Landowners in the Santiago Canyon area asked the Orange County Local Agency Formation Commission on Wednesday to dismantle a rural water district that they say is unfairly blocking development of their land.
The property owners want to withdraw from the Santa Ana Mountains County Water District and join another one. Susan Trager, an attorney for the owners of the 75-acre Herrmann-Jensen Nurseries Inc. on El Toro Road, said that they want to build 230 homes there but that the district has told them it can allocate water for only 90 homes. The nursery owners have sued the district, claiming inverse condemnation. They asked for $10 million in damages.
The water district's attorney, Alex Bowie, told the commission that the district had recently undertaken steps to purchase more water and that the commission should not act on the property owners' request.
Trager called the district's recent actions "a lot of smoke, a lot of doves, a lot of words . . . but not one commitment or promise that water will be obtained."
The commission postponed a decision for a month.