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El Toro Politics, El Toro Economics

August 06, 2000

* In the July 30 editorial "A Tale of Two Bases" The Times again calls for a change in makeup of the Local Redevelopment Authority, the body that will decide the use to which El Toro is put.

Right now, the LRA consists of the five Orange County supervisors. Just three of them, Supervisors Chuck Smith, Jim Silva and Cynthia Coad, are pushing for an airport at any cost.

It was not always that way.

Originally, the El Toro LRA had nine members, consisting of the five supervisors and four elected officials from the adjacent cities that will be most impacted.

In 1995, the Board of Supervisors quit that representative group and petitioned the federal government for sole authority over the property. El Toro planning has been a costly disaster ever since.

The Times writes that "the federal government, with an assist from the congressional delegation," needs to "reconstitute" the LRA to make it more representative.

However, the congressional delegation--and particularly those members who are up for election this year--need to hear that message from the electorate. They should be urged to return authority to the original, fairer, nine-member LRA.

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein's local office phone number is (310) 914-7300. That for U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer is (213) 894-5000. E-mail links to the entire congressional delegation are available on the El Toro Airport Web site:


Dana Point

* Let's rethink the whole El Toro thing. We don't need a bunch of high-priced "experts" who'll come up with yet another ponderous report which pleases no one and further divides our county.

To date the government's gift has been pretty much of a white elephant. It appears that it will be a bigger one with the Navy wanting to renege on cleanup costs (June 28).

I would propose that we keep it an airport, not a big international jetport but a first-class, general aviation facility.

The long military runways would allow the active runways to be well within boundaries. This means that low-altitude approaches and departures would be over airport property rather than residential areas. This would make for very safe, low-noise and maybe even profitable operations.

Golf, stables and other recreational facilities could coexist easily with such an airport.

A secondary benefit would accrue from the reduced congestion at John Wayne Airport, reducing the number of small private aircraft, which compete with jets for runway access there.


San Juan Capistrano

* I am becoming increasingly sick and tired of reading about the El Toro "International Airport" as if it were still an issue.

Your July 30 letter writers envision a gloomy future if we don't have an international airport five miles from my plum tree. These people obviously never drove around the Irvine Spectrum North and some other areas in Orange County to count the hundreds of high-tech firms.

The models for comparison are, among others, San Francisco, whose airport is 15 miles from the city and on the waterfront; and San Diego, whose airport is indeed practically in the city.

Try to remember, however, the crash of a landing airliner that devastated much of the northern part of San Diego, leaving 144 dead (in 1978).

London does not seem to be suffering from any economic blight, yet the two international airports are 15 and 30 miles from the city. Budapest, one of the most powerful economic centers in Central Europe, has its international airport 10 miles from the city.


Mission Viejo

* In your July 28 editorial on the Concorde, you state that there will be a doubling in the number of commercial aircraft in the next 20 years.

Why is it that despite this growth rate we still hear arguments that nothing need be done about the current Orange County airport situation?

Some of us may not want El Toro, but we clearly need more airport capacity somewhere.

Arguments that start with an assumption that no new capacity is required are hopelessly naive or obviously extremely biased, and should not be countenanced by any thinking resident of this county.

At San Jose airport, which seems to closely parallel our situation, I noticed that work is rapidly progressing on a major expansion project that will lead to a second 10,000-foot runway, compared to a single 5,900-foot runway at John Wayne Airport.


Corona del Mar

* I find it particularly ironic that Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer, who has since the day he took office worked zealously to subvert the twice-given mandate of county voters that El Toro should become a civil airport, now claims that the voice of the people prior to the passage of Measure F was not heard. What rubbish.

Spitzer's conduct has reminded me of the defense counsel during the O.J. Simpson murder trial: Don't debate the case on its merits, put the police (Board of Supervisors majority and county staff) on trial. Contrive to convince the jury (Orange County voters) that someone's fundamental rights have been abused.

The people of Orange County, especially South County, need a civil airport at El Toro.

They can have one, too, that is convenient, compatible and wholly financed by investors and users of the airport.



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