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Selling the Corridor

July 17, 1988

In today's mail came an announcement. The Orange County Environmental Management Agency (EMA) announced public meetings in Irvine and Laguna Hills to "seek comments on the San Joaquin Hills Corridor."

The EMA is owed thanks for involving the public in this road project. It is the democratic way. But it's not the democratic way if the EMA again appears to employ tricks designed to fool the public. This road project seems to have been fraught with fraud and deceit since its beginning. Money and political power was the game. For example, early on, a county supervisor said, "Traffic's bad. Research is needed to find out how to cure it."

An independent "research" team was hired. What it "discovered" confirmed what supervisors and developers seem to have had in mind all along: a 17-mile freeway slashing through greenbelt space, starting nowhere, going nowhere, just a concrete roadway access to a developer's proposed housing tract.

Through it all, the corridor freeway had been heralded as a "traffic enhancer." It wasn't. What is was was a "bank account enhancer"--for some developers--and a "political enhancer" for some politicians. (A Mission Viejo Co. spokesman had indicated that the company's project wasn't feasible without it.)

When the idea for the San Joaquin Hills Corridor first emerged, public meetings were also scheduled. Public response wasn't encouraging. But the EMA, in recommending the project, ignored the public's negative response, loudly trumpeting the project plan as widely "circulated," hoping apparently that the public would read "circulated" as "approved."

Maybe this time the agency will report all the facts.

TOM ALEXANDER

Laguna Beach

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