Lafco Criticizes Proposal to Preserve County Parks

Times Staff Writer

A plan to preserve the county's regional park system in areas that become part of new or existing cities ran into trouble Wednesday when three of the five members of the Local Agency Formation Commission objected to it.

The plan was proposed Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors, which asked the commission to prohibit development on regional parkland when it approves annexation or incorporation proposals.

But at a commission meeting Wednesday, three of its members said the county's plan could interfere with local control and might be beyond the commission's legal authority.

"I think we would be moving towards a dangerous precedent in land-use decisions on this matter," commission Chairman Don Holt said.

Commissioner Philip Schwartze, a San Juan Capistrano councilman, added, "As a basic premise, we should stay out of the land-use issues."

The three members who opposed the county's parkland proposal--Holt, Schwartze and Newport Beach Councilwoman Evelyn Hart--said the question of the commission's role in preserving the county's regional park system will be discussed at a special meeting March 16.

The other two members are County Supervisors Roger R. Stanton, who resigned from the commission Wednesday, and Gaddi H. Vasquez. Stanton spoke in favor of the parkland proposal. Vasquez was not at the meeting.

An annexation proposal for an area including county parkland came before the commission Wednesday, but it was continued for two weeks. The proposal involves 257 acres of land owned by the Irvine Co. that would be annexed by the City of Orange. About 220 acres of the land are part of Peters Canyon Regional Park.

Both the city and the Irvine Co. have assured the county that the 220 acres will be preserved as parkland. But they objected to the proposal to make the annexation conditional on preservation of the parkland.

Irvine Co. representatives said that on Monday the company will make a formal offer to turn the parkland over to the county, partly as a tradeoff for development the firm is doing elsewhere. If the Irvine Co.'s offer is acceptable to the county, the parkland will remain under county control even after the area is annexed to Orange.

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