REAL ESTATE : New Head of Building Association Quits to Join Hopkins Development

Compiled by Michael Flagg, Times staff writer

John Withers, recently named to succeed John Erskine as executive director of the Building Industry Assn. of Orange County, is instead resigning from the trade association to join a developer.

Withers, director of governmental affairs for 2 years, will head a new residential development unit at Hopkins Development Co. in Newport Beach.

The trade association is searching for a new executive director. Erskine, director for 7 years, is leaving May 15 to practice law.

The BIA is the lobby for home builders and related businesses.

Hopkins, known primarily as a developer of retail properties, will build both houses and condominiums and will concentrate on filling in already developed areas rather than building new suburbs, Withers said.

The resignations come during a lull in an ongoing battle between the county's powerful real estate industry and slow-growth advocates.

One of the biggest issues likely to face the new executive director is drumming up public support for a half-cent sales tax increase to fund construction of new roads. That will probably go before the county's voters next year.

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