Louis Casiano

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Feb 22

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/

Feb 21

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/

Feb 21

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/

Feb 20

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/

Feb 19

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/

Feb 16

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/

Feb 15

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/

Feb 15

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/

Feb 14

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/

Feb 13

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/

Feb 13

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/

Feb 12

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/

Feb 10

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/

Feb 09

Heroes Hall to celebrate one-year anniversary

Orange County’s only veterans museum is celebrating its first anniversary.

Heroes Hall will be open to the public 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 15 at the OC Fair & Event Center, 88 Fair Drive. The first 100 guests will receive a Heroes Hall coin and coffee mug. A small ceremony will be held at 2 p.m.

Louis Casiano Jr., 714-796-2478

lcasiano@scng.com

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/09/heroes-hall-to-celebrate-one-year-anniversary/

Feb 09

Information sessions for free contruction trade training in Santa Ana and Garden Grove

Free construction technology training is being offered with the chance to be placed in apprenticeships. The program provides training in carpentry, ironwork, electrical, plumbing and other skills. Upon completion, candidates will be interviewed by trade unions for possible apprenticeships.

Information sessions will be held next week. The first runs 10 a.m.-noon Wednesday, Feb. 14 at the OC One Stop Center, 7077 Orangewood Ave., Suite 200 in Garden Grove. RSVP required: Contact Matt Macualey at 949-341-8031 or email matthew.macauley@oconestop.com.

Another session will be held 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 15 at the Remington Education Center, 1325 E. Fourth St., Santa Ana. RSVP: Dora Holguin at 714-565-2633 or dholguin@santa-ana.org.

Participants must be at least 18, have work documents such as a passport, social security card or ID, a driver’s license and have graduated high school or obtained a GED.

Louis Casiano Jr., 714-796-2478

lcasiano@scng.com

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/09/information-sessions-for-free-contruction-trade-training-in-santa-ana-and-garden-grove/

Feb 09

OCTA to add mobile ticketing system-wide and will implement route changes, beginning Feb. 11

The entire Orange County Transportation Authority bus fleet will begin accepting fares purchased through the OCTA’s mobile app this weekend in an effort to speed up boarding times.

Beginning Sunday, Feb. 11 riders who purchase bus fares through the OC Bus app can scan a QR code from a mobile device on an onboard reader installed on each bus. Drivers previously would have to review the screen and validate each boarding, leading to a slower boarding process and longer wait times.

The app has been downloaded 76,000 times since launching last year, accounting for 7 percent of OCTA’s fare revenue, well ahead of the industry pace, said OCTA spokesman Eric Carpenter.

Additionally, passes for senior and disabled passengers will be separated to better serve both groups, the transit agency said.

Aside from the new technology, changes will be coming to some bus routes on Sunday.

There will be an increase in service to routes 56, 89, 90 and 91 during weekday peak hours, with buses slated to arrive every 30 minutes. Weeknight service on routes 29, 50, 53 and 60 also will increase.

Two routes will be extended during weekends: route 46 from Los Alamitos to Orange, with stops near Disneyland and route 59 from Anaheim to Irvine, which stops at the one-million-square-foot shopping center The District at Tustin Legacy.

“With these changes we are attempting to provide more frequent weekday and weekend service on several routes and make sure that our routes are reaching the places people want to go, including extending a route to The District at Tustin Legacy,” Carpenter said.

Due to low ridership, routes 212 from Irvine to San Juan Capistrano, 261 from Orange to Riverside, 454 from the Orange Transportation Center to Garden Grove and Sunday service on route 177 from Foothill Ranch to Laguna Hills are being eliminated.

Minor changes are also being made to 33 other bus routes.

The changes are part of the agency’s OC Bus 360 plan, which redirects bus service from low-performing areas to routes with higher demand.

“We’ve slowed the overall decline in ridership – something being experienced throughout the industry nationwide — and seen up to a 19 percent increase in ridership in areas where we’ve improved service,” Carpenter said.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/08/octa-to-add-mobile-ticketing-system-wide-and-will-implement-route-changes-beginning-feb-11/

Feb 08

Santa Ana to add 10 electric vehicle charging stations across city

Santa Ana will enter into a five-year, $251,783 agreement with Voltaic Systems to purchase, install and maintain 10 electric vehicle charging stations, as well as process payments, sometime in the spring.

The City Council on Tuesday, Feb. 6, unanimously — with Mayor Miguel Pulido recusing himself — endorsed the deal, in an effort to support clean energy.

The stations, which will be distributed through six city facilities, can charge two vehicles at a time at a cost of 25 cents per kilowatt hour for the first four hours and $2 for each additional hour.

The fees are not meant to generate revenue for the city, said Francisco Gutierrez, executive director of the city’s finance and management services agency.

“If you wanted to generate revenue, we’d probably have to increase our fee,” he said. “We’re just trying to recoup some of our utility costs.”

The rates are relatively low compared to those of other cities, said City Manager Raul Godinez, who owns an electric vehicle.

Grants from the Air Quality Management District will fund the project.

All but four stations to be located at City Hall will be open to the public. The primary users there will be public employees driving government-owned electric vehicles, said Councilwoman Michelle Martinez.

She asked city staff to bring back a report on how many Santa Ana residents own electric vehicles.

“We want to make sure that those who are driving from outside coming in to our city, that they’re doing it in the most efficient, cleanest way possible, but at the same time what are we doing to encourage our own residents,” she said. “The majority of folks that are driving are low-income folks and they’re driving cars from the 1970s and 1980s.”

Stations will be installed at:

  • City Hall, 20 Civic Center Plaza at the Ross Annex (four/city use only)
  • Santa Ana Corporate Yard,  220 S. Daisy Ave. (two)
  • Santa Ana Zoo, 1801 E. Chestnut Ave. (one)
  • Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center, 1000 E. Santa Ana Blvd. (one)
  • City Hall, Civic Center Superblock (one)
  • Parking lot on East Third and North Bush streets (one)

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/08/santa-ana-to-add-10-electric-vehicle-charging-stations-across-city/

Feb 07

Costa Mesa council gives nod to symbolic sober-living resolution and to explore options for city attorney position

Costa Mesa council members unanimously took a symbolic stand against rouge sober-living operators Tuesday, Feb. 6 with a resolution that supports federal legislation giving local municipalities more authority to regulate residential recovery facilities.

Councilwoman Katrina Foley brought the resolution before the council in response to discussions with state and federal lawmakers in recent months about the proliferation of sober-living homes in the city.

“It’s a tool,” said Foley. “This helps us when we’re trying to make changes in Sacramento and in Washington, D.C., to be able to say that our city council supported this type of resolution.”

Many sober-living homes do not operate with minimum standards, according to the resolution, and the number of them is unknown because mandatory registration is not required at all levels of government.

Federal laws that require fair housing and protections for disabled people have been exploited to protect bad operators, it reads.

The council briefly sparred on whether to add language that accused California state lawmakers of enabling bad operators through little to no regulation.

“They refuse to allow local oversight and they are enabling our situation to get worse,” said Councilman Allan Mansoor, who requested the city draw up a separate resolution addressed to the state.

Councilman Jim Righeimer essentially called Foley’s resolution an example of political gamesmanship since the city has always asked for local control of the facilities.

“It means nothing,” he said. “This is what elected officials who run for office do. They do these deals that say nothing, that have no teeth in them.”

Costa Mesa is a hub for the recovery industry. More than 100 sober-living homes and more than 80 alcohol and drug treatment centers call the city home.

One operator, Morningside Recovery, agreed to shut down its last three facilities in Costa Mesa after the city filed a lawsuit alleging they were operating illegally.

In recent years, the city has passed ordinances aimed at regulating the homes to reduce impacts on neighborhoods.

A Southern California News Group investigation found the rehab industry exploiting residents, overcharging for services and contributing to Orange County’s homeless population.

City attorney position to be reviewed

City staff will compile a report detailing several options on how to fill the city attorney position.

Following a 3-2 vote, Tuesday — with councilmen Righeimer and Mansoor dissenting — the city will explore whether to stick with Tom Duarte, of the Fullerton-based Jones & Mayer law firm, which has been the contracted city attorney for Costa Mesa since 2004.

Other options include having an in-house city attorney that would be designated as a city employee, issuing a request for proposals for legal services, or requiring the position be elected by voters.

Councilman John Stephens requested the issue to study if there is a more effective way of delivering legal services to the city.

“I’m not convinced that we’re getting the best service and I’m not convinced that we’re getting the most effective and most economical service,” he said.

The city paid the firm at least $2.5 million for legal services for the 2016-17 fiscal year.

Duarte has received criticism for signing off on a one-page staff report prepared by Righeimer requesting that then-mayor Foley be stripped of her title. Some council members said the item had been unlawfully put on the council’s Nov. 7, 2017 agenda.

Stephens said he was disappointed with Duarte over “the services we received on that item.”

Righeimer accused Stephens, an attorney, of trying to exact vengeance on Duarte after Foley was voted out as mayor.

“This is a personal vendetta against Tom Duarte because John’s upset,” he said.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/07/costa-mesa-council-gives-nod-to-symbolic-sober-living-resolution-and-to-explore-options-for-city-attorney-position/

Feb 07

Heritage House Museum to celebrate Black History Month

The Heritage Museum of Orange County will celebrate Black History Month on Saturday, Feb. 10 with a free event featuring live music, a historic photograph exhibit, storytelling, arts and crafts for kids and food.

The event runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The museum is at 3101 W. Havard St.

Information: 714-540-0404.

Louis Casiano Jr., 714-796-2478

lcasiano@scng.com

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/07/heritage-house-museum-to-celebrate-black-history-month/

Feb 07

Orange Coast College to host 24 Hour Play fest

Orange Coast College will host its eighth annual 24 Hour Play Festival this weekend. In a 24-hour span, student playwrights and actors will write a play, rehearse it and then perform. OCC is the only community college to perform the grueling festival.

The free event will be held at the school’s Drama Lab Studio, 2701 Fairview Road, on Saturday, Feb. 10 and Sunday, Feb. 11. Performances start at 7:30 p.m.

Parking is available in Lot C and D near Fairview and Arlington Drive.

Louis Casiano Jr., 714-796-2478

lcasiano@scng.com

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/07/orange-coast-college-to-host-24-hour-play-fest/