NO Orange Heights | Protect Foothills from 1180 Homes in Wildlife Area

NO Orange Heights | Protect Foothills from 1180 Homes in Wildlife Area

August 28, 2023
Petition to
City of Orange Mayor Dan Slater and
Signatures: 355Next Goal: 500
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Why this petition matters

Started by Joel Robinson

In 2005, the Orange City Council approved the environmental impact report (EIR) for The Irvine Company's controversial 4100-home proposed development project in the rural foothills of Orange known as "Santiago Hills Phase II."  Since then, there have been multiple devastating wildfires in the area, extensive habitat loss due to other large scale developments, severe declines in local wildlife populations, massive increases in pollution and overwhelming traffic congestion. 

Now, 18 years later, The Irvine Company wants to build 1180 homes in the rural foothills of Orange, but they changed the name to “Orange Heights.”  They plan to grade the scenic hillsides and pave over a crucial wildlife corridor between Irvine Regional Park and Peter’s Canyon Regional Park which supports mountain lions, mule deer, bobcats, gray foxes, long-tailed weasels, white-tailed kites, coastal California gnatcatchers, coastal cactus wren, least Bell’s vireo, greater roadrunners, California quail, native pollinators and many other sensitive species.

Orange Heights Proposed Development Boundary Map

Since the environmental circumstances have drastically changed between 2005 and 2023 and new projects of this scale pose significant threats to the health and well being of Orange residents, our community is requesting that the Mayor and Orange City Council stop the proposed Orange Heights development project and require The Irvine Company to draft a new EIR to allow for an up-to-date assessment of the cumulative impacts and give the public an opportunity to provide comments.  Because of the rampant development of thousands of homes in the City of Irvine, The Irvine Company can afford to halt this project.  However, we cannot afford to lose more of our rural, wild and scenic open space to inappropriate urban sprawl.

As part of the democratic process, citizens deserve an opportunity to comment on the proposed project as it currently exists, especially since The Irvine Company is proposing something different than the original “Santiago Hills Phase II” and it will significantly impact our quality of life in perpetuity.  We never had an opportunity to comment on this new project known as "Orange Heights."  It is in the city's best interest to request a new EIR for the following reasons:

Irvine Regional Park Wildfire

Wildfire at Irvine Regional Park, ©leegamer, 2017

1) WILDFIRE - The proposed project puts people and property in harm’s way.  There have been multiple devastating fires in recent years.  Other similar proposed projects in Los Angeles and San Diego County have been stopped for this exact reason.  Even if the developer pays for a fire station, they won't pay for firefighters salaries or equipment in perpetuity, so the City will be on the hook for that (in which case property taxes will need to be increased).  Also, there is the issue of fire insurance, since many insurance companies are pulling out of CA and refusing to write new fire insurance policies when they come up for renewal. 

Orange Heights Tract Map

Orange Heights Tract Map (2023)

2) URBAN SPRAWL - The proposed project is further away from amenities and transit hubs, which increases traffic to and from.  This project contradicts the city's effort to develop sustainable infill projects that are near amenities and transit hubs, which are meant to reduce traffic to and from.  It also degrades the rural, wild and scenic viewshed for current residents and visitors to the canyons.  Light, noise, air and water pollution will increase exponentially at the proposed project site because it currently produces no pollution.  Even if The Irvine Company was proposing affordable housing, which it is not, the location is completely inappropriate and will exacerbate an already serious traffic congestion issue.

Mountain Lion

Mountain Lion from Trail Camera in Fremont Canyon, Irvine Ranch Conservancy

3) WILDLIFE CORRIDOR - Sensitive wildlife species, including mountain lion, mule deer, bobcat, white-tailed kite, northern harrier, long-tailed weasel, greater roadrunner, California quail, coastal California gnatcatcher, coastal cactus wren, least Bell's vireo, butterflies, bats and other species who require large amounts of contiguous undeveloped open space are heavily reliant upon this proposed project site as crucial habitat (food, shelter, cover and space for movement), especially because it is perfectly situated between Irvine Regional Park, Peter's Canyon and the Santa Ana Ana Mountain range.  Other large-scale developments (thousands of dwelling units) and the toll roads, have already decimated the populations of these sensitive species in Tustin, Anaheim Hills, Irvine, Lake Forest, Mission Viejo and San Juan Capistrano.  The open space that has been set aside cannot fully accommodate the species that are relying on the habitat at the proposed project site.

The Irvine Company is exploiting a rural gateway to the Santa Ana Mountains which is well documented as being a significant wildfire risk at the expense of wildlife, current residents and future residents purely for their own profit.  We are asking the Mayor and Orange City Council to stand up for our human and wildlife residents and require The Irvine Company to draft a new EIR.  At the very least, The Irvine Company owes us an updated EIR after 18 years of immense changes that have taken place throughout the city and the county.

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Signatures: 355Next Goal: 500
Support now