The result of this technical and stakeholder-driven process is the LPS that will serve as the master plan for programming transportation projects for further environmental and engineering studies. Preparing “shelf ready” projects from these studies is crucial to South County’s eligibility to receive transportation dollars from the state and federal governments. The three outstanding projects, which are focused on expanding East-West corridor capacity are separate from the LPS and require further study.
The SOCMIS Policy Advisory Committee has done just that in recommending the Locally Preferred Strategy. This recommendation will be reviewed by OCTA’s Highways Committee and Board of Directors for final adoption with multiple opportunities for additional public input.
It is important that as a community we think regionally in terms of our transportation problems. We must work together in a collaborative approach and look at every possible alternative. Only through empirical studies and public discussion can we have proper evidence to move some alternatives forward and eliminate others as not feasible. Please click here for the presentation on the SOCMIS LPS.
Ladera Ranch Transportation Forum
On Tuesday, I joined the Ladera Ranch Transportation Club at a forum on current and future transportation issues. The forum gave members of the community an opportunity to engage in the planning process for the future of South Orange County’s transportation system. Attendees were presented with a transportation survey, which was conducted by the Ladera Ranch Transportation Club, highlighting participants’ interests, priorities and perceptions.
Additionally, the community received an update from OC Public Works on road improvement projects in the pipeline and on the drawing board, an update from the Transportation Corridor Agencies on the Foothill South 241 Extension, and the recently adopted Locally Preferred Strategy for the Orange County Transportation Authority’s South County Major Investment Study.
I want to thank Chuck Gibson, President of the Ladera Ranch Transportation Club, for hosting and coordinating this important forum. Please click here to view the Ladera Ranch Transportation Survey and here to view a photo taken at the forum.
Funding for Improvements at La Paz Road and the I-5
In January, the OCTA Board of Directors adopted the 2008 State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) list of recommended projects. The California Transportation Commission (CTC) adopted the final list of recommended projects for STIP at the end of May. I am pleased to report the CTC’s action confirms funding of $2.8 million towards a new safety and operations improvement project that will relieve congestion at the La Paz Road interchange on the Interstate 5 Freeway.
Report on Signal Synchronization Along Oso Parkway
The Oso Parkway/Pacific Park Drive Signal Synchronization Demonstration Project was developed to optimize traffic signal timings to reduce travel times, stops and delays along the 9-mile stretch of road running from Aliso Viejo through Laguna Niguel, Laguna Hills, Mission Viejo and parts of County unincorporated areas, ending in Rancho Santa Margarita.
This corridor connects people from SR-73 to the I-5 and SR-241 with 34 signal intersections and daily traffic volumes ranging from 17,000 to over 56,000 vehicles per day. I am pleased to note that “before” and “after” studies showed an improvement (reduction) of travel times by 20% during peak morning hours and 31% during peak evening hours. To view the full report, please click here.
Gateway Monument Signs
The OCTA Board approved the design concept for gateway monument signs that will be constructed at the County’s major highway entrances along our north, east and south borders. The design and construction of these signs are funded by Caltrans as part of their Gateway Monument Demonstration Program. While OCTA will be responsible for the maintenance of the signs initially, sponsorship under the “Adopt-A-Highway” program will be available toward the end of 2010 upon completion of the Interstate 5 Gateway freeway widening contract. For more information, please click here.
Replaceable Battery FasTrak Transponders
The Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) announced the Agencies will begin issuing FasTrak transponders with replaceable batteries instead of a model with non-replaceable batteries. The transponders currently in use need to be discarded when the battery wears out after about five years of use. TCA proactively mails new transponder units to customers before their batteries expire and customers send back their old transponders. By progressively phasing the old transponders out of circulation and introducing the new transponders, TCA can reduce future costs and waste without inconveniencing customers. For more information, please click here.
Record Number of Commuters Turning to Transit
Metrolink ridership in Orange County during June saw one of the largest single month increases over the last five years as more residents discover that taking the train is an ideal way to beat the high cost of gas. Metrolink ridership in June, 2008, was up 15.3 percent over June, 2007.
The three Metrolink lines that serve Orange County also saw a 7.3 percent increase in June as compared to the previous month. The latest numbers also show that mass transit use is not just for weekday commuters. Weekend Metrolink ridership was up 60 percent in June compared to June, 2007. In addition, Orange County Transportation Authority’s (OCTA) bus ridership increased in June by 1.6 percent compared to in 2007. For more information, please click here.
On-line Restaurant Inspection Information Enhanced
The Orange County Health Care Agency has enhanced the information about restaurant inspections available on the ocfoodinfo.com website, now offering access to an electronic version of the actual inspection report. The inspection report, available in portable document format (PDF), will allow the public to view specific information about any Health and Safety Code violations noted during the restaurant’s most recent inspection. Previously, on-line information was limited to general information about the category of violation.
Orange County Environmental Health, a division of the Health Care Agency’s Public Health Services, conducts regular inspections at a variety of food facilities, including restaurants, grocery stores and wholesale establishments that manufacture or distribute food products. Environmental Health also works closely with other Public Health staff to investigate reports of foodborne illness in the community. The goal of the Food Protection Program is to ensure that the food sold and served in Orange County is safe, wholesome, properly labeled and advertised, and produced under sanitary conditions. For more information, please click here.
First Human West Nile Virus Infections of 2008
Testing has confirmed the first two symptomatic West Nile Virus (WNV) cases in Orange County for 2008, bringing the total number of reported WNV human infections this year to four. For more information, please click here and here.
Information on mosquito control is available on the Orange County Vector Control District’s website at www.ocvcd.org. Other websites with helpful information about West Nile Virus include:
|Notes From The Field
Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park Celebrates Grand Reopening
As you will recall, the Santiago Fire burned more than 28,000 acres of land and more than 90% of Limestone Canyon and Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park last October. I’m pleased to announce that last Saturday, the wilderness park reopened to the public after suffering more than 4,000 acres of damage and more than $1 million in parkland restoration efforts. New signs, trail markers, bulletin boards and fencing were installed; and trails were enhanced to provide improved access and safety for park users.
I would like to thank the more than 200 mountain bikers and hikers who anxiously awaited the official ribbon cutting ceremony as well as OC Parks staff and the many volunteers who helped enhance and restore the precious natural resources within the park. OC Parks staff estimated more than 500 people shared the park on its initial day of reopening. For more information, please click here. To view photos of the occasion, please click here.
Wildfires: Let's Work Together to Prevent Them!
Dry, hot weather and Santa Ana winds are the prime ingredients for wildfires. Gentle winter rains that brought vibrant flowers and green hillsides also resulted in an explosion of mustard and other non-native plants, which have dried out and now pose a high risk of fire. Unfortunately, this year's short rainy season did little to reduce the effects from the prolonged drought in our region, and may have even added more fuel in the form of weeds. Northern California has already experienced over 800 fires due to dry conditions.
As a way to help prevent fires, the Irvine Ranch Conservancy in partnership with the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) is implementing a Fire Watch Program during extreme fire danger conditions. Hundreds of volunteers are stationed at strategic locations around the wildlands to deter arsonists and spot fires quickly. The newly formed partnership between the Irvine Ranch Conservancy and OCFA will address all aspects of wildland fires including fire prevention and public education.
As the Fire Season starts earlier and drags on longer each year, it is critical for land managers, homeowner’s associations and people living near wildlands to come together to prevent wildfires. If your HOA borders the wildlands and would like to partner in this cause, please contact Dave Raetz at (714) 508-4763. Fire prevention is a battle that can only be won together! For more information, please click here.
|South County Calendar
San Clemente Ocean Festival: "The Greatest Show on Surf"
The San Clemente Ocean Festival is a non-profit organization in partnership with the City of San Clemente. This two-day event is held annually and is dedicated to the promotion and support of ocean safety, the environment and the community by providing a quality athletic, cultural and enjoyable family event. "The Greatest Show on Surf" for 2008 will be held July 19-20. For more information, please click here.
|Fifth District Wrap-Up
In addition to my many meetings, briefings, and other supervisorial activities, I also:
My office also:
- Participated in a Ladera Ranch Transportation Forum on the South Orange County Major Investment Study and other critical transportation issues.
- Attended the South Orange County Regional Chambers of Commerce Installation Dinner to provide Certificates of Recognition in honor of their outgoing Chamber presidents.
- Delivered the keynote address at a meeting of the Orange County Association of Realtors.
My staff and I look forward to continually providing you updated information in our Fifth District Newsletter and website.
- Presented a Certificate of Recognition to the San Clemente Elks Lodge in honor of their 50th Anniversary Celebration.
- Attended a Laguna Niguel Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting ceremony to present a Certificate of Recognition in honor of California Style – Home Collection in Laguna Niguel.
- Attended a Mission Viejo Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting ceremony to present a Certificate of Recognition in honor of Play N Trade in Mission Viejo.
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!