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COSTA MESA : Council to Consider Auto Club Expansion

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The City Council on Monday is scheduled to consider the Automobile Club of Southern California’s proposal to more than double its office at 3333 Fairview Road to just under 1 million square feet.

The auto club is asking for a change in the city’s general plan--the document that establishes planning goals--to add a half-million square feet of office space to the 30-acre site.

The expansion has been opposed by residents who say the resulting increase in density--the amount of floor space on an acre of land--will set a bad example for other landowners.

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The Planning Commission approved the plan on May 23 despite some strong opposition during more than two hours of public testimony. Nearby homeowners said they fear crowded streets and clogged city services. Many asked where the new AAA workers would live.

But for every person who spoke against the project, there was another who supported it.

An independent analysis performed for the city said the AAA expansion would generate more than $150,000 yearly in new fees to the city. That comes mostly from property taxes.

The 1,135-employee business is now credited with bringing in about $2.3 million of business activity to the city. If the development project is approved, AAA plans to increase its payroll to 2,509 employees, which would generate about $4.5 million yearly in retail sales, services and hotel stays.

Commissioners Walter Davenport, John Palme and Libby Cowan approved the program. Davenport said he believes it would give an economic kick to the city without hurting residents. But commissioner Mark Korando opposed the project. He said he agrees with residents that it will pave the way for other high-density developments.

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