Foes Remain at Odds With Newest Irvine Coast Plan

Times Staff Writer

The Irvine Co.'s revised development plan for the county's largest remaining undeveloped stretch of coastal land was presented to the public Tuesday and was met with opposition from an environmental group that offered an alternative plan.

The Irvine Co. said it wants to turn the 9,432-acre Irvine Coast, a three-mile stretch of coast between Laguna Beach and Corona del Mar, into a world-class resort. The revised plan replaces 200,000 square feet of proposed office space with two 18-hole golf courses.

The 460-acre golf courses--which would be located along the front of Pelican Hill overlooking East Coast Highway and Crystal Cove State Park--and the clustering of homes into a smaller area will increase open space from 61% to 74%, Irvine Co. officials said during their presentation to the county Planning Commission.

The revised plan features an increase of hotel rooms from 1,750 to 2,150, an increase in housing units from 2,000 to 2,600, as well as 75,000 square feet of commercial retail compared to the original 50,000 square feet.

Affordable Housing Planned

The company also proposes building 648 affordable housing units in other Irvine Co. projects nearby. That part of the plan is unchanged from the original package.

The revised plan also calls for dedication to the public of 2,650 acres of conservation land. The company wants to give the county this undeveloped land a little at a time as development proceeds.

"(The revised plan) puts greater emphasis on preservation of coastal land," said Bradley Olson, president of the Irvine Community Development Co., a division of the Irvine Co.

About 50 residents affected by the proposed development attended the Tuesday hearing. The most vocal were members of the Friends of the Irvine Coast Coalition--made up of environmental and community groups--whose members said they did not object to the company's "concept" of developing the prime real estate into a destination resort but were against some of the specifics in the proposed plan.

"We're delighted (Irvine Co.) removed the 200,000 square feet for offices. . . . The problem came that after reading the plan we saw too much flexibility and encroachment into certain areas," said Terry Watt, spokeswoman for the Friends of the Irvine Coast Coalition.

Watt outlined the coalition's alternative plan, which calls for:

- Limiting the size of the resort facilities from a potential of 12 million square feet to 2 million square feet. The Irvine Co. said during the hearing it would consider a 2.6-million-square-foot limit.

- Removing proposed home sites from ridge lines next to Crystal Cove State Park, which coalition members say will cause "fragmentation" of the natural landscape.

- Postponing development phases if traffic service levels become unacceptable.

- Immediate dedication of all lands slated for public dedication, a recommendation also made by the county staff.

The coalition also repeated its earlier concerns about traffic problems and proposed heights for hotel buildings.

Lower Height Limit Urged

In its revised plan, the Irvine Co. proposes to limit the height of buildings to 105 feet instead of the previous 150 feet. But the coalition wants to limit height to no more than 30 feet, Watt said.

Some of the speakers said they supported the project and were primarily concerned about getting new roads built before any buildings could be developed. Current plans link construction of a minimum of two lanes of proposed Pelican Hill Road to the construction of the 101st housing unit or the 351st hotel room.

To deal with the anticipated traffic problems, the Irvine Co. plans to build a $15-million, 6.5-mile stretch of Pelican Hill Road linking Coast Highway and Bonita Canyon Road, which the company says will serve as a bypass around Corona del Mar. The proposed road will not be at the expense of taxpayers, according to the plan.

The revised plan must be approved by the Planning Commission and then the Board of Supervisors before it can be submitted to the California Coastal Commission.

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