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Analyzing El Toro Ballot Measure Results

November 17, 2002

Thank you for such great coverage of Proposition 51 and its relationship to the Great Park. As a member of the Planning and Conservation League, which sponsored the bond measure, and a supporter of the Great Park, I was disappointed in the approach.

Though Proposition 51 was progressive in a lot of ways, it was also self-serving and fraught with tunnel vision. It alienated some of its most ardent supporters and failed to make a distinction between urgent and important issues.

The backers of Proposition 51 were absolutely correct when they said that Orange County is a donor county and that we do not get our fair share of taxes invested back into our communities. However, the way Proposition 51 was written and marketed, one would think that Irvine is the only city in Orange County. The argument that Orange County is a donor county, and thus we need a park in Irvine, missed the fact that there are a lot of urgent land-use issues in Orange County.

Though the Great Park is important and will be great for Orange County, it is not urgent. The park can be built in 10, 20 or 25 years.

In contrast, there are many urgent land-use issues involving areas such as Coyote Hills in Fullerton, the Brea hills wildlife corridor, the headlands in Dana Point, Marblehead in San Clemente, Banning Ranch in Newport Beach, and Saddleback Meadows and the Rancho Mission Viejo property in southern Orange County. All of these beautiful areas face imminent destruction and are important to nearby communities. They are in urgent need of help.

People will pass land acquisition bonds to buy land or restore land communities. Even Proposition 40 passed in Orange County with a majority. If only half of the money slated for the Great Park were to be allocated to other areas in Orange County that demonstrated a "willing seller," it would have had more supporters.

Proposition 51 failed to identify important land-use issues in Orange County and elsewhere in the state. Irvine saying that it was the only area worthy of parks was not helpful. We all lost because of that failed strategy.

Paul Arms

Huntington Beach

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Re "The Proper Vote on El Toro," Nov. 10:

El Toro now poses a threat to people living on the county's edges, such as La Habra and San Clemente. It could even have impacts from San Ysidro to Crescent City. I am not talking jets, either. I am talking about the threat to taxpayers around the state from Irvine Mayor Larry Agran's avarice.

Fortunately, he failed with Proposition 51 in an attempt to raid the state general fund to the tune of $120 million for his "tax-free" Great Park. He was barely reelected, as more than 46% of his own city voted for a virtually unknown opponent. Probably the only thing that saved Agran's political career was that a lot of Democrats and left-leaning independents couldn't quite bring themselves to vote for a Republican opponent.

Nonetheless, you can bet your bottom dollar that Agran will try again some way, somehow to grab a fistful of tax dollars for his fantasy park. Look for another Proposition 51-style measure that diverts general funds or a bond measure.

We need to protect ourselves from this new threat that El Toro poses. The Board of Supervisors should place a measure on the ballot that would make it illegal to use any bond or state general funds for El Toro regardless of its zoning. Since Measure W promised "no new taxes," it should then be legally enforced. Otherwise, it will be the Great Park greed that will ultimately lead to the unraveling of Measure W. Agran and other parasitic politicians should quit while they're still ahead.

Rex Ricks

Huntington Beach

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Linda Hoover of Lake Forest (Letters, Nov. 10) complains that Measure W passed only because North County had a low voter turnout and South County voters were "frightened out of their wits by misleading airport propaganda."

The existence of an international airport in South County would have no negative impact on North County. This explains the low voter turnout there.

Meanwhile, South County residents did not need to listen to or read any anti-airport propaganda. We were convinced by the sounds of the occasional military jets flying over our houses. We knew that an international airport would turn those occasional flights into 24-hour, nonstop air traffic flying over our homes, neighborhoods and schools. That is why we came out in full force. The result was as it should be. Those of us who would experience all of the negative effects were the ones to give a resounding "no."

Maryanne Rose

Laguna Niguel

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