Louis Casiano

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Nixon Library exhibit tells stories of Vietnamese experiences after the fighting

Hung Viet Nguyen tried several times to flee Vietnam before finally squeezing onto a boat six years after the fall of Saigon.

In 1981, he joined 25 strangers for a seven-day voyage to the Philippines to escape what he describes as an oppressive Communist regime.

The then 24-year-old Nguyen guided the packed vessel using nothing but a compass as he attempted to flag passing ships for help. A Taiwanese fishing boat finally stopped, giving Nguyen and the other passengers water and guiding them the rest of the way.

  • Personal pictures are among the items on display at “VIET STORIES: Recollections & Regenerations” exhibit at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, Apr 18, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Personal pictures are among the items on display at “VIET STORIES: Recollections & Regenerations” exhibit at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, Apr 18, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Personal pictures are among the items on display at “VIET STORIES: Recollections & Regenerations” exhibit at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, Apr 18, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Personal pictures are among the items on display at “VIET STORIES: Recollections & Regenerations” exhibit at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, Apr 18, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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  • Detail on an immigration letter on display at “VIET STORIES: Recollections & Regenerations” exhibit at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, Apr 18, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Detail on an immigration letter on display at “VIET STORIES: Recollections & Regenerations” exhibit at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, Apr 18, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • VIET STORIES: Recollections & Regenerations exhibit at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, Apr 18, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    VIET STORIES: Recollections & Regenerations exhibit at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, Apr 18, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Personal pictures are among the items on display at “VIET STORIES: Recollections & Regenerations” exhibit at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, Apr 18, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Personal pictures are among the items on display at “VIET STORIES: Recollections & Regenerations” exhibit at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, Apr 18, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Sculpture titles, “Survivor #2” on display at “VIET STORIES: Recollections & Regenerations” exhibit at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, Apr 18, 2018. The sculpture, by artist Long Nguyen, was inspired by. “the suffering and the will to endure of all refugees” (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Sculpture titles, “Survivor #2” on display at “VIET STORIES: Recollections & Regenerations” exhibit at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, Apr 18, 2018. The sculpture, by artist Long Nguyen, was inspired by. “the suffering and the will to endure of all refugees” (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Refugee documents on display at “VIET STORIES: Recollections & Regenerations” exhibit at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, Apr 18, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Refugee documents on display at “VIET STORIES: Recollections & Regenerations” exhibit at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, Apr 18, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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Nguyen, 62, of Torrance, documented the trip through sketches to preserve the memory of his journey.

“I really don’t express my feelings by talking,” Nguyen said. “It was just to remember one of the very important stages of my life, because that changed my life.”

The drawings, along with a refugee camp ID card and receipts for a paid trip to America, are on display as part of “VIET STORIES: Recollection & Regenerations,” an exhibition at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library & Museum that focuses on America’s Vietnamese population following the end of Nixon’s presidency.

At the Yorba Linda museum, the past and present of Vietnamese refugees and immigrants are told though personal artifacts, oral history interviews, artwork and photographs.

Some of the displayed items include travel documents, clothes and the pieces of luggage many refugees arrived with.

In America, stories about Vietnam usually center on the Vietnam War, often omitting the experiences of those who lived the conflict before and after U.S. intervention, said Linda Vo, an Asian-American studies professor at UC Irvine and co-curator of the exhibit.

“It’s about Vietnamese-Americans, who they were in Vietnam and what happened to them during the war and what’s happened to them since,” Vo said. “People have some perception of Vietnam and the Vietnamese people, but often times it’s a very negative perception or it’s just associated with war.”

From an immigrant perspective, the Vietnamese experience is often overlooked in favor of other immigrant groups, said Olivia Anastasiadis, the supervisory museum curator for the Nixon Library.

“There’s other exhibits about immigrants, but I hadn’t seen any about the Vietnamese and the struggle that they went through,” she said. “The Nixon Library tells the story of the Vietnam War, we go through the entire struggle that Richard Nixon went through in bringing peace to the nation, but we never talk about what happened after.”

Taryn Rose was 7-years-old when she and her family packed what they could and fled South Vietnam in 1975, days before North Vietnamese military forces captured Saigon.

“I remember the night before we left, writing messages on the walls of our house so that if relatives came looking for us they would know that we had left,” Rose said.

After making their way to Arkansas, the family moved around before settling in Anaheim Hills. A graduate of UC Irvine, Rose, 51, now a resident of Beverly Hills, practiced medicine as an orthopedic surgeon before diving into the fashion industry and creating a shoe line.

Several shoes designed by Rose are displayed next to family photographs donated for the exhibit.

Photos of Minh Ho, 72, of Garden Grove, show him working for a telecommunication company in Anaheim. Ho raised his children and nephew as a single father while attending Fullerton College after his arrival in Orange County.

“I took any job when I arrived here,” Ho said.

A family portrait of his wife and four children and a nephew sit in an enclosed glass case.

His wife and two children stayed in Vietnam. His wife died several years later, but Ho was reunited with his remaining children in 1991.

Mentioned in the exhibit are Vietnamese-Americans working in industries such as film, art, politics and business.

“I think these stories give a human face to the war,” Rose said.

The exhibit also touches on the resistance some of the immigrants faced in their new communities.

In a June 1981 press release displayed in the exhibit, Westminster Mayor Kathy Buchoz stated her support for Vietnamese residents and businesses after the City Council received a petition with 100 signatures asking that business licenses be denied to any “Indochinese refugee” wishing to operate in a certain part of town.

“My personal opinion is that the petition was unconstitutional and discriminatory,” the release stated. “The circumstances that led to their seeking a new life in America were not unlike yours.”

More than 9,000 Vietnamese businesses have been counted in the Garden Grove and Westminster – part of Orange County’s Little Saigon – and residents of Vietnamese origin number more than 188,000 in Orange County.

Prominent Orange County business leader Frank Jao and his Bridgecreek Group have invested $400 million into local shopping centers, including the two-story Asian Garden Mall in Little Saigon.

Jao escaped Saigon on the second-to-last American transport plane, as those fleeing were being fired upon by Communists machine gunners.

The Nixon Library exhibit is as much for the public at-large as it is for second and third generations of Vietnamese-Americans who may not know or understand the struggles of their parents and grandparents, Jao said.

“This is giving some guidance of where the first generation came from and what they had to go through,” he said.

Viet Stories will be on display through May 28.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/05/04/nixon-library-exhibit-tells-stories-of-vietnamese-experiences-after-the-fighting/

Digital map of Anaheim High School would give law enforcement a quick guide to the campus in case of an active shooter or emergency

In the midst of the debate over access to firearms following a mass shooting at a Florida high school, Anaheim High School is the first school in the nation, officials said, to be mapped digitally to help first responders cut response times in an emergency and, hopefully, save lives.

In the event of an active shooter or barricaded suspect on school grounds, law enforcement can access the software for a panoramic virtual tour of every corner of the campus, said David Sobel, founder of The Sobel Group, the San Diego-based firm that developed the system.

Officers are now working with site plans and maps – sometimes outdated – that show where buildings are located, but not what it looks like inside, he said. And, it can take officers up to a half-hour to get that information.

“That knowledge is key,” Sobel said at a Tuesday, May 1, press conference at Anaheim High to unveil the system. “They’re able to retrieve this in a matter of seconds.”

Anaheim High School is the largest and oldest high school in the Anaheim Union High School District with an enrollment of 3,100, making it the perfect testing ground for the new technology, Superintendent Michael Matsuda said.

Sobel’s firm took nearly 16,000 photographs of every nook and cranny of the school campus – including closets – which was then uploaded into the mapping software.

New images would be taken of any changes to the exterior and interior, such as new or removed doors, rooms or added structures.

Accompanying the images will be floorplans, ariel maps and site plans, which officers can view on mobile devices and computers.

From a screen, first responders will be able to check for hazardous materials in science classrooms, where to cut off utilities and what kind of hinges and locks are on doors should they need to be broken down.

Matsuda said the Columbine High School shooting in 1999 could have ended differently had police had access to that type of intelligence.

“SWAT teams searched for the library where the majority of the students were killed, but they were searching on the wrong end of the school building, unaware that a new name had recently been added,” he said. “The sophistication of active shooters have only gotten better. But now, with this new technology, we can take back some of that advantage.”

The mapping system will be stored in a server at the Anaheim Police Department.

Anaheim Deputy Police Chief Mark Cyprien said the system is akin to “taking the blindfold off” of police responders.

“Knowing what they’re walking into and knowing the layout of the plan and knowing images is exponentially a game changer,” he said.

The response from law enforcement has changed since Columbine and the 2007 Virginia Tech mass shootings from staging nearby and waiting until sufficient resources arrive to putting first responders in harms way to immediately stop the attack, Sobel said.

“SWAT teams need intelligence,” he said. “Yes, they are paid to go into the unknown, but I want them to have more knowledge about what they are walking into, as that knowledge can ultimately save their lives and the lives of innocent people.”

The mapping software for Anaheim High is costing the district $25,000, Matsuda said. There aren’t plans for other school sites at this time, he said. And, for Anaheim Union schools in cities outside Anaheim, a joint decision with their respective police agencies would have to be made, he said.

In addition to Anaheim High, Sobel is digitally mapping the North Orange Continuing Education campus in Anaheim, which contains classroom space for more than 10,000 students and all the administrative offices of the North Orange County Community College District.

Sobel, a retired police officer from San Diego County, said he is also working with several San Diego County school districts interested in the software, adding that digital mapping could also be used for public and private businesses.

Though there has never been a major incident on campus, Anaheim High School conducts evacuation and other drills at least once a semester and school resource officers are assigned to schools in the district, Principal Robert Saldivar said.

In March, the school was placed on lockdown as authorities investigated gunshots reported near the school.

The spate of school shootings in recent years has put added pressure for educational leaders to prioritize safety.

“There’s definitely a pressure, but not in a bad way,” Saldivar said.” We want to make sure that we’re doing all we can.”

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/05/01/digital-map-of-anaheim-high-school-would-give-law-enforcement-a-quick-guide-to-the-campus-in-case-of-an-active-shooter-or-emergency/

Anaheim appoints award-winning local poet as its first poet laureate

Anaheim is known, among other things, for its sports and entertainment, but now city officials want to add the spoken word to that list.

The city recently appointed its first poet laureate to coincide with National Poetry Month.

West Anaheim resident and award-winning poet and writer Grant Hier will be tasked with raising the consciousness of reading and writing poetry through at least two free public workshops, two public readings and two community events.

Hier regularly attends poetry readings in the city – most recently at an Anaheim library event this month that drew 60 guests of all ages who read and recited poems, he said.

“This is stuff that I’ve already been doing, and this is, to me, a platform to do it on a broader scale,” Hier said of the two-year, unpaid honorary position. “Reading and writing poetry gives you other perspectives and helps us understand and see our connectedness.”

A poet laureate is the official poet appointed by a government or institution and is typically expected to write poems for special events throughout their term. Other cities such as Los Angeles and Laguna Beach have their own.

Robert Frost was once appointed as the U.S. poet laureate.

Carol Latham, the community outreach coordinator for the Muzeo Museum and Cultural Center, pitched the idea of a poet laureate after organizing a poetry event at the museum.

“It’s a way of bringing the community together,” Latham said. “A city this size should have one.”

As an accomplished writer, Hier is the recipient of the 2014 Prize Americana award for “Untended Garden (Histories and Reinhabitation in Suburbia),” a book-length poem that explores the history and culture of Southern California. The book took him two decades to complete.

His poetry has been included in “Orange County: A Literary Field Guide” and the fiction piece “LA Fiction Anthology: Southland Stories.” More of his work has been widely published.

“Being a lover of literature, and lover of reading, and constantly writing, is something I always did,” Hier said. “It helped me see the world and understand the world.”

As a child, Hier’s father and grandfather routinely recited poetry, he said. His favorite poem is “Song of Myself” by Walt Whitman.

In 2017, Hier said he challenged himself to write an original poem each day for a year. Each Saturday, Louie Perez, a close friend and member of the rock band Los Lobos, and Hier text each other an original poem, Hier said.

Hier said he envisions exposing residents to poetry who otherwise might “not have the opportunity that people in other places have.”

Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait said he wasn’t sure if Anaheim is home to a significant number of poets, but feels the city’s diverse population makes it “ripe to have a scene.”

“It’s about giving access to this great artform that sometimes gets overlooked,” Tait said. “I think it’s an area alot of people are rediscovering.”

Hier and other poets will appear at a free poetry event at 6 p.m. tonight, April 26, at the Anaheim Central Library, 500 W. Broadway.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/04/25/anaheim-appoints-award-winning-local-poet-as-its-first-poet-laureate/

‘Quality of lifeu2019 deputy of to address homelessness in Mission Viejo

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department recently created a position tasked with addressing everyday issues related to homelessness, recovery and people’s needs in Mission Viejo, a move that comes as the county grapples with how to provide shelter for hundreds of people recently displaced from the Santa Ana River Trail.

In her new role as Quality of Life deputy for the city, Dana Chaney will tackle everything from illegally erected tents to nuisance complaints on sober-living facilities.

The city is not a hotbed for homelessness, Chaney said, but the sheriff’s department does receive calls from residents complaining of homeless people on benches or near creeks.

Just over a month into the job and still learning the ropes, Chaney said her goal is to connect the homeless people living in the city with much-needed services.

The problem of whether someone chooses to receive social services sometimes boils down to geography, she said.

“If we separate North County and South County, what we find in dealing with homelessness issues is accessibility,” Chaney said. “It’s not having resources that are close by.”

She’s already recommended a nonprofit to one man she recently met on the street, she said.

In addition, Chaney plans to patrol the city – in a police car and on bicycle for parks and trails – to engage with the homeless.

“It’s going to take time to establish a relationship,” she said.

The position differs from homeless liaison officers found in other cities, in that Chaney will also focus on other issues such as day laborer’s searching for work and homes with a history of city code violations.

The city will benefit through having a deputy trained to engage with the homeless, said Mayor Ed Sachs, adding that other cities must do their part in addressing the problem.

“Beyond the county dealing with it, cities need to take more responsibility in understanding how to help and how to manage these sorts of things,” he said.

In February, the county evicted hundreds living along the riverbed in Anaheim and Orange. Many were moved into motels with vouchers that have begun to expire.

Sachs said he doesn’t expect to see a large influx of homeless make their way toward his city because there tends to be a preference to gather in large numbers – harder to do in south county given its lack of urban centers and more limited access to public transportation.

For several years, Chaney worked in the Collaborative Courts program – also known as problem solving courts – dealing with adult and juvenile drug use, homelessness outreach, mental health, truancy and veterans issues.

Now she joins the ranks of city officials addressing those issues on the streets. Santa Ana recently created a quality of life team with up to eight city employees to respond to code violations and offer services to its large homeless population. Costa Mesa partners with nonprofits and local church groups to help those living on its streets.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/04/11/quality-of-life-deputy-of-to-address-homelessness-in-mission-viejo/

Vietnam War vets celebrated in homecoming ceremony decades after their return

It came many years late, but dozens of Vietnam veterans gathered in Anaheim on March 29 to receive the homecoming they felt they had been denied when they returned home from war decades ago.

In the Savanna High School auditorium, American veterans stood alongside their South Vietnamese counterparts to receive commemorative pins acknowledging their service.

  • American and South Vietnamese vets gather for homecoming decades after war. Students and community members lined the walkway into the ceremony to cheer them and give thanks. (Courtesy of Janet Brown)

    American and South Vietnamese vets gather for homecoming decades after war. Students and community members lined the walkway into the ceremony to cheer them and give thanks. (Courtesy of Janet Brown)

  • Vietnam War veterans get a homecoming reception at Savanna High as part of a Vietnam Veterans Commemorative Project ceremony. (Courtesy of Congressman Lou Correa’s office)

    Vietnam War veterans get a homecoming reception at Savanna High as part of a Vietnam Veterans Commemorative Project ceremony. (Courtesy of Congressman Lou Correa’s office)

  • Daniel Little, in front, and other American and South Vietnamese veterans of the Vietnam War get a homecoming reception from students and community members at Savanna High. (Courtesy of Congressman Lou Correa’s office)

    Daniel Little, in front, and other American and South Vietnamese veterans of the Vietnam War get a homecoming reception from students and community members at Savanna High. (Courtesy of Congressman Lou Correa’s office)

  • Dozens of Vietnam War veterans enter Savanna High’s auditorium for a homecoming ceremony to recognize their service. (Courtesy of Congressman Lou Correa’s office)

    Dozens of Vietnam War veterans enter Savanna High’s auditorium for a homecoming ceremony to recognize their service. (Courtesy of Congressman Lou Correa’s office)

  • South Vietnamese veterans were among those honored for their service in the Vietnam War. (Courtesy of Congressman Lou Correa’s office)

    South Vietnamese veterans were among those honored for their service in the Vietnam War. (Courtesy of Congressman Lou Correa’s office)

  • Girl Scouts help give Vietnam War veterans the homecoming reception they didn’t always receive when they first returned home from fighting. (Courtesy of Congressman Lou Correa’s office)

    Girl Scouts help give Vietnam War veterans the homecoming reception they didn’t always receive when they first returned home from fighting. (Courtesy of Congressman Lou Correa’s office)

  • Savanna High students join in the applause for Vietnam War veterans at a ceremony March 29 on the campus. (Courtesy of Congressman Lou Correa’s office)

    Savanna High students join in the applause for Vietnam War veterans at a ceremony March 29 on the campus. (Courtesy of Congressman Lou Correa’s office)

  • Girl Scouts help give Vietnam War veterans the homecoming reception they didn’t always receive when they first returned home from fighting. (Courtesy of Congressman Lou Correa’s office)

    Girl Scouts help give Vietnam War veterans the homecoming reception they didn’t always receive when they first returned home from fighting. (Courtesy of Congressman Lou Correa’s office)

  • A pinning ceremony is held by Congressman Lou Correa for American and South Vietnamese veterans in honor of their war-time service. (Courtesy of Congressman Lou Correa’s office)

    A pinning ceremony is held by Congressman Lou Correa for American and South Vietnamese veterans in honor of their war-time service. (Courtesy of Congressman Lou Correa’s office)

  • A pinning ceremony is held by Congressman Lou Correa for American and South Vietnamese veterans in honor of their war-time service. (Courtesy of Congressman Lou Correa’s office)

    A pinning ceremony is held by Congressman Lou Correa for American and South Vietnamese veterans in honor of their war-time service. (Courtesy of Congressman Lou Correa’s office)

  • Vietnam War veteran Chick Adams, who served with the Army, receives a thank you note and cookies from local Girl Scouts. (Courtesy of Congressman Lou Correa’s office)

    Vietnam War veteran Chick Adams, who served with the Army, receives a thank you note and cookies from local Girl Scouts. (Courtesy of Congressman Lou Correa’s office)

  • Alexander Balderrama, who was a sergeant in the Army, shows a special recognition received from Congressman Lou Correa honoring their “selfless service to our nation”€ while serving during the Vietnam War. (Courtesy of Congressman Lou Correa’s office)

    Alexander Balderrama, who was a sergeant in the Army, shows a special recognition received from Congressman Lou Correa honoring their “selfless service to our nation”€ while serving during the Vietnam War. (Courtesy of Congressman Lou Correa’s office)

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The gathering was organized by Rep. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana, as part of the Vietnam Veterans Commemorative Project. The Department of Defense program aims to celebrate those who served in the Vietnam War – Americas and their allies – through ceremonies highlighting their service.

“We should have never, ever, gave you anything but the best reception we could give heroes of war,” Correa told the crowd.

The vets began the event with a short walk from a school building to the auditorium. This time there was no being spat upon, no dirty looks and no scornful comments many said they received upon returning home from the unpopular war.

Instead, they were greeted by students, Girl Scouts, a grateful public waving flags and holding hand-made signs. The Savanna marching band played.

Vietnam veteran and pastor Frank Orzio, a two-time Purple Heart recipient who was shot 13 times, gave the invocation.

Among the honored was Savanna alum Gunther Schreiner, 68, deployed to Vietnam in 1970 with the 101st Airborne Division and was stationed in Danang, which saw more than its share of bloodshed.

While on a airplane for his return to the U.S., the Anaheim resident said he had a chance encounter with the musicians Ike and Tina Turner.

“They were the only people on the plane who congratulated me on my service,” Schreiner said. “That was really frustrating.”

Nowadays, Schreiner said he receives more recognition when he wears his “Vietnam Veterans” T-shirt than he ever did in the years following the war’s end.

Several South Vietnamese veterans – many wearing combat uniforms and the flag pin of their former homeland – were also honored for their service in fighting alongside U.S. troops.

Although the public now recognizes American veterans of the war, South Vietnamese veterans have yet to receive the same accolades, said Khue Nguyen.

“It’s taken a long time to be recognized and appreciated, especially by Congress,” Nguyen said through a translator. “It’s very touching to see everybody sitting down together to celebrate this.”

Nyugen, of El Monte, said he served as a captain in a Ranger regiment and fought alongside American troops. Once Vietnam was unified, he was imprisoned in a Communist concentration camp for 10 years before he made his way to the U.S., he said.

For years after serving in the Navy, Flavio Traslavina, 71, said he never admitted to serving in Vietnam because of the negative treatment he received.

“We didn’t get closure,” he said.

Only after a long period of indifference and reflection, has the public come to appreciate its Vietnam veterans.

In addition to respect, returning veterans should have received a parade and been given access to proper health care, education and jobs, Correa said.

“As country… we made a mistake,” he said. “We sinned a great sin with what we did to our Vietnam War vets.”

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/04/02/vietnam-war-vets-celebrated-in-homecoming-ceremony-decades-after-their-return/

Worshippers gather before dawn atop a hill to celebrate Easter in Anaheim

Worshippers hiked up a hill near the Kindred Community Church in Anaheim Hills amid darkness and cold temperatures on Sunday, April 1 for the congregation’s Easter sunrise service.

As a giant, lit cross stood against the rising sun, around 1,200 people wearing coats and blankets to stay warm sang songs praising Jesus Christ, with sporadic shouts of “Alleluia.”

  • Worshippers at Kindred Community Church gather at a hilltop cross after Easter Sunday services in Anaheim Hills on Sunday, April 1, 2018.(Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Worshippers at Kindred Community Church gather at a hilltop cross after Easter Sunday services in Anaheim Hills on Sunday, April 1, 2018.(Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • A shaft of light illuminates worshippers during Kindred Community Church’s sunrise services in Anaheim Hills on April 1, 2018. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    A shaft of light illuminates worshippers during Kindred Community Church’s sunrise services in Anaheim Hills on April 1, 2018. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Thomas Purtell takes part at Kindred Community Church’s Easter Sunday sunrise service in Anaheim Hills on April 1, 2018. “I love the natural parallel of the sun rising and Jesus the son rising,” he said. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Thomas Purtell takes part at Kindred Community Church’s Easter Sunday sunrise service in Anaheim Hills on April 1, 2018. “I love the natural parallel of the sun rising and Jesus the son rising,” he said. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Worshippers look up at the cross as they make their way up a hill for Easter Sunday sunrise services. They were at Kindred Community Church in Anaheim Hills on April 1, 2018. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Worshippers look up at the cross as they make their way up a hill for Easter Sunday sunrise services. They were at Kindred Community Church in Anaheim Hills on April 1, 2018. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Matt Greenwood embraces his sons Shane, 3, left, and Drake, 6, during Easter Sunday sunrise services at Kindred Community Church in Anaheim Hills on April 1, 2018. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Matt Greenwood embraces his sons Shane, 3, left, and Drake, 6, during Easter Sunday sunrise services at Kindred Community Church in Anaheim Hills on April 1, 2018. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Elijah Ramirez, 15, is famed in a burned out tree as he arrives for Easter Sunday services at Kindred Community Church in Anaheim Hills on April 1, 2018. The church recently survived the Canyon Fire 2 last October. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Elijah Ramirez, 15, is famed in a burned out tree as he arrives for Easter Sunday services at Kindred Community Church in Anaheim Hills on April 1, 2018. The church recently survived the Canyon Fire 2 last October. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Kindred Community Church in Anaheim Hills holds its annual Easter Sunrise service on April 1, 2018.(Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Kindred Community Church in Anaheim Hills holds its annual Easter Sunrise service on April 1, 2018.(Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Several hundred worshippers take part in Kindred Community Church’s annual Easter Sunrise services in Anaheim Hills on April 1, 2018.(Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Several hundred worshippers take part in Kindred Community Church’s annual Easter Sunrise services in Anaheim Hills on April 1, 2018.(Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Several hundred worshippers take part in Kindred Community Church’s annual Easter Sunrise services in Anaheim Hills on April 1, 2018. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Several hundred worshippers take part in Kindred Community Church’s annual Easter Sunrise services in Anaheim Hills on April 1, 2018. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Several hundred worshippers, including bundled children, take part in Kindred Community Church’s annual Easter Sunrise services in Anaheim Hills on April 1, 2018.(Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Several hundred worshippers, including bundled children, take part in Kindred Community Church’s annual Easter Sunrise services in Anaheim Hills on April 1, 2018.(Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Philip De Courcy, senior pastor of Kindred Community Church in Anaheim Hills, leads the Easter Sunday sunrise service on April 1, 2018. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Philip De Courcy, senior pastor of Kindred Community Church in Anaheim Hills, leads the Easter Sunday sunrise service on April 1, 2018. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Phil Seifert, a deacon at Kindred Community Church, keeps a cell phone picture, shot by a fire fighter, showing how dangerously close the Canyon Fire 2 got to the Anaheim Hills Church last October. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Phil Seifert, a deacon at Kindred Community Church, keeps a cell phone picture, shot by a fire fighter, showing how dangerously close the Canyon Fire 2 got to the Anaheim Hills Church last October. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • At the end of Kindred Community Church’s Easter Sunrise service, worshippers hike up a hill to take pictures in Anaheim Hills on April 1, 2018. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    At the end of Kindred Community Church’s Easter Sunrise service, worshippers hike up a hill to take pictures in Anaheim Hills on April 1, 2018. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Birds drop in on Kindred Community Church’s Easter Sunrise services in Anaheim Hills on Sunday, Apr 1, 2018.(Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Birds drop in on Kindred Community Church’s Easter Sunrise services in Anaheim Hills on Sunday, Apr 1, 2018.(Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Worshippers at Kindred Community Church gather at a hilltop cross after Easter Sunday services in Anaheim Hills on Sunday, April 1, 2018.(Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Worshippers at Kindred Community Church gather at a hilltop cross after Easter Sunday services in Anaheim Hills on Sunday, April 1, 2018.(Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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On one of the few instances when Easter and April Fools’ Day coincide, Senior Pastor Philip De Courcy spent much of his sermon dispelling theories that he had not died and risen, decrying such stories as fake news.

 

“You know what’s not funny?” De Courcy said after recalling several well-known April Fools’ Day pranks. “When people attempt to fool people about the reality of the Easter story. When they tell people that it’s a hoax and made-up.”

The New Testament says Jesus was resurrected from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. His followers returned to his tomb at sunrise to find that he had risen, which is why sunrise services have become popular on Easter morning.

This year’s hour-long service exceeded the 800 guests who attended last year, De Courcy said.

Parishioner Sandra Atkinson, 65, of Orange, said it was her first sunrise service.

“It’s wonderful to be out here to experience it with other Christian believers and praise God and sing worship songs,” she said.

Corona resident Matt Greenwood, 42, brought his sons Drake, 6, and Shane, 3, to the gathering. Sunday was his third sunrise service, he said.

“We know the story, but it’s always nice to get a refresher,” he said.

Siblings Simeon and Seraiah Riley, 20 and 18, awoke at 4 a.m. to make the drive from San Dimas for their first Kindred Spirit sunrise service.

The sermon resonated with the pair, Seraiah Riley said.

“It opened our eyes,” she said. “You can get so caught up in the lies… just go to the Bible and listen to it yourself.”

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/04/01/worshippers-gather-before-dawn-atop-a-hill-to-celebrate-easter-in-anaheim/

Saddleback College breaks ground on $55 million stadium

For Saddleback College head football coach Mark McElroy, plans to construct a new football stadium at the school’s Mission Viejo campus were a long time coming.

“I played here as a student-athlete in 1979 when we were promised a new stadium,” McElroy said.

Just shy of four decades later, that promise is now being fulfilled, with a new $55 million facility expected to open in the spring of next year. The college broke ground on the project Monday, March 12.

Saddleback College officials are banking on the stadium benefiting South Orange County, one of the fastest growing areas in the region.

The new facility, which will host Gauchos football, as well as the Saddleback track and soccer teams, could also serve as a home venue for local high schools.

Aside from athletics, school President Gregory Anderson envisions the facility being used for concerts, high school graduations and ceremonies and community events.

“We really foresee this as being the premier hub for entertainment and sports throughout South Orange County,” he said. “Once you go south of UCI, you’ve got to go down all the way to San Diego before you find something of this caliber.”

The original structure – built in 1976 and unable to keep up with modern-day demands – seats 3,800, with bathrooms and visiting bleachers located outside the facility. Aging wooden steps lead to an outdated seating area and an announcer’s booth.

The limited seat capacity sometimes forced fans at some high school football games to sit elsewhere to view the contest, said Dan Clauss, Saddleback’s athletic director.

“We ended up having several of our spectators sitting up on a hill,” he said.

The new stadium will come with a slew of amenities.

It will accommodate up to 8,000 spectators, feature a nine-lane running track, four artificial turf fields – two for football practices and one each for football games and soccer matches – a concession stand, storage units for football, soccer and track and field equipment, a press box, team meeting rooms, a scoreboard and a platform for views of all the fields.

Other bells and whistles include Wi-Fi access and a “throws” area for hammer, shot put and discus.

The closest venues of comparable seating capacity are at Orange Coast College, Cal State Fullerton and the Santa Ana Bowl, all at least 20 miles away.

The track will meet NCAA and USA track and field standards, with the hope that it will bring national and state track meets to the area, officials said.

“Our big goal is the 2028 Olympics,” Clauss said. “We’d love to be a practice facility for track and field.”

During the football postseason, the stadium could host CIF-Southern Section semifinal games, as the increase in seat capacity meets the governing body’s seat requirements for those games. CIF soccer and lacrosse competitions could also materialize at the new facility, Clauss said.

Since the current facility’s closure in January, the track team has been holding its practices at JSerra Catholic High School and will host track meets at other colleges. Discussions with Mission Viejo High School are ongoing to host Saddleback football games in the interim. The new stadium is expected to open in spring 2019.

Besides its aesthetic appeal, the new stadium will serve as a recruitment tool, McElroy said, adding that in the past, some student-athletes have instead chosen to attend schools with superior athletic facilities, such as Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa.

“That’s certainly been a point of contention for incoming recruits,” he said. “It won’t be anymore.”

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/03/13/saddleback-college-breaks-ground-on-55-million-stadium/

Acting Santa Ana police chief made city’s official top cop

SANTA ANA —The Police Department’s interim police chief is now the city’s official top cop.

City Manager Raul Godinez announced Tuesday, Feb. 21, the City Council had affirmed his appointment of David Valentin to head the department for Orange County’s second-largest city. The city has had numerous changes in its leadership in the last year.

“Frankly, in the short time that I’ve been here, I’ve been witness to his leadership skills and I’m very very comfortable with this appointment,” Godinez said. He was appointed in October.

Valentin was one of three deputy chiefs in the department and was charged with overseeing field operations before he was tapped in June as acting chief. Another of the deputy chiefs originally filled the role after Police Chief Carlos Rojas resigned in April.

On Tuesday, Councilman Jose Solorio said Valentin had done a “fabulous” job as acting chief in expanding the department’s gang unit and reducing the number of guns on the street.

He also cited Vanletin’s Santa Ana roots and his management as police chief for the Santa Ana Unified School District.

“I think the department has now a good stable leader that can continue to improve the department, grow the department and make our community safer than it already is,” Solorio said.

Specifics on Valentin’s salary were not immediately available Wednesday. Valentin did not immediately return a request for comment through a police spokesperson.

Gerry Serrano, president of the Santa Ana Police Officers Association, which represents rank-and-file officers, could not be reached for comment, but when Valentin was appointed acting chief, Serrano had said he “has a genuine concern for our diverse community and is what our community and city need.”

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/21/acting-santa-ana-police-chief-made-citys-official-top-cop/

Costa Mesa considering mobile restrooms for the homeless, council has concerns wants addressed

COSTA MESA — City Council members had several concerns about a proposal to provide mobile restrooms to the city’s homeless, deciding the plan needs more discussion.

The proposed six-month pilot program with the Costa Mesa Sanitary District would station restrooms on trailers in areas frequented by homeless people to give them an alternative to relieving themselves in public.

Council members were concerned over the proposed locations, hours of operation and whether the mobile restrooms would be an invitation to homeless people living outside the city.

On a 3-2 vote Tuesday, Feb. 1, the council held off spending $21,500 to fund the city’s half of the pilot program and instead directed staff members to work with the Sanitary District, the Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce and businesses on 19th Street near Meyer Place – one of the proposed locations – to refine the plan.

“It’s just a simple, flexible, modest way to address an issue that has presented itself and to get more information to see if we should do something more permanent,” said Councilman John Stephens, who brought the restroom idea to the council.

Council members Jim Righeimer and Allan Mansoor said they preferred the city not participate at all.

The proposal calls for mobile restrooms to be placed near 19th Street and Meyer Place, Anaheim Avenue and West 18th Street and 17th Street and Pomona Avenue on alternating days from 6 a.m. to noon.

Sanitary District General Manager Scott Carroll said the hours and locations could be changed.

Trellis, a group of local Christian churches that advocates for the homeless, would provide paid attendants to oversee the facilities.

The Sanitary District board unanimously approved funding its half of the joint venture in December.

A handful of residents decried the idea of providing restrooms, citing safety issues and the lack of a public notice about the matter.

“This is a completely incomplete plan,” said Brett Eckles, who is running for a council seat in November’s elections.

Councilwoman Katrina Foley said there needs to be action, citing complaints from residents and business owners along 19th Street about human waste in front of their establishments and homes.

“This concept of doing nothing means people are going to go away, that’s not realistic,” she said. “This is at least a creative way to address what is an immediate concern.”

Righeimer expects the alternate to happen, that providing the restrooms would encourage an influx of homeless into the city.  “Anybody who thinks that if you’re going to give more services to people, you’re going to get less of them, you’re not thinking right.”

Costa Mesa has grappled with its homeless population and illicit activity in public restrooms in recent years. In 2015, the city closed restrooms at Lions Park and Wilson Park over health and public safety concerns.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/21/costa-mesa-considering-mobile-restrooms-for-the-homeless-council-has-concerns-wants-addressed/

Uber’s new Express Pool makes passengers walk for pick-ups and drop-offs, but the upside may be shorter, cheaper rides

Uber is enhancing its Pool system in an effort to shorten routes and lower fares for passengers who are willing to walk a little to a pick-up spot and to their final destination

The ride-sharing behemoth launched its Express Pool feature in three cities — Los Angeles, San Diego and Denver — Wednesday, Feb. 21 with the promise of straighter routes. On Thursday, the feature will go live in Miami, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

Uber unveiled Express Pool in Boston and at its home base of San Francisco late last year.

UberPool is a shared door-to-door service that transports multiple passengers going the same way in one vehicle. The Express Pool variation matches riders going in similar directions and has them walk to a nearby pick-up area based on where the driver is traveling, said Uber product lead Ethan Stock on a conference call with reporters.

Passengers opting for shared rides receive a discount.

The problem with the UberPool system has been that extra stops are added to the trip as other riders are picked up and dropped off, sometimes resulting in detours and longer commute times.

With Express Pool, passengers are dropped off within a few blocks of their final destination.

“We want minimal stops and minimal diversions,” Stock said of Uber’s intent.

The new feature does not yet support pick-ups in Orange County or at airports, but will in the future, an Uber spokesperson said. In the meantime, requests made through Express Pool by passengers headed to those locations will be accepted.

There are no definitive plans, yet, to launch pick-ups in Riverside and the Inland Empire, according to Uber.

Passengers requesting either UberPool or Express Pool will share the same vehicle if it provides the best possible route. Express Pool fares will be as low as 50 percent off of UberPool and 75 percent off of UberX rides, Stock said.

“In general, what you should expect is that Express Pool will be the cheapest Uber product in every case,” he said. “We want this fundamentally to be truly affordable.”

Compensation for drivers will remain the same, Stock said.

Currently, drivers are paid a fee in addition to the base fare for picking up additional passengers during UberPool trips. Drivers in Los Angeles earn 95 cents per additional pick-up.

Since Express Pool launched in Boston and San Francisco, response has been positive, Stock said. Passenger feedback, he said, has indicated the trips were shorter and more direct compared to UberPool.

Harry Campbell, an Uber and Lyft driver in Los Angeles and author of The Rideshare Guy blog, said Express Pool seems to be an attempt to simplify the pick-up and drop-off experience.

“When you’re a rider and you have to pick up a second passenger it’s not nearly as far out of the way,” Campbell said. “I think it’s a much better iteration than UberPool.”

Campbell said UberPool has become a source of frustration for drivers and passengers, who can’t control who they share a ride with and sometimes take it out on the drivers through low satisfaction ratings.

For some drivers, UberPool trips are more work than they’re worth, Campbell said, in that the fares are the same, sometimes less, for more work.

UberPool launched in 2014 and accounts for 20 percent of Uber trips in the 36 cities where it’s available around the world, Stock said. The company is nearing 1 billion Pool rides recorded, he said.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/21/ubers-new-express-pool-makes-passengers-walk-for-pick-ups-and-drop-offs-but-the-upside-may-be-shorter-cheaper-rides/

Orange County toll roads see record-breaking numbers in 2017

It was a busy 2017 for Orange County’s toll roads.

In the midst of increasing traffic and longer commute times, the Transportation Corridor Agencies recorded record-breaking numbers for the county’s four toll roads: State Routes 73, 133, 241 and 261.

The four toll roads comprise 20 percent of Orange County’s highway system.

More trips were taken on the roads than during any other year in TCA’s 30-year history, said Sarah King, media relations manager for the tolling agency that manages the 51 miles of toll roads in the county.

More than 300,000 daily commuters and visitors used the tollways last year, resulting in more than 100 million tolls taken and more than $312 million in revenue, according to the TCA’s annual report.

The agency has 1 million-plus open tolling accounts consisting of FastTrak, which collects payments each time a transponder is read by a toll, and Express Accounts that are charged based on license plate readings at each tolling point.

Toll rates range from $2.77 for a trip from Rancho Santa Margarita to the Irvine Spectrum on the 133 and 241 freeways to $7.76 from San Juan Capistrano to John Wayne Airport via Route 73.

Ridership on the tollways has increased 20 percent in the past three years.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/20/orange-county-toll-roads-see-record-breaking-numbers-in-2017/

Free Irish dance party at the Segerstrom arts center

Irish dance will be on display at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts this weekend.

Dublin Irish Dance will take up the Julianne and George Argyros Plaza with an Irish céilí, also known as a traditional Irish gathering. The event in the plaza before the night’s show is free to attend.

The Reelers will perform live Irish jigs and folk music. Refreshments will be sold.

 

If you go

When: 5 to 7 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 24.

Where: Julianne and George Argyros Plaza at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa

Cost: Free

Information: scfta.org

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/19/free-irish-dance-party-at-the-segerstrom-arts-center/

Heroes Hall veterans museum at Orange County fairgrounds marks first anniversary

  • A visitor at Heroes Hall stares at one of several photograph exhibits at the veterans museum. (Courtesy of the OC Fair & Event Center)

    A visitor at Heroes Hall stares at one of several photograph exhibits at the veterans museum. (Courtesy of the OC Fair & Event Center)

  • The first 100 visitors to Heroes Hall on Thursday, Feb. 15 were given a commemorative coin and coffee mug in celebration of the museum’s first anniversary. (Courtesy of the OC Fair & Event Center)

    The first 100 visitors to Heroes Hall on Thursday, Feb. 15 were given a commemorative coin and coffee mug in celebration of the museum’s first anniversary. (Courtesy of the OC Fair & Event Center)

  • Marine veteran Rafaelo Papale and his son Logan, 4, record a message in the Heroes Hall Story Booth at the OC Fair in Costa Mesa, on Saturday, August 12, 2017. (Photo by Nick Agro, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Marine veteran Rafaelo Papale and his son Logan, 4, record a message in the Heroes Hall Story Booth at the OC Fair in Costa Mesa, on Saturday, August 12, 2017. (Photo by Nick Agro, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • People gather for the dedication of Heroes Hall, an old barracks building being converted in a museum at the OC Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa, on Friday, November 11, 2016. (Photo by Nick Agro, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    People gather for the dedication of Heroes Hall, an old barracks building being converted in a museum at the OC Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa, on Friday, November 11, 2016. (Photo by Nick Agro, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Frank Barry, Air Force, of Huntington Beach, center, in blue hat, joins fellow veterans as they share their personal stories of service during “Voices – Veterans Storytelling Project” at Heroes Hall in Costa Mesa, CA on Tuesday, May 23, 2017. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Frank Barry, Air Force, of Huntington Beach, center, in blue hat, joins fellow veterans as they share their personal stories of service during “Voices – Veterans Storytelling Project” at Heroes Hall in Costa Mesa, CA on Tuesday, May 23, 2017. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • The Heroes Hall veterans museum at the OC Fair & Event Center features a 50-foot wide decorative courtyard modeled after the Congressional Medal of Honor. Photo by DREW A. KELLEY, CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER

    The Heroes Hall veterans museum at the OC Fair & Event Center features a 50-foot wide decorative courtyard modeled after the Congressional Medal of Honor. Photo by DREW A. KELLEY, CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER

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Orange County’s first veterans museum — Heroes Hall — opened its doors one year ago at the O.C. fairgrounds in Costa Mesa.

In celebration of its first anniversary, the first 100 visitors on Thursday, Feb. 15 were given a commemorative coin and coffee mug upon entry.

“We are so proud to mark the one-year anniversary of Heroes Hall,” said OC Fair & Event Center CEO Kathy Kramer. “It has been deeply touching to see the men and women who have served our country visit Heroes Hall and be so moved by the exhibits, Medal of Honor Courtyard and the Walk of Honor. This amazing community asset gives us all a place to remember and honor those who serve.”

During its first year, the museum opened its inaugural exhibit, “The Things They Carried,” which featured items military service members carried into combat; hosted a series of veteran storytelling projects; and launched a video virtual storybooth during the OC Fair.

Currently, there are two exhibitions: “The SAAAB Story,” which details the history of the Santa Ana Army Air Base, where the museum now sits, and “Kimberly Millett’s Operation Iraqi Freedom,” a photography exhibit featuring images by Army public affairs specialist Kimberly Millett while on assignment in Iraq from 2006 to 2009.

The museum is housed in a former 1942 Army barracks building.

Operating hours are 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday. Admission is free except during the OC Fair and certain other events.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/15/heroes-hall-veterans-museum-at-orange-county-fairgrounds-marks-first-anniversary/

State bill would expand number of college students eligible for free or reduced transit

A bill that would increase the number of low-income residents and college students eligible for free or reduced fares on public transportation was introduced to state lawmakers this week in an effort to alleviate traffic congestion and improve parking around community colleges and universities.

If passed, Senate Bill 1119, introduced Wednesday, Feb. 13 by said Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton, would revise eligibility requirements for the state cap-and-trade Low Carbon Transit Operating Program. The program was created to curb gas emissions and improve mobility in disadvantaged communities.

The proposal effectively would expand on a pilot program available to Santa Ana College students who can take unlimited bus rides for free as part of an agreement with the Orange County Transportation Authority.

The intent of the bill is three-fold: reduce pollution; bring in low-income residents, many of whom are students, who would benefit from subsidized transit but don’t live in what the LCTOP defines as disadvantaged areas; and allow free bus transfers between transit agencies.

“SB 1119 will also ensure that a rider eligible for subsidized fares will be able to make the complete trip to work or school, even when that trip entails a transfer outside of the current eligibility zones,” Newman said.

Orange County transit officials say the proposed subsidies would increase access to higher education.

“OCTA believes that transportation should not be a barrier to educational achievement and partnering with colleges on transit pass programs is an innovative way to ensure our students can be successful,” said OCTA CEO Darrell Johnson.

In September, Santa Ana College began a three-year trial program that gives its 29,000 students free travel on OCTA buses. All students received a pass for unlimited rides for the fall 2017 and spring 2018 semesters.

After that, all full-time and part-time students will pay $6.75 and $5.75, respectively, in fees each semester to fund the second and third years of the program.

Fares for OCTA buses typically are $2 per ride and $5 for a day pass.

The Rancho Santiago Community College District will pay the fees for continuing education students.

Between September and December of 2017, several bus routes near Santa Ana College recorded several hundred weekday boardings through the program, said OCTA spokesman Eric Carpenter.

Route 60 from Long Beach to Tustin averages 1,100 weekday college pass boardings and Route 57 from Brea to Newport Beach had around 534 daily boardings from college pass users, he said.

In a survey, 88 percent of Santa Ana College students who responded said they were new users of the OCTA bus system and had not parked on campus since using the free pass.

A long-term goal is to introduce younger generations to public transit with the hope that they will become loyal riders, Carpenter said.

“We believe that once people are introduced to the convenience and affordability of riding the bus, they will want to continue using transit,” Carpenter said.

No hearings on the proposed bill have been scheduled.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/15/state-bill-would-expand-number-of-college-students-eligible-for-free-or-reduced-transit/

Disneyland Resort teams up with Amtrak to offer discounts on train travel and park admission

Amtrak and Disneyland Resort are partnering for a limited promotion that offers discounted rail travel and park admission for Southern California residents.

Through May 21, each child age 2-12 can board an Amtrak Pacific Surfliner train traveling to the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center for free with the purchase of an adult ticket. The ART Route 15 connector bus will shuttle Amtrak passengers from the ARTIC to the theme park for free.

The discount can be redeemed using the “V231″ promo code at the time of purchase.

Children’s fares are normally half of the lowest-priced adult ticket.

Other Amtrak promotions such as its 10 percent discount for AAA members will not apply to the Disney offer.

“Through this partnership, we hope to make passenger rail service more accessible and approachable for Southern Californians, while also providing added value to our existing Pacific Surfliner customers,” said Bryan MacDonald, chairman of the Los Angeles – San Diego – San Luis Obispo (LOSSAN) Rail Corridor Agency, which oversees the Pacific Surfliner service.

Once train tickets are booked, passengers are eligible to purchase Disneyland SoCal Resident tickets at a 5 percent discount to visit Disneyland or Disney California Adventure.

Tickets must be purchased by May 21, and they expire on May 24. Proof of residency in ZIP codes 90000-93599, or in Northern Baja within ZIP codes 21000-22999 is required.

The discounts on passes are:

  • Two-day ticket with choice of one park per day for $151
  • Two-day Park Hopper ticket for $194
  • Three-day ticket with choice of one park per day for $189
  • Three-day Park Hopper ticket for $232

The Pacific Surfliner travels along a 351-mile coastal route from San Diego to San Luis Obispo, serving 29 stations, making it ideal to partner with Disney to offer discounted travel to SoCal Resident ticket buyers, said LOSSAN Deputy Director Michael Litschi.

“It was a partnership we thought made sense,” he said.

The promotion comes days after Disney announced another round of price hikes for most admissions types.

To purchase the SoCal Resident tickets, visit pacificsurfliner.com.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/14/disneyland-resort-teams-up-with-amtrak-to-offer-discounts-on-train-travel-and-park-admission/

Santa Ana faces projected $17 million budget deficit by next fiscal year

Santa Ana is facing a $17 million budget shortfall going into the next fiscal year, prompting warnings from city officials that services could be scaled back.

That deficit is expected to balloon to $40 million by the start of the 2022-23 fiscal year, according to a presentation finance officials gave to the City Council at a special meeting Feb. 5.

Despite revenue growth, the city is looking at a $9.3 million deficit for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.

Most of the funding gap is due to rising salaries and pension costs for city employees approved by the council last year, according to city staff. Santa Ana’s current pension cost is $45 million and is expected to increase to $52.3 million next year.

“So clearly, that’s not sustainable to have expenditures exceed your revenues,” said City Manager Raul Godinez. “The budget is limited and becoming more limited as we go on. We really need to tighten our belts”

Godinez said city leaders need to focus on identifying the city’s “core services.” A big chunk of the city’s budget goes toward public safety.

The council in July approved a one-year, $3.8 million contract with the Santa Ana Police Officers Association, the union that represents the city’s rank and file officers. The union spent about $300,000 endorsing several council candidates last year, including Mayor Miguel Pulido and council members Jose Solorio and Juan Villegas.

Deputy City Manager Robert Cortez gave no specifics on what services, if any, could be targeted for cost-cutting.

“We intend to take a multiyear and multifaceted approach to addressing this shortfall and will be using the rest of this fiscal year and next fiscal year to look at different options,” he said.

Suggestions raised at the meeting included asking voters to increase the city’s sale tax and paying more for trash collection services.

Martinez criticized the city for continuing to use about $15 million in sanitation funds for general fund services.

“It’s not legal to continue to take these sanitation funds,” Martinez said. “You’ve got to go to the voters.”

Removing that money would further contribute to the city’s financial woes, city staff said.

Councilman Sal Tinajero proposed legalizing marijuana cultivation and manufacturing to generate revenue, which could bring in $11 million to $20 million annually to the city.

“Why aren’t we jumping all over this opportunity?” Tinajero asked.

Other suggestions by council members included luring manufacturing companies to the city and adopting more business-friendly policies, adding more code enforcement officers and charging developers for expedited services.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/14/santa-ana-faces-projected-17-million-budget-deficit/

Costa Mesa planning commission denies permits for more sober-living homes

Costa Mesa planning commissioners denied three permits to a sober-living operator Monday, Feb. 12 and rescheduled hearings for two other applications.

On a pair of 5-0 votes, the commission denied conditional use permits for RAW Recovery facilities at 321 and 327 Cabrillo St. to house up to 37 people and at 328 Rochester St. for up to eight residents.

Some commissioners raised concerns over the number of residents that would live on the Cabrillo Street properties.

“I just think it creates an overcrowded situation that is inconsistent with the housing element of our general plan and not a good land-use policy,” said Commission vice-chairman Byron de Arakal.

The commission’s decision becomes final in seven days but can be appealed to the City Council.

Public hearings for facilities operated by Pacific Shores Recovery at 200, 202, 204 and 206 Cabrillo St. to house up to 46 residents and a RAW home for up to 10 people at 268 Knox St. were moved to a later meeting.

The commission requested city staff determine whether any sober-living homes or state-licensed drug and alcohol treatment centers are near the Knox Street property that would conflict with a city ordinance mandating facilities be at least 650 feet apart. The rule is intended to prevent neighborhoods from becoming institutionalized and has been the basis to deny dozens of sober-living permit applications.

Safe Harbor Treatment Center for Women operates two facilities, at 236 and 240 Knox St., according to the California Department of Health Care Services, about one block from the RAW facility.

“We have a bright-line rule in out local regulation. … I’m not inclined to move beyond that,” said Commissioner Jeffrey Harlan.

Costa Mesa residents have blamed sober-living homes for a slew of negative impacts in their neighborhoods, from crime to littering.

“It’s unfair to just blame us for things that aren’t documented,” said RAW founder David Alexander. “It’s unbelievable the type of discrimination we face.”

The commission has been inundated with permit applications from sober-living homes in recent months, denying the majority of them.

In a symbolic effort, the City Council recently adopted a resolution supporting federal legislation that would give municipalities more control over the regulation of the facilities.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/13/costa-mesa-planning-commission-denies-permits-for-more-sober-living-homes/

CalOptima expanding all-inclusive senior care program to Anaheim, Laguna Woods and Santa Ana

CalOptima is partnering with five adult health care centers to expand a program that serves seniors with chronic health conditions beyond its Garden Grove location.

The partnership will combine adult day health care centers with the Programs for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly center, or PACE, to provide seniors with routine medical services at facilities in Anaheim, Santa Ana, a second location in Garden Grove, and Laguna Woods, where most residents are of retirement age.

CalOptima, a county-organized health system that provides health coverage and social services to low-income residents and elderly people, opened a PACE center in Garden Grove in 2013 with the goal of helping frail seniors to continue living independently.

“By working with CBAS (community-based adult services) centers, PACE will be able to expand quickly to benefit our growing senior population,” said Richard Helmer, CalOptima’s chief medical officer.

The program will be implemented at all five sites over 18 months. It will be available at the second Garden Grove location April 1, with the Laguna Woods site to follow in July.

PACE focuses mostly on preventative health care services including routine medical care; physical, occupational and speech therapies; personal care; and rides to doctor’s appointments.

The main Garden Grove facility will be responsible for primary care services.

“You would receive your medical and health care services at the PACE center, but for your daytime supervision, meals, day-to-day monitoring, interactions with your social worker … that would all be handled at the alternative care settings,” PACE Director Elizabeth Lee said.

The PACE center features nonskid flooring, showers and bathrooms; furniture designed to prevent injury; exercise equipment; a health clinic and a recreation room for activities and cultural performances.

The program has garnered positive results, with several participants saying their physical and mental wellness had improved months after the center’s opening.

Beginning in July, PACE will serve all eligible seniors throughout Orange County. Previously, participants had to live within its service area.

To qualify, participants must be at least 55, be able to live safely at home or in a community setting with proper support and must be eligible for nursing facility services by the state.

For more information, call: 714-468-1100.

The PACE sites:

  • Acacia Adult Day Services, 11391 Acacia Parkway, Garden Grove
  • SeniorServ Anaheim Adult Day Health Care, 1200 N. Knollwood Circle and the Sultan Adult Day Health Care Center, 125 W. Cerritos Ave., both in Anaheim
  • SeniorServ Santa Ana Adult Day Health Care, 1101 S. Grand Ave., Santa Ana
  • South County Adult Day Services, 24260 El Toro Road, Laguna Woods
  • The existing PACE center is at 13300 Garden Grove Blvd., Garden Grove

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/12/caloptima-expanding-all-inclusive-senior-care-program-to-anaheim-laguna-woods-and-santa-ana/

Families show little ones a good time at Baby Date festival in Costa Mesa

Young guests and their families filled the OC Fair & Event Center on Sunday, Feb. 11 for the inaugural Baby Date festival.

Activities included photo booth shots, face painting, fashion shows, arts and crafts and a chance to meet mermaids.

 

  • Hayden Bae of Rancho Cucamonga examines her new facepaint during the inaugural Baby Date festival at OC Fair & Event Center on Sunday, February 11, 2018 in Costa Mesa, Calif. (Photo by Josh Barber, Contributing Photographer)

    Hayden Bae of Rancho Cucamonga examines her new facepaint during the inaugural Baby Date festival at OC Fair & Event Center on Sunday, February 11, 2018 in Costa Mesa, Calif. (Photo by Josh Barber, Contributing Photographer)

  • Lulu Telleria of Irvine performs piano during the inaugural Baby Date festival at OC Fair & Event Center on Sunday, February 11, 2018 in Costa Mesa, Calif. (Photo by Josh Barber, Contributing Photographer)

    Lulu Telleria of Irvine performs piano during the inaugural Baby Date festival at OC Fair & Event Center on Sunday, February 11, 2018 in Costa Mesa, Calif. (Photo by Josh Barber, Contributing Photographer)

  • Saige Deniwoods of Riverside looks at a new dress from Matilda Jane Clothing during the inaugural Baby Date festival at OC Fair & Event Center on Sunday, February 11, 2018 in Costa Mesa, Calif. (Photo by Josh Barber, Contributing Photographer)

    Saige Deniwoods of Riverside looks at a new dress from Matilda Jane Clothing during the inaugural Baby Date festival at OC Fair & Event Center on Sunday, February 11, 2018 in Costa Mesa, Calif. (Photo by Josh Barber, Contributing Photographer)

  • Saige Deniwoods of Riverside twirls in a new dress from the Matilda Jane Clothing booth during the inaugural Baby Date festival at OC Fair & Event Center on Sunday, February 11, 2018 in Costa Mesa, Calif. (Photo by Josh Barber, Contributing Photographer)

    Saige Deniwoods of Riverside twirls in a new dress from the Matilda Jane Clothing booth during the inaugural Baby Date festival at OC Fair & Event Center on Sunday, February 11, 2018 in Costa Mesa, Calif. (Photo by Josh Barber, Contributing Photographer)

  • Audean Lyon, of Long Beach, reacts as she gets her unicorn ballon art as Brandi Lyon looks on during the inaugural Baby Date festival at OC Fair & Event Center on Sunday, February 11, 2018 in Costa Mesa, Calif. (Photo by Josh Barber, Contributing Photographer)

    Audean Lyon, of Long Beach, reacts as she gets her unicorn ballon art as Brandi Lyon looks on during the inaugural Baby Date festival at OC Fair & Event Center on Sunday, February 11, 2018 in Costa Mesa, Calif. (Photo by Josh Barber, Contributing Photographer)

  • Elise Okamoto, Chris Okamoto and Brandon Okamoto, in the stroller, walk across the show room floor strewn with rose petals during the inaugural Baby Date festival at OC Fair & Event Center on Sunday, February 11, 2018 in Costa Mesa, Calif. (Photo by Josh Barber, Contributing Photographer)

    Elise Okamoto, Chris Okamoto and Brandon Okamoto, in the stroller, walk across the show room floor strewn with rose petals during the inaugural Baby Date festival at OC Fair & Event Center on Sunday, February 11, 2018 in Costa Mesa, Calif. (Photo by Josh Barber, Contributing Photographer)

  • Hannah Fisk, of Camp Pendelton, poses with Maddox Fisk, on her lap, and Derek Fisk in front of a “Baby Date” backdrop during the inaugural Baby Date festival at OC Fair & Event Center on Sunday, February 11, 2018 in Costa Mesa, Calif. (Photo by Josh Barber, Contributing Photographer)

    Hannah Fisk, of Camp Pendelton, poses with Maddox Fisk, on her lap, and Derek Fisk in front of a “Baby Date” backdrop during the inaugural Baby Date festival at OC Fair & Event Center on Sunday, February 11, 2018 in Costa Mesa, Calif. (Photo by Josh Barber, Contributing Photographer)

  • Children play with the bubbles during a show during the inaugural Baby Date festival at OC Fair & Event Center on Sunday, February 11, 2018 in Costa Mesa, Calif. (Photo by Josh Barber, Contributing Photographer)

    Children play with the bubbles during a show during the inaugural Baby Date festival at OC Fair & Event Center on Sunday, February 11, 2018 in Costa Mesa, Calif. (Photo by Josh Barber, Contributing Photographer)

  • Children play with the bubbles during a show during the inaugural Baby Date festival at OC Fair & Event Center on Sunday, February 11, 2018 in Costa Mesa, Calif. (Photo by Josh Barber, Contributing Photographer)

    Children play with the bubbles during a show during the inaugural Baby Date festival at OC Fair & Event Center on Sunday, February 11, 2018 in Costa Mesa, Calif. (Photo by Josh Barber, Contributing Photographer)

  • A performer with Orange County Aerial Arts demonstrates a move to participants during the inaugural Baby Date festival at OC Fair & Event Center on Sunday, February 11, 2018 in Costa Mesa, Calif. (Photo by Josh Barber, Contributing Photographer)

    A performer with Orange County Aerial Arts demonstrates a move to participants during the inaugural Baby Date festival at OC Fair & Event Center on Sunday, February 11, 2018 in Costa Mesa, Calif. (Photo by Josh Barber, Contributing Photographer)

  • Emile Fraven of Garden Grove trys out silks with Orange County Aerial Arts during the inaugural Baby Date festival at OC Fair & Event Center on Sunday, February 11, 2018 in Costa Mesa, Calif. (Photo by Josh Barber, Contributing Photographer)

    Emile Fraven of Garden Grove trys out silks with Orange County Aerial Arts during the inaugural Baby Date festival at OC Fair & Event Center on Sunday, February 11, 2018 in Costa Mesa, Calif. (Photo by Josh Barber, Contributing Photographer)

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/12/families-show-little-ones-a-good-time-at-baby-date-festival-in-costa-mesa/

Sober-living permit applications to go before Costa Mesa planning commissioners

Costa Mesa planning commissioners will again decide the fate of several sober-living properties applying for permits needed to continue operating.

Three of the four conditional-use permit applications slated for review on Monday, Feb. 12 were submitted by Raw Recovery. The operator is seeking permits for properties at 321 and 327 Cabrillo St., which house up to 37 people; 268 Knox St., to house up to 10 people; and 329 Rochester St., where up to eight residents stay.

The commission also will decide whether to waive the city’s 650-foot buffer rule — which keeps facilities from clustering near each other — for the Cabrillo and Rochester properties.

City staff recommends the commission deny the permits for the Cabrillo and Rochester properties based on the separation requirement, but grant a conditional-use permit for the Knox Street property since there is no buffer concern.

The other applicant, Pacific Shores Recovery, has applied for a permit to house up to 46 residents at 200, 202, 204 and 206 Cabrillo St. Staff is asking that the commission reschedule a hearing on that matter.

Allegations of misdeeds by operators have plagued the sober-living industry in recent years. Costa Mesa has become home to the majority of facilities in Orange County.

Residents have blamed operators and residents of the properties for negative impacts to neighborhoods and quality of life issues such as crime, noise, litter, drug use and contributing to the homeless population.

The city has more than 80 unlicensed sober-living homes, according to a City Council resolution supporting federal legislation that would give local authorities the right to limit and regulate the facilities.

In recent months, several Planning Commission agendas have been littered with hearings for permit applications, most of which were denied.

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 77 Fair Drive.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/09/sober-living-permit-applications-to-go-before-costa-mesa-planning-commissioners/