Website Direct, March 31, 1998
ETRPA Non-Aviation Plan Submitted to Supervisors
On March 31 at 4:00 PM, the El Toro Reuse Planning Authority submitted its non-aviation reuse plan for El Toro to the Board of Supervisors. The plan has also been forwarded to the Marine Corps and Department of the Navy. For more information on the plan click here.
The meeting itself followed predictable lines:
* There was a full house for the presentation - very heavily weighted
with anti-airport residents. Every speaker was in favor of the non-aviation
* Chairman Silva allowed one hour and a quarter for the meeting and held comments from the public and local officials to 2 minutes each. Many who requested to speak were not allowed the opportunity.
* Supervisor Charles Smith did not attend. He was on vacation.
* County CEO Janice Mittermeier appeared disinterested. She yawned, slouched in her chair and doodled during parts of the meeting.
* Richard Dixon, ETRPA Chairman thanked Supervisor Steiner for courageously providing the third vote on the board to allow the impacted cities to draw up the non-aviation plan.
* The presentation was interrupted several times by applause, particularly when the audience heard that half of the land would be preserved as parks and open space, and again when mention was made of providing rail connections from the site to other airports in the region.
* Chairman Silva drew groans when he suggested that the plan be sent to Chapman University for economic analysis. Airport proponent George Argyros is a Trustee and benefactor of that college.
* In one of the evening’s several light moments, Chairman Silva also said, “I see that the jobs being created are for the high skilled and well paid. What about other parts of the workforce?” Richard Dixon responded that he fell in the second category and still has his job.
* Supervisor William Steiner expressed interest in whether there was a place in the plan for one of his favorite charities, the Orangewood Shelter for disadvantaged children. Gail Reavis, an airport opponent, won smiles when she said that the children would be better served by a home that was not located next to an airport.
Speaker after speaker challenged the board to put the plan to the voters to choose between an airport and a real alternative. Previously there has been nothing offered to compete with an airport. Otherwise, as businessman Steven Myers said, the public would have to mount a costly petition-driven referendum, during which time the county would continue to spend tens of millions of dollars on airport plans.
OC Register, March 31, 1998
"Airport foes' plan promises job boom"
"The people who don't want an El Toro airport presented an alternative ... with something for everyone, including as many as 112,000 new jobs countywide and as much as $12.9 billion for the economy. They say their option will meet or beat the county's airport plan, which projected 143,100 new jobs and $9.9 billion for the economy."
"'We're going to show the entire community it's possible to have quality of life, have a sense of community for Orange County and have jobs,' said Lake Forest Councilman Richard Dixon, head of the seven south-county cities that paid for the $1 million plan. 'What I like about this package is the taxpayers don't have to pay for this,' said Irvine Councilman Mike Ward."
Comments from Newport Beach were predictably negative. "Bruce Nestande, a leader of the group that sponsored the 1994 El Toro airport initiative, said it also fails to address the need that prompted the airport plan in the first place — increasing airline passenger demand. 'What we need is airport capacity,' Nestande said."
The Los Angeles Times noted that "The nonaviation plan has little chance of becoming reality unless Measure A... is overturned by another countywide ballot measure." Irvine mayor Christina L. Shea, observed that there is hope in the fact that two pro-airport seats on the Board of Supervisors are up for election this year. "'We need to do everything we can to get one more vote on that board and turn around the direction of Orange County.'"
Website Direct, March 30, 1998
ETRPA Presents Non-Aviation Plan for MCAS El Toro
Information on the Millennium Plan, "The People's Plan" for El Toro, is posted in the ETRPA Section of the website. It's bigger than an airport - and "making a difference for the next generation".
Click here for the ETRPA Section and the non-aviation plan.
The plan will be presented to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, March 31 at 4:00 pm at the Supervisors Meeting Room, 10 Civic Center Plaza, Santa Ana. The public is invited.
LA Times, March 29, 1998
"Few Lawmakers Taking a Stand on El Toro Reuse"
"Unlike supervisors who will ultimately decide issue, many of county's state, federal delegates keep silent on airport plan."
Larry Agran of Project 99 said, "'The deepest contempt that citizens have for politicians is reserved for those who refuse to take a stand on controversial issues of public importance.'" His entire op-ed statement is in the Project 99 Section of the website.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is an airport booster, Rep. Ron Packard is an opponent. "Those without an official position include Rep. Christopher Cox, Assemblywoman Marilyn C. Brewer, and State Sen. Ross Johnson. Al three represent Newport Beach, the leading cheerleader for a commercial airport at El Toro, and Irvine, which is equally staunch in opposition."
Read the entire article on the Times website or click here.
OC Register, March 27, 1998
"New El Toro flight path study raises skepticism"
"Orange County's previous planning, based on discussions with the Federal Aviation Administration, had El Toro jets turning left 2.3 miles from the end of the northerly runway, which would put them and their noise right over [Orange Park Acres] and parts of East Orange and Tustin." Now the planners are looking at eliminating the turn for political reasons.. "'We're very optimistic', said Courtney Wiercioch, county El Toro reuse planning manger. 'So far, we haven't found anything to suggest that it won't work.'"
"'This is not just a red herring, it's a lie', said Bob Bennyhoff. 'If they didn't fly straight before, how come they are going to fly that way now.'" Commercial pilot Todd Thornton supplied one answer - 1,335-foot Loma Ridge, which is 3.9 miles off the end of the runway. "In 1965 , an Air Force C-135 transport crash there killed 84 people."
An Air Transport Association representative said planes going due north "would have to carry fewer passengers and cargo." See following stories for more details.
A county report admits that, "heavy aircraft such as the 747 and DC-10 could not fly the [north] procedure at full loads." Nevertheless, Newport Beach officials and their consultant, Don Salterelli, expressed hope that "There are ways to working this out." See story below for more.
LA Times, March 26, 1998
“El Toro Takeoff Plans Shift With Political Winds”
“Anxious to prevent the spread of anti-airport sentiment to another group of communities under El Toro’s secondary flight path, county officials are trying to figure out if departing planes can be directed away from Tustin, Cowan Heights and East Orange.... officials have been trying to forge a solution to the potential noise problem that an international airport at El Toro would create for some central [county] communities.” “An erosion of support in these cities could cause problems for the county’s airport plan.”
The County’s hoped for, politically motivated solution, is to send planes straight out from El Toro’s main runways on a compass heading of 340 degrees, rather than turning left as contemplated in the environmental impact report. The left turn towards central county communities has been part of the County plan because this is the route flown by military pilots. They turn to avoid mountainous terrain around the base The worst air crash in Orange County history occurred when a jet transport carrying 84 people hit the mountains during a takeoff towards the north.
The left turn is also part of a plan to avoid incoming air traffic to John Wayne and LAX. “Takeoffs straight over the mountain could raise many questions about the future of John Wayne Airport...’They won’t be able to do that if John Wayne stays open,’ said Don Segner, a former official with the Federal Aviation Administration.”
Current FAA officials are declining to comment on the proposed change until county plans are finalized. However airline pilots organizations are expected to object to takeoffs into the mountains.
OC Register, March 25, 1998
"Newport cash pours into politics"
"More campaign contributions go to the pro-airport candidates in the supervisorial races than to airport foes."
"Newport Beach has been a fountain of money so far for Board of Supervisors candidates..."
"Supervisor Jim Silva has been the main beneficiary of Newport Beach money" The pro-El Toro Airport Silva received $27,000 so far from Newport Beach even though the city is not in his 2nd District. Silva "has about $88,000 total in his campaign war chest."
Newport Beach Mayor John Hedges is also receiving some financial backing in his long-shot effort to unseat 5th District incumbent Tom Wilson. Wilson has the endorsement of south county leaders like Taxpayers for Responsible Planning's Bill Kogerman and Project 99's Larry Agran for his firm stand against the El Toro Airport project.
OC Register, March 24, 1998, upated
March 25, 1998
“County counsel’s actions were illegal, Spitzer says”
“Watson steps aside amid charges he wrongly approved a contract for an attorney to handle El Toro litigation”
“A legal flap over who should represent the county in lawsuits related to the proposed El Toro airport boiled over.., leaving the Board of Supervisors without an attorney.” Supervisor Todd Spitzer, “citing state law and an appellate court decision, said [county counsel Laurence] Watson illegally approved a contract for Michael Gatzke to help handle El Toro litigation.”
If Spitzer is correct, “it would be the second time in a month that the county counsel’s legal advice [on the El Toro project] has been found wanting.” Earlier, Watson had approved a $230,000 contract on environmental cleanup without Board authorization. The matter has been continued to a closed Board session on April 7.
“South county groups opposing the airport are watching the outcome” which could lead to lawsuits against the airport project and fresh questions about the manner in which county staff, under CEO Jan Mittermeier, is attempting to push a pro-airport agenda.
LA Times Editorial Page, March 22, 1998
"Selling El Toro land is the best thing for residents, business and the health of the county's economy."
by Rep. Christopher Cox
"Whether or not El Toro becomes an airport, selling the property is the wisest course... Selling El Toro will protect us from the cost overruns, politicized business decisions and misreading of the market that consistently plague government industries."
"Denver International Airport... illustrates how not to proceed. The Denver airport cost $3.6 billion more than local officials budgeted.....Its debt securities were classified as high-risk 'junk' bonds." Click here for the entire text.
Irvine World News, March 21, 1998
“Airport foes provide records to other side”
“When members of the [Newport Beach based, pro-El Toro] Airport Working Group... asked for copies of records from the El Toro Reuse Planning Authority a month ago, sure no problem.” “It took about 16 hours to pull together the volumes of documents” Paul Eckles, Executive Director of ETRPA said, “It was a nuisance, but we’re not complaining.” ETRPA could have charged for copying the two foot tall stack of papers but decided not to do so.
This was a stark contrast to what occurred when ETRPA requested County planning documents for the airport project. ETRPA wrote to Courtney Wiercioch and to then Board Chairman William Steiner, was stalled by the County staff, and finally had to sue to get access under the California Public Records Act. Commenting on how readily ETRPA released its documents to the Airport Working Group, Eckles said, “We have no secrets.”
OC Metro, March 12, 1998, Website posted March 21
“10 Women Making a Difference in Orange County”
Two leaders in the anti-El Toro Airport campaign are prominent in this year’s OC Metro salute to women making a difference in the county. Irvine Mayor Christina Shea is on the cover of the magazine’s special annual edition. Laurie Casey, co-founder of the Orange County Business Coalition, is featured on the contents page lead-in to the article.
LA Times, March 20, 1998
"Supervisor Questions El Toro Attorney Contract"
"Spitzer says officials may be violating state law by hiring counsel without informing the board."
"Todd Spitzer...urged hiring an independent counsel to determine whether county officials are violating state law by approving attorney contracts on the El Toro airport plan without informing the Board of Supervisors...Two thirds of the board must approve the hiring of outside attorneys for litigation, according to the state governing code." That would require agreement of 4 members of the 5 member board.
"Spitzer said [special counsel Michael] Gatzke has not billed the county in several months, so it is unclear how much money the county is paying."
Website direct, March 20, 1998
Long Beach Airport Down to Less Than 13 Daily Departures
Sunjet Airlines halted its one daily flight and forfeited a bond that was holding six daily departure slots. The airport is now only served by American and American West.
Long Beach Airport’s remaining flights include five departures each weekday for air cargo, two by UPS, two by Fed Ex and one by Airborne Express. Long Beach is the airport closest to most of north Orange County.
OC Register, March 19, 1998
"El Toro funding attacked"
"The county budgeted $20 million this fiscal year for El Toro reuse planning and has applied for a $3 million federal grant. But in lieu of other such grants, county officials plan to use money from John Wayne Airport [to pay for the planning]." ETRPA has attacked this funding as a violation of federal law, especially for the non-aviation portions of the base reuse. "This protest is a potential second legal front in an attack on the proposed airport." ETRPA and Taxpayers for Responsible Planning have already sued the county over its environmental impact report for the proposed project.
OC Register, March 15, 1998
"Supervisors: El Toro At Stake"
The Board of Supervisors are presently split, 3-2, in favor of an airport at El Toro. "With three board seats on the June ballot, that could change." Click here for a rundown on the candidates.
Genis stages supervisor campaign talk at toxic dump
Former Mayor Sandy Genis used a notorious toxic dump in Huntington Beach as a backdrop to discuss some of the issues she hopes to address in her campaign to unseat incumbent county Supervisor Jim Silva.
American Airlines executive clarifies his earlier
In a March 2, 1998 letter to Mr. L. David Markley of the El Toro Citizens Advisory Commission, Robert W. Baker, Executive Vice-President of American Airlines, downplayed a February 2 letter sent to Tom Naughton of the pro-El Toro Airport Working Group. Airport proponents claim that Baker’s earlier letter shows American Airlines support for an airport at El Toro. In the new letter Mr. Baker writes:
“I am afraid that my correspondence with Tom Naughton has been taken far out of context.... my correspondence was never intended to express a view regarding the advisability of utilizing El Toro for commercial aviation purposes.”
To date, no airline has said they will fly passengers from El Toro.
County preparing to spend more money for El Toro
In a March 12, 1998 memo to the Citizens Advisory Commission, Courtney Wiercioch discusses a primary budget for 1998-99 that will add $9 to $10 million to the $20 million budgeted this year for El Toro. The largest portion is for legal services but the budget also includes real estate/operations, additional staff for the public information program and travel “substantially greater than last year’s request”.
ETRPA questions source for money spent on El Toro
A March 12 letter form ETRPA Executive director Paul Eckles to O.B. Schooley, John Wayne Airport’s Director, questions the use of $3 million of John Wayne funds for non-aviation planning that the county is conduction relative to El Toro reuse.
Website Direct, March 9, 1998
Allied Pilots Association President Makes Pilots’ Position Clear for Silva
When Captain Stanley Sanders of the Allied Pilots Association Safety Committee wrote former Board Chairman William Steiner, last year, that his union opposed the use of Runways 7L and 7R,- because they face the wrong wind direction and are pointed into rising terrain,-pro-airport forces mounted a campaign to discredit Sanders and the laws of aerodynamics..
Courtney Wiercioch wrote to the Board of Supervisors on October 16, 1997, that Sanders’ “letter was neither reviewed nor approved by APA prior to its issuance.” The staunchly pro-airport Orange County Business Journal joined in with their own spin. After talking to the union headquarters on the telephone, an OCBJ reporter used his interpretation of an unverified conversation as a basis for a story, “Pilots’ Unions Say They Haven’t Called El Toro Unsafe.”
Last week, Courtney Wiercioch fired off a two page attack on the El Toro Airport Info Site. Her March 3 letter to the Board of Supervisors, Citizens Advisory Commission, and Jan Mittermeir said, “The web site states that ‘commercial airline pilots unions have objected, for safety reasons’ to use of Runway 07 for departures. In fact, as recently reported in the Orange County Business Journal, this is not the case (see attached [OCBJ article]).”
Oh but it is the case! We’re sorry to disappoint County staff, and their source of “facts” at the Orange County Business Journal, but the President of the Allied Pilots Association, has now reinforced Captain Sanders letter. On March 9, 1998, Richard T. LaVoy, President, wrote Board Chairman Silva, “Our pilots will use the safest departure paths into the prevailing winds and away form the rising terrain at El Toro, just as we do now at the John Wayne Orange County Airport.”
OC Register, March 9, 1998
"El Toro airport review sought"
"Opponents want the project halted until an environmental report is redone."
"El Toro airport opponents, hoping to halt the project, have asked the state Court of Appeals to review the county's environmental-impact report and base-reuse plan. San Diego Superior Court Judge Judith McConnell ruled in January that the county's environmental analysis for the proposed airport fell short, but she refused to stop the process while the county fixes it."
"The cities of Tustin and San Clemente — part of the original lawsuit — filed an appeal Thursday. The anti-airport group Taxpayers for Responsible Planning and a group of seven south-county cities that have been fighting the county's base-reuse plan filed separate appeals Friday."
Bill Kogerman, executive director of Taxpayers for Responsible Planning, said, "'We were successful in having the county EIR declared inadequate, but that's not enough. We want to send this EIR back to the beginning of the planning process and have the county do it right."
“The supercharged discussion about building a commercial airport at the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station usually focuses on noise, safety and traffic. Yet perhaps the greatest unknown at the base is not what might happen above the ground but what could be underneath. After spending more than $200 million over 15 years to clean up the base, more must be done to rid the site of hazardous wastes, cover two large landfills and dispose of buried heavy fuel tanks.” See Issues.
“If all goes according to plan, in July 1999, [the land] will be turned over to the county, which will be responsible for developing the base and repairing environmental damage.”
“Earlier this month, county staff hired an engineering firm to analyze the landfills [that remain]. Whatever data the engineers gather won’t be disclosed to the public. The contract created a political controversy because the engineering firm was hired by county officials without the knowledge or approval of the Board of Supervisors.”
The contract precludes Supervisors getting access to the results except through county staff. Spitzer objected to the secrecy of the study.. “Elected officials and the public must be made aware of the hazards... ‘The more difficult it is for us to address this contamination issue, the more difficult it will be to decide what sort of land uses can be developed at the base.’”
Los Angeles Times Editorial, March 6, 1998
"FAA Can't Afford More Lemons"
"The costs and technical hurdles ... to modernize the nation's air traffic control system are soaring. 'Near misses' between aircraft rose by more than 20% last year."
The current FAA Administrator "seems to have her feet more firmly rooted than her predecessors, who presided over the most embarrasing and wasteful computer modernization efforts in the history of the government. The current grand scheme... has moved in uncomfortably similar fashion, up from an unrealistic projected cost of between $400 million and $500 million to estimates as high as $14 billion."
While the Times does not name the former FAA Administrator responsible for the "current grand scheme", the Wall Street Journal of March 2, 1998 attributed the project to Mr. David Hinson in a front page story on the troubled air traffic control system.
Mr. Hinson is the former FAA Administrator who called El Toro a "10 billion gift" to Orange County while speaking at a luncheon organized by his friend, Mr. George Argyros. Mr. Hinson's extravagant statement was then used by the Argyros-backed Citizens for Jobs and the Economy in a pro-airport mailing sent to 500,000 Orange County voters.
Cornell University, March 4, 1998
Airport noise is harmful to the health and well-being of children and may cause lifelong problems, Cornell study shows
"The constant roar from jet aircraft can seriously affect the health
and psychological well-being of children, according to a new Cornell University
study. The health problems resulting from chronic airport noise, including
higher blood pressure and boosted levels of stress hormones, the researchers
say, may have lifelong effects."
Click here for more details.
Dana Point News, March 5, 1998
“No Jets! Fights airport”
“Group’s fund raiser nets $50,000 for legal fund”
The No Jets - Clear the Air group is an coalition of homeowners associations working together at the grass roots to stop an airport at El Toro. Tristan Krogius, (Phone: 714-493-5557) the Dana Point resident who organized the most recent fund-raiser said, “That brings us to about $200,000 we’ve raised.” The proceeds “will go towards legal funds for the Taxpayers for Responsible Planning (TRP) against the county’s airport plan.” A similar residents’ event last year “raised more than $80,000 for the anti-airport cause.”
“’We now have between 15,000 and 20,000 people directly involved, paying $25 in dues... Plus we have picked up 10 new homeowners associations.’ Krogius said. Jim Davy, president of the Monarch Beach Civic Association said his group has “18 local homeowners associations with formal positions against the airport.” Click here for more information on how your homeowners group can become involved.
Website Direct, March 5, 1998
Kentucky Residents Faced with Cargo Flights
The Airport Neighborhood Alliance in Louisville Kentucky is sharing information with our El Toro airport website. UPS has just announced a major expansion of their freight operations in Louisville. It will send cargo flights, day and night, over the largest historical district of Victorian era homes in the country.
OC Register, March 4, 1998
“El Toro runways point east”
“Studies also show extensions at John Wayne”
“A Superior Court judge ordered the county last month to release ...reports after seven south county cities that oppose an El Toro airport sued under the state Public Records Act.” Now the parties are disputing what the reports really say about use of El Toro’s military runways. Paul Eckles of ETREPA “said the documents prove the county considered abandoning easterly takeoff, something the county officials have denied.”
The just released documents also discuss, “two John Wayne Airport scenarios [which] would extend one runway over the San Diego (I-405) Freeway to allow larger aircraft to operate there. Those plans came as news to Newport Beach Mayor Tom Edwards. He said his city has opposed runway extensions in the past and would continue to object...”
Website Direct, updated March 3, 1998
The Truth Finally is Coming Out
After months of stalling, County staff was forced by a court order, to release secretive El Toro Airport planning documents for public scrutiny. On Friday, the court ordered deadline, a batch of documents was turned over to the El Toro Reuse Planning Authority, ETRPA. As expected, the documents confirmed what many El Toro Airport opponents had been saying about the project:
For more details on the County's stonewalling, which goes back to November of last year, click here.
Website Direct, March 1, 1998
El Toro Opponents Rally
A near-capacity crowd attended last night’s rally, organized by Clear the Air/No Jets, a homeowners group, and raised over $50,000 to help Taxpayers for Responsible Planning continue its legal and lobbying battle against an El Toro Airport.
Supervisor Tom Wilson told the audience that “County planning is being done behind closed doors with a stealth approach...County staff and the [3-2] Board of Supervisors is moving towards trying to initiate interim cargo use of El Toro, so as to preserve the airspace for aviation use.” Supervisors Wilson and Todd Spitzer will be going to Washington to tell South County’s side of the base reuse story.
Supervisor Spitzer said, “We are here to raise money to litigate against the county we love, because people who are running the county have jeopardized its integrity.” Spitzer explained in detail how county staff circumvented procurement rules that require all contracts of over $25,000 to get Board approval. With the knowledge of county legal counsel, El Toro program manager Courtney Wiercioch bypassed the Board and let a $230,000 sub-contract in connection with an El Toro air base pollution study.
LA Times, March 1, 1998
“Unready for Takeoff”
“Region Far From Consensus on Coming Airport Crunch”
“The paradox of airport planning in Southern California [is that] demand for passenger and air cargo service is expected to double over the next 15 years, yet there is little consensus over where to place new airports.”
“Residents who live near LAX and El Toro are fighting [against expansion] plans and suggest instead that airlines go to more welcoming communities around March and the Palmdale Airport....‘I find it so odd that we are doing battle over this issue when there are other areas in the region that would love an airport’, said Lake Forest Councilman Richard T. Dixon. ‘There’s no reason that an area that doesn’t want an airport should have to have one.’”
“Los Angeles City Councilwoman Ruth Galanter, who is pushing for the expansion of Palmdale Airport, said the site might be on the fringes of suburbia today but that the surrounding area should grow rapidly in the coming decades.” Moreno Valley Mayor Bill Bates said, “‘Residents are looking forward to having a cargo port operating out of March.’”
The Times article published a table prepared by the Southern California Association of Governments, that forecasts a decline in the use of John Wayne Airport to 7 million annual passengers. John Wayne’s true capacity has been projected by the County to be twice this number of passengers.
LA Times, February 28, 1998
“Landfill Contract Riles Spitzer”
“He blasts county staff for approving El Toro study for $230,000, three times what supervisors were told.”
“An angry Supervisor Todd Spitzer blasted the county staff Friday after learning that a contract to study landfills at the El Toro Marine corps Air Station would cost three times what the supervisors have been told.” Spitzer asked, “‘Who is giving orders and who is taking responsibility for these actions being taken?’”
The consultants, Geo Syntec, were hired as a subcontractor through an extension of a contract with one of the county’s law firms for land-fill related environmental matters. “The county could be held liable if environmental hazards are found, [at the base] county officials said.”
“County officials acknowledged ... that a mistake had been made when they hired the firm without consulting the board.” The incident was the latest of several cost over runs on the El Toro project. “Supervisor Charles V. Smith, a strong airport backer, played down the issue, saying that he did not think county staff did anything wrong when they hired the firm nor was he critical of the cost.”
Newport-Costa Mesa Daily Pilot, February 25, 1998
"Commercial flights decline at John Wayne"
"Fewer large commercial planes took off from John Wayne Airport during January compared to the same month last year, but a sharp increase in the number of private aircraft using the airport boosted total operations for the month, airport officials said. Total airline passenger traffic for the month was 563,000, a 4.1% drop from the 587,000 who flew in and out of the airport last January. The number of commercial airplanes carrying those travelers also fell 4.6%, and commuter carriers, more commonly known as air taxis, slumped 19.5% when compared with the same month last year, officials said."
January was the fifth consecutive month in which passenger traffic was less than for the previous year. The number of passengers allowed to use John Wayne is limited by a 1985 agreement between Newport Beach and the County of Orange. Click here for more on this arrangement.
Air cargo for January was 1,609 tons, down 3.3% from last year. Proponents of a commercial airport at El Toro claim that the county requires immediate additional air cargo service. Opponents of an El Toro airport say that the existing airport at John Wayne is still underutilized.
Website Direct, February 24, 1998
Pro-Airport Flyer is Debunked
A flyer sent to 500,000 homes last month by the George Argyros backed Citizens for Jobs and the Economy stated that "FAA Backs El Toro". This claim was debunked by a February 11, 1998 letter signed by Jane F. Garvey, the Administrtor of the Federal Aviation Administration. Ms. Garvey wrote that, "The FAA has not made any approvals concerning the possible reuse of El Toro MCAS."
In response to a written question, "Will the FAA allow a curfew at the new El Toro International Airport?" her response was as follows: "The airport master planning effort will assist the community in addressing this potential question. Any airport noise and access restrictions would have to be developed and considered in accordance with 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 161 and other applicable Federal laws."
Several parties familiar with the 1990 Airport Noise and Capacity Act believe that it precludes new nightime curfews such as the one instituted at John Wayne Airport in 1985. Pro-El Toro airport advocates in Orange County, including the Citizens for Jobs and the Economy group, want the new airport to be used extensively for cargo flights. They are expected to lobby against curfews since cargo planes tend to fly at night.
LA Times, February 22, 1998
“Airport Authority’s Goal Might be a Flight of Fancy”
The Orange County Regional Airport Authority, OCRAA, is seeking to “reach agreement among all cites in the county on what to do with the [El Toro] facility. However, the organization’s newsletter SOAR, Supporters of Aviation Reuse at El Toro, leaves no doubt as to the group’s bias and what type of agreement is being sought.
“Foes are quick to point our that that the authority is headed by an employee of the most unabashedly pro-[El Toro] airport city in the county, Newport Beach. [OCRAA executive director Peggy] Ducey is Newport Beach’s deputy city manager.” The group is attempting to “coax cities north of the Costa Mesa Freeway into ...membership.” Buena Park and Costa Mesa have signed up but La Palma and Yorba Linda have not.
LA Times, February 20, 1998 Column One
“Empty Sky Above Instant Airports”
The Times reports that communities are rushing to build airports but sometimes the airlines don’t come. "’Building airports is in many ways the S&L scandal of the 90’s,’ said Denver-based aviation consultant Michael Boyd. ‘It’s not a question of, if you build it, they will come.’”
“David Ficus, a spokesman for the Air Transport Association, which represents 22 airlines [said], ‘It’s not foresight. It’s a gamble. It’s a heck of a gamble.”
"Pouring concrete and erecting steel beams is one thing, but persuading airlines to provide service is another. Ficus, of the airlines trade group, couldn't think of one new airport or proposal that was stiorring members' interest." Speaking of El Toro as an example of a proposed new airport, Ficus said, “El Toro: ‘We don’t see it as a need.’”
LA Times, February 18, 1998
"Meetings to Outline Transportation Plans"
The Southern California Assn. of Governments, SCAG will be presenting its draft 20-year regional transportation plan at two public hearings in Orange County this week. Of particular interest to viewers of this website is SCAG's draft projection that John Wayne Airport will decline slightly in use over the next 20 years while El Toro will become the region's second busiest airport. Both assumptions are likely to be hotly debated as the plan goes forward. Click here to see the SCAG Aviation projections.
Website Direct, February 17, 1998
Yorba Linda Opts Not to Join Pro-El Toro Airport Group
The Yorba Linda City Council received a request to join the Orange County Regional Airport Authority, a pro-El Toro group lead by Newport Beach and Anaheim, and voted unanimously to file the request without action. Peggy Ducey, Deputy City Manager of Newport Beach spoke for OCRAA but failed to sway the Council members to join. Several south county residents appealed to the Council to not support an unwanted airport in their communities. The Yorba Linda leaders apparently did not feel that they had enough interest in an airport at El Toro to take a side in the battle.
OCRAA has been attempting to recruit north and central county cities to add to its letterhead, even offering free membership in the group to increase the appearance of broad support. La Palma recently turned down a similar request.
“The dismal report came at the same time that LAX is planning to add at least one runway and build more terminals to accommodate an expected increase in the number of passengers by as much as 38 million -- about 50 percent more than now... ” “Critics of the expansion said more air and passenger traffic would only make LAX worse and suggested that building a new, modern airport in an outlying area such as Palmdale was necessary.”
“Building Palmdale into an international airport to relieve congestion at LAX is not on the radar screen because passenger demand does not justify it now, [but], a bullet train from Los Angeles to Palmdale would help make Palmdale more appealing. The airlines have to find it a viable market to build Palmdale into a major regional airport ... It depends on the success of high-speed rail." [LA City Councilwoman Ruth] “Galanter agreed. ‘We are now overwhelmed at LAX,’ she said. ‘If we build new facilities (at a location such as Palmdale) we have a chance to build for modern travel patterns without having to destroy something that is already there.’"
Palmdale City Councilman David Myers said, "‘It's really going to be the airlines that are going to determine what their customers want,’ Myers said. ‘We want the airlines to come to Palmdale.’"
Newport Beach - Costa Mesa Daily Pilot, February 14, 1998
"Irvine Mayor looks beyond El Toro"
"Christina Shea is pushing the idea of building an airport in northern San Diego County."
"Irvine's mayor... wants an airport that would be somewhere between Orange and San Diego counties. Newport Beach's Mayor Tom Edwards said there are plans for one already. 'That's El Toro,' Edwards said."
"But Shea is thinking more along the lines of Camp Pendleton, Miramar Naval Air Station or some remote area in north San Diego County. Shea said she has met with San Diego officials to discuss a site that would be mutually beneficial..." with rapid transit connections. "Shea said she plans to meet with Newport Beach officials to discuss the plans but Newport Beach officials said the idea of a two-county airport was investigated and rejected years ago."
The Daily Pilot Hotline, at 642-6086 invites comments on whether an airport in north San Diego County should be considered.
OC Register, February 11, 1998
“County seeks restrictions on El Toro reuse”
“Michael Gatzke, the county’s special outside counsel on El Toro, discussed the county’s strategy with reporters after briefing the county Board of Supervisors on noise issues facing the proposed airport.” Gatzke said he hoped to “persuade federal officials to allow a curfew and other noise restriction”, but had no assurances since “the 1990 federal Airport Noise and Capacity Act was designed to prevent local agencies from adopting restrictions on airport operations.” “No airport successfully has imposed restrictions since the law was passed.”
Editor: Gatzke’s statement to the press followed a Board briefing in which Supervisor Todd Spitzer reportedly obtained the county attorney’s admission that air cargo and heavily loaded international flights would take off to the north - over Tustin, Orange, Villa Park and Yorba Linda. The county’s environmental impact report does not show any noise impact on these communities.
OC Register, February 10, 1998
"DA asked to probe El Toro mailing"
"The Orange County district attorney has been asked to look into the county's new El Toro planning newsletter for violations of the state Political Reform Act."
"Bill Kogerman, executive director of the anti-El Toro airport Taxpayers for Responsible Planning, asked District Attorney Michael Capizzi in a letter Friday to determine if the county's El Toro newsletter violates mass-mailing restrictions."
"State law prohibits mailings of more than 200 pieces that cost more than $50, include an elected official's name and are paid with public funds. The newsletter, Opportunity Now, which the county sponsored and first sent out in December, includes a [pro-airport] cover letter signed by William Steiner, then chairman of the Board of Supervisors."
The Orange County Register, Sunday, February 8, 1998
“Irvine Company Keeps Low Profile on Airport”
“Base Reuse: The county’s largest landowner hasn’t taken a public stance in the planning debate.”
“Since El Toro’s 1999 closure was announced five years ago, the county’s biggest landowner” has taken no position on the issue of the base reuse. Larry Thomas, senior vice president of the Irvine Company, ...indicated that “the plans thus far proposed do not provide sufficient information.” Both sides of the debate question this position, wondering how the Company, “with 60,000 acres yet to be developed in Orange County - 3,000 around El Toro - not have a position.”
In 1989, when an “Airport Site Coalition studied potential future airport sites,” the Irvine Company issued the following statement: “We believe that MCAS El Toro site should be formally dropped. The environmental and noise impacts on the nearby residents and the prohibitive costs of relocating the Marines make the site unworkable.” While airport proponents believe that this view is still valid, Larry Thomas distances the Company from this stand, as “the report was written nearly 10 years ago, expecting the base to stay open, and it clearly was not achievable.”
Some say that “the company is safe on middle ground, since they win either way.” While the Spectrum business community is thriving, it “also has a major stake in housing nearby, including 2,885 home north of the base in Northwood project, and 5,162 houses in Oak Creek south of it”.
While the company has not expressed, publicly, its stand on the reuse, “it has been active behind the scenes.” In 1996, Vice President Monica Florian “criticized the county’s El Toro Environmental Impact Report,” indicating that the report failed to address environmental impacts, as well as costs associated with infrastructure. Florian represents the company in developing ETRPA’s non-aviation plan, “providing planning expertise.”
A related story, titled: “Irvine Co.’s Timing Right on Removal from Preserve,” describes how “in 1989 the Irvine Co. gave the county notice that it would be removing its last 19,000 acres of land from agricultural-preserve status.” “The process takes 10 years, when the tax assessment is phased from the lower agricultural use to the existing marketing rate.” Thus, “the land becomes available for development next year,” when the Marines vacate the base.
“The latest mailer was sent to 30,000 households in Orange, Tustin and Villa Park”, showing a family , including their dog, wearing earmuffs while barbecuing. “It was prepared by the Airport Working Group, an organization made up of Newport Beach residents and of individuals who support the El Toro plan.” However, the accompanying request for donations carries a Tustin PO box address.
The flyer shows 747’s thundering overhead, suggesting that they will come from John Wayne. The truth is that 747’s will only overfly these communities if El Toro is built. The flyer “states that South County politicians have a plan to increase the number of planes flying out of John Wayne... But the leader of the Airport Working Group - Tom Naughton - acknowledges that he does not know of any plan by South County politicians to increase the use of John Wayne.”
“Another recent pro-airport flier, paid for by the [George Argyros led ] group Citizens for Jobs and the Economy, states in bold letters that the Federal Aviation Administration supports a commercial airport at El Toro. Bruce Nestande, president of the [group] which spent $100,000 to send out 500,000 flyers throughout the county, said his group took the information from a 1995 letter [from an acting local FAA official].... In more recent letters and statements, agency officials say they will not take a position on El Toro until the county finishes its airport development plan in mid-1999.”
“The mailer further states that Orange County losses $4.9 billion annually by having the vast majority of its cargo shipped from other airports. But that figure has been questioned by many, including county officials who are no longer using it. County CEO Jan Mittermeier has attributed the figure... to Chapman University President James L. Doti but Doti says he has never done a study on the economics benefits of cargo flights.”
The Times article also scolds Assembly candidate Jim Lacy for alarming statements about bonds for El Toro financing and Project 99 for publishing a map that shows planes taking off to the west from El Toro over Irvine. The map is based on “information from the county’s own reuse plan” but in 1996 the Board of Supervisors “passed a resolution restricting westerly takeoffs.”
Website Direct, February 6, 1998
Judge rules that county must disclose secretive airport plans.
Since November, the El Toro Reuse Planning Authority, ETRPA, has been trying to obtain copies of county planning documents that deal with critical subjects like flight paths, noise impacts, and the potential closing of John Wayne airport. The county has refused to release these studies, even though they are essential to public understanding of the El Toro project and were paid for with tax dollars.
ETRPA attempted to obtain the documents through letters to Courtney Wiercioch and then Board Chairman William Steiner, but was stonewalled. ETRPA finally was forced to bring a costly lawsuit to have the information made public. Today, a judge ruled that the public has a right to know and the documents must be turned over in accordance with the California Public Records Act.
OC Register, February 6, 1998
Non-aviation uses favored for El Toro in yet another poll
An OC Register telephone poll asked the question, "Should El Toro Marine Corps Air Station become the site of a park with an education, technology and research center instead of an airport?" The response was overwhelmingly opposed to airport use.
5006 reponses were logged - with 83% favoring non-aviation uses and only 17% favoring using the land for an airport.
Irvine World News, February 5, 1998
“Council to consider paying for airport expansion study”
Irvine City Councilman Dave Christensen asked the council to fund a study of the potential capacity of John Wayne Airport. “‘My thought is to initiate the planning activity for expansion of John Wayne when the artificial cap comes off in 2005.’...John Wayne is limited to 8 million passengers a year. There is also a curfew on flights - no flights take place after 10 p.m. or before 6 a.m..... ‘What we need is a shelf-ready plan for John Wayne when the day comes that voters say they don’t want and airport at El Toro’, Christensen said.”
Proponents of an El Toro Airport sent a mailing to residents of Tustin and cities to the north purporting to show that an expanded John Wayne would put more flights over their homes. Paul Eckles, executive director of ETRPA, countered that “‘planes would be taking off over those areas from an El Toro airport’” if it were built.
LA Times, Saturday, January 31, 1998
“Expert Warns of Base Conversion Conflict”
A symposium, held in Long Beach “by the International Consortium for Research on Energy and Environmental Management and Technology,” discussed “military base conversions.” Among the panelists, “Joan Holtzman, the associate director of the Center for Economic Conversion,” based in San Francisco. The panel concluded that the bitter disagreement about the future of El Toro “is evidence of a flawed process.” Further, considering the amount of opposition, “conversion the marine station to a major international airport might not be an appropriate use.” The panel concluded that “Orange County would benefit if officials slowed the process and encouraged full participation of all affected groups,” adding that “Orange County is growing very well in the absence of the airport.”
OC Register, January 30, 1998
"Pro-airport group sends new mailer to 30,000"
"The Airport Working Group, an organization representing Newport Beach and Costa Mesa residents... favors an El Toro airport over an expanded John Wayne". The group sent "a mailer to 30,000 households in Tustin and East Orange warning about noise from the potential expansion of John Wayne Airport."
"The theme: If El Toro doesn't become an airport, John Wayne would expand..."
"What it doesn't say: Some of the same communities it warns about John Wayne air traffic may be affected by noise from northerly takeoffs from an El Toro airport."
LA Times, January 29, 1998
“Home Values Rise Near El Toro Base”
The Times supplied the pro-airport forces with a great quote, by putting this misleading headline and conclusion on page one. The article itself provides a more balanced view, references several sources on the negative impacts of airports and quotes the Experian Company analyst who prepared the study as saying, “Has the proposed airport had an impact on housing values? No - so far, ... but those are the key words - so far.”
The tabular data accompanying the article supports an exactly opposite conclusion from that presented by Experian and headlined by the Times. While Experian arbitrarily looked at homes out to 7 miles from the base, the data shows that values of homes less than 5 miles from El Toro have increased at a slower rate than in the rest of the county.
Click here for more on home values.
LA Times, January 29, 1998
“Airport Foes to Ask Judge for Look at County Plans”
“For several years, opponents of a civilian airport at the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station have tried to find a smoking gun that proves county officials will end commercial flights at John Wayne Airport once an airport is built at the Marine base.”
In contradiction to its own claims of an open planning process, the county has stonewalled, refusing to release some of its key planning studies. However, this week, “In response to a lawsuit by the El Toro Reuse Planning Authority, [ETRPA], Judge Warren Siegal will hear arguments and decide whether the county must hand over several documents on the airport plan.”
“In December 1996, the county Board of Supervisors voted for the El Toro airport plan on condition that John Wayne would continue to serve as a commercial airport. It was part of a plan to give some concessions to south county residents...” But critics have maintained that running two commercial airports so close together is not possible.”
“The contention that having two commercial airports seven miles apart is not economically feasible and may be unsafe was voiced in 1996 memos [click here for full texts] from the Federal Aviation Administration and the Air Transport Assn. - the latter group representing the airlines.” Nevertheless, the county and its public relations campaign continue to promote a two-commercial airport concept.
Supervisor Todd Spitzer said, “For the first time, we know staff is working on an El Toro-only scenario. They are setting everything up for a one-airport system.”
Bits and Pieces, January 28, 1998
Newport Beach has contracted to pay former Supervisor Don Salterelli $180,000 for a year of consulting on airport issues.
Jan Mittermeier sent a January 27 memo to the Board to report that she, Courtney Wiercioch, and Supervisors Smith and Silva “will be out of the office” today through Friday. They’ve gone to Washington to “meet with Legislators and Government Officials.”
Irvine City councilman Dave Christensen encouraged his fellow council members to consider plans to increase the utilization of John Wayne airport from its legal cap of 8.4 million passengers to 20 million when limits expire in 2005.
The number of commercial passenger flights from John Wayne decreased slightly in 1997 from 1996 levels.
The County released a fraction of the planning documents requested by the El Toro Reuse Planning Authority (ETRPA) in a Public Records Act lawsuit. According to studies made public, the closing of John Wayne airport to commercial flights is still under consideration. A document entitled Identification of Financial Issues Associated with a Two-Airport System says, “From a financial standpoint, there may be a greater advantage to operate one larger airport in the Orange County area versus two smaller sized airports.”
OC Register, January 27, 1998 Daily Opinion Poll
"Should every local political candidate state a position on the El Toro Airport proposal?"
YES 66% NO 34%
Consider sending copies to officials in Washington, telling them what a mess their Federally designated Local Redevelopment Authority, (LRA) - the County of Orange - has made of this reuse project.
OC Register, January 26, 1998
"What recent El Toro Airport mailings say - and don't say"
"Glossy, campaign-style mailers promoting an airport at the soon-to-close El Toro Marine Corps Air Station went out to 500,000 Orange County voters in the past two weeks. The $100,000 mailing was prepared by Citizens for Jobs and the Economy, the group headed by millionaire businessman George Argyros that sponsored the 1994 Measure A El Toro airport initiative." Click to see our analysis of the mailer.
"Residents in north and central Orange County received one version of the mailer" - [worded to create hostility towards airport opponents in the south by saying that "North Orange County wages are declining relative to those in the southern part of the county."] "while south-county residents got another."
Some of the major omissions from the flyer include the fact that the so-called no home zone "already has homes in it - 465 total acres in Irvine, Lake Forest and Leisure World, and another 110 acres planned". The flyer also omits that "Airport-planning experts estimate that John Wayne could nearly double the number of passengers it handles, up to 15 million a year once the noise settlement with Newport Beach expires in 2005."
OC Register, January 26, 1998
“North, south on collision course on El Toro”
“The airport battle is affecting everything from jail expansion to county government” Supervisor Bill Steiner says, “‘I do see El Toro as the defining political issue in Orange County....From time to time, I feel it’s too heavy a price to pay in terms of poisoning relationships. What’s worth the price of being at each other’s throats?’” “The controversy has become inescapable in nearly every political campaign in the county - from the race for sheriff to state Assembly.”
“Ardent airport supporter Supervisor Charles Smith... said feelings run so strong against the proposed El Toro Airport in parts of south county that debate has been cut off on the issue.” Smith said, ‘It’s like communism. If you are thought to be soft on communism, well you must be a communist.’”
Website Direct, January 21, 1998
Irvine Unified School District Opposes El Toro Airport
The Irvine Unified School District joined the Capistrano and Saddleback Valley School Districts yesterday, in opposing "commercial passenger and/or cargo" airport use of MCAS El Toro. The Board Resolution No. 97-98-18 noted that the district "serves over 23,000 kindergarten through twelvth grade students at thirty-one school sites in the City of Irvine and adjacent County territory which will be impacted by the proposed airport." The resolution states that "studies, including those completed by Cornell University, have demonstrated that repetive and chronic noise has a demonstrable negative effect on the ability of students to learn."
Website Direct, January 20, 1998
Tom Wilson Announces Re-election Bid... Airport is a Major Factor
The supervisor formally announced his bid, today, for a second term. Among a long list of Wilson endorsers are Bill Kogerman and Larry Agran, the heads of Taxpayers for Responsible Planning and Project 99 respectively. Wilson drew the most applause for his statement that, "So long as I'm on the county Board of Supervisors, a commercial airport at El Toro will not fly, and I will not back down on that for any potential political gain." Wilson's 5th District includes Newport Beach, where his anti-El Toro stance has cost him some support from those who hope that John Wayne Airport will be curtailed or closed if El Toro is built.
Contact: Tom Wilson for Orange County Supervisor '98
7 Wrigley, Suite B, Irvine CA 92618
OC Weekly commentary, January 16-22, 1998
"Things you can do to kill the El Toro International Airport"
A Top 10 List of New Years resolutions for activists who oppose the airport project. Of course, one of these is to "Check out the El Toro Information Web Site". Click here for the other nine and get to work.
LA Times Editorial, January 18, 1998
"Clarity for El Toro" "Fixing the EIR is key to credible reuse plans"
The editorial states, "It is clear that the county needs to do a better job of spelling out what it really wants, and to state what the full impact will be."
"The judge's observations on the EIR's anticipated closure of John Wayne Airport, for example, shows how much room there is for confusion about what the county really intends to do... we see the county reckoning in its core planning with the very scenario that most worries South County. It's the concern that the El Toro airport proposal is a way of eventually diverting the county's primary air traffic from the skies over affluent Newport Beach."
The El Toro Airport website team suggests that citizens inform the Department of Navy in Washington about how the El Toro project is viewed locally, by faxing copies of newspaper articles, editorials and cartoons to Mr. William J. Cassidy, Jr., Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy, FAX (703) 693-1165
LA Times, January 16, 1998
"Airport Backers Launch Public Relations Drive"
Citizens for Jobs and the Economy, a pro-airport group, "whose chairman is George Argyros, one of the county's most influential business leaders", unveiled a $100,000 public relations campaign. "Within the next few days, the group plans to mail 500,000 glossy brochures to voters throughout Orange County." There will be different versions for north and south county voters.
OC Register, January 15, 1998
“Poll: El Toro airport support falling off”
“Backers of the development proposal will begin a campaign today.”
“Orange county government continues to face an uphill battle selling the idea of an El Toro airport. A poll released Wednesday shows that less than half the county’s voters support it.”
“After a series of questions were posed on the pros and cons of an airport, 54 percent opposed it, 39 percent supported it and 7 percent were undecided.”
“The UCI Orange County Annual Survey in 1997 showed a similar softening in airport support.”
A group of airport supporters, “led by pro-airport [Newport Beach] businessman George Argyros, is announcing... a direct-mail campaign to 500,000 residents” to promote the airport project.
Irvine World News, January 15, 1998
“Lawsuit filed over county’s refusal to allow airport foes a look at reports”
“Frustrated over alleged stonewalling by county officials on release of studies for a commercial airport,” ETRPA has filed a lawsuit to obtain the reports. “‘We’re disappointed that it has come to litigation, but we believe these reports will offer important information about what kind of airport the county is really planning at El Toro,’ said Paul Eckles. ‘Safety issues and flight patterns should not be concealed from the public.’”
Website Direct, January 14, 1998
“Poll: Majority of Orange county Voters Oppose El Toro Airport Proposal”
“Registered voters surveyed last month by a nationally-recognized polling firm said they opposed plans to convert El Toro into and international commercial airport because it would hurt Orange County’s quality of life.”
The survey found voters wanting county government to spend its money solving other problems like crime and congestion. The majority felt that Southern California already had enough airports. Supervisor Todd Spitzer said, "We now have three polls, by the county, UCI and this one, that are singing the same tune. To dismiss this report is to turn a blind eye." Supervisor Tom Wilson stated that, "The County of Orange is failing its people on this, the most critical issued it has faced."
The survey comes close on the heels of a UC Irvine opinion study which also shows the majority of residents preferring non-aviation uses for El Toro and opposing county handling of the project..
OC Register, January 14, 1998
“Study: 2 airports would be safe”
“But some say the El Toro runway layout is unsafe. A final report is pending.”
“El Toro and John Wayne each can operate safely as independent airports, but how they would work together remains to be seen, according to a preliminary study released.” by the county. The study... is the county's first look at how commercial flights from the closing El Toro Marine base might be incorporated into the crowded skies above Southern California.”
“Belinda Hargrove, the computer simulation expert who did the study, said her preliminary research shows the airspace can handle the combined 1,200 landings and takeoffs projected in the county's El Toro reuse plan.”
“Her model used El Toro's existing runway layout, which has been the subject of some controversy. The nation's two largest pilots' unions say it's unsafe to use El Toro's easterly runways, which force planes to take off with tailwinds and into mountains, making those runways the worst option.”
“Supervisor Tom Wilson... asked if Hargrove's model showed it was safe to take off to the east. She said her study did not specifically address aircraft performance, but that her model employed procedures recognized by the Federal Aviation Administration.”
“Supervisor Todd Spitzer, who also opposes an El Toro airport, cited a 1988 FAA study that said civilian aircraft should not take off to the east because of tailwinds, uphill grade and weight restrictions. Hargrove said she was unaware of the FAA report.”
Courtney Wiercioch, the county's El Toro reuse project manager, said four airport scenarios will be tested, ranging from converting John Wayne to general aviation use only to continuing John Wayne at its present level and using El Toro as a cargo airport.
LA Times, January 12, 1998
“El Toro Rift Threatens Other Deals”
“An annexation dispute between Irvine and Newport Beach illustrates how discord can derail unrelated projects requiring cities’ collaboration.” When the Irvine City council votes on whether to allow Newport Beach to annex Bonita Canyon, “it really is voting on whether to punish a neighboring city for supporting a commercial airport at El Toro.”
“Newport Beach officials have taken a leading role among cities that favor the conversion of the base into a commercial airport.” Irvine, which borders the base, “vehemently opposes the plan.” “[The dispute] ‘has gotten so heated it is crossing over into other issues’, Irvine Mayor Christina L. Shea said.”
“The threat of retaliation from the highly organized anti-airport faction, in fact, is one reason the pro-airport cities have not had a unified voice.” For example, Yorba Linda pulled out of the pro-airport Orange County Regional Airport Authority. A Yorba Linda City councilman “pointed to the construction of a new water processing plant, a cooperative effort of many cities, as one of the projects he fears might be sabotaged if the northern cities were more actively involved in promoting an airport at El Toro.”
The mayor of Fountain Valley also expressed concerns that inter-city discord could harm negotiations with the Orange County Fire Authority. “Fountain Valley has not taken a position on El Toro.”
The divisive El Toro situation highlights the failure of County government to build consensus, as required by Department of Defense reuse guidelines, for a use of the base land.
LA Times, Business Section, January 9, 1998
"Airport Expansion is Design Firm's Ticket"
"McClier Corp... is drawing up plans to simultaneously upgrade or expand airports in San Diego, Ontario and San Louis Obispo over the next two years."
San Diego "wants to add international gates and expand the facility that houses federal officials... Just this week the airport opened a 300,000 square foot extension to its Terminal 2..."
"...at Ontario, McClier is designing ticket counters, ramps and other facilities for four airlines moving into the airport's new terminal: Southwest, Delta, American and Northwest."
Website direct, January 7, 1998
Judge Orders County to Repair EIR
Judge Judith McConnell signed a writ requiring Orange County to prepare and circulate for public review, supplemental environmental analysis of its El Toro plans, addressing the following: regional air quality, traffic impacts, noise mitigation, impacts on endangered species and loss of agricultural land. The County had previously indicated its intention of appealing the court ruling. Click here for details, statements and legal comments.
Website Direct, January 7, 1998
The $20 Million Question
Supervisors Tom Wilson and Todd Spitzer sent a joint letter to the Federal Aviation Administration yesterday, requesting an answer to a very crucial question about El Toro... Are Runways 7L/R, which take off to the east into rising terrain, "in fact workable and acceptable to the FAA for commercial aviation useage"? The two supervisors note that $20 million of county planning "presupposes approximately 70% of all departures will occur on these runways".
For starters, the county's $3 million environmental impact report is based on this runway configuration, as is the Reuse Plan submitted to the Navy for the base property.
County staff has held secretive meetings with airline groups, including the pilots' union which strongly opposes the use of runway 7. However, staff has refused to make public any of its discussions, studies or documents on this issue.
More importantly, local FAA officials have refused to rule on the suitability of the airport plan until the county submits a formal Master Plan and request. The county planners are going forward with their work without submitting such a request. The taxpayers are paying for a costly game of don't ask, don't tell. Hence, Wilson and Spitzer have taken the bull by the horn and written to the FAA Administrator that "this information is required before the County of Orange can properly proceed with a valid and fact-driven Airport System Master Plan.".
LA Times, Business Section, January 6, 1998
"Cargo Planes a Concern for Western Digital"
"Western Digital Corp. Chief Executive Charles Haggerty was about to sign a contract to buy land for a new headquarters 'campus' at the Irvine Spectrum when he paused, Irvine Co. investment division czar Richard Sims recalls."
"Haggerty was worried about the quality of life for his 800 headquarter employees, most of whom live within a few miles of the area. The problem was the pending proposal to convert ...El Toro to a commercial cargo port, raising the prospect of planes continually buzzing the homes as well as the parklike corporate setting where engineers will design Western Digital's computer storage products."
Haggerty and the Irvine executive expressed mutual concerns. "Irvine officials have remained neutral in the debate over the future of El Toro, but have said much more analysis should be done before a final decision is made."
LA Times, January 3, 1998 ISSUES 1998: A CITY-BY-CITY LOOK
"O.C.'s All-Consuming Question: Will El Toro Fly?"
"Mission Viejo - El Toro Plans Lead Residents Concerns" "Of particular interest is a potential runway alternative that would align commercial flight paths along Interstate 5..." and increase the noise impact on the city.
"Irvine - Stopping Airport is Mayor's No. 1 Goal" "'I'd say opposing the airport is our predominant issue.' [Mayor] Shea said."
"Newport Beach - Airport Sits Atop List of Year's Priorities" "The City Council recently laid out its goals for 1998, and promoting a second commercial airport in Orange County topped the list."