When the seven candidates for the Cypress City Council talk about the major issues affecting their community, the subjects most likely to come up are traffic and what to do with a 160-acre site next to Los Alamitos Race Track.
The future of that chunk of land, which includes a 105-acre former golf course, concerns many Cypress residents and is a focus of debate among those hoping to fill the seats of outgoing Councilmen Jerry Mullen and Cornelius (Chuck) Coronado. Neither incumbent is allowed to seek reelection under the city’s two-term rule.
Two seats are open on the five-member council. The seven candidates vying for them in the Nov. 8 election are Cecilia L. Age, 38; Adrea M. Coronado, 52; Dorianne B. Garcia, 30; Charles Hicks Jr., 37; Gail H. Kerry, 41; Richard Partin, 50, and John T. Stinson, 23.
At issue is a proposal by SDC Development Ltd. to build retail, office and industrial projects on the property. There are also plans for two churches and a private school, which would provide playgrounds and a gymnasium for public use.
Many Cypress residents are concerned that the sprawling complex, which would occupy most of the site, will cause massive traffic problems in the city.
In an effort to limit commercial development on the property, Cypress voters last year approved an initiative requiring that any proposal to rezone public and semipublic property be put to the voters. However, a judge, ruling on a lawsuit brought by the developers, later voided a portion of the measure, saying it violates state statutes which require zoning codes to be made consistent with a city’s general plan “within reasonable time.”
And 2 years ago, controversy over that same piece of land led to the ouster of Partin, a veteran city councilman and former mayor.
Partin was targeted for defeat in 1986 by a group of golfers upset because he supported the development of an industrial park proposed by Hollywood Park Realty Enterprises, which owns the race track and golf course. The City Council voted 3-2 to change the zoning so that the project could be built, but it quickly rescinded the vote after an outcry from residents.
Most of the candidates, many of whom are conducting low-budget, grass-roots campaigns financed largely with their own money, have targeted growth as the single most important issue in the race.
Age, a corporate officer and manager for Security Pacific Bank’s real estate division in Cypress, is active on several traffic committees in the city, which she says gives her insight into workable solutions to traffic problems. Age said she would support the SDC project as long as it meets city building codes and other guidelines.
“I am not for slow growth. . . . I am for sensible growth, and that means you can control environment impact such as traffic.” Enforcement of the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s Regulation 15, which requires companies to develop employee ride-sharing programs, is a sensible approach and “the first step in cutting down the amount of cars coming into Cypress,” Age said.
Coronado is an executive secretary and the wife of the outgoing councilman. She said she does not favor the current SDC development proposal, but she would support a scaled-down version that offers more greenery and open space. She said her goal on the council is to serve the taxpayer rather than developers.
“If a person has a piece of property, they should be able to build on it, but it has to be a thought-out project. You just can’t build like everybody’s been building now. There should be stricter controls on growth,” Coronado said.
Garcia, a communications technician for Pacific Bell, is a union supporter and has been involved in lobbying for the Communication Workers of America. She said her major concerns are keeping low-density housing and controlling traffic.
“I see Cypress as being almost saturated as far as growth,” she said. Garcia said she would “oppose any dense development” in undeveloped parts of Cypress. “I would like to make sure the developer does not put in more housing than is realistically possible to have. I would like to see growth, but I want to see low-density, quality growth.”
Hicks, a flight procedures manager for the Federal Aviation Administration, said he will bring unity and management skills to the council. He said a new study of regional traffic issues affecting Cypress and surrounding cities should be conducted.
“I am convinced the golf course area will be developed. But we have an opportunity now as a City Council to manage the development of that area and make sure it is the best for the people of Cypress. It can be a win-win situation for everybody,” Hicks said.
Kerry, a retired accountant and now a homemaker, also calls traffic and development the major issues. Kerry, who said she has been active in community affairs, said she would not support the SDC project as it is currently proposed.
“The church is an excellent use of . . . land, but they are trying to tack on this big project with it. You either get them both or you don’t get anything. The proposal has much too much density and too much traffic,” Kerry said.
Partin, a communications satellite engineering manager for TRW in Redondo Beach, claims that developers pressured him and other council members to support the project in 1986, and he admits they may have acted too hastily in rezoning the site. He said the SDC project could result in “total gridlock” and he would not support it until details involving street and intersection traffic flow are mitigated.
“The other cities around us . . . are continuing to develop and we must grow with the general area of north Orange County. But we have to do so at a conservative rate to allow them to mitigate any possible traffic problems created by additional development,” Partin said.
Stinson, a senior at Cal State Long Beach, said he believes growth has been good for the city. He said he has not made up his mind yet on the issues.
“I really enjoy politics. I wanted to get into local government to see what it is like. I’m doing it to see what the possibilities are of someone totally independent running for public office. I could really get into it if I won,” he said.
CANDIDATES FOR CYPRESS CITY COUNCIL
Seven candidates, one the wife of an out-going councilman, will battle for two seats left vacant by the city’s two-term limit. Candidates are elected on a citywide basis in the Nov. 8 election. Cecilia L. Age
Adrea M. Coronado
Dorianne B. Garcia
Charles Hicks Jr.
Gail H. Kerry
John T. Stinson