IRVINE — One week after city voters cleared the way for 3,850 new homes in central Irvine, the City Council on Tuesday approved the construction of another 2,880 homes just north of the current city limits.
The council voted 3 to 1 to approve a zone change allowing construction of the Irvine Co.'s Northwood 5 community. The council, which had earlier approved the project, had postponed the final vote until after the Nov. 5 election.
The Northwood project will include single-family, detached homes, condominiums and apartments. The city expects to annex the land before construction begins in about 1993. The work is expected to take five to seven years.
Last week, Irvine voters were asked whether the Irvine Co. should be allowed to build the 3,850-home Westpark II project. The council had approved that project last year, but residents collected enough signatures to force the issue onto the ballot. Voters approved the Westpark II project 8,486 to 8,088--a difference of just 398 votes.
The voters also approved an accompanying advisory measure that reaffirmed a 1988 voter-approved open space agreement with the Irvine Co. That agreement traded open space for development rights.
With Tuesday's votes, Councilman Bill Vardoulis said, "People proved again they want open space and they want planned development." Vardoulis and Councilman William A. (Art) Bloomer had said earlier that if voters rejected the two measures, they would vote against Northwood 5.
On Tuesday, only Councilwoman Paula Werner voted against Northwood. Bloomer was absent.
The referendum on Westpark II was conducted by a slow-growth advocacy group, Irvine Tomorrow, which earlier had threatened a similar referendum on Northwood 5 if the council approved it.
But members of Irvine Tomorrow have not decided whether to go ahead with that, said Mark P. Petracca, an Irvine Tomorrow leader and assistant professor of political science at UC Irvine.
"There are a group of people . . . still committed to doing a referendum, and others who say our time would be better spent doing other things," Petracca said Tuesday.
However, several residents of the current Northwood community have said they would like to use a referendum to stop further growth near their homes, Petracca said.
Eight hundred families in Northwood returned postcards earlier this year to Irvine Tomorrow saying they wanted to stop the Northwood 5 project, Irvine Tomorrow member Mary Ann Gaido said. One hundred of those residents had said they would be willing to collect signatures for a referendum, she said.
Gaido said she will contact those residents over the weekend to see if they still want a referendum.
Thousands of signatures of registered voters would be needed on petitions within the next 30 days to qualify a referendum for the ballot.
If a referendum were conducted against Northwood 5 and voters approved the project, pro-growth advocates would win another uphill battle against anti-growth forces.
Statewide, more than half of all recent pro-growth ballot issues have apparently failed while anti-growth measures have done substantially better, according to the California Assn. of Realtors. The organization's statistics show that between 1986 and 1990, voters turned down 51 of 90 pro-growth items and approved 71 out of 131 anti-growth measures.