Aliso Viejo Enters the Last Stages of Labor in City's Birth


Orange County's newest city will open for business Monday by the skin of its teeth.

Last-minute arrangements are keeping Aliso Viejo's City Council-elect and staff busy through the weekend. "We've all had to do a little bit of rolling up our sleeves," said Scott Smith, interim city attorney.

The new city's leaders decided only Tuesday where to put City Hall. They were split between an empty office across from the current meeting site and furnished space farther away. They settled on the empty space, at 12 Journey, because it's near the community's library, sheriff's and fire stations.

The delay means the city staff must scramble if it is to show residents something resembling a City Hall when the doors open.

"They've certainly taken their time finding a space, and I don't know why that is," groused resident Douglas Brown, who attended a few of the council-elect's meetings.

Hiring is still going on, too. The council does not expect to hear back on several job offers until today, when cityhood takes effect.

Aliso Viejo voters approved incorporation and elected a five-member council March 6. The county gave the group three months to get organized. They began meeting the following week.

Hiring was led by Interim City Manager William Woollett, a veteran of local government.

The council-elect also formed a committee to plan the city's first Fourth of July celebration and began drafting resolutions dealing with everything from street maintenance to community services. Those issues will be on the agenda at an incorporation meeting at 2 p.m. today at Grand Park.

The debate over where to put City Hall was an example of the learning curve for the new council members. Three of them--Carmen L. Vali, Cynthia Pickett and William Phillips--were leaders in the Aliso Viejo Community Assn., which until March was the governing body for the 20-year-old master-planned development that now has a population of 45,000.

Running a city is tougher.

"I can't just call up someone on the council and say, 'We need to get this done; let's do it,' " said Vali.

The City Council campaign was raucous, marked by mudslinging between two slates of candidates.

City Councilman Greg Ficke, who stayed out of that word war, now joins Vali, Pickett and Phillips, who were accused of improperly reporting campaign contributions and pulling up campaign signs.

He says he's seeing from workshops and briefings that ". . .we find that we really share similar values."

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