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Highway Expansion, Housing Plan Among Election Issues

October 13, 1998|STEVE CARNEY

The coming election could change not only the faces on the City Council but also the complexion of the city itself.

The Nov. 3 ballot includes Measure J, an initiative that would block expansion of Imperial Highway where it runs through the city.

Opponents of the highway widening say the increase from two to four lanes, plus the addition of sound walls, would cut the town in half, ruin its semirural character and bring more pollution, noise and traffic.

Supporters of the highway project--among them the two incumbents in this fall's race, Mayor Gene Wisner and Councilman John M. Gullixson--say the widening merely completes a plan drafted by city officials in 1972. They also warn that passage of Measure J would oblige the city to repay the county $35 million for the project and deny Yorba Linda $1 million a year in county transportation funds.

"It ensures Imperial Highway will remain bottle-necked and turn Yorba Linda into a city of constant traffic jams," Gullixson said.

But candidate Jack Parra said he fears the enlarged highway will harm Old Towne, Yorba Linda's historic district.

"It's the only thing we have left that binds and brings us together as a community," said Parra, who wants to see an environmental impact report on the widening before making a decision.

In addition, residents are divided over the proposed expansion of the Yorba Linda Friends Church from 750 seats to 2,800, and the consequent parking-lot growth. But candidate Thomas A. Foss said: "We're talking about expanding a church. I can't believe people would protest it."

There's also a proposed 2,100-home development on former Shell Oil property that opponents say is too dense and supporters say will bring $1.5 million into the city every year with a public golf course.

Wisner called the Shell project "a real asset to the community," and candidate Allen M. Castellano now favors the project after initial concerns. "Yorba Linda needed to look and make sure this was the right move," he said.

Finally, some residents are concerned about the tenor and civility of their council meetings. The meetings often devolve into spats between members of OUCH, or the Organization of Unified Concerned Homeowners, which put Measure J on the ballot, and Wisner, Gullixson and Councilwoman Barbara Kiley.

Candidate Richard J. Freeman said he is running to change what he calls "the arrogance and the authoritarianism of the City Council. Our Yorba Linda citizens are not being treated properly."

Gullixson countered that it's the OUCH members who are rude to the council. "I'm not going to stand there and get pummeled," he said.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Yorba Linda Council Candidates

Here are the six people vying for two seats on the Yorba Linda City Council in the Nov. 3 Allen M. Castellano

Age: 27

Occupation: Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy

Background: Bachelor's degree in criminal justice and master's in public administration, both from Cal State Fullerton; Anaheim native and four-year Yorba Linda resident

Issues: Favors widening Imperial Highway; thinks Shell housing project has the proper density and will benefit the city; wants more consistency in zoning changes

*

Thomas A. Foss

Age: 45

Occupation: Builder of transmitters and other communications sites

Background: U.S. Army, 1970-1973; control-room technician at U.S. Army Signal School; Masonic Lodge member; Boy Scouts supporter; third-generation Yorba Linda resident

Issues: Supports expansion of Friends Church; favors improvements to Imperial Highway, but not the current widening plan

*

Richard J. Freeman

Age: 57

Occupation: Newspaper columnist and retired optometrist

Background: U.S. Army 1966-1968; graduate of Southern

College of Optometry; member of Friends of the Library and Yorba Linda Beautification committees; resident since 1976

Issues: Agrees Imperial Highway needs work but will accept however residents vote on Measure J; opposes Shell project, which he called a "high-density development" that would change the city's semirural feel

*

John M. Gullixson

Age: 50

Occupation: Incumbent

Background: Bachelor's degree in political science from Cal State Fullerton; law

degree from Pepperdine University; member, Orange County Sanitation District

board; El Toro Citizens Advisory Commission; Rotary Club and Chamber of Commerce; 15-year resident

Issues: Favors completion of major road improvements planned for the city, including Imperial Highway widening; favors keeping Brea police as the city's law enforcement agency; believes that most residents want council incumbents to remain and continue work they have done for the city

*

Jack Parra

Age: 50

Occupation: Anaheim police lieutenant

Background: U.S. Air Force, 1968-1971; bachelor's degree in public administration from Pepperdine University; master's in human resources management from Chapman University; FBI National Academy graduate; Fullerton native and 18-year Yorba Linda resident

Issues: Thinks some council members don't listen to certain constituents and should be more accessible to the public; accepts development as a fact of life in Orange County but wants to make sure it is responsible and well-planned; believes Imperial Highway expansion may harm Old Towne

*

Gene Wisner

Age: 64

Occupation: Incumbent

Background: Involved with YMCA, Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce, Boy Scouts and youth sports teams; 30-year resident

Issues: Believes Imperial Highway widening must go forward to make the road safe and ensure the city continues getting county transportation money; favors Shell development because its overall density is within city guidelines and because it will add a school, park and golf course to the city; favors keeping Brea police in charge of the city's law enforcement

Source: Individual candidates

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