* Re “High Stakes Jail Gamble,” editorial (Dec. 17):
As one of two Irvine City Council members who voted for the James A. Musick jail compromise, I’m in total agreement with your assessment of this critical issue.
The latest agreement, passed by Lake Forest but rejected by the Irvine Council majority, would set the county on a course to build a new jail far from any residential neighborhood in the county.
The compromise was the culmination of three years of nonstop work by the cities of Irvine and Lake Forest, and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. This extensive effort included a complete countywide search for alternate jail sites involving thorough economic and environmental evaluations.
In trying to decide on a remote site without the participation of other communities, the city of Irvine risks alienating the cities and agencies whose support ultimately will be required in any new jail deal.
Irvine City Council
Thank you for pointing out the irresponsible behavior by the majority on the Irvine City Council when it rejected the Musick jail compromise agreement.
It was never clear whether proposals to expand the Musick jail would have to conform to the requirements of Measure F. Now that a judge found Measure F to be invalid, there is nothing to prevent the county from moving ahead with its draconian plans to expand Musick jail.
While the immediate, instinctive reaction might be to appeal the ruling on Measure F, a more critical look can conclude otherwise. With or without Measure F, it was clear that we would have to vote on the future of El Toro at least one more time. Thus, a more efficient way for using our limited resources would be to concentrate on placing a ballot initiative that supports non-aviation reuses of the former Marine base and to leave Measure F alone.
Adopting such an approach will not hinder our opposition to the proposed airport at El Toro, but will leave Musick jail vulnerable to expansion in the absence of the compromise agreement.
As your editorial correctly stated, the new, inexperienced council members are gambling with our future. After all, by the time a massive jail is placed in our midst, they would long be gone from public office. We Irvine residents, including many who believed their empty promises and voted for them, would be left to deal with the consequences.
The new Irvine City Council majority action to scuttle the Musick Branch Jail compromise is symbolic of the ideology of Irvine city councils over the recent years. Following Irvine’s inception, as a pristine planned community, successive councils promoted an evolution toward a “gated city.” The city fathers determined what should not exist in or near the community for the good of the citizenry; they did so with little care for the needs of adjacent communities or even Orange County as a whole. Since compromise is suddenly the word of the day nationally, it seems the council should take another look at landfills, airport conversions, branch jails, cemeteries and ending super-density residential projects such as Oak Creek.
ZANE W. DE ARAKAL