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Orange County Focus

DANA POINT : Effort to Force Vote on City Plan Stalls

July 31, 1993|LEN HALL

Representatives of a grass-roots coalition seeking a vote on the city's General Plan were dealt a setback Friday when a state appeals court ruled that their petition calling for a referendum was defective.

The 4th District Court of Appeal ruled that members of the Dana Point Action Coalition needed to have a copy of the General Plan attached to the petition while it was circulated throughout the city.

The unanimous appellate ruling overturned a February, 1992, Orange County Superior Court judgment that would have forced the city clerk to process the group's petition.

City Atty. Jerry M. Patterson said he was "delighted with the decision," adding that "it looks like the city's General Plan has been confirmed and is no longer under any kind of cloud."

Michelle A. Reinglass, the attorney for the coalition, disagreed and vowed to continue the legal battle, which she is doing without charge.

"We will definitely file a petition for a rehearing," Reinglass said. "We will take this to the Supreme Court, if that's what it takes."

The citizens' group and the city have been at odds since the General Plan was unanimously approved by the council in July, 1991.

The plan's critics have characterized the four-inch-thick, $700,000 plan as too pro-development and too tourist-oriented and suggested that it would alter forever the small-town charm of the coastal city.

The group circulated petitions calling for a citywide vote on the General Plan and quickly obtained 2,309 signatures, more than the required 10% of the city's registered voters.

The plan's supporters, including council members, have insisted that the coalition was misguided, however.

The plan may be amended, or even parts of it challenged, but not the entire document, its supporters have said.

The battle moved to the courts when former City Clerk Mary Carlson declared the submitted petition invalid on advice from Patterson.

Reinglass insists that the Superior Court was correct when it ruled that the petition should not be invalidated on a technicality.

Coalition members may not have attached a copy of the General Plan to the petition, but they carried one along with them, which should be enough, Reinglass said.

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