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Different Ways of 'Facing the County's Crowded Future'

March 24, 1985

As a member of the Huntington Beach Planning Commission, I found "Facing the County's Crowded Future" (March 17) interesting, for it was written by John Erskine, a fellow Huntington Beach planning commissioner.

Erskine's unhappiness with Orange County Tomorrow and its "Ph.D.s of urban elitism" prompts this response, for I had attended the organizational meeting of Orange County Tomorrow the previous day and I hold a Ph.D. in American history (not urban elitism).

Erskine's article presented a detailed case for constructing three proposed freeways in south Orange County to allow growth to continue unimpeded. Given his position as executive director of the Orange County chapter of the Building Industry Assn., Erskine's argument is not surprising.

His case is persuasive if one holds that continuing uncontrolled growth is a given fact about which one can and ought to do nothing. The history of the county, however, demonstrates that the facilities built to allow growth today often become the problems of tomorrow.

Unfortunately, many who advocate new freeways and other bases for growth do not look far enough to the future. I note that Erskine's projections do not extend beyond the year 2000, which is only 15 years away!

Are we simply to go on constructing more freeways when experience suggests that the new "transportation corridors" of today are destined to become the "gridlocks" of a far more crowded county in the early 21st Century?

A recent countywide poll indicated that more than 70% of county residents want growth to occur either "much more slowly" or "somewhat more slowly" than is now taking place. Such evidence ought to demonstrate that the desire for slower growth is not limited to those whom Erskine terms the "Ph.D.s of urban elitism."

RICHARD ROWE

Huntington Beach

Asking the executive director of the Orange County Chapter of the Building Industry Assn. his opinion of how the county should be developed is like asking the fox to design the locks on the hen house!

ROBB WILLIS

Newport Beach

Wisely, the Los Angeles Times has congratulated the citizens of Santa Barbara on "sensible growth restrictions" and compromise on the issue of growth. The sensible growth restriction entailed reducing the potential maximum population by one-third. Unfortunately, Orange County encourages rapid and expensive growth that cannot pay its way. The doubling of the Aliso-Viejo project zoning from 10,000 to 20,000 units shows the supervisors' attitude on growth.

Fortunately, a new organization, Orange County Tomorrow, has been formed to address the many problems caused by overdevelopment in Orange County. The Building Industry Assn. of Orange County has dismissed these people as naysayers.

The growth industry is so frightened of Orange County Tomorrow that even before the group has acted, John Erskine, the BIA executive director, has called it "self-serving" and urges it to join those working for immediate solutions.

Someday, just as voters in Santa Barbara and Napa have had an opportunity to express their preferences on "growth," we in Orange County will be given the opportunity to express our collective will.

JON S. BRAND

Laguna Beach

John Erskine's commentary about our county's crowded future reeks of fear--the fear of becoming the executive director of the one non-growth group in Orange County: The Building Industry Assn.

He calls the action-oriented Orange County Tomorrow group self-serving naysayers. This is absolute truth: 80% of Orange County residents say nay to abusive and destructive growth.

I support free enterprise's most powerful weapon, the boycott. When potential homebuyers learn that their families will be blacklisted socially, in the schools, by merchants and in the job market, they will not buy in these boycotted tracts. After one or two effective boycotts, the investors and lenders will say "nay" and developers will soon learn that there is no ally against an enraged community fighting for the survival of its homeland.

BRUCE CONN

Trabuco Canyon

Jeffrey A. Perlman, in "Odd Coalition Forms" (March 13), tells it like it is. True, the mix behind Orange County Tomorrow does seem odd, from a conventional political point of view.

Tom Rogers, a longtime Orange County Republican who convened the group, talks of protecting our "quality of life" and our "life style": practically the very words Laguna Beach councilmen use to get elected and reelected.

The unifying theme--county-wide, statewide, nationwide, worldwide--is environmentalism. And this is particularly important to the bedroom communities that make up Orange County. People moved here to escape unpleasant and unhealthy urban conditions, and they don't want those conditions to follow them.

Unfortunately, we seldom have a chance to vote on a clear-cut environmental issue. Even the defeat of Proposition A last June may have been more anti-tax than pro-environment. Now, Perlman reports, the Rogers group may launch a countywide ballot initiative on the huge, developer-oriented, proposed freeways.

That's all to the good. We Lagunans are sure we've been right all along; it's the Supervisors who are way out in left field.

DAVID ALAN MUNRO

Laguna Beach

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