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El Toro Issues Still Unresolved

The Times provided a much-needed forum by hosting a debate on the issue of an airport at El Toro: Specifically, should the environmental impact report be certified? It was an opportunity for each point of view to be championed and then cross-examined. I hoped the Times would give the debate the news coverage it deserved, but the small story Nov. 21 did not present some of the most telling information.

Bruce Nestande, longtime airport advocate, stated he wanted an airport handling 22 million passengers a year and accommodating no airliners with more than three engines and curfews at night.

That statement left most of the audience wondering if Nestande has even read the EIR. None of the considered alternatives contains an airport limited to jets with no more than three engines or even a mention of an airport curfew.

Mr. Nestande’s team brought a map of the proposed noise footprint of a commercial airport. The map showed no noise from takeoff on the north runway even though the EIR plans on 30% of takeoffs on that runway. To put that in simple numbers, over 150 takeoffs per day are planned to the north alone. Should a cargo-only airport be built, all the takeoffs will be to the north.

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On the eve of critical county votes, the airport proponents are still disseminating false information. It is much like the mailer designed to help defeat Measure S; if an airport is not built, a dreaded jail will be built.

The Times has consistently opposed ballot box planning. This ballot box plan is now on the fast track to reality, powered by an ill-conceived EIR. The Board of Supervisors ought to take a step back, take some time, and examine what this course is doing. The Times ought to urge them to do so.

FRED HEINECKE

Irvine

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* As we are sure you are aware, there has been a lot of misinformation circulated in South County concerning the environmental impacts of the conversion of El Toro Marine Corps Air Station to a commercial airport.

As we are sure you are also aware, the noise impacts of a commercial airport will be substantially less than the current impacts caused by the air station.

Similarly, the traffic impacts of an airport will be less. The people of Orange County have recognized this and voted twice to confirm the conversion to a commercial airport. We are asking the Board of Supervisors to support the decision of the people of this county and certify the environmental impact report for a commercial airport at El Toro. We would like whatever support The Times can lend in this regard also.

LEIGH and HUGH GOURDIN

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Newport Beach

* The redevelopment or planning commissions in all cities and counties, though they have “public” hearings, rule over us and are not responsible to the public. But our county commissioners truly are rulers of zoning who were appointed by supervisors.

The city and county planning systems have been an anti-democratic power resource of developers and financiers, over the interests of local citizens, for about a century. They vote in place of the public without any actual accountability to what local citizens want or don’t want; and so when an international airport is to be muscled in on a part of the county that doesn’t want it, some commissioners point to other far-flung communities in the county, who are supporters but do not have to live close to the environmental and developmental disharmony they sponsor by supporting the airport.

The power is thus against the local citizens who do not want to live next to a commercial airport for the rest of their lives--or to have to move. It reminds me of the way unincorporated Midway City was carved up in behalf of Westminster, allowing the annexation for the business district and leaving an anemic community. The commercial airport power play will have the opposite, adverse affect of creating noise and overdevelopment in one quarter of Orange County.

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RONALD KINUM

Huntington Beach

* The federal government acquired the land for El Toro under eminent domain from the Irvine Co., paying $5 million during World War II.

The company reportedly did not cash the check for many years, refusing to ratify the transaction.

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Why doesn’t the federal government now return the land to the Irvine Co. at a price commensurate to what they paid for it and let the Irvine Co. figure out what to do with it, subject to the normal planning processes?

DIRCK Z. MEENGS

Costa Mesa

* It is hardly news that South County residents have been vociferous in their opposition to converting El Toro to a commercial airport.

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I would remind these residents that El Toro is an airport. It has been for 50 years. The only change is that it is now being made available for nonmilitary use, and the voters of the county have voted for such a usage.

Do we need another airport? Of course we do. As a result of exploding growth in residential, commercial and business needs, John Wayne Airport will be able to meet only a small part of the needs. The runways are already much too short to accommodate larger aircraft now--much less what will be developed in the future. Further, expansion of Los Angeles International and San Diego airports is not possible.

The size and limits of the El Toro commercial airport can be determined through good planning. However, we cannot allow this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pass. We must take the first step now, while we can.

JAMES T. JOHNSON JR.

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Newport Beach

* Hey, all you arrangers of real estate, you want to know what to do with the El Toro airport? Tear down all the military buildings, clean up the soil, plant oranges--beautiful trees that smell of orange blossoms.

Make paths where families can come with their kids and see what Southern California used to look like and smell like. Maybe they might even be able to buy a glass of orange juice in a glass, not a carton.

LOUIS GAST

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Laguna Hills


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