The Oxnard Area Chamber of Commerce is worried that Councilwoman Dorothy Maron will try to stall a series of hearings next week on a new General Plan in an effort to make a stand on growth and bolster her campaign for mayor.
The concern was expressed in a report released Tuesday by a chamber subcommittee on governmental relations and business development.
During several all-day meetings next week, the Oxnard City Council is expected to consider and adopt the plan, which is designed to guide development in the city until the year 2020.
"We understand that Councilwoman Dorothy Maron may attempt to stall the process and delay the General Plan issue to the election time-frame in order to politicize the issue of growth," said a report describing the outcome of a subcommittee meeting on July 19.
The report urges chamber members to discourage Maron from taking such actions. "Something as important as a 30-year general plan should not be turned into a political circus," the report said.
In an interview Tuesday, Maron characterized the allegations as "baloney."
She acknowledged that she has been critical of the plan and said she will continue to criticize the document at next week's hearings. "That's my job," she said.
But Maron said that even if she wanted to stall adoption of the plan, she would need the support of at least two other council members to win a majority vote.
Stephen J. Maulhardt, chairman of the chamber subcommittee that produced the report, said he believes that Maron will use the hearings to make a stand on growth because "she wants to be elected mayor on a no-growth or slow-growth platform."
Maron, who has recently called for restraints on development in the city, has filed the necessary documents to challenge Mayor Nao Takasugi in the November elections. Takasugi, who has supported the pace of development in the city, is considered a "pro-growth" candidate.
To buttress his theory, Maulhardt pointed out that in April, when the plan was being considered by the Planning Commission, Maron criticized it as being "very pro-growth."
Maulhardt noted that, in that same month, Maron also proposed forming a committee of residents and council members to review the plan because she said it failed to adequately address ways to regulate or limit traffic levels, residential growth and "high-risk" industries.
However, Maron withdrew her proposal a week later without explanation.
On Tuesday, Maulhardt presented the council with a letter urging it to adopt the new General Plan without further delay.
The General Plan was first studied over a 2 1/2-year period by a 22-member group of residents and has been under review by the Planning Commission since June, 1989. The council has scheduled four days of meetings next week to consider public input on the plan.
The document projects a population increase of 41,000 and a 135% increase in commercial development. The plan has been criticized by groups such as the Navy, the California Coastal Commission, the city of Ventura and local slow-growth advocates.
"Our concern is that the political atmosphere may slow the General Plan process further," Maulhardt said, adding that until the new plan is adopted, the city has delayed approval of special land use permits.
He said he is urging members of the chamber to write or telephone Maron to discourage her from trying to stall adoption of the General Plan.
Maulhardt said the Oxnard Area Chamber of Commerce is prohibited by its bylaws to endorse or oppose any candidate in the election.