4 Supervisors Want County Report Before Deciding on Slow-Growth Compromise

Times County Bureau Chief

Four of Orange County's five supervisors said Friday that they want to see a staff analysis before they take any action on a proposal that could result in withdrawal of the proposed countywide slow-growth initiative.

The proposal, drafted by former Supervisor Bruce Nestande and presented to the supervisors Thursday by Nestande and slow-growth activist Tom Rogers, calls for setting up a new county agency to coordinate transportation and development decisions. In return, the initiative effort would be dropped.

Supervisors Gaddi H. Vasquez, Don R. Roth, Thomas F. Riley and Harriett M. Wieder said a report has been requested from the county's Environmental Management Agency on the implications of establishing such an agency.

The four supervisors also said that before making any decisions, they want to await the outcome of today's meeting of initiative backers, who will discuss the possible compromise.

Supervisor Roger R. Stanton could not be reached for comment.

Roth, a vocal opponent of the slow-growth initiative, said he has an open mind on Nestande's proposal. "I'm willing to listen," he said.

Vasquez, who has argued that the county already is working to tie development to new roads, parks, libraries and other such growth concerns, said the county staff will take a look at the proposal "and see what possibilities exist and what, if any, compromise could be achieved."

Riley declined substantive comment, saying he was angry because Nestande had talked about the supervisors' meetings with Rogers after telling the board members that they should not discuss them "for obvious reasons."

Wieder, board chairwoman, said she had decided not to put Nestande's proposal on the supervisors' meeting agenda for next week.

"What's the rush?" she said.

All five supervisors were briefed individually on the proposal Thursday by Rogers, a San Juan Capistrano rancher and chairman of the group that drafted the slow-growth initiative, and Nestande, vice president of the Costa Mesa-based Arnel Development Co.

Environmental Management Agency Director Ernie Schneider said, "Anything (is) better than the initiative because, in my view, the initiative terminates our road construction program (in the county)."

The initiative "would take away the ability for us to collect fees required by all of our road fee programs because we would not be able to issue new building permits," Schneider said. "In my mind, because of the way it is written, it shuts down all development.

"I don't care what (initiative proponents) say. I challenge anyone who doesn't feel that way to read it."

Initiative backers have until Feb. 9 to gather nearly 66,000 signatures of registered voters to qualify the measure for the June ballot. If approved at the polls, the initiative would apply to unincorporated county territory.

Separate efforts to qualify the measure for the ballot in individual cities are unaffected by Nestande's proposal.

Times urban affairs writer Jeffrey A. Perlman contributed to this article.

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