Medley of issues awaits voters

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Should a new City Hall be built in Newport Beach and, if so, should it come with an ocean view? Should council members in Santa Ana be allowed an extra term? And in Placentia, voters will weigh the fate of a school bond.

In all, there are five measures in Orange County cities on the Feb. 5 ballots.

Measure A would give authority to the Placentia-Yorba Linda school district to issue up to $200 million in bonds if approved by 55% of voters. The money would be used to improve school facilities not covered under a $102-million bond approved by voters six years ago.

Each of the district's three dozen schools would receive a share of the bond money. If the bonds are approved, the district plans to build a swimming pool at Yorba Linda High School, build a gymnasium at El Dorado and Esperanza high schools, and replace aging portable classrooms, among other projects.

Property owners who live in the district would pay about $29.50 per $100,000 of their home's assessed value annually over 25 years to pay off the bond, officials said. The state is expected to contribute $12 million. School district officials explained the expenditures on the ballot, and no arguments against the bond measure were submitted.

Measure B will ask Newport Beach voters whether a new City Hall should be built on nearly 13 acres of city-owned land next to the Newport Beach Central Library in Newport Center. Supporters say having City Hall in the park would create a civic center in a central location in the city.

Opponents argue that another location, one closer to Fashion Island on San Nicolas Drive, would be cheaper. Opponents also say the park plan would further congest traffic around the library and nearby MacArthur Boulevard.

If the measure is defeated, the town's government would continue to do business out of its current location on the Balboa Peninsula.

Measure C in San Clemente asks voters whether they want to overturn a 2007 City Council decision to allow 51 acres of the privately owned Pacific Golf and Country Club to be developed with 224 homes. Buyers of the homes would become club members, but nine of the 27 holes at the course would be eliminated.

A vote in favor would affirm the council's approval in June of a development agreement, which would require property owner Michael Rosenfeld to pay the city $11 million for a community park and $500,000 for a senior center, among other projects.

The 27-hole course was built in 1989 mostly on land that, while private, was designated by the city as open space.

Supporters say the agreement would rescue the financially ailing club while meeting the city's recreation needs. They argue that the open space isn't accessible to the public anyway. But opponents say the vote means an irreversible loss of open space that could set a precedent for other developers. The city, they say, should find other ways to fund its projects.

Measure D in Santa Ana would allow City Council members to serve three terms, or a total of 12 years. Council members currently are limited to two terms.

Two committees, one of City Council members and the other of residents, had recommended asking voters to limit the number of terms the mayor can serve, but the measure doesn't address term limits for that office. The city's mayor has served for 16 years.

Supporters say extending the council members' terms would create greater stability. Opponents say putting the measure on the ballot is costing taxpayers $150,000 and that the current eight-year limit is a healthy way to get new blood and fresh ideas.

Measure E would extend the terms of appointed city commissioners to match those of council members, but it would not become law if Measure D fails.

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