The Mission Viejo Co., one of the county's major developers, said Thursday it is resigning from the Building Industry Assn./Orange County Region because of association officials' criticism of the county Environmental Management Agency.
David A. Celestin, company vice president, said he was also quitting as a member of the BIA executive committee and board.
"Our action derives from a number of past BIA/OCR positions which have been at odds with ours but has been precipitated by BIA/OCR's latest attack on the Orange County Environmental Management Agency," Celestin said in a letter to BIA President Chuck Diamond, copies of which were provided to county supervisors.
Celestin said comments by John Erskine, BIA executive director, and Philip Bettencourt, chairman of the BIA local governmental affairs committee, "were uncalled for" and contrary to the company's and his own views.
Celestin said that "the inaccuracy and the abrasiveness of the statements given to the press" by BIA representatives had damaged the building industry's relations with EMA.
On Aug. 19, the day after EMA director Murray Storm announced that he was resigning because of conflicts with the county administrative officer, Bettencourt said some developers had complained that the agency showed "a lack of urgency" in getting plans approved.
Erskine said that a survey of BIA members showed concern for "attitudinal problems" on the part of some EMA staffers, with "problems of repetitious checks and staff asking for different information on items . . . typical bureaucratic problems."
Their comments prompted a Sept. 2 letter from the four assistant directors of the agency to the BIA board outlining programs instituted by the agency in recent years "to streamline the development process and to improve our service levels to your industry."
The assistant directors said agency management would continue to be responsive to the industry. But they said that "we cannot speak for staff who must face the industry every day" if they believe that Bettencourt's and Erskine's comments "represent the true feelings of BIA's members" about the agency.
Diamond, Erskine and Bettencourt could not be reached for comment.