Angry Costa Mesa residents have begun referendum drives against two office projects approved by the City Council along the San Diego Freeway, a spokeswoman for a slow-growth group said Monday.
Costa Mesa Residents for Responsible Growth is seeking reduced density and a temporary ban on consideration of major projects, said Diane Goldberger, the group's spokeswoman.
"We just mailed about 2,300 letters today, and we're going to be hand-delivering thousands more. We have a 30-day deadline to get about 6,000 signatures," she said.
Recently, the City Council approved an amendment to the city's general plan to cover a $400-million, 94-acre Home Ranch project sought by H.J. Segerstrom & Sons.
Last week, the City Council voted 3 to 2 to approve Arnel Development Co.'s $90-million Metro Pointe project. Council members Dave Wheeler and Mary Hornbuckle opposed the project.
"The City Council has ignored what the residents have been trying to tell them, which is to slow down the growth until you have the infrastructure to accommodate it," said Wheeler, who supports both referendum drives.
Wheeler, who also voted against Arnel's General Plan amendment, accused the other council members of being "out of touch" with the people they represent.
"(The City Council) approved 3.5 million square feet of office space. The only alternative for the voters was to get a referendum," he said.
Goldberger added: "These decisions will impact not only those residents living north of the San Diego Freeway, but it will eventually impact the whole city because of added transportation and housing needs."
City Clerk Eileen Phinney said residents have 30 days to collect signatures for the referendums. Phinney said 15%, or 6,420, of the 42,801 registered voters in Costa Mesa must sign each petition for the referendums to be placed on the June 7 ballot.
If 10%, or 4,280, of the registered voters sign the petitions, the referendums would be placed on the Nov. 8 ballot, she said.
If enough signatures are gathered to qualify, the City Council will have the option of rescinding the action on each project or putting the separate issues on the ballot, City Atty. Tom Wood said.
Arnel's development calls for three office towers to be built on 12 acres of farmland bordered by South Coast Drive, Bear Street and the San Diego Freeway. It will include 4-story, 6-story and 12-story structures totaling 460,000 square feet, plus 4-level and 6-level parking garages.
Residents opposed to the development contend that Metro Pointe would cause further problems to the area's already-unstable water table and result in an increase in noise and traffic in the area.
The General Plan amendment won by Segerstrom sets limits on the eight, density and traffic for the site, which is north of the San Diego Freeway between Harbor Boulevard and Fairview Road.
However, the project was halted in September when Superior Court Judge Tully Seymour ruled that the General Plan and the environmental impact report for the area were inadequate.