Council Delays Action on East Tustin Project : Overflow Crowd of Residents at Meeting Forces Delay in Decision on 1,740-Acre Development

Times Staff Writer

Concerned residents overflowed the Tustin City Council chambers Monday as deliberations over sweeping plans for the development of a 1,740-acre area of East Tustin continued into the night.

Dozens of residents expressed concern about traffic to be generated by the development, which is expected to boost the city's population 50% by the year 2000. Dozens more waited to speak. The crowd overflowed out of the council chambers into a second room equipped with two television monitors.

City Manager William A. Huston said he expected the council to delay action on the issue until the March 17 meeting. "We want to make sure that everyone has an opportunity to speak" and that city staff members have a chance to respond to the issues, he said.

Barry Pasternak, who lives in an unincorporated area west of the proposed development, said he was frustrated because neither the city nor the county would tackle his concerns.

"What I see is a bureaucratic shuffle. The county says, 'Talk to Tustin,' and Tustin says, 'Talk to the county,' " he said.

On a couple of occasions the cheers and applause of the crowd made it difficult for Mayor Frank H. Greinke to keep order.

The development plan, worked out over the last three years by city officials and the Irvine Co., would transform 1,740 acres of orange groves and rolling hills into a mini-city. The massive development would include 7,950 homes, eight schools and three business and shopping centers. Upon completion in 15 years, the development outlined in the plan will add 20,000 residents to the city's population, which now stands at about 41,000. The $1-billion plan also calls for the construction of a golf course, seven parks and biking, hiking and equestrian trails.

The area, which rests below Peters Canyon to the north and the pricey hillside communities of Cowan Heights and Lemon Heights on the west, is also adjacent to the proposed Eastern and Foothill transportation corridors. Construction on those freeways is expected to begin in the next decade.

The Planning Commission approved the East Tustin Specific Plan on Feb. 10 after a series of public hearings.

The proposal considered Monday night is the last and largest of a series of Irvine Co. projects for 2,000 acres in the city's eastern area. An auto center near the Santa Ana Freeway is under construction and plans are progressing for 1,000 single-family homes and apartments nearby.

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