The City Council has $400,000 and nine months to decide whether it will sue to try to establish itself as the planning authority for the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station.

At their meeting Tuesday, council members unanimously earmarked the funds to cover the cost of suing the U.S. Department of Defense, Orange County or both. The money will come from the $4.5 million that Irvine will spend in 2000-01 fighting an international airport at the former base.

The council will spend the next several months exploring the possibility of filing a suit, which would allege that the government violated federal regulations by allowing the county to take charge of the base’s planning in 1995.

City Atty. Joel Kuperberg said the government misstepped by failing to include jurisdictions that have zoning authority over the base and not creating an agency with a broad-based membership. Irvine has zoning authority over about 10% of the base.


The suit probably would aim to dissolve the El Toro Local Redevelopment Authority, the name the supervisors adopted for the planning agency, and restore the authority to Irvine and possibly Lake Forest, Kuperberg said.

U.S. Navy and county officials said it would be inappropriate to comment before a suit is actually filed.