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Survey says: Crowds stifling

August 05, 2004

Deirdre Newman

About 45 million people will compete for jobs, jostle for freeway

space and scour the state for affordable housing in 2025, according

to a statewide survey released today.

The survey, conducted by the Public Policy Institute of

California, said more than half of the poll's participants feel the

population increase will have an adverse affect on them and their

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families. Some Newport-Mesa residents are equally pessimistic about

the region's ability to accommodate the expected infusion of people.

"We are woefully behind the eight ball, at least in this point in

time, in being able to service that amount of people in the state in

terms of our public institutions, from the bottom up -- whether that

be education, infrastructure, services -- the whole gamut of what

we're responsible for as public agencies," Costa Mesa City Manager

Allan Roeder said.

The institute surveyed 2,506 Californians to raise awareness and

foster discussion of the growth-related challenges confronting the

state over the next two decades. When the survey answers were divided

by region, Orange County and San Diego County were grouped together.

In this region, 23% of survey respondents said the most important

issue facing people in California today is the multi-faceted issue of

economy, jobs and unemployment. Newport Beach Planning Commissioner

Barry Eaton cited the state budget deficit as his No. 1 issue.

"It's not getting solved as quickly as [Gov. Arnold]

Schwarzenegger promised," Eaton said. "It's just creating more

carry-over to future years. Clearly, there needs to be an effort of

structural reform. Everyone agrees with that in principle, but the

devil is in the details in terms of getting things done. That's

related to jobs and the economy because Schwarzenegger is clearly

relying on the economy coming back in a big way in order to pay down

some of those deficits."

In a transportation-related question, 38% of Orange/San Diego

respondents favored freeways and highways, while 28% favored a light

rail as a surface transportation project that should have the top

priority for public funding as the region gets ready for the growth

that is expected by 2025.

That ranking reflects the priorities of the Orange County

Transportation Authority, spokesman Ted Nguyen said. The agency has

used 75% of funds from Measure M, the county's half-cent sales tax

for transportation improvements, for freeways and streets. Transit

projects, including the CenterLine light rail system project, receive

the other 25%, Nguyen added.

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