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One of O.C.'s last orange groves gets historic designation

June 6, 2012 | 10:25 am

The Sexlinger orchard in Santa Ana was granted historic designation by the city.

A group of preservationists attempting to prevent the demolition of one of Orange County's last sizable orange orchards has slowed down a developer's plans to build homes on the property.

The Santa Ana City Council on Monday night voted to give historic designation to the Sexlinger orchard, a five-acre parcel of about 230 citrus trees in the northern part of the city.

The decision comes after the city’s historic resources commission denied the designation in April.

The plot of land was purchased by the Sexlinger family in 1913, and is considered one of the region’s oldest unaltered orange groves. After the last living Sexlinger descendant died in 2006, the land was given to Concordia University and Orange Lutheran High School, which are working with a real estate development company to build 24 single-family homes on the land.

But the historic designation will mandate a waiting period of eight months before a demolition permit can be issued by the city. Santa Ana will also conduct an analysis of viable alternatives to destruction, said Jay Trevino, the executive director of the city’s planning and building agency.

For the preservationists, the eight months offer a grace period to raise funds to purchase the orchard, said Jeannie Gillett, a coordinator for the Save Our Orchard coalition. She said she is pleased with the City Council’s vote.

“It made me feel pretty proud of our elected officials, that they’re listening to us and they are understanding what this orchard means and what it can mean for the city,” she said.


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Photo: The Sexlinger orchard in Santa Ana was granted historic designation by the city. Credit: Christina House / For The Times