Rick Reiff Editorializes the Shit out of PBS SoCal's Story on Trabuco's Saddle Crest Development

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Kenneth M. Ruggiano
A few weeks ago PBS SoCal asked that as many opponents as possible of the Saddle Crest development in Trabuco Canyon congregate at Cook's Corner for a newscast. The story would focus around the recent lawsuit that conservation groups have brought against the county. Yet it wouldn't have mattered if five or 50 people showed, because SoCal Insider host (and Orange County Business Journal executive editor and Weekly pal) Rick Reiff would've still characterized them as hippy-dippy interlopers opposed to capitalism's Long March.

The segment begins with a brief background into the Saddle Crest development, a 65 home master-planned community on 113 acres just north of Cook's Corner. Then it offers both sides of the debate. Two members of the Saddleback Canyons Conservancy, Gloria Sefton and Rich Gomez, explain how the development would increase traffic, have negative environmental impacts, and cut into the land's recreational use. In order for the development to go through the county made amendments to the Foothill - Trabuco Specific Plan, which dictates how the land may be used.

Next Bill Campbell, the Orange County Supervisor who oversees the canyon area, gave his side of the story, which was basically saying that everything is A-OK. He believes the amendments made were good changes to the Plan, that the area's environmental health is not at risk, and that the petition the conservationists handed in was shoddy--mainly because it contained signatures from people living out of California.

This part of the newscast was done well--balanced, and with a good overview of the issue for people just learning about Saddle Crest. It's the last third of the story that became silly with Reiff dismissing the anti-development canyonites as Nimbys.

"I've gotta believe that most of these folks that are opposing it haven't lived there very long," Reiff said. Funny, because that's actually a reason why it's not super-easy to buy a home in the canyon--people live there for fucking ever! Reiff follows this statement by then saying that, not too long ago, Cook's Corner was the last stop before the wilderness. Does he know anything about OC history? The communities in Silverado and Modjeska were first established over 100 years ago and are some of the oldest in the county.

It does, however, continue with Reiff addressing the compromise of Saddle Crest containing fewer, but larger homes. He claims that only elite, rich people would be able to move into these. And middle-income families would have been able to afford a plot in the 65 home spread? Doubtful. No matter what, if any, sort of community is built on that land it is going to be expensive to join. Why else would the developers be fighting so hard? They wouldn't be doing this for a plot in Stanton.

Last, Reiff ends on a high note by mentioning how un-nimby he is. He lives in an old home in Laguna Beach and doesn't ask people to stay out. Totally the same thing.

Anyhoo, here's the clip:

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 @Mitchell_Young you may be right...more people=more houses, but let's not forget that there are currently 5000 or so proposed homes already approved in East Orange (Irvine Lake area) that are awaiting an economic change that will ensure their sales. Although these developments will degrade wildlife habitat as Rutter will, they do not directly affect the canyon area specific plans. This is the HUGE issue left out of Rick Reiff's sarcastic, ill informed remarks.


The development's environmental documentation didn't JUST change their specific plan, it changed the specific plan to allow for THIS development. So, one must ask what the point of HAVING a specific plan is if the county doesn't honor it. And that question pertains to ALL specific plans in county areas.


County has long tried to apply flat land development to the canyons which is both inappropriate and expensive. Is it REALLY too much to ask to have the canyons treated as the special wild places they are v. looking like everywhere else?  


Hey white libs, more immigration means more people.  more people = more houses. The folks buying in the Canyon might be America-born and possibly white, but that's due to their neighborhoods turning into little Saigons or Barrios or what-have-you.


You want to cut off the source of wealth and power for 'developers' in OC and SoCal? You cut off the increased demand for housing caused by immigration. 


Also, the first sentence needs editing. 


@Mitchell_Young Thanks, Mitchell. Yes, certainly overpopulation in metropolitan areas calls for more housing. The problem is that we already have a literal crap load of housing. Can you honestly tell me that if you needed a house to rent or buy, you couldn't find one right now? Not to mention, this is an elite development - so the kind of families who may be "pushed" out by immigrants wouldn't be able to afford these homes anyway. This development is not being built because we need housing, it's being built because it will make money. I'm not even going to address the slightly racist attitude that you have about white people's neighborhoods being turned into barrios. Sounds like you're living in the era of white flight...

And yet, regardless of any of those arguments, the canyon is one of the only wilderness areas left in Orange County. This should be protected at all costs. 

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