Harman, one of 11 Republicans to support the budget compromise,
was also instrumental in pushing, along with other GOP colleagues,
for the reduction of cuts in funding to the city's redevelopment
agency to build low-cost housing.
City leaders excitedly embraced state support for the purchase of
more than 200 acres of the Bolsa Chica Mesa, which has been at the
heart of a contentious battle for decades. The price tag is expected
to reach $200 million, Harman said.
"This is great news," Mayor Connie Boardman said. "This is
something the environmental community in Southern California is
really going to celebrate."
Under the budget deal approved Tuesday by the Legislature, cities
and counties would also be required to absorb an additional $1.2
billion in cuts.
City Administrator Ray Silver could not be reached for comment on
Local environmentalists first gathered support for the Mesa
purchase in 2002 by including language in a state bond measure. A
section of Proposition 50, which passed in March of that year,
provided for "the acquisition of not less than 100 acres ... adjacent
to the state ecological reserve in the Bolsa Chica wetlands in Orange
The state's Wildlife Conservancy Board is now appraising the mesa
to determine its value. A handful of property owners now hold title
to various parcels, but the largest landowner is Signal Landmark. Its
development arm, Hearthside Homes, has said it hopes to build 387
homes. Hearthside has also said it would consider selling the land.
Harman's deal with the Davis administration provides for full
funding for the 212 acres set for development and a four-acre parcel
known as ORA-83. The smaller adjacent parcel, a culturally sensitive
Indian burial site where archeologists have found remains, would cost
between $4 million and $6 million. Funding for that purchase would
come from Proposition 40, the statewide park bond that passed in
March 2002, Harman said.
Harman and his Republican colleagues were also able to reduce
Davis' planned elimination of $250 million in funding to local
redevelopment agencies for affordable housing.
The Davis administration agreed to reduce that cut to about $130
million, leaving more than $100 million intact. Huntington Beach
could receive about $2 million of that amount, Harman said.
A year ago, Davis administration officials offered Harman funding
for Bolsa Chica, but Surf City's assemblyman turned it down. At the
time, Harman's legislative director Peter Crandall said: "He just
doesn't want to condemn the people of California to a bad budget just
to get a little goodie for his district."