COUNTYWIDE : Cities to Seek Joint Attack on Problems

Despite the defeat of countywide slow-growth and traffic-improvement ballot measures, an influential group of local municipal officials announced a major effort Friday to create multi-city growth-management areas in which traffic and development decisions would be coordinated.

The growth-management sectors would be vehicles for implementing "congestion-mangement plans" that would contain specific levels of service for major intersections and also other standards aimed at improving air quality through use of monorails, bikeways and car pools, among other strategies.

"We believe that this . . . constitutes a major assault on the transportation dilemma that we face in Orange County," said Santa Ana Councilwoman Patricia A. McGuigan, president of the League of Cities' Orange County Division, which announced the growth-management effort at a news conference in Santa Ana. The group represents all 29 Orange County cities.

The effort, league officials said, is aimed at placing the county at the head of the line for millions of dollars in state transportation funding that may become available if voters approve the proposed state gasoline tax hike on the June ballot.

The gasoline tax increase would trigger enforcement of laws adopted in Sacramento last year that require local governments to implement congestion-management plans with specific traffic standards and goals. The Building Industry Assn. and development firms such as the Irvine Co. are seeking legislative amendments to allow for more exemptions from the rules.

Also, league officials said Friday, they fear that regional or state agencies will force new regulations on the county and its cities unless local authorities come up with their own plans now.

Los Alamitos Councilman Ronald Bates, the league's first vice president, said Friday that current working arrangements involving his city and Cypress are an example of how a growth-management area might be formed. A major development is to be built next to the Los Alamitos Race Track, which, despite its name, is in Cypress. The two municipalities are working closely together on solving the traffic problems that are expected from the 170-acre business park, he said.

McGuigan and Irvine Councilwoman Sally Anne Sheridan, the league's second vice president, also cited cooperative agreements that already exist among Irvine, Laguna Beach, Tustin, Newport Beach and Santa Ana.

League officials said they intend to seek widespread support for congestion-management proposals at today's workshop at Irvine City Hall sponsored by the league and the Orange County Transportation Commission.

League officials said that although two countywide ballot measures with growth controls in them have been rejected by voters in the last two years, they believe that county residents still want good planning.

The first ballot proposal rejected by voters was Measure A, the Citizens Slow Growth and Traffic Control Initiative, which was defeated in June, 1988.

Slow-growth activists, however, said Friday that the league may be concerned about the planned repeal of the ordinance that permitted last November's countywide balloting on Measure M, the unsuccessful half-cent sales tax hike proposal for transportation projects and growth controls. The ordinance must be repealed before a new attempt at gaining voter approval is mounted, and environmentalists may seek to toughen the growth controls in any new ordinance.

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