1. Construct a multi-purpose trail system along the creek bank connecting The Santa Ana River National Recreation Trail in Santa Ana to Santiago Oaks Regional Park in northeast Orange.
2. Create a greenway (where possible) along the creek by
restoring the creek bed and its adjacent uplands with native trees and shrubs.
3. Restore the Creek’s natural contribution to groundwater recharge by removal of concrete parking lots from the creek bed and replacing non-native plants with soft-stemmed natives.
4. Maintain or improve flood protection goals defined by county officials and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
As was described in the forward to this document, the idea for a trail and greenway along the creek was initially proposed through local planning documents in the 1950s and 1960s. Along with these studies and plans, some progress has also been made in its actual implementation. For example, by 2008, a Class I bikeway (paved off-road bike path) existed from the west side of the 5 Freeway in Santa Ana to Tustin Street to in Orange. By 2016 (as this document is being prepared for publication) The Class I bikeway has been extended east to the Cannon Street Bridge over Santiago Creek. We now have approximately 6.5 miles of great Class I bikeway. The bike path is well used by bikers, runners and hikers as can be seen in Figure 1, a photo taken on a Saturday afternoon just east of Cambridge St. However we are short of our goal of connecting to the Santa Ana River Regional Trail in the west by approximately 1,5 miles and short of Santiago Creek Regional Park in the east by about the same distance.
Some segments of the greenway also exist, most notably in Santiago Park in Santa Ana and a segment just east of Hart Park in Orange which was planted with native trees and shrubs in 2002. Santiago Park, in particular the area east of the Santiago Avenue Bridge, provides an example of what the
Santiago Creek Greenway could look like over much of its length. The photograph in Figure 2 is a view looking east from the Santiago Avenue Bridge after one of the rains in March of 2005. The sycamores and oaks in the photo are typical southern California native riparian species. The existing bike path runs through the greenway on the north side of the creek and a footpath runs along the south side.
In addition to the existing Greenway segments, there are other scenic areas along the creek that with moderate efforts can become elements of the greenway. However there are also areas that will be a serious challenge.