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Fri, Dec. 06

Supervisors avoid Prop. 202 stance<br>But make it clear they're against it

County supervisors took their lawyer's advice and avoided an official position on Proposition 202, but they made it clear what they thought about it.

When Planning Director Mike Rozycki pointed out that the law will take effect by Pearl Harbor Day if voters approve it Nov. 7, the supervisors and planning commissioners couldn't help but chuckle.

"That says a lot," Commissioner Jacquie Weedon commented.

"Sneak attack," Supervisor Gheral Brownlow added.

State law doesn't allow counties and school districts to use their government resources to influence the outcome of elections, Deputy County Attorney Randy Schurr advised. While the First Amendment gives officials the right to express their opinions, Schurr said they should be careful about taking any official position on proposition 202, the Citizens Growth Management Initiative.

"This board has hammered the table about lot splits," and the proposition would give the supervisors tools to control now-unregulated lot splits, Supervisor Chip Davis observed. Supervisors would have the option of requiring parcel splits to meet zoning requirements, prove legal access, and indemnifying the county from liability if the legal access isn't traversable by emergency vehicles.

However, the law also could hamstring innovative planning efforts, Davis said.

"If I lived in Maricopa County, I'd probably vote for this thing because that place has gotten out of hand," Davis said.

However, the proposition's "one-size-fits-all" format doesn't work for this diverse state, he said.

Supervisor John Olsen had the strongest statements against the proposition.

"This is the worst possible way to do law, because it's so totally unpredictable and so ill-thought through," Olsen said.

Proposition 202 includes 22,000 words of new regulations to curb urban sprawl. It's not easy to understand all its implications, county officials said.

"There are a lot of ambiguities in it," Schurr said, and anyone in the country could sue a local government for its actions related to the law.

If voters approve it, the supervisors and commission will need a long meeting to learn its details, Commissioner Tom Thurman said.

Much of the discssion centered around the urban growth areas that the law would require municipalities and counties to draw up. The urban growth areas could have boundaries only large enough to accommodate 10 years of population growth, consistent with Arizona Department of Economic Security projections.

Rozycki noted that the 1990 Census counted approximately 107,000 people in Yavapai County, and the Department of Economic Security estimates the county now has a population of 160,000. Yet the department predicts the county's population will be 198,000 in 2010, a much slower growth rate than the county actually is experiencing right now.

The department will have a hard time making dependable growth projections, Olsen said, given water-use restrictions and the limited amount of private land available in the state.

If the urban growth areas aren't big enough to handle actual population increases, voters won't be likely to agree to expand the areas, Thurman predicted.

Urban growth areas in unincorporated parts of the county would have to be approved by voters in each county supervisor district they affect, as well as voters countywide.

Counties couldn't rezone land outside urban growth areas to allow increased densities or intensities, unless the county supervisors granted an exception. Voters would have to approve exceptions for more than 20 acres.

Political subdivisions and public service corporations couldn't provide public services (water, waste-water, garbage) outside urban growth areas without an exception, either. The same rules apply for this exception.

People created unions as a result of communication breakdowns with management, Davis said, and there's a correlation with voter initiatives such as Proposition 202.

"It is damned important we make the right decisions for the future," so people don't feel the need to force decisions on local officials, Davis said.

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