Aliso Viejo has the resources to be a financially healthy city, but only if it keeps 340 acres that neighboring Laguna Hills wants to annex, officials said Tuesday.
The planned community petitioned the state in September to become Orange County's 34th city. At a community meeting Tuesday night, cityhood proponents released results of a fiscal analysis projecting costs and revenue for the city's first 10 years.
The property includes homes, a park and Aliso Viejo Plaza, which is anchored by a Target center and Stater Bros. grocery store.
"That commercial center is too valuable to the city to go into Laguna Hills," said Dan Schwarz, policy analyst for the Local Agency Formation Commission, which oversees the formation of municipalities.
"Laguna Hills might have said it works, but I'm telling you that I played with the numbers, and it just doesn't work," he said.
The analysis was done by a fiscal consultant hired jointly by LAFCO and Aliso Viejo's Cityhood 2000 Committee, which picked up the $35,700 tab.
Carmen Vali, president of the committee, said the results show that Laguna Hills' annexation proposal would kill her group's plans.
Committee Treasurer Cynthia Pickett said the plaza is a major source of revenue and would make up a fourth of the new city's income.
Laguna Hills officials earlier in the day had disputed the committee's position. City Manager Bruce Channing said that based on drafts of the fiscal analysis, he questions either boundary scenario.
"If a city of some 38,000 is putting the entire financial hopes on a Target center, it is not a profound basis for the incorporation," Channing said. "It's way early to conclude anything."
Channing said the most critical component is what residents in the affected areas want.
Cityhood advocates had hoped to have the incorporation on the November ballot, but the process moved more slowly than expected. Proponents now hope for a vote in March and incorporation by July 2001. A two-thirds vote by residents is required for cityhood.