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El Toro Airport Booster Ignores Human Factor

August 01, 1993

* (Former Irvine City Councilman Art Bloomer, a retired Marine Corps general) apparently has the same mind-set that prevails with those who do not live in close proximity to the El Toro base (Commentary article "Commercial Airport Would Minimize Costs, Maximize Benefits," July 25). They have done the so-called research and have come up with dazzling figures showing how we are all going to get rich by converting this base to a commercial airport.

Bloomer has apparently figured out everything except the most important ingredient: people. He does not mention the 22,000 retired people living in Leisure World, which abuts the base, or the hundreds of thousands living in the immediate area.

If this happens, it will result in a loss of many millions of dollars, since we would not be able to live here or to sell our properties.

The commanders at El Toro have been most cooperative in arranging their training schedules so that the noise is kept to a bearable level.

I think it is time that these experts from out of the immediate area understand that we will not take this lying down. We will be the losers if this devastation comes to pass. We vow to fight them every step of the way!

AARON SPEVAK

Laguna Niguel

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* Gen. Art Bloomer's commentary on the El Toro Base conversion read quite well until one gets to the following: "This monorail, connecting to John Wayne Airport, will make it possible for most passengers from central and north Orange County to get to the airport without using an automobile."

Perhaps he can inform us where in the world that a monorail serves pickup of air passengers from door to door. All of which is the problem with "fixed-rail" systems; it would serve very few passengers, and the existing requirement of getting to and from such a beast is inbred.

If mass transit is a must, then the successful demonstration of "rubber-tired transit" for Curitiba, Brazil, is a prime example of transit solutions (Earth Almanac, National Geographic, June, 1993). That bus system transports 1.3 million people a day.

CHRIS E. EMA

Santa Ana

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* Contrary to the assertions of former commanding Gen. Art Bloomer, the conversion of the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station to a commercial/cargo airport would not "minimize costs and maximize benefits," but would result in an economic disaster for several hundred thousand homeowners living in south Orange County.

Marshaling his "facts" meticulously and convincingly, Bloomer's case could well have been constructed by the public relations department of air cargo giant Federal Express; which has lusted and lobbied for years to use El Toro's runways jointly with the Marines. However, the general completely ignores the single most powerful independent variable that must be factored into any decision on the alternative use of these 4,700 acres--the inalienable rights of residential neighbors to shape their lives.

"Air cargo and general aviation aircraft operations could commence immediately," Bloomer tells us, knowing full well that any such precipitous action would effectively shut off consideration of other alternatives--a bold preemptive strike for Federal Express and United Parcel Service at the expense of 300,000 South County homeowners who would see an immediate negative impact on their property values.

Rather than buy Bloomer's quick fix, stronger arguments can be mustered for the establishment of an all-county advisory council to explore every alternative use as carefully and systematically as the countywide Airport Site Selection Coalition examined the issue of locating a new international airport to meet Orange County's long-term needs--a 20-month study that rejected El Toro as an appropriate site and found joint military-commercial/cargo use totally unacceptable!

The residents directly impacted by conversion must be given an advisory voice and then rely on the Orange County Board of Supervisors to make a decision that will be acceptable and economically feasible for its constituencies.

The Coalition for a Responsible Airport Solution, which worked so hard to keep the El Toro base open, must now lead a massive grass-roots campaign to persuade the Department of Defense that Orange County speaks with one voice through its elected Board of Supervisors and that it will not rush to judgment, but will first listen to the voice and advice of its citizens.

The Coalition for a Responsible Airport Solution should also strongly oppose any attempt to annex the air station to Irvine, as suggested by Bloomer. Thank you very much general but we believe El Toro's 4,700 acres of unincorporated land should remain unincorporated and under the protective custody of the Board of Supervisors.

PATRICIA H. GREEN

Golden Rain Foundation

Laguna Hills

Patricia H. Green is chairwoman of the Government and Public Relations Committee for Golden Rain Foundation Leisure World at Laguna Hills.

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