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ORANGE COUNTY News
Bolsa Chica Likely Battleground in Assembly Race
Democratic candidate for the California State Assembly Bill Orton is taking his case to the doorstep of his opponent, incumbent Tom Harman.
Orton and a group of environmentalists plan to stage a demonstration at the assemblyman's office today.
At issue is Harman's refusal to support the state budget. Reportedly, key Democrats have implied that if Harman throws his support behind the budget "something could probably be worked out" to prevent development of the Bolsa Chica Mesa.
The budget is backed by all the Democrats in the state legislature and two Republicans. Two more votes are needed for passage.
According to Orton, Governor Davis has offered millions of existing bon dollars to save the mesa, in return for Harman's support of the budget.
Harman said Orton's statement "shows his lack of understanding about the issue."
Hearthside Homes currently owns both the upper and lower benches of the Bolsa Chica Wetlands.
The Coastal Commission recently voted down the developer's plan to build homes on the lower bench. Hearthside is challenging the decision.
Both the Orange County Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commission have voted to allow Hearthside to build homes on the upper mesa.
However, Proposition 50 on the November 5 ballot would devote $2 billion to conservation projects and the Bolsa Chica property is specified as a project that will receive funding.
"This is the first time a provision like this has been made," said Harman. "It's the first time a bond measure has actually specified a project that would definitely be included in the funding."
Hearthside homes has reportedly contributed $350,000 to the campaign to pass Prop. 50 and recent polls show 58% of voters in favor.
"I want to save the mesa," said Harman. "But I'm not interested in selling my vote.
"Besides, Prop. 50 stands a good chance of passing and it would provide the money to save the entire wetlands area anyway."
"Tom Harman has the opportunity to save the upper mesa of the Bolsa Chica," said Orton. "We haven't been this close to saving it in a generation, and he could become a hero with just one vote."
"Suggesting that help might be made available in exchange for my vote on the budget is tantamount to holding the Bolsa Chica hostage," said Harman. "It is this type of backroom deal-making that has contributed to the disastrous state of California's budget."
Harman objects to the budget because it would raise taxes and spend less for education.
"Spending has increased by 33 percent since Gray Davis too office," said Harman. "We should manage the deficit by prudent cost cutting instead of raising taxes."
Orton's "Save the Bolsa Chica" rally will take place at noon today, Aug. 9, outside of Harman's office at the corner of Beach Boulevard and Warner Avenue, in Huntington Beach.
The 67th District includes Cypress, Huntington Beach, La Palma, Los Alamitos, Rossmoor, Seal Beach and portions of Anaheim, Garden Grove, Stanton and Westminster.