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Hoisted on Their Own Double-Edged Sword?

January 05, 2003

Re "Self-Interest Is Flying High in Newport Beach," Dec. 15:

The chutzpah of the two South County letter writers is breathtaking. They remind me of the man who committed double parricide, then had the nerve to beg the judge for mercy because he is now an orphan.

Both writers contend it is hypocritical for those under the flight path of John Wayne Airport to want to limit flights over their homes. The reason? They state that anybody who thinks an airport is needed at El Toro to handle growth of airplane traffic should, to be consistent, let John Wayne grow without limits.

But their argument is a two-edged sword: Since the writers don't believe there will be enough air traffic to justify an El Toro airport, they should also agree to limit JWA. Fat chance. This kind of logical consistency isn't likely to happen, since the writers are happy to do the opposite and let JWA grow.

But I don't intend to single these gentlemen out. I just want to protest the "beggar thy neighbor" approach so popular among Orange County residents. Too many people have been willing to let their neighbors' quality of life be ruined if that is what it takes to protect their own. This sort of internecine sniping across the Orange Mason-Dixon line has been going on in both directions for years, so these two writers are not unique.

What's ironic is that the intense fighting over the El Toro and John Wayne airports shows that we all care deeply about preserving the quality of life our county offers -- if only in our own neighborhoods.

In light of this history, can there be any way to allow a large airport anywhere in the county and still preserve our quality of life? After all, the air basin is relatively small -- hemmed in by mountains -- and all sections of the county now have stout defenders. Isn't it time to look outside the county and seek win-win solutions for all participants wherever airport capacity is added? (I am a member of the Newport-Mesa Unified School district, but these opinions are mine only and should not be construed as representing those of the district.)

Tom Egan

Costa Mesa

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