Laguna hills utility company liquidating trust

The Sunday-evening concert at Leisure World had been proceeding nicely when the pianist decided to end his Gershwin medley with a personal pitch on behalf of cityhood for Laguna Hills.

But the political tune by the usually popular performer did not sit well with many of the senior citizens in the audience, some of whom started hooting and walked out.“This is the most emotional issue that has come up in the 12 years since I have been here,” said Myra Neben, editor of the Leisure World News, the weekly newspaper in this retirement community of 21,500.

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Many cityhood proponents want the land, which is owned by Rossmoor Liquidating Trust and in escrow to Cabot, Cabot & Forbes, to remain in its current zoning for recreation and open space.

David Nealey, vice president and regional manager for Cabot, Cabot & Forbes in Orange County, said the company is working with county traffic and land planners to see what improvements in the road and signaling systems will be needed to accommodate the company’s plan for 1.8 million square feet of office and retail space, which would put an estimated 42,000 more vehicles a day on Moulton and El Toro.

At stake is the question of whether Leisure World and its neighboring communities want to band together and form a city of Laguna Hills, a municipality of 45,000 on 6,000 acres wedged between the San Diego Freeway on the east and the Aliso Viejo planned community on the west. Tuesday’s election is the fourth incorporation election in south Orange County in the last 18 months, as various communities seek to exert local control over growth and public services.

The decision to make Laguna Hills the county’s 29th city will be made at the polls Tuesday. Two communities, Mission Viejo and Dana Point, were successful, while a proposal to create a Saddleback Valley city was defeated last November.

The prospect of cityhood is frightening to many Leisure World residents who cherish the pleasant environment inside their private community and worry that a new city could upset their life style.

They are warned by cityhood opponents that a new city could burden them with new financial liabilities and make them prey to sleazy politics.

They don’t have to live with the ramifications of the development decisions they make,” she said.

The only organized opposition to the cityhood drive is within Leisure World.

“You just can’t stand still.”In the last days before the election, campaigning has heated up as committees on both sides of the incorporation issue try to sway the undecided.

Within the last two weeks, volunteers have been trekking door to door, handing out flyers, launching telephone-and-mail blitzes and erecting posters along roadsides in Laguna Hills.

The overwhelming sentiment among the city council candidates would be to kill or substantially scale back the business park proposal.

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