Where’s Our Park?

Hey, man, where's the park?

The north part of Orange County has a notorious lack of parks and open space. And while the County of Orange spends millions on its park system annually, including vast tracts of parkland in south county, and even on the Harbor Patrol in the wealthy enclave of Newport Beach, us taxpayers up north get almost nothing. We have Craig Park and Clark Park which total about 130 acres; meanwhile the County controls around 60,000 acres of park and open space counting the new Irvine Company “gift.” Now that’s just wrong.

Former 4th District Supervisor Chris Norby kept talking about this unfairness, but he never actually accomplished anything to fix the inequity. Norby’s successor Shawn Nelson also made this topic a campaign issue. Will he be able to succeed where his predecessor tapped out? Let’s hope so. The opportunity for additional parkland, and even bike trails in utility rights-of-way are there. It may not be easy, but some of us voters expect elected folks to do the hard stuff.


10 Replies to “Where’s Our Park?”

  1. Don’t forget about Carbon Canyon Regional Park!

    Every time Rancho Mission Viejo or the Irvine Company subdivides land in the unincorporated areas of OC, they dedicate acreage to OCHBP. Then, the neighboring city, Irvine or Mission Viejo, usually annexes in the new subdivision. Since those two land barons do not have property in northern OC, it makes it tough for them to “donate” land that isn’t theirs. So, let’s not compare southern OC to northern since they are vastly different in that regard.

    How many acres is enough and where would you suggest a park to be built?

  2. Maybe I should have specified the 4th District (Carbon Canyon is in the Third).

    Nevertheless, my point still stands: the vast majority of County parkland of one kind or other is in south County.

    As far as an idea: how about 50-100 acres in Coyote Hills purchased with a bond leveraged by money diverted from its current appropriation in Newport and Huntington Harbor?

    How about micro parks in the unincorporated portion of the 4th District?

  3. There is also Featherly Regional Park.

    Fred’s idea of buying land with our credit card (bonds) is always a bad idea. Save the credit card for a real emergency or disaster.

    Pretending OC has the money, what if Chevron doesn’t want to sell land to the County? Where do we find another 50-100 acres?

    Fred’s post on the park deficiency is correct and timely. Pressuring Nelson is the appropriate way to get OCHBP interested in a north OC investment. He’s a smart guy; let him figure out how we will pay for it…

  4. This post ignores the history of city-county politics over the decades. Going back to the 1960’s and forward the County had a Master Plan of Regional Parks as part of its land use planning. That plan identified potential regional parks to be added to the system as development took place. Unfortunately over the decades some of the older cities rejected proposals for regional parks that were in their boundaries. Nike base in Cypress was rejected by Cypress, they wanted it developed as commercial/industrial to keep the land on the tax roles, and that is what happened there. Santa Ana rejected a couple of parks along the Santa Ana River, same with Anaheim (though Anaheim did accept Yorba Regional Park.) Buena Park did not support the full plan for what is now a much smaller than originally planned Clark Park (identified as Los Coyotes in the County Master Plan). Since cities controlled land use decisions within their boundaries, and many fought the idea of large county parks in their jurisdictions, the opportunities for parks occurred where the county controlled land use, and that means south county. You thus need to look to current and past city electeds for what you do or do not have. North county cities did support Chino Hills State park not because they wanted a park, but because it was an alternative to a prposed Chino Hills International Airport. Yes, this was the model for the Great Park switcheroo 30 years later. You need to look to current and past city electeds for what you do or do not have, not members of the County Board of Supervisors who yielded to the “wisdom” of varoius City Councils in abandoning plans for parks in their cities. In recent years, the Board of Supervisors has allocated county park money, including the county’s share of State Park bonds voted in by the California voters, to cities to help them with park and rec. facilities. Millions have been allocated by the Supervisors to the cities in this way while existing County Regional Parks, such as Irvine Park, needed the money for capital maintenance including sewers. So, as you might suspect, when I hear cities whine about perceived lack of park space I have little sympathy for them.

  5. That was then. This is now. When you’ve been around awhile you tend to dwell on ancient history.

  6. Yeah Joe, but I have learned over the years that you can’t really understand where you are unless you understand how you got there! You’ll learn that eventually. Hang in there kid —

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