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DANA POINT : Survey May Decide Fate of Headlands

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The future of the Headlands may be the focus of a community survey, the City Council has decided.

The council voted unanimously this week to seek proposals for a survey of what residents want done with the privately owned, 121-acre bluff top property. The survey, which officials estimate would cost the city about $20,000, would also test whether voters would agree to tax themselves to buy all or part of the property.

Based on survey results, city officials would decide whether to hold a citywide vote on a bond measure to raise money for a land purchase, said City Manager Stephen B. Julian, who conducted a similar survey in San Juan Capistrano. If the survey results show great interest in the bond measure, the city would spend another $20,000 to hold an election, Julian said.

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Before the survey is conducted, Julian would meet with the Save the Headlands group, which seeks to limit development of the Headlands, and the city’s park district representatives and “anyone else who has a concern” about the Headlands, said Mayor Judy Curreri.

“We want to make sure everyone feels the questions in the survey are objective . . . and not tainted or biased,” Curreri said. “The survey will be a random sampling. . . . This will give (the council) a feeling of what people are interested in.”

Ed Gallagher, an outspoken opponent of development on the Headlands, called the survey “an excellent idea.”

“We definitely would support it,” Gallagher said.

While Julian was city manager in San Juan Capistrano, voters in 1990 overwhelmingly approved a $21-million bond measure that increases their property taxes to purchase land for parks and open space. Voters in Laguna Beach followed suit soon afterward and residents in Newport Beach are currently considering a similar proposal.

A development plan that calls for a maximum of 394 residential units and a 400-room hotel is being considered by the city Planning Commission. The next meeting on the Headlands plan is Oct. 13 at City Hall.

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