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Airport for El Toro Gets Support in Critical Vote

Development: O.C. planning commissioners give their approval, 4 to 1, to environmental impact report that rates major international facility the best use for Marine base.


Don Saltarelli: 55, of Orange, owns Century 21 Realty in Tustin. Stepping down at year's end after serving the remainder of former Supervisor Gaddi H. Vasquez's term. Saltarelli's district is divided over an airport. He said he won't support a major international airport at El Toro, but could back a smaller airport. Office: (714) 834-3330; Fax: (714) 834-2786.

William G. Steiner: 59, of Orange. The former head of the Orangewood Children's Home was appointed to the board in March 1993. Will not seek election when term ends in December 1998. Voters in his district rely heavily on tourism and favor an El Toro airport. But Steiner remains worried about an airport's negative effects on South County residents. Office: (714) 834-3440; Fax: (714) 834-2045.

NOTE: Supervisor Marian Bergeson recently resigned to become the state's education chief. Gov. Pete Wilson is expected soon to name a replacement for Bergeson, who opposed a major airport at El Toro.


What's Coming

El Toro Marine Corps Air Station began military operations in 1943 and later went on to become the largest Marine air installation in the western U.S. It played a key role as a military launching point during the Persian Gulf War and during operations in Somalia and Bosnia. Federal officials decided the 4,700-acre base has outlived its usefulness and in 1993 ordered that it eventually be shut as a cost-saving measure. The military has no final date to retire the base, but expects to do so in mid-1999.

The county is sharply divided over the base's reuse. County residents may still get involved in El Toro's future by attending public meetings to be held at the county Hall of Administration. Important dates, subject to change:

Nov. 21: Planning Commission meets at 1:30 p.m. to issue recommendation.

December: Supervisors meet to consider recommendations and make their final choice on reuse; no date or time set.

Dec. 30: County deadline to submit final reuse plan to the Navy; plan sets off a round of federal studies and meetings, including a more detailed analysis of base contamination.


Getting the Report

The draft environmental report and its supporting documents are available at county libraries. The entire report or portions of it can be purchased by calling (714) 660-1150.

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