Anaheim Hills residents looking to block housing development in Deer Canyon

David González Image
Wednesday, August 30, 2023
OC residents aim to save Deer Canyon from housing project
Anaheim Hills residents are hoping to block plans to build a housing development in Deer Canyon Park Preserve.

ANAHEIM HILLS, Calif. (KABC) -- Anaheim Hills residents living near Deer Canyon Park Preserve are banding together to stop a possible multi-residential housing development from changing the landscape of their neighborhood.

Tony Baxter has lived next to the preserve for 45 years.

"This was created as a scenic area that includes wildlife and the natural flora and fauna that was part of California," Baxter said.

The Hills Preserve is a 76-acre project proposed by SALT Development near Santa Ana Canyon Road and the 91 Freeway.

It would include a seven-story apartment building, six single-family lots and a commercial area.

The developer's plans show more than half of the plan area would be reserved for open space and recreation.

It's a project some residents like Linda Chapman oppose.

"We're working on our second thousand petition signings and people just can't grab the petition fast enough to say, 'Let me sign. I don't want this in our community,'" Chapman said.

Also, "It's just an amazing ecosystem in here and it's not going to help when you have this building with seven stories and a rooftop bar, and speakers and lights. That's not going to be good for the community or the wildlife," she said.

In 2017, the Canyon 2 Fire ravaged through the surrounding areas.

Chapman and Baxter said trying to evacuate then was a nightmare.

They fear adding hundreds of apartment homes would make it more dangerous for folks trying to get out during an emergency.

"Getting onto that street as the only access out is almost near impossible when everybody is trying to reach it at the same time so there's a lot of concerns in that," Baxter said.

Erin Ryan, spokesperson for the city of Anaheim said nothing has been decided on the future of the land and the community's input is appreciated.

"We want them to tell us what's of concern or interest to them as we develop the environmental report. We expect to have a draft environmental report later this year," Ryan said.

Chapman said the land wasn't zoned to have this kind of development and they want to see Deer Canyon stay the same.

"Our community is not for this," she said. "They do not want to see this LA-style building in the middle of our rural community."

The city of Anaheim will hold a scoping meeting on Sept. 7 at 6 p.m. where residents can voice their concerns.