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Support of Slow-Growth Plan Soars : Orange County Residents Backing It Solidly, Poll Finds

February 07, 1988|RICHARD BEENE | Times Staff Writer

Orange County residents continue to overwhelmingly support a controversial slow-growth initiative, despite well-organized opposition from developers and other efforts to keep the proposal off the June ballot, a poll conducted for The Times has found.

In a clear reflection of frustration with traffic congestion, smog and other issues associated with rapid growth, the poll showed 73% of the surveyed registered voters supporting the slow-growth proposal--an even greater margin of support than was found in a similar poll last September. Respondents said they see the countywide initiative as having a potentially positive effect on the quality of life and the economy.

Detailed Look at Attitudes

The Orange County Poll, conducted for the Orange County Edition of The Times last week by Mark Baldassare & Associates, provides a detailed look at county attitudes toward slow growth at a time when backers of a proposed initiative are racing to meet a Tuesday deadline for signatures to qualify their measure for the June ballot.

"It is a landslide of support," Baldassare said. "There is support for the initiative across the board--in every age, sex and income group."

The poll found that support for the slow-growth measure crossed all demographic lines, bringing together the young and the old, Republicans and Democrats and people of all income groups.

The more people knew about the slow-growth movement, the more they tended to support it, the poll found. And while the initiative enjoyed greater support among those with higher income levels, it also appealed to a cross-section of people regardless of their incomes.

Would Monitor Growth

The proposed ballot measure, known as the Citizens Sensible Growth and Traffic Control Initiative, would condition future growth in Orange County on the ability of local roads and public services to keep pace with bigger workloads.

While the number of supporters of the initiative has remained constant since a similar poll was taken in September, opposition to the initiative has shrunk by 7 points and the number of people who are uncertain about the issue has increased by 9 points.

The September poll was taken as part of UC Ivine's Orange County Annual Survey.

Despite major media attention, the latest survey found, only about half of the county's adults had heard of the proposals to limit growth and only a little more than one-third of those were very interested in the topic.

High Level of Support

Nevertheless, Baldassare said, the level of support was reminiscent of the overwhelming statewide popularity of the 1978 Proposition 13 tax-reform initiative. He said it would "take a monumental change in public opinion" for the measure to fail if it makes it onto the June ballot.

The poll, conducted Jan. 31 to Feb. 2, surveyed 600 Orange County adults using a random sample of listed and unlisted telephone numbers. The poll had a margin of error of 4% either way, meaning that it is 95% certain that the results are within four percentage points of what they would be if every adult resident of the county had been interviewed.

To qualify their initiative for the June ballot, slow-growth supporters must turn in 66,000 valid signatures by Tuesday. Only two weeks ago, organizers warned that the petition drive was falling short, and said they needed a last-minute push to collect additional signatures before the deadline.

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