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Views on Simon's Role, Other El Toro Matters

April 07, 2002

Re "New Leadership for El Toro," editorial, March 24:

I agree with The Times' editorial. Gary Simon's self-serving reply was that of a drowning person helplessly clutching at a straw. He has the temerity and arrogance to boast that, as executive director of the Local Redevelopment Authority, he and his staff have "an extraordinary bank of knowledge to draw upon."

Are we dumb enough to think that such knowledge and expertise are a one-track locomotive headed toward building a destructive airport right in the center of Orange County? What we need is a new group of experts. And we need not look any further because Irvine has such a staff.

Dan Jung is the director of special programs and has concentrated solely on the development of a Great Park at El Toro. His staff has in place a complete plan for the Orange County Central Park and other amenities, including educational institutions, athletic fields, a veterans memorial park, museums, hiking trails, golf courses, etc.

Simply put, if you are going to have a heart transplant, would you hire a lawyer to do it?

Sam Castelo


Re "Lawsuit Targets El Toro Use Vote," March 19:

Desperate pro-airport groups are throwing away even more money on frivolous lawsuits. Their latest lawsuit challenging the successful Measure W argues that the Board of Supervisors has the sole authority to plan the conversion of the 4,700-acre base.

In the unlikely event they prevail in court, they should consider this: Chris Norby joins the board in January 2003. Then the anti-airport majority could comply with the latest lawsuit argument by completely killing the airport--again.

Mike Baron

Aliso Viejo

Re "El Toro Rivals Now Eye New Plan," March 13:

The article says Gary Simon, who heads the county's El Toro team, would just as energetically fulfill a different county project at the closed military base. "This very scenario was discussed when I was hired," said Simon. "(But) I serve at the board's pleasure."

Yeah, right! Gary Simon is the last person who should be in charge of anything having to do with planning the Great Park. He has always been one of its chief critics and a pawn for pro-airport forces. The person charged with planning the Great Park should be one with the necessary vision and passion for a project that is intended to be our legacy for future generations.

This is not about vindictiveness. It's about common sense. Clearly, Gary Simon is not the right person for the job.

Sergio Prince

Laguna Hills

Re "El Toro's Future," March 9:

Barbara Lichman of the Airport Working Group already has decided to sue and get Measure W thrown out. She believes that it is unconstitutional for the public to vote on land-use issues. Wouldn't this then mean that Measure A, which zoned El Toro for an airport in 1994, also would be unconstitutional?

Someone please tell Lichman that the people have spoken and they do not want an airport. The Navy can sell the property off in parcels to the highest bidder, and the county can get on to the more pressing issues: education, housing and health care. It is time to put the attorneys away and do what is best for Orange County, not the Airport Working Group.

Ashley Banta


Now that Chris Norby has soundly defeated El Toro airport advocate Cynthia P. Coad, it's time for the rest of the elected public officials to take note. We are watching and will continue to exercise our democratic duty to elect officials who truly listen and represent the will of the people. In this regard, we challenge our representatives to become imaginative and present us with alternatives to an overburdened air transport system. Europe and Japan, for example, with a population more compacted than ours, make good use of advanced train systems.

A significant portion of our transportation needs could be addressed by trains, which also would relieve air travel congestion. Trains also would provide jobs, be environmentally friendly and offer the traveling public a realistic alternative to air travel.

Hans Roehricht

Lake Forest

The fatal flaw was the passage of Measure A, which resulted in the hijacking of the well-planned Local Redevelopment Authority. Newport Beach special interests, led by George Argyros and pro-airport supervisors, hurried Measure A onto the ballot in 1994. The blatant and obvious misrepresentations of the pro-airport campaigning infuriate those of us directly affected by the proposed airport. The end result is that the authority was replaced by a pro-airport gang.

It's time for Orange County to get on with the conversion and other pressing issues. If we do so, we may still obtain El Toro as a "gift," in which case the county will sell parcels instead of the Navy. I don't care who sells it. I am quite happy that an additional 14,000 acres are now available for parks, recreation and open space that weren't there a few weeks ago.

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