Re "Dissent Growing Over Rancho Mission Viejo," Dec. 2:
After a 50-year orgy of free-for-all building in Orange County, we are left with ugly urban sprawl, monstrous freeway traffic jams, overcrowded schools, polluted air and water, decaying infrastructures, chronic sewage spills and a host of other problems.
Intelligent, civilized planning demands that we stop and take a breather from all the frantic construction and solve the enormous problems that development has brought in the last century. Our city and county planning departments must recognize that enlightened planning does not just mean development of land. It also means the preservation of what is beautiful and a consideration always for the quality of life.
Planners must remember that their boss is the public, not the wealthy builders they meet with on a regular basis. There seems to be a built-in conflict of interest in their jobs. Planners need to listen to the the taxpayers. Developers often argue that a "balance" should be reached between them and environmentalists.
In 1950, the population of Orange County was 210,000. Today it is 2.8 million. Yes, let us talk about balance. Instead of more people, more housing projects, more automobiles, more destructive toll roads, etc., let's call a halt to mindless construction in the irreplaceable pristine lands of South County. Let our planners work on the massive problems they have helped create as a result of overbuilding. Let's be civilized enough to see the priceless beauty that exists in South County must be preserved for future generations.
Re "Preserve or Develop Rancho Mission Viejo?," Dec. 8:
Letter writer Bruce Crawford of Fountain Valley praised property rights as the cornerstone of liberty: I hope Mr. Crawford then also recognizes the rights of smaller property owners and opposes the regular utilization of eminent domain -- the seizing of private property for the "greater good" of the public.
Large landowners with pending projects are allowed to tromp on the rights of smaller property owners in order to push through their projects because a road or other infrastructure utility is needed. A government agency may declare a public project that requires the seizing of private property, often against the property owners' will and at prices below what the owners may consider fair-market value even if they are willing to part with their property.
And how is the property-right issue addressed when the consequences of large property owners' rights to develop spill outside property boundary lines in the form of urban runoff, pollution, crime and traffic? Developers in Orange County have long had preferential treatment over the wishes of the public.
Most of the time the crux of the matter can be answered by asking the question: "Who stands to make the big bucks?"
And to counter Mr. Crawford's last question, why is it not freedom to cherish open space?