SANTA ANA The 340-home Esperanza Hills development proposed for the hills just north of Yorba Linda’s city limits was approved by county supervisors on Tuesday despite strong opposition from a residents’ group voicing concern over access and the prospect of too many homes in a fire-prone area.
The supervisors voted 4-1 to approve the project on 469 acres.
“The Orange County planning staff and county counsel sat down in a lot of meeting with us to go through and make sure that they could continue to support the project,” said Doug Wymore, a project manager for Esperanza Hills. “They put us through the third degree on multiple occasions to satisfy them that we were delivering the best project that we could deliver.”
In March, the county’s Planning Commission recommended approval of the project with two modifications: the addition of a second, full-time public access roadway, and a pre-annexation agreement with the city of Yorba Linda.
But the supervisors accepted the project without those additions.
Wymore said separate pairs of California gnatcatchers, a threatened songbird species, had been observed where the second access road would cross. “It became readily apparent that that was not a wise option,” Wymore said.
The project still includes a bridge, but Wymore said it has been relocated and redesigned. The new bridge was moved about 1,000 feet along Stonehaven Drive and will be 80 feet long and 85 feet wide.
There is also an emergency road for first-responders. “The emergency road that goes with this goes to the heart of the project, and it adds a staging area,” Wymore said.
Supervisor Lisa Bartlett said the Esperanza Hills project includes fire safeguards, such as fire-hardened homes, fuel-modification areas and gravity-fed water systems.
“Those are things that are significant for this project site that benefit the entire region,” Bartlett said. “The project itself, it meets all the legal definitions, and I think at this point I’m satisfied that with regard to sheriff and fire and all of the other concerns, that things have been properly mitigated at this point by the applicant.”
Dozens of Yorba Linda residents showed up representing Protect Our Homes and Hills in the supervisors’ chambers in Santa Ana.
“The supervisors put developers’ dollars in front of public safety, and it’s disgusting,” Yorba Linda resident Brian Gass, a member of the group, said after the meeting. “We are going to continue to evaluate our options, but there is still an…