SANTA ANA : Settlement Reached in Bristol Corridor Suit

After almost five years of fighting in court, city officials and plaintiffs who challenged the $335-million Bristol corridor redevelopment project have negotiated a settlement.

Superior Court Judge Robert A. Knox will consider within the next several days whether to approve the settlement. The project is designed to expand Bristol Street and revamp more than a dozen commercial areas along its length, City Atty. Edward J. Cooper said.

"We're pleased with the settlement. I know staff is pleased to start work on the project area" to improve rundown areas, he said.

Attorney Richard Spix, who represented Robert T. Gonzales, an optometrist with offices in the project area, and Evangelina Avalos, a single mother who lives in the area, also praised the agreement as "beneficial to the community."

The settlement calls for the city to set aside 30% of the revenue generated by the project for low- and moderate-income housing. State law requires 20% to be set aside for that purpose, he said.

As a result, the city must now reserve about $200 million during the 35-year project to buy, build or renovate housing for low- and moderate-income families, Spix said.

"We're targeting the lowest of the low-income families, the ones most in need and least able to protect themselves from economic distress," he said.

Also under the agreement, the city will pay $149,000 in attorneys' fees, he said.

The project was originally approved in 1989, but Gonzales and Avalos sued to stop it. They argued that the city failed to do enough to find replacement housing for hundreds of families who might be displaced.

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