By: Orange County Supervisor Pat Bates
Much media attention was garnered this week after residents in the Fifth District unincorporated community of Wagon Wheel received notices last Friday from OC Public Works that their neighborhood holiday light display, which includes lights strung across two county-owned roadways, was an encroachment violation and needed to be removed. Residents took to media outlets to voice their frustration.
Upon learning of this matter Monday, I met with the OC Public Works Director to determine a solution that would satisfy the Orange County Municipal Code while allowing the residents to keep their lights up.
Though the Code requires a permit to be issued before “installation of any nature” can be constructed “across, upon, in or under” a County roadway, I requested the County work to get the residents the proper permits (after the fact) and expedite the process to do so. To help expedite processing of the permit applications, I also asked that fees be waived and the deadline for the residents to come into compliance be extended.
Going forward, I’ll be working with the OC Public Works Department to ensure the unincorporated communities, both residents and homeowners associations, are provided with information regarding required encroachment permits and how to proceed for any and all event activities they hold in their neighborhoods.
Currently, we’re working to make the permit application process more user friendly by allowing it to be downloaded online and creating a link to it on our website.
The County will also proactively reach out to unincorporated communities well in advance of the holiday season next year to remind them that they are required to obtain the proper permits for any and all activities that encroach on public property and how to obtain the permits.
At this time, while the County has extended the permit deadline for those residents on the streets with lighting displays in the Wagon Wheel community, we are still awaiting permit applications from many residents. To download an online permit application, please click here.
For any questions related to the County’s permit requirements for unincorporated communities, please call (714) 667-8888.