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Don't Forget Jobs in Great Park Equation

March 09, 2003

Re "Long-Awaited Great Park Can Take Shape Quickly," Feb. 16:

Irvine Mayor Larry Agran envisions his Great Park, a giant playground for affluent South County residents.

I would prefer to see this windfall of open land at the former El Toro air base used to address some important social and economic issues. Specifically, the land should be zoned to permit a combination of heavy industry and high-density housing.

In Orange County, the increasing gap between rich and poor is directly related to the loss of manufacturing jobs, traditionally the ticket to the middle class for "regular folks" who are not educated professionals.

A key factor behind the fleeing factories is the lack of affordable housing, as even the most generous employer can't pay adequate wages when the price of the average home is pushing half a million dollars.

The "Great Blue Collar Zone" could provide upward mobility to thousands of county residents currently toiling away at low-wage service jobs. And by placing housing and industry in proximity, the impact on traffic would be minimized.

A typical job opportunity created by the Great Park would probably be cleaning restrooms or emptying trash cans. I would hope Mayor Agran, well known as a strong liberal, would think more about the poor and unemployed and underemployed in his grand schemes.

Frederick Singer

Huntington Beach

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