Renewed push near airport
New county Supervisor John Moorlach wants to get moving on delayed projects for Santa Ana Heights.
By JEFF OVERLEY
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
SANTA ANA HEIGHTS – Years of frustration might be winding down for inhabitants of this equestrian enclave near John Wayne Airport, as county leaders try to kick-start millions of dollars' worth of long-stalled projects.
The 200-acre community, divided into eastern and western swaths, is part of a redevelopment area created in 1986. Local taxes go into the redevelopment fund, with part of the proceeds devoted to special projects intended to offset "blight" caused by noisy jets departing overhead.
The fund has produced several accomplishments, including acoustical insulation of homes and roadway upgrades. But numerous projects have languished, victims of political opposition to redevelopment, which some elected officials believe saps government coffers to benefit a select few.
Newly elected Supervisor John Moorlach is trying to revive the redevelopment fund, which county staff members at one point last year suggested eliminating altogether. Along with his chief of staff, Mario Mainero, Moorlach has devised a rapid timeline to pave roads, spruce up parks and uproot power poles.
"As a representative of the county, it's a little embarrassing we haven't been doing this sooner," Moorlach said.
Notably, Moorlach has won support for some, but not all, of the projects from fellow Supervisor Chris Norby, who has long chronicled perceived abuses of redevelopment.
"Whatever projects have been committed by the board, whether I've supported them or not, we want to finish them," Norby said in an interview.
In addition, Norby said he might support shifting money from a defunct community center concept to a fire station that's being built at a higher-than-expected cost.
"I'm delighted that there's finally some movement. It's a long time coming," said Barbara Venezia, who heads an advisory group in Santa Ana Heights. "A lot of these projects are really ready to go, and I hope the board will support them."
Here's the timeline proposed by Supervisor John Moorlach's office for work on long-delayed projects in Santa Ana Heights. All work requires approval by the Board of Supervisors.
•Widen Irvine Avenue, $5.9 million. Solicit construction bids in June.
•Pave dirt road (Kline Drive), $600,000. Finish by fall 2008.
•Construct 1,200-foot sidewalk along Bristol Street and make other visual improvements, $490,000. Solicit construction bids in June.
•Add equipment at Orchard Drive Park, $185,000. Award contract in July.
•Build three-ring equestrian arena, $175,000. Finish by fall.
•Remove power poles along Mesa Drive and Cypress Street, $7.5 million. Timeline uncertain.
•Build park at Mesa Drive and Birch Street, at least $378,000. Timeline uncertain.
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MC in LF