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Newport Center Plan

August 17, 1986

Apparently the people have spoken again. This time in Newport Beach. And for the same reason Irvine residents recently did: the right to vote. The behemoth, too, was the same: the Irvine Co. Even the team the people defeated was similar: a development-minded City Council majority egged on by the Irvine Co. It tried to stop the people from the right to say "No" to further development.

In Irvine, the voters replaced the developer-oriented council majority with those of a different mind. The issue there was stopping the San Joaquin Freeway, designed mainly to benefit private developers. At issue in Newport Beach this time, too, was an Irvine Co. plan: a $300-million Newport Center development.

The flawed thinking in this Newport Beach caper seems scintillatingly pinpointed by Newport Mayor Philip R. Maurer, an expansion backer. He said "a special election (to stop the expansion) would cost us $60,000 (Times, Aug. 13) and it doesn't cost them a thing." Aren't the "us" and the "thems" the same? Newport Beach taxpayers? Come on, Mr. Mayor!

This was a callous attempt to silence the voice of the people. Fearful that the voters would indeed kill the plan, pro-expansionists brazenly have sought to prevent the electorate from voting. But they're not through yet.

Falling back to the democratic process, one expansionist says, "We'll be ready with energy and money to wage an effective battle at the polls." No doubt.

TOM ALEXANDER

Laguna Beach

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