Orange County environmentalist Terry Welsh has been the No. 1 advocate of Banning Ranch's open space since 2000. Although the groups he spearheads have changed names over the years, the message is always about preservation and conservation. For the last two years, under the Banning Ranch Conservancy, Welsh has waged a battle against city plans to construct a 850-foot access road stretching north from West Coast Highway.
Costa Mesa sank nearly $500,000 into defending itself after Benito Acosta claimed the City Council and then-Mayor Allan Mansoor stripped him of his right to free speech at a Jan. 3, 2006, meeting in which he urged his supporters to stand to protest the city's enforcement on illegal immigration. The council stopped them by abruptly calling for a recess. The ACLU recently announced it would take up his appeal.