Politics, cityhood and the search for more money will dominate municipal menus across the county in 1988.
Expensive, hard-nosed campaigns are expected in Santa Ana and Irvine, where residents for the first time will directly elect new mayors, a trend that may spread in the coming year as voters seek a stronger voice in local government.
In Santa Ana, a major restructuring of the City Council will eliminate one of seven council wards, and in November voters will elect a mayor. Current Mayor Dan Young and Councilman John Acosta say they will run for the post.
A similar skirmish is expected in Irvine, where Democratic Mayor Larry Agran and Republican Councilman C. David Baker may square off in the June city elections. The two have expressed strong interest in the job, but neither has declared his candidacy.
In Garden Grove, another mayoral race is likely to pit current Mayor J. Tilman Williams against longtime Councilman Milton Krieger in November. Williams beat Krieger by just 18 votes to win the job in a special election two months ago.
To the south, incorporation will remain the big issue.
On March 31, Mission Viejo officially becomes the county's 27th city. A week later, residents in Dana Point, Capistrano Beach and the coastal area of Laguna Niguel will vote on whether to become the 28th.
In May, a county commission overseeing incorporation matters is expected to decide on a Laguna Niguel cityhood proposal. The commission also is expected to study a similar plan to merge El Toro, Laguna Hills and Aegean Hills into yet another new city in the south county.
For many existing cities, it again will be a fiscal high-wire act in 1988 as officials scramble to tap new revenue sources.
In Anaheim, the City Council may be forced to cut spending or increase local taxes to cover a projected $8-million budget deficit.
Fountain Valley voters will decide Feb. 23 whether to approve the controversial Southpark development, a 140-acre project that city officials say will generate 14,000 new jobs and millions of dollars in taxes. Opponents say it will create undue traffic and noise.