Sounding Board -- Paul Flanagan

In an editorial Dec. 9 ("Keep Home Ranch referendum off the ballot"),

the Pilot both incorrectly characterized the "opponents" of the Home

Ranch project and neglected to mention the grounds upon which valid

opposition is based.

According to the environmental-impact report (sponsored by the Home

Ranch owner and the city planning division) the project will cause 19,938

more vehicles each weekday on the roads and 14,000 trips on weekend days.

Pointing to that expected increase in traffic is hardly a "scare tactic,"

but it is the best estimate of one harmful result of the development.

Changing lane stripes, narrowing lanes and adding lanes can mitigate

traffic. But these actions can only help to a limited degree; natural

growth increases traffic every year. Spending all the available city

funds on the Home Ranch will deprive other areas of needed road

improvements. Adding traffic now will only accelerate the time when we

must purchase more land for even more lanes; how much of that land will

be purchased from the owners of Home Ranch? The Pilot seems to think that

pointing out these undisputed facts is "fear-mongering."

Extrapolating national statistics, about 4,000 Costa Mesa residents

suffer from some degree of asthma, more from chronic bronchitis or

emphysema, both conditions worsened by atmospheric pollution. About 15%

of asthma is considered to be causally related to smog. The environmental

report estimates that those 20,000 vehicular trips each day will generate

292 tons of atmospheric pollution each year. The editorial implies that

to point out these serious and real health issues is a "scare tactic."

In developing traffic mitigation measures that would be required

because of the project, the writers of the environmental report

anticipated the construction of the Gisler Street bridge. The

spokesperson for the Home Ranch declares that his company is opposed to

the bridge. It must be remembered that once the Home Ranch project is

built, those traffic engineers responsible for alleviation of traffic

congestion will have to deal with the reality of the burden of 19,938

cars and trucks each weekday imposed by the Home Ranch development. That

this could result in consideration of construction of a bridge that

remains part of the Costa Mesa general plan does not constitute

"hyperbole and fear-mongering."

The editorial alleges that opponents of the project called for the

elimination of rental dwellings on the project. That is not factual; the

developer's own discussion groups, not those characterized as the

"opposition" by the Pilot, were responsible for requiring owner occupancy

only.

The editorial writer is invited to peruse the tapes of presentations

before the Costa Mesa City Council and Planning Commission concerning the

Home Ranch. He will find that the only matter that qualifies as "scare

tactics" and "hyperbole and fear-mongering" was the fiscal-impact report

prepared by the Home Ranch consultants. That report was proclaimed to

demonstrate "a permanent deficit" to the city of Costa Mesa if the Home

Ranch land were built out according to the existing general plan.

Following dissection of that report, the applicant admitted that the

worst imaginable fiscal scenario was used -- that means "hyperbole." The

only defense offered was to the effect that the proposal produced more

city income than the general plan -- a point not disputed by "the

opposition."

The Pilot recently supported a popular vote on a project in Newport

Beach involving a traffic increment of 2,700 vehicular trips per day.

Now the paper decides that Costa Mesa citizens should have no say in a

project involving 19,938 vehicular trips per day and 292 tons of

atmospheric pollution per year.

Does the Pilot consider the citizens of Costa Mesa not yet ready to

participate in their government and in their future?

* PAUL FLANAGAN is a Costa Mesa resident who opposed the Home Ranch

project as a member of Costa Mesa Citizens for Responsible Growth.

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