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Growth changes decried

The Greenlight committee, a residents group that successfully passed

a landmark growth control measure in Newport Beach in 2000, wants

voters to have an even bigger say in the city’s future development.

The group on Friday announced it will circulate petitions for a


new ballot initiative it has dubbed Greenlight II. The measure would

apply the first Greenlight initiative’s voter controls over

development to the city’s existing general plan.

That means if the initiative passes, a public vote would be


required on any proposal that exceeds existing development in Newport

Beach by more than 100 dwelling units, 100 peak hour car trips or

40,000 square feet of building space.

Under Measure S -- the existing Greenlight law -- the development

allowed by the current general plan is the baseline for deciding what

projects go to the ballot.

Greenlight committee spokesman Phil Arst said city officials are

trying to use a proposed update to the general plan to get around the


limits of Measure S, and the ballot measure would block that.

“This is not a no-growth initiative because for meritorious

projects like Hoag Hospital additions, I’m sure the people would vote

for it,” Arst said. “If there are housing units projected for

Mariner’s Mile, which is one of the most congested streets in the

city, people have a right to say, ‘It’s too congested; we can’t

handle it.’”

City Council members have said they expect to put the general plan


update on the November 2006 ballot.

Mayor John Heffernan, who initially ran for council as a

Greenlight-backed candidate, said the proposed update to the general

plan would change but not increase the intensity of the development

allowed in the city.

The new ballot initiative would basically shut the door on future

development in Newport because few developers would want to face a

public vote on every major project, Heffernan said.

“I guess the next step is, instead of building a city hall, we’ll

build a stadium and we’ll bring all the residents in ... and then

they can vote on each development as it comes forward,” Heffernan

said. “We’ll have planning by stadium.”

Arst said he wants to get the initiative on the November 2006

ballot. Also proposed for that ballot is a measure that would require

a public vote on projects that require the city to borrow more than

$3 million.

* ALICIA ROBINSON covers government and politics. She may be

reached at (714) 966-4626 or by e-mail at