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The El Toro Roles of Agran and Correa

April 14, 2002

Re "Plans for Base Link Mayor, Irvine Co.," March 31:

One of these days, the Los Angeles Times will get around to writing the full history of the 1993-2002 El Toro battle. When it does, and if it presents the facts, it will be clear that no one worked harder or smarter to defeat the county's airport plan and replace it with a plan for the Orange County Great Park than Irvine Mayor Larry Agran.

Agran's strategic genius has been known for years. When Irvine voters returned him to the City Council in 1998, his clear thinking and practical understanding came again to the forefront. Agran understood the Great Park plan as a popular, environmentally sound, open-space plan benefiting all Orange County residents, and, yes, as a plan the Irvine Co. could live with.

Anyone with an ounce of sense knows that when it comes to major matters of planning and development, the trick is to reach a principled accommodation with the Irvine Co.

That's exactly what Agran achieved in 1988, when he won voter approval of a historic open-space preservation agreement that resulted in permanent preservation of thousands of acres of hillsides, canyons and wildlife habitat.

It should be obvious to all that Agran has worked his magic again--this time in the fight over El Toro. With this history, what mystifies me is why The Times has such a limited phone book that seems to mostly include cynics and Agran haters. Your reporter turned to former Mayor Christina Shea, whose blind opposition to both Agran and the Great Park are a matter of public record. The reporter also turns to Stephan Smith, a onetime disgruntled aide to Agran who long ago transferred his loyalties to Shea. The Times should know that people who are playing out personal or political grudges are generally poor sources for building a solid story that enlightens readers.

Frank Lunding

Irvine

*

Lou Correa (D-Anaheim) tells us he's hoping to provide a mechanism to find a vision Orange County can agree on. Suddenly, Correa has discovered that El Toro is an issue that's divided Orange County, and he wants state legislators to help us reach common ground. Funny that Correa never felt the need to do this during the previous eight years when rancor surrounding the three North County supervisors who were pushing for an airport was so thick you could cut it with a knife.

Why now, I wonder? Was there not enough division in the past? Or is it because the pro-airport side lost badly on Measure W?

Now, after four elections, years of public debate, two environmental impact reports and one very illuminating flight demonstration, the county has reached a conclusion about El Toro--we don't want an unneeded and environmentally disastrous airport. And we don't need or want a bunch of state legislators stepping in at this late date. We've already decided it for ourselves. It's over, and Correa should move on to other special interests.

Michael Smith

Mission Viejo

*

Of course the Irvine Co. doesn't want to comment on using its corporate letterhead to raise money for Irvine Mayor Larry Agran and Councilman Chris Mears. Connect the dots and look at what's in the city approval process right now--the massive Northern Sphere development that will dump more traffic in the county than an airport.

Now that the company's fund-raising role has been made public, don't laws about donations come into play?

I seem to remember that in Irvine, you can't vote on any item involving a campaign donor for a year. Don't Agran and Mears have to abstain from voting on the Northern Sphere development? Wouldn't they have a conflict of interest?

K. Chorlian

Irvine

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