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Traffic, Annexations, Development Are Main Issues for Tustin Voters

Times Staff Writer

Tustin is the perfect place to raise a family, according to City Council members on the hustings here.

But their opponents in the Nov. 8 election say it may not be much longer.

While the incumbents point with pride to recent annexations and developments like the Tustin Auto Mall and Tustin Market Place, the challengers argue that “pro-development” decisions by the council have undercut the city’s quality of life. Tustin, they say, is falling victim to higher density and clogged streets.

Seeking reelection to the Tustin council are Richard B. Edgar, 66, a retired engineer and three-term incumbent who has outspent all the other candidates; Mayor Ronald B. Hoesterey, 38, a two-term incumbent and president of a Santa Ana firm that manufactures mattresses, and Earl J. Prescott, 34, who was appointed to the council last year to replace Donald J. Saltarelli, who resigned to run for county supervisor.

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The challengers are Joseph B. Langley, 47, a former council member and a title insurance company executive; John Norman Butler, 32, a real estate broker; Charles E. (Chuck) Puckett, 45, a district sales manager for Beatrice-Hunt Foods; Gregory A. Hile, 32, an attorney and co-author of the countywide slow-growth initiative that was defeated at the polls in June, and Jim Scott, 44, a historical consultant.

Traffic, annexations and development are top issues this election year in Tustin. The still uncompleted East Tustin Ranch development may add another 8,000 households to the city, and there are proposals to annex unincorporated areas of North Tustin that have thousands of residents.

The five challengers say such growth would double the population of the city, shifting political boundaries and overwhelming police and other providers of municipal services. They portray the council incumbents as devotees of the “bigger is better” theory.

Edgar, who has raised $16,000 in campaign funds, is one of the most visible growth advocates on the council. If North Tustin residents want to be part of the city, he said, annexation could occur within 5 years.

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Prescott said it could occur sooner, possibly within 2 years.

“Keep in mind that it’s up to the North Tustin residents, but I’m in favor of annexation as long as it’s not disruptive to our city,” Edgar said. “It’s critical that we phase the annexations over some years--perhaps less than 5 years--because we couldn’t do it in one big gulp.”

Political observers estimate that 30,000 residents--many of whom are aggressive voters--live in North Tustin, within the boundaries of the Tustin Unified School District.

“Political control is the issue when you talk about annexing North Tustin,” Prescott said, arguing that the city’s future boundaries should be the same as those of the school district. “North Tustin residents have only one (county) supervisor for representation, and they need political clout if they really want government to help them.”

Hoesterey said he believes annexation is a “logical thing,” but he favors waiting 5 to 10 years, until after East Tustin is fully developed.

Langley said the city must solve East Tustin’s growth problems before the North Tustin annexation, while Puckett said he favors annexing only small areas of North Tustin. Butler said he favors a slow approach to the annexation question.

Hile said the North Tustin annexation “should be done all at once, if feasible. The incumbents would like us to take it piece by piece because they have their political bases in the South Tustin area. We’ll be changing the face of Tustin politics.”

On traffic issues, Butler agrees with other challengers who say Newport Avenue should have been extended southward to Edinger Avenue “years ago.” Newport now dead-ends at railroad tracks just north of Edinger.

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Langley said he believes the City Council is “all talk and no action” on the issue of traffic. Hile said new roads are basically commuter thoroughfares.

Puckett supports one-way arterial streets and synchronized traffic lights as an approach to solving Tustin’s traffic problems.

Scott, who has dubbed himself the “slow-growth” candidate and favors reducing the size of government, blames the city’s traffic congestion on its “unprecedented growth.” Mayor Hoesterey disagrees, however, saying traffic congestion is a regional problem that Tustin by itself can do little to alleviate.

“But we’ve been a leader in solving the local problem,” Hoesterey said. “For instance, look at our per-square-mile road improvements for a city of our size. We were only No. 2 in road improvements. Our plans are to take Newport Avenue under the railroad tracks.”

Said Edgar: “Tustin suffers because everybody drives through it. But we’re hoping for completion of Jamboree Road by the end of 1989. When it’s completed you will be able to drive from Chapman Avenue in Orange to Pacific Coast Highway in Newport Beach.”

Hile, who says he advocates “sensible growth,” has denied accusations that he lied when he listed himself in a campaign statement as a member of the board of directors of the Boys and Girls Club of Tustin.

Clifford Tolston, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club, said in an interview that Hile “was never voted in as a director.” But Hile said Tolston had told him to say he was an “honorary” board member.

“They invited me to meetings,” Hile said. “They kept sending me notices.”

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But he added: “Assuming I am a member of the board, I no longer will be. I’m going to resign.”

When they go to the polls Nov. 8, Tustin voters also will be selecting a city clerk. Only two candidates are running, incumbent Mary E. Wynn, who has been with in the clerk’s office for 13 years, and Luella Wagner, a social studies teacher at St. Anne’s School in Santa Ana.

CANDIDATES FOR TUSTIN CITY COUNCIL ELECTIONS ’88 ORANGE COUNTY

Eight candidates are running for three seats on the City Council in Tustin, where traffic, annexations and development are the big issues for the Nov. 8 election. A photograph of candidate Jim Scott was unavailable.


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