Not only was the Orange County Board of Supervisors' move away from its longstanding policy of encouraging development of public local parks shortsighted, it also was tragic and ironic.
The board is keenly aware of the shortage of park-development funds. But for the lack of initiative on the part of Supervisor Thomas Riley, the people of Orange County would now be enjoying 3,000 acres of open space maintained by the state.
Specifically, the state was willing to accept the Aliso portion of the greenbelt and incorporate the canyon into the state park system by joining Aliso Canyon to Crystal Cove State Park via Laurel Canyon and the Irvine coastal open space lands. It was to be one integrated parkland maintained by the state. The proposal made excellent sense from a planning and economic viewpoint.
The only roadblock was Supervisor Riley. He showed no interest at all when I made the proposal to him. It was a great loss for the people of Orange County. It was very shortsighted. Today the concept is dead.
The county is moving backward rather than forward. The county has not yet accepted the Aliso portion of the greenbelt. It is closed to the public. The county is trying to find some way to fund the maintenance of these open space lands.
Now they are thinking of accepting portions of the open space land in small parcels, rather than the entire area in one unit.
That is another unfortunate policy change by the supervisors, a change that was pushed by the Aliso-Viejo Co. That is the same company that lobbied heavily for the easing of park dedication requirements. Too bad our 5th District supervisor did not listen as carefully to the greenbelt proposal to have a state-maintained greenbelt as he did to the Aliso-Viejo Co.
JON S. BRAND
Brand, a former mayor of Laguna Beach, is executive director of Laguna Greenbelt, an environmental organization. DR