The Irvine City Council voted Tuesday night to amend its General Plan to make it more difficult for commercial jets to ever use El Toro Marine Corps Air Station.
In what Councilman Ray Catalano said could be the "first shot in a bloody, expensive battle" with Newport Beach over keeping civilian planes from using the Marine airstrip to alleviate congestion at John Wayne Airport, the City Council unanimously approved the zoning change so that the designation on its land-use map for El Toro now reads "military."
El Toro sits in unincorporated territory on Irvine's eastern flank, and the city is considering annexing the Marine base.
City officials said the former "airport" designation could have been used against Irvine in court by Newport Beach, which favors joint use of the Marine base by both military and commercial aircraft.
To keep this option open, the Newport Beach City Council at its March 14 meeting will consider whether to sue Irvine to overturn Tuesday's vote, Newport City Atty. Robert Burnham said in an interview before the ballot. At Tuesday's public hearing, Dana Privett, an airport consultant for Newport Beach, spoke on the city's behalf against the zoning change.
"Newport Beach is not trying to dump its noise problems on Irvine," Privett said. "But Newport Beach has accepted more than its fair share."
Councilman Catalano rejected Privett's objections. He said that much of the commercial development Privett complained about had been caused by poor planning decisions by Newport Beach and county government before Irvine became a city in 1971.