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Our Air-Traffic Woes Aren't Going Anywhere

June 02, 2002

Re "Power of Pulling Together," Editorial, May 26:

I was both amused and bemused by the array of articles in Sunday's Times relating to airports and cooperation among cities and regions of Orange County, Los Angeles County and the Inland Empire.

The editorial makes a very good case for closer interaction among cities, counties and regions, and even raises the specter of a developing "Orange Curtain" between north and south Orange County. Conspicuous by its absence is any mention of the El Toro airport and its importance to local and regional transportation problems.

In a letter on the same page, Leonard Kranser complains that any attempt to apply a regional solution to the poorly distributed use of airport facilities gives Los Angeles bureaucrats control over land use, traffic control and pollution in Orange County.

However, El Segundo and other cities in the noise pattern of LAX have a different concern. They are trying to counteract the negative effects of increased air activity over their communities caused by the decision not to use operable runways at El Toro that already have been paid for by taxpayers.

South County will not admit the striking parallel between South County residents shutting down El Toro and the attempt at air transportation improvement by the "bureaucrats from L.A." The difference is that Orange County bureaucracy is driven by nimbyism and the Los Angeles bureaucracy is driven by cooperation among cities. Although 21 cities in North County voted against Measure W, they were countered by South County voters who, in lemming fashion, flocked to the polls to produce enough votes to pass it.

Some would say that democracy triumphed, but when the normal primary voter turnout in North County is compared with the organized, well-financed and well-oiled pro-development airport foes in South County, the result is clearly skewed.

About 25% of Orange County voters who live in South County were able to control the fate of El Toro, affecting not only Orange County but the entire region. Air transportation woes in Southern California haven't gone away, and El Toro remains the least expensive, safest and immediately available solution to Southern California's air transportation system. It's time to reactivate El Toro.

William Kearns

Costa Mesa

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