ORANGE COUNTY, CA-California Gov. Gray Davis threw a monkey wrench into Tustin’s plans to develop commercial and residential projects at its closed military facility late Wednesday, vetoing a bill approved by the state Legislature that would have allowed the city to quickly build roads, water and sewer lines on 1,600 acres of the former Tustin Marine Corps Air Base.

Tustin officials have been hoping to sell some of the land to commercial developers and homebuilders, figuring the new projects will offset much of the revenue and many of the jobs that were lost when the base was closed during the defense cutbacks of the 1990s. The bill vetoed by Davis yesterday would have fast-tracked infrastructure development at the base.

Though Tustin wants to develop the land, the neighboring Santa Ana Unified School District wants to take part of the parcel to build sorely needed new schools. Tustin officials note that they have already opened one-third of the 1,600-acre development for public projects—-including schools, homeless shelters and parks—-and say Santa Ana doesn’t need the additional 100 acres that it has requested.

In a brief statement accompanying his veto, Gov. Davis said the Legislature’s approval of the bill was “premature” and added that “it is the responsibility of interested local agencies to work together towards an agreement on redevelopment plans.”

Tustin officials say they have already tried to work a deal with Santa Ana leaders, and that they took their case to the Legislature only after the talks came to a dead end. Two Tustin officials have complained anonymously to that Gov. Davis is using his veto power to “pay back” the teachers unions that contributed millions to his gubernatorial campaign—-even though yesterday’s veto could cost Tustin hundreds of new private-sector jobs and millions in new tax revenue.

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