El Toro Opponents Win $85,000 in Attorney Fees

From Times Staff Reports

A Superior Court judge ordered Orange County to pay $85,000 in attorney fees in a civil case brought by an anti-airport coalition.

The group had won a settlement in January from the county over its hiring of a Carlsbad attorney to do pro-airport legal work.

Attorney Michael Gatzke’s work had been challenged by the El Toro Reuse Planning Authority, a coalition of nine South County cities opposed to plans for a commercial airport at the closed Marine base. The Board of Supervisors did not vote to retain him.

Under the settlement, Gatzke agreed to pay court costs, and the county agreed not to assign work to him without board approval, County Counsel Laurence M. Watson said.


Questions about Gatzke’s work surfaced in 1998, when Supervisor Todd Spitzer sought answers to legal billings of nearly $1 million by Gatzke, who was hired by Watson.