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Orange County Digest

San Clemente : Lawsuit Seeks to Block City's Growth Initiative

December 17, 1985|Robert Schwartz

The authors of a slow-growth initiative that will be put to the city's voters in February have filed a lawsuit in Orange County Superior Court seeking to block the City Council from placing its own countermeasure on the ballot.

The council voted to draft its own ballot measure after it was forced to set a special election date for an initiative written by city residents Thomas Lorch and Brian Rice--and signed by 19% of the city's voters--that would limit new homes in the backcountry to 500 per year.

More than 1,600 residential building permits have been issued this year, most of them for the projects in the rolling hills of eastern San Clemente that could boost the city's population from 31,000 to 60,000 in 10 to 15 years.

The council's measure--a restatement of key provisions already in the city's General Plan--does not place a numerical limit on new homes. It proposes that the city halt the issuing of building permits if development outstrips the city's ability to provide services, or if a particular development would have a negative impact on the city's finances.

The lawsuit, filed Friday, charges that the council's ballot measure is really a proposed amendment to the General Plan, and that such an amendment requires an accompanying Environmental Impact Report in order to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act, according to Gregory Hile, attorney for Rice and Lorch.

"The alternative measure was a discretionary act by the council, and it would have to be recommended by the Planning Commission (to be legal)--there's a whole long involved process (for General Plan amendments)," Hile said.

A citizens' initiative is not subject to the same requirements, Hile said.

City Atty. Jeff Oderman was unavailable for comment Monday, but at a recent council meeting he rebutted Hile's argument by saying that the City Council's legal right to place an initiative on the ballot is the same as that of citizens.

City Clerk Myrna Erway said she had to know which measures would be on the ballot by Jan. 22 in order to have them printed in time for the Feb. 25 election.

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