A Guide to Rival Plans for El Toro Conversion

Staff Writer

Politics: It is one of the most contentious issues in recent memory--the debate over who will control planning for the conversion to civilian use of the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station. Three rival plans have been offered, one by the County Board of Supervisors, and two by city officials representing municipal alliances in both North and South County. Here are the main elements of each:

The County

Organization: Four levels of deliberations and decision-making are included, with much of the planning activity initially run by a 21-member "El Toro Task Force" made up of city and business leaders and two county supervisors.

Task force members would head subcommittees that would study aviation, environmental, transportation, cultural and other issues. The subcommittees would be expected to list the strengths and weaknesses of various proposals that emerge, but not make recommendations.

The subcommittees' reports would be forwarded to the task force, which then would be responsible for choosing at least one redevelopment plan for consideration by a seven-member executive committee. The smaller executive committee could reject or accept a plan, and its recommendation would then be sent to the supervisors for final approval.

Membership: The county task force would include representatives of the South County cities of Irvine, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Lake Forest and Mission Viejo. Others invited to join are Tustin, the two "pro-airport" cities of Anaheim and Newport Beach, and the Leisure World retirement community of Laguna Hills.

Business groups represented would be the Orange County Chamber of Commerce, the Industrial League of Orange County, the Building Industry Assn., the South County Chambers of Commerce and the Irvine Co. The two supervisors representing South Orange County also would sit on the panel, as well as five members appointed by the supervisors.

Membership on the seven-member executive committee would include the two South County supervisors, representatives from Irvine, Lake Forest and Leisure World, and two unspecified city council members who would probably be from South County.

Who decides: The Board of Supervisors would accept or reject the recommendation of the executive committee. If the supervisors rejected proposals at least three times, they could change the recommendation by a four-fifths vote of the board.

Who pays and who benefits: As the lead agency, the county would assign its own staff to the redevelopment planning process.

The county proposal does not specify who would benefit from redevelopment revenue. But it leaves open the possibility that an "Economic Development Authority" would be created after the conversion plan is approved, and members might share the decision-making, costs and revenue from the project.

O.C. Regional Airport Authority

Organization: All 31 Orange County cities and county government have been offered one seat each on the board of the El Toro Conversion Authority, a legally binding agency. The board also might include, as non-voting members, representatives of other agencies, such as the Golden Rain Foundation of Leisure World, Orange County Transportation Authority, Federal Aviation Administration, Southern California Assn. of Governments, business and industry groups, and school districts.

Intended as a long-term agency that would implement a conversion plan, the authority proposes three committees: a reuse committee charged with preparing a base redevelopment plan for submission to the Defense Department, a finance committee and an airport committee that would handle ownership and operations of a commercial airport if that is included in the base conversion plan.

Membership: The agency board could consist of representatives from all 31 Orange County cities and from county government. The board would appoint at least three of its own members as well as others to each of the committees.

Who decides: The proposal gives the decision-making authority to the 32-member board.

Any redevelopment plans would be subject to veto by the county, Irvine or Lake Forest individually; two votes from a group of cities including Mission Viejo, Laguna Hills and Tustin; or by a majority of the remaining members.

In an effort to promote consideration of a commercial airport at El Toro, the proposal also offers to give nearby cities extra protection, such as flight curfews and noise restrictions.

Also, if a commercial airport plan is chosen, it could not be changed or expanded without the approval of Irvine and Lake Forest; a three-fourths vote from Mission Viejo, Laguna Hills, Tustin and the county; and by three-fourths of the remaining members.

Who pays and who benefits: Contributions to the agency's annual budget are based on population, not to exceed $100 per 1,000 population.

Disbursements of any revenue from redevelopment are to be based on a weighted formula, giving higher payments to cities closest to the base, similar to the formula used to assign veto power. For example, the county, Irvine and Lake Forest would receive $3 for every dollar paid in, and the cities of Laguna Hills, Mission Viejo and Tustin would get $2 for every dollar contributed.

South County

Organization: The El Toro Reuse Agency proposes operating under a legally binding, three-tiered agency.

At the lowest level, nine advisory committees--made up of nine to 12 members--would initially screen redevelopment ideas.

The committees' reports would then be submitted to a board of directors made up of representatives from the 31 Orange County cities and the county. The board--under a weighted voting system that gives more influence to the cities closest to the base--would select three plans.

A nine-member executive council--with a majority from South County cities--would then choose from the three plans and make a final decision.

Membership: The advisory committees include representatives of homeowner associations, business, industry and civic groups, and the general public. "Priority" membership would be given to participants "most impacted" by the base closure, cleanup and redevelopment plan.

At the second level, the board of directors would include the 31 cities and the county.

The executive council would include the county, Irvine, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Lake Forest, Mission Viejo, Tustin, Anaheim and Newport Beach.

Who decides: Voting on the board of directors would be based on the distance from El Toro. The county, Irvine and Lake Forest each would get eight votes; Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Mission Viejo and Tustin each would have seven votes; Costa Mesa, Dana Point, Newport Beach, Orange, Santa Ana and San Juan Capistrano each would have three. The remaining cities would get one vote.

Most of the power would reside in the executive council which would, among other things, select the base conversion plan, adopt the agency's annual budget and distribute proceeds generated by redevelopment.

Who pays and who benefits: Annual dues would be based on the same formula used to assign votes. The county, Irvine and Lake Forest each would pay $10,000 per year; Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Mission Viejo and Tustin would contribute $7,000; and Costa Mesa, Dana Point, Newport Beach, Orange, San Juan Capistrano and Santa Ana would pay $5,000. Other cities would pay $2,000.

Annual disbursement of redevelopment revenue to members--once expenses have been paid--would be determined by the executive council.

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