Countywide : Transit Commission Studies Alternatives

Seeking guidance on what to do this coming year now that voters have rejected a sales tax to fund transportation projects, Orange County transportation commissioners held a half-day retreat at an Irvine hotel Monday.

The eight-member panel, demoralized by the defeat of Measure M on Nov. 7, watched videotapes showing a variety of people who talked about transportation options in the next few years, including opportunities for additional rail transit, said Stanley T. Oftelie, the commission's executive director.

No decisions were made, Oftelie said, but commissioners voiced concern about the county's inability to obtain state and federal matching grants due to a lack of locally raised funds.

The OCTC staff raised issues such as whether disbursement of transportation funds to Orange County cities should be conditioned on their adoption of growth management plans, but Oftelie said there appeared to be no consensus in favor of such a move.

"The retreat was based on the idea that we're just going to talk about these things and see whose attitudes are where," said Oftelie. "There was a lot of talk about governance. That's sort of a buzzword that deals with issues of government reorganization and consolidation, how different agencies may be merged in order to function more effectively."

Oftelie said there was a burst of creativity after the defeat of a similar tax proposal in 1984 known as Measure A, including creation of the county's tollway agencies, the freeway emergency call box program and a special program to fund local transportation improvements from interest earned on transit money being saved for future car-pool and bus lanes.

"We're hoping that the defeat of Measure M will result in other courses of action, but a lot of our options are severely limited," Oftelie said.

Still under consideration are plans to resurrect Measure M for the November 1990 ballot.

Oftelie said he did not know the exact cost of Monday's retreat, held at the Irvine Hilton, but said that it was less than $10,000.

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