Re "A Smooth Ride for Freight Railway," April 12:
For years I have read letters to the editor on the pros and cons of an international airport at El Toro. The cavalcade has included some of the most uninformed opinions I have ever read. I thought when Measure W passed and the Navy announced its decision that I would no longer be reading ridiculous letters. Then you published the opinion of Jack Kyser, chief economist at the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. With a great wringing of hands, Kyser states that Ontario Airport can accommodate millions more passengers, but that, at 35 miles' distance from Los Angeles, it is too far from transportation hubs. He also states that El Toro is just 45 miles from Los Angeles and is next to a freeway and rail line.
Ontario International Airport is next to the San Bernardino Freeway. Someone with a strong arm might be able to throw a rock from the airport over the multiple tracks of the Southern Pacific Railroad.
El Toro is next to a single rail line and a single freeway that run between San Diego and Los Angeles. There are no major truck terminals in Orange County, and it's 10 miles farther away from L.A. than Ontario. My suggestion to Kyser is to look to the Northeast where he'll see a gigantic international airport already in operation that's called Palmdale.
Re "El Toro Airport Advocates Lost to a United Suburbia," April 28:
I believe the final legacy of the El Toro debate will be a study of the endless spin-doctoring by the local news media. The latest news-reporting-as-subterfuge appears in your April 28 story. The reader is expected to bemoan the loss of the alleged "benefit" of an airport as an illustration of the inherent flaw in leaving decisions about building regional facilities to locals.
The state never intervened in the El Toro debate, despite arguments that the issue of new airports is a statewide concern. I guess the state recognized a simple fact that The Times missed: The 'L' in LRA stands for Local Redevelopment Authority. The explicit intent of the federal government is that base reuse is a local decision, not to be made by outside residents.
The decisions regarding base reuse are clearly and legally the responsibility of the adjacent cities. Previous editorials in The Times have correctly recognized the many flaws in Orange County's mishandling of the duties of the LRA. Had federal guidelines been followed from the beginning, most of this debate would have been moot. No amount of spinning this tale can change this simple fact.
Re "Navy Makes No El Toro Promises," April 26:
Supervisor Cynthia P. Coad said how she and her husband wanted to buy some property at the former Camp Elliot in San Diego, and that only three years ago, they were still sweeping for unexploded ordnance. Out of curiosity, I did a little research about Camp Elliot. On Dec. 10, 1983, three boys were playing in a fieldin Tierrasanta and found what appeared to be some scrap metal. Two of them were killed when it exploded.
The lesson is that an old military base is the last place for a park. I hope the Navy does not quickly unload El Toro for the sake of Irvine's convenience.
Re "El Toro Sale Puts Regional Plans in a Fix," April 24:
Recent news stories quote the current Southern California Assn. of Governments' travel projection of 157 million annual passengers for the region by 2020. This projection is the basis for the push for Orange County to build a second airport, as well as for Assembly Bill 2333, which is intended to punish Orange County for not agreeing to build El Toro by withholding future federal highway funds.
SCAG's projection is bogus. It projected 1.72 million new regional passengers by Aug. 31, 2001, a 2.91% annual increase. But just 221,405 new passengers used the region's airports during the first eight months of 2001, even before 9/11. Missing the mark by a factor of five or more in the first eight months of the new 20-year SCAG projection is a good indicator of the projection's accuracy.
The folks at SCAG have missed badly in every attempt to forecast regional air travel. They have consistently projected regional air travel to be 30 to 36 million air passengers too high--the size of a large new regional airport--and they are well on their way to being at least 30 million passengers too high on this 20-year forecast. How many of us would keep our jobs with that track record?