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BEACH: FOOTHILL RANCH

Feasibility of Cityhood Is Outlined in Study

October 03, 1998|CHRIS CEBALLOS

Foothill Ranch and Portola Hills could become a financially sound city, but only by counting on about $1.5 million in sales taxes from the Foothill Ranch Towne Centre, and another $3 million in other local annual revenues, according to a new study.

The Foothill Ranch Civic Council will present findings of the feasibility study at a town meeting this morning. Cityhood supporters will submit their application for incorporation to the Local Agency Formation Commission next week, said Helen Ward, director of Cityhood Now.

The study comes a little more than a week before a LAFCO public hearing to consider Lake Forest's proposed annexation of about 1,500 acres of commercial and industrial property north of the city, including the Towne Centre--a move that would ruin any chance for the foothill communities to become a city.

Cityhood activists said they will urge LAFCO to consider Lake Forest's annexation proposal and their incorporation application at the same time. "We want our chance to have our proposal taken seriously," Ward said. "We want our hearing."

Lake Forest officials have contended that the cityhood proposal is financially impractical.

Officials have also said Lake Forest could provide better services for Foothill Ranch and Portola Hills and at a much lower cost.

City Manager Bob Dunek said Lake Forest plans to begin the annexation process of Foothill Ranch and Portola Hills in the spring, should LAFCO approve the annexation of the shopping center and adjacent commercial and industrial property.

But many residents of the foothill communities remain committed to seeking cityhood, and local control.

"There's nothing [about annexation] that smacks of increased services or benefits," Ward said. "We're already taking care of it. We're paying for it from our property taxes."

The Foothill Ranch Civic Council meets today at 10 a.m. at Foothill Ranch Elementary School in the multipurpose room. Information: (949) 225-9841.

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