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The Tangled Web That Envelops El Toro

April 21, 2002

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

Recent history taught us the dangers in a 3-2 majority vote deciding the future of the closed El Toro Marine base.

Since 1994, the three-vote majority has been at the county Board of Supervisors. If Irvine Mayor Larry Agran has his way, the three-vote majority soon will be Agran and City Council allies Chris Mears and Beth Krom.

The Times has reported that Agran and Mears raised $42,000 last September at a fund-raiser sponsored by the Irvine Co. This disturbing revelation raises serious questions about Irvine attempting to annex the base, a move that, if successful, could render Measure W irrelevant. Agran's alliance with the Irvine Co. at this critical moment raises legitimate fears that he's struck a deal with Irvine's monopoly landowner and developer.

In fact, Agran told The Times he and the company are now "kindred spirits." Here's how it could work. The Navy sells the base to the Irvine Co., either directly or through the city of Irvine. After Irvine annexes the base, the Agran majority grants the developer rapacious development rights both on and off the base in exchange for the developer's helping fund Agran's vision for a Great Park.

The first site might be the Northern Sphere project currently under development. "Larry Agran Park" would become a reality, the Irvine Co. would rake in more profit, and the people of Orange County would be stuck with more traffic and pollution. El Toro's fate should never again be left in the hands of a few. Return base planning to where it began--with the El Toro Reuse Planning Authority, composed of the South County cities.

Navy guidelines call for the locally impacted communities to determine a base's reuse. The people of South County must be allowed to protect themselves from unchecked development. Before Irvine can annex the base, the city must agree that reuse authority has the right to review and approve any development plans for the site. This simple check-and-balance provision would ensure that three people, two of whom already have accepted major campaign contributions from those with ties to the developer and pro-airport communities, do not solely determine the largest planning decision for our county in the 21st century.

Stephen C. Smith

Irvine

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Re "Measure W Appeals Argument Is Flawed," letters, April 14:

In the opinion of Ashley Banta, there is no need to challenge Measure W because Measure A was upheld. That goes against the will of the people of Fullerton and 20 other North County cities that voted against Measure W, and Banta also ignores the landmark repudiation of Measure F, which also was DOA. It is time for Banta to put propaganda away and move into the 21st century. Thank God for the right to vote on initiatives that are constitutional.

Donald Nyre

Newport Beach

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The Orange County Regional Airport Authority is suing the county to try to overturn Measure W, which was passed by a vote of 58% to 42% and killed the El Toro airport. The county will have to defend against the lawsuit.

The county is a member of the authority. Supervisors Chuck Smith, Jim Silva and Cynthia P. Coad granted the authority $5 million of public money to promote the airport and oppose Measure W--until a court stopped them. Now the county is party to bringing a lawsuit against itself to block a measure that the voters approved.

Don't try to understand the logic behind the county being on both sides of a lawsuit. It is more of the absurd continuing waste of taxpayer money over the proposed El Toro airport. At a minimum, the county should resign from the authority.

The authority's member cities are Anaheim, Buena Park, Costa Mesa, Cypress, Garden Grove, La Habra, Los Alamitos, Newport Beach, Placentia, Seal Beach, Stanton, Villa Park, Westminster and Yorba Linda. It still supports an expensive staff and continues to promote an unneeded second county airport. Residents should insist that their city councils not provide tax money to the organization and withdraw their memberships.

Leonard Kranser

Editor, El Toro Info Site

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