ORANGE COUNTY, CA-Of the four localized land use initiatives before the electorate on Tuesday, two were narrowly defeated; and of the remaining two conflicting measures in Newport Beach, one won handily while the other lost by a large margin.

The most contentious race was between Measure S, the so-called Greenlight Initiative, and Measure T, a traffic-phasing ordinance. Voters gave Measure S a 63.4% to 36.6% margin of victory. As a result, developers must wait for a vote of the electorate for approval of a proposed project that fits within the requirements laid out by the initiative. The concern for developers is the process.

“With the passage of Measure S, it is now crucial for its proponents, working with the City Council, to promptly clarify for all the residents and businesses in Newport Beach the confusing ambiguities of the measure and to clearly explain exactly how it will be implemented,” says Gary Hunt, executive vice president of the Irvine Co., in a prepared statement.

Measure T, which was backed by developers and industry associations, lost 35.1 % to 64.9%. It would have required developers to pay for infrastructure improvements to mitigate traffic congestion caused by development of a project. If both measures had passed, the one with the most votes would have won.

“The passage of Measure S interrupts the relationship between the city and developers. People don’t understand that we negotiate a lot of things with the developer before we give the go-ahead,” says Newport Beach mayor John E. Noyes. “It was all about traffic. We’re going to lose out now on traffic mitigation (what) we may have gotten from some developments. If we have a development that’s a good development, I’m skeptical that citizens can really understand the issues.”

The Irvine Company does not plan to build any more high-rise office buildings in Newport Beach, nor will it seek any future amendment to the city’s General Plan. The company does currently have entitlements to some projects which it plans to proceed on since approval was obtained prior to the election.

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