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Shopping Center's Fate Up to Voters


Much as the proposed El Toro airport has drawn a line between north and south Orange County, a shopping center planned for part of the Bixby Ranch Co. property has divided Seal Beach.

Last year, 2,817 residents, most of them living close to the 220-acre Old Ranch Towne Center project off Seal Beach Boulevard and Lampson Avenue, signed a petition to put Measure M on the ballot.

The measure would strip the Bixby Ranch Co. property of its commercial zoning and return it to recreational-golf zoning, in effect halting construction of the shopping center.

Measure M's proponent group, Citizens Against Excessive Traffic, believes that allowing the commercial zoning to stand would "reduce the quality of life and lessen home values" in Seal Beach, Rossmoor and Los Alamitos. The group also contends that the proposed shopping center would add more than 13,000 car trips a day on Long Beach Boulevard.

Although only Seal Beach residents can vote on the measure, many residents in neighboring Los Alamitos and Rossmoor are concerned about the traffic that would be generated by the center and have donated to and campaigned for the measure.

All Seal Beach City Council members oppose Measure M. They say that the Old Ranch Towne Center has been carefully planned and that revenue from it would help finance widening of the Seal Beach Boulevard bridge from four lanes to six.

Seal Beach voters will also decide between incumbent Council Member Patty Campbell and Pamela Jo Sheldon for District 4. Planning Commissioner John Larson is unopposed in District 2.

Campbell, 58, has had her share of controversy as the College Park East representative, surviving a 1998 recall effort. The 30-year Seal Beach resident serves on the Airport Land Use Commission and the Orange County Regional Airport Authority, and is against Measure F, which was designed to thwart an El Toro airport.

Sheldon, 38, says she wants to reduce the city's utility tax from 11% to 6%. A business owner, she favors switching from a city police force to contracting with the Orange County Sheriff's Department for services; she contends existing police department employees would become county employees.

Voters will also be deciding between Joanne Yeo and Linda Devine for city clerk. The city clerk prepares records for city meetings, manages city records and processes legal documents.

Yeo, 64, is the current city clerk, having served for 20 years. Devine, 49, served on the Bellflower Unified School District board.

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