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Cities Seek New Review of Projected Airport Noise

August 26, 2000

ORANGE COUNTY — A coalition of cities opposed to a new airport at the closed El Toro Marine base is asking Orange County officials to look again at how much noise would be created by jets landing at night.

The group based its request on memos from the county's airport noise consultant, Vince Mestre, which they obtained through a public records request.

Mestre said in one memo that airport noise would be significant for thousands of south county residents unless there is a nighttime landing curfew or only the quietest jets are allowed to land after 11 p.m.

"We can't trust a process that is fraught with deception," said Susan Withrow, chairman of the El Toro Reuse Planning Authority, the cities' anti-airport group. "It's time for the county to come clean with the people about the [proposed airport's] impacts."

The county late last year rejected a night curfew--in place now at John Wayne Airport and something that would be difficult to obtain from the Federal Aviation Administration for a new airport--in favor of restricting nighttime landings to quieter jets. Noise limits on night flights also would have to be negotiated with the FAA.

In the memo, Mestre estimated that 4,600 homes in Laguna Woods would be affected if Boeing 747s--the largest jets envisioned at the airport--were allowed to land at night.

The county estimates that 4% of total flights by 2020 will involve Boeing 747s. County planners have insisted that no homes or schools would be within a restricted high-noise zone around El Toro in which buildings would have to be insulated at the county's expense.

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