It's been interesting to watch the maneuvering by county politicos and developers during the past few days. Their discussions with the slow-growth leaders have all the earmarks of a divide-and-conquer campaign against an almost certain initiative qualification.
Why? Recent history shows us "deals" and compromises only help development interests (include the Board of Supervisors here) to avoid the responsibility for traffic, schools, parks and sewage--all those "off-site" problems builders and politicians are reluctant to grapple with ahead of time, the cumulative effects of building all those homes and businesses.
They'll argue otherwise, but Orange County lives every day with the results of these compromises.
Many of us involved in planning in the late '60s and early '70s questioned the "progress" that growth was bringing. We had only to point to the "tractlands" of east Long Beach and elsewhere in Los Angeles County for examples of where Orange County was headed.
My 13 years of Planning Commission service convinced me, unfortunately, that most of those admonitions fell on deaf ears, with density roll-backs and other measures providing only temporary relief. Moreover, the current development agreements, already approved by the county or in process, are a testimony to the sincerity of the Board of Supervisors.
Supervisors Chairwoman Harriett M. Wieder's comment, "I wish they had come to us six months ago," avoids the fact that the board wasn't listening six months ago--except to the developers. The thousands of yet-to-be-built homes protected by those ill-timed development agreements stand as a glaring example of political insincerity.
No, I think the initiative needs to proceed. In spite of the specter of legal challenges, the residents of Orange County deserve an opportunity to attempt to control the growth situation. Their elected representatives certainly haven't.