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There’s a Method to How Bolsa Chica Proposal Will Be Decided

* Critics of the Bolsa Chica land use proposal, including Huntington Beach Councilman Dave Sullivan’s recent comment in your newspaper (Commentary, Feb. 13), raise numerous issues related to the planning process for the Koll Co.'s proposal now being processed through the County of Orange. While it is inappropriate for me to comment on the Koll Co.'s proposal during the Environmental Impact Report review period, I feel it is important for your readers to know that there is a planning process through which issues such as those raised by Councilman Sullivan and other interested citizens can be identified and resolved.

A primary document used in the planning process is the Environmental Impact Report. The county has elected to process the EIR separately from the Environmental Impact Statement.

Our critics believe this to be a flawed decision. We do not agree. The county is the lead agency for this project and is therefore required by the state to ensure that an adequate EIR is prepared. This allows us to consider and act first upon issues that we have authority and responsibility to manage before we address matters under federal jurisdiction. We believe the appropriate sequence of decision-making on a project such a Bolsa Chica is first the county, then the state, followed by federal agencies regardless of whether a joint EIR/EIS is prepared or the documents are prepared separately.

The Army Corps of Engineers is the lead agency for preparation of the EIS. The county and the Army will be coordinating throughout the planning process.

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Later this spring we will begin public hearings on the EIR and related studies, including a Fiscal Impact Report.

Local decisions such as where development should occur, how many dwelling units should be allowed on the property, where schools, fire and other infrastructure should be located, what lands should be preserved/restored and what funding responsibilities are the landowners’ will be based on the EIR, FIR and related information.

This is a planning process that we have successfully employed on numerous projects, allowing public input and providing an objective basis for impact analysis and effective mitigation.

I respect the fact that understanding the legal and technical requirements of the planning process can be a daunting task for the citizens we serve. However, the planning process will work if given a chance.

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THOMAS B. MATHEWS

Director of Planning

Orange County Environmental Management Agency

* I feel compelled to respond to Dave Sullivan’s commentary on Bolsa Chica. It seems to me that our city councilman is pointing his environmental finger of blame in the wrong direction. It’s the acts of our council and the misguided Land Trust that are in fact causing the worst possible thing to happen in this whole issue of “no wetlands restoration.” Their anti-business approach to working with Koll, their unfair, biased treatment and their inability to stick with any agreements they make should be to blame here.

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I know firsthand that Koll has worked and continues to try to work with the City Council, the County of Orange, and many groups and agencies who want input into the project. They have compromised and have been patient!

I want to know how the City Council can judge the Bolsa Chica plan fairly, when various members of the council went on record that they were opposed to it?

Sullivan is not fooling anyone with his sob story. It’s the City Council’s own fault that Koll went to the county. So stop crying over lost fees!

MIKE GUEST

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Huntington Beach


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