COUNTYWIDE : Workshop Is Jan. 6 on Congestion Plans

Dozens of officials and major developers, worried about the impact of potential controls on growth and traffic, are expected to attend a special Jan. 6 workshop in Irvine.

Legislation authored by Assemblyman Richard Katz (D-Sepulveda) would require urban counties to adopt "congestion management plans" setting specific limits for streets and intersections.

At stake are the millions of dollars in state transportation funds, which will be tied to how well governments meet the goals of their management plans.

Although the new rules won't take effect unless California voters approve a proposed state gasoline tax increase in June, government officials and developers are so worried about the impact that the workshop has been scheduled at the Irvine City Hall.

It is expected to draw state and local officials as well as representatives of development firms such as the Irvine Co. and business trade groups such as the Building Industry Assn. The BIA already is lobbying for amendments to the legislation.

Nearly all of the cities in Orange County agreed to growth management policies similar to these in ratifying Measure M, the half-cent sales tax proposal that voters defeated on Nov. 7.

But the language in the Katz legislation is tougher, contains stricter standards in some cases, and would vest enormous power in a single countywide agency yet to be selected by local government officials.

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