The Orange County Board of Supervisors, citing the lack of formal opposition, agreed Wednesday to let voters decide in June whether Laguna Hills should become a city.
If approved, Laguna Hills, wedged between Interstate 5 on the east and the Aliso Viejo planned community on the west, would become the county’s 29th city. It would have about 45,000 residents on 6,000 acres. The private Leisure World community of 21,000 people would form the geographic core of the new city.
The supervisors voted unanimously to place the incorporation measure on the June 6 ballot. The board’s action was largely procedural after a decision last month by the county’s Local Agency Formation Commission, which oversees incorporations and jurisdictional disputes, to recommend putting the Laguna Hills proposal to a vote.
By law, the supervisors were required to place the issue on the ballot unless they had received written opposition from more than 50% of the registered voters in the proposed city. Supervisors’ Chairman Thomas F. Riley said the board had received 21 letters opposing incorporation as of Wednesday’s public hearing.
Just one opponent of the plan spoke at the hearing. Bea Hassel Rogatz, a Leisure World resident, said residents of the retirement community are not prepared to “accept the burdens and complexities” of cityhood and urged the board to delay a vote until at least November.
If approved in June, Laguna Hills would become a city Oct. 1.
Hassel Rogatz said a recent straw poll in Leisure World showed that 75% of the residents oppose incorporation. But she said many of those opposed are not aware that they should write supervisors to register their concerns.
“We just haven’t been able to get organized,” she said. “We need more time.”
Supervisor Don R. Roth, who is also a member of LAFCO, said that the plan’s foes have had ample time and that the most effective way to express opposition is to vote in June.
“If the people in your area don’t want a city, you have an opportunity to cast a no vote on June 6,” Roth said.