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Two-Thirds in Poll Favor Countywide Growth Limit

November 10, 1987|JOHN NEEDHAM | Times County Bureau Chief

More than two-thirds of the residents polled in a central Orange County supervisorial district said they favor limiting growth throughout the county, it was announced Monday.

More than half the 9,603 respondents to Supervisor Roger R. Stanton's survey said they felt that "a broad, countywide growth-control law would be a good idea" even if it meant the loss of jobs "and some decline in county economic activity."

But an overwhelming number--87.95% of the respondents--answered "No" when asked if a growth-control law affecting only southern Orange County, but not other regions of the county, would be a good idea.

Stanton said the results represent "neither a 'go' nor a 'no-go' " on a slow-growth initiative now being circulated in the county.

The proposed slow-growth initiative would bar major construction projects in areas where average vehicle speeds drop below certain limits and where vehicles have to wait at an intersection for more than one red light. It also would set minimum response times for emergency vehicles and requirements for providing flood control and parks.

Backers of the initiative said they expect to collect the 66,000 signatures needed to put it on the ballot next June for residents of unincorporated county areas and additional signatures to put it before residents of the county's 26 cities as well.

However, Stanton said Monday that he has not seen any evidence that initiative backers are seeking signatures in cities, despite their claims.

Other supervisors have said that stopping growth in only one area of the county will not solve the countywide problem of clogged freeways and jammed surface streets.

In Stanton's poll, 64.05% of the respondents said a growth control law throughout the county would be a good idea, while 32.32% disagreed. And 53.43% said such a law would be a good idea even if it meant the loss of jobs, while 40.62% disagreed.

The questionnaire was mailed last July to nearly 100,000 residents in Stanton's 1st District, which includes Santa Ana, Fountain Valley and parts of Garden Grove, Westminster and Tustin.

The supervisor said the response to his survey was "by no means a mandate for the initiative in the form I've seen it, which is very complex and difficult to interpret."

He said he would prefer "a simple law, one that is understood by everybody and clearly does something in a measurable way.

"An example would be, in contrast to the present initiative, a 2% per year growth limitation, with a five-year limitation (on the life of the initiative)."

That, Stanton said, would let officials decide if the measure is working and if it should be modified, extended or scrapped.

"I would be in favor of a more rational solution to this problem (of growth) than I have seen in the first draft of the initiative," Stanton said. "I would favor the exploration of that type of solution, and certainly I'd like to carry on some dialogue in that regard."

Top county staff officials have claimed that the cost of the initiative could be more than $1 billion in terms of new requirements for the county and have said the measure is so ambiguous that it inevitably will end up in the courts.

Stanton noted that if the measure covers only unincorporated county territory, it will have virtually no effect on his district, where 95% of the residents are governed by city councils.

The supervisor also pointed to 50% of the poll respondents who said the county's current method of building new roads and traffic corridors by using fees from builders and/or new residents is a good one.

Stanton said his office still is receiving replies to the survey, adding that his staff members believe that the 10% return rate was the highest for any districtwide poll conducted by a supervisor.

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