In his article about how Ft. Ord redevelopment may ignore the area's need for affordable housing ("The Battle of Ft. Ord," April 27), Dan Baum almost casually lets slip that one of the few things all parties can agree on is that 30 square miles (out of 45) of the Ft. Ord land should be devoted to "open space." I'd suggest that leaving so much land vacant near major cities and employment centers is one of the reasons that so many people get priced out of the housing market and then have to drive past all that open space while making long commutes (or have to live in somebody's garage).
Increasing the amount of land available for people to live on will go a long way toward containing spiraling housing costs. California needs rational land use policies from the state that encourage growth and development that will benefit more of its citizens.
If Ft. Ord is turned into a vast subsidized housing tract for the service workers who serve the "trustafarians," as Baum calls the wealthy property owners of the area, what are we doing but subsidizing the service industry for the sake of those same trustafarians? We simply enable the trustafarians to have cheap, plentiful, low-wage service help.
Why should our tax dollars be used to help any group settle in this highly desirable area? Sure, we'd all like to be able to live in a resort area, but if we choose to do so, why should our housing costs be subsidized by the federal, state or local government? If Ft. Ord's land truly is to be used for the public's benefit, then it should be transformed into national parkland for use by all of the taxpaying public, just like Yosemite or Yellowstone.
James A. Gorton
Your cover story on the conversion of Ft. Ord land raised a few questions and left out a critical piece of information: Halliburton subsidiary Brown & Root defrauded the U.S. government for cleanup services at Ft. Ord and had to pay a $2-million fine!
As one of the founding staff members of California State University at Monterey Bay, it was disgusting to see annual fires that, coincidentally, got out of control; hundreds of dilapidated, toxic buildings; and countless amounts of unexploded ordnance bordering the campus. I worked year after year in a condemned building that the administration did not want to acknowledge was not up to code--even after electrical fires broke out in the walls where gas lines had leaked. Classes even met, and still do, in the space.
How long do you think it's going to take to rebuild Iraq if nearly 10 years after closing Ft. Ord, the U.S. government still hasn't put the time, money and energy into cleaning up the mess it made there? And what sort of fraud would Halliburton have committed if it had won the main bid to rebuild Iraq?