Republican Chuck DeVore of Irvine had introduced two bills to extend tenant leases at El Morro Village Mobile Home Park, a quaint beachfront enclave in Crystal Cove State Park, for 10 to 30 years. On Tuesday, he held a press conference explaining his reasons for withdrawing both measures from a hearing before the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee scheduled the same day.
"Avoiding defeat is more important and really is the prudent course of action," said DeVore, adding that it had become clear the bills would not receive enough votes to pass.
The assemblyman's proposals would have put the state's plans on hold. DeVore has said they were intended to help reduce the state budget deficit and aid the state Department of Parks and Recreation, which is facing a $900-million maintenance backlog. But the freshman assemblyman has been criticized for accepting $66,000 in campaign donations and loans from mobile home park residents, as well as from a businessman who holds the trailer park lease and from the businessman's relatives.
Opponents of the measures included former Newport Beach Assemblyman Gil Ferguson, who last week sent letters urging members of the committee to vote against the bills.
"I talked to some of them personally," Ferguson said. "It isn't that I don't like DeVore. It's a matter of fairness. This land for over 25 years has belonged to the people of Redding, of Watts, of Bakersfield, of San Diego. It does not belong to the people of Orange County or the people who have been squatting on this land for 25 years."
The state bought Crystal Cove from the Irvine Co. in 1979 and opened the 3.5-mile stretch of mostly undeveloped beachfront south of Corona del Mar as a state park the following year. Its vintage cottages--46 of which are undergoing a $9.2-million renovation -- are considered the last example of a Southern California beach colony as it looked in the 1920s.
But parks officials on Tuesday said the project would cost an additional $2 million --a budget increase of more than 20%--which DeVore cited as evidence that the state parks department couldn't handle another project.
Winter's record rainfall was behind the cost overruns, said Roy Stearns, spokesman for the state parks department.
[Clips from original newspaper articles appear here for educational purposes and purposes of comment, rather than commercial purposes. They are reprinted under the fair use doctrine of international copyright law. Copyright Los Angeles Times]
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