About two weeks ago I happened by a sweet elderly woman who stopped a number of people at the entrance to a supermarket. She had a map of the county area that is proposed for incorporation, and she was explaining how the newly formed city could influence the freeway planned for Peters Canyon outside of the eastern boundary of the new city.
She explained how this freeway was an intrusion and would cause unwanted noise for homeowners in the eastern part of the area. She didn't explain just how the new city might accomplish this task, but was convinced that Foothills Communities Assn. leaders were correct, and the new city would be able to force favorable changes in those plans. She made it sound as if any city can veto plans of another agency surrounding its border. When asked about joining Tustin instead, she responded that its population was 175,000 and that our 28,000 couldn't hope to have the same effect as forming the new city.
After hearing what I believe were several other misconceptions about Tustin's desire to chop up all the county lots to increase density, a few people signed the petition, without challenging anything she said, and left. I left, too.
After reflecting upon what I heard and saw, I couldn't help thinking that most of these people want to believe that anyone taking the time to gather signatures must be giving out truthful information and that people in general must not be close enough to the subject to identify misinformation when caught off guard at a store entrance.
Most of us are busy with a variety of daily chores, and while we may be experts in some things, such as our professions, we may not be well-informed about the legalities of forming a new city, or population figures either.
The truth is, Tustin's official population count is 50,349, a far cry from the 175,000 figure quoted to show the would-be signer how small we are compared to Tustin. The truthful number compared to the county's estimated 28,000 would not have had the same effect. Perhaps this nice lady truly believed the larger figure was correct.
The freeway design control issue she cited was way off base. The new city could not hope to gain a seat on the transportation board before the freeway is built, if ever. Even Tustin, which is represented on that county agency, could not promise changes. One vote out of seven could prove insufficient to force any change. The truth is that the amount of influence the FCA group has on the transportation board will not be increased by incorporation. Many other misconceptions and distortions by new city proponents have been previously pointed out in letters to the editor by me and others. Some voters may have signed initially, but now may be having second thoughts about forming a new city.
Residents should be sure this is the correct step before asking for a ballot measure. It's not enough to "put it on the ballot," as I have heard many say, and put off making this decision. Why not get the facts now? Later, proponents will point to the petitions and claim all of those people want a new city. We're putting our community at risk of becoming an ill-conceived new city (not to mention the election cost of about $35,000).
There may be other important issues on the same ballot, and discussion or attention to this one local issue may become diluted to the point that effective dialogue might not occur. State law regarding the incorporation process requires a 25% signature of those desiring a new city, not of those postponing the decision for a new city.
Those who signed the "new city" petition can remove their names from the petition by writing to Local Agency Formation Commission.
DOUG CHAPMAN, North Tustin