Jaffe and Martinez: The Citizens’ Voice Has Laryngitis….Again

There has been much hoopla over the last few months over the Vet Cemetery and its location. Don’t be fooled. The only entities that benefit in this debate are Wagner and Five Point development. The Battle Royale over the placement of a Vet Cemetery is nothing more than a smoke screen for the 5 Point battle to build more homes on Great Park land creating more traffic for an already crippled city.  The use of the Vet Cemetery as a pawn in this shell game is truly disgusting and a dishonor to our Veterans.

If the swap is allowed, there will be 8461 ADT and 800,000+ sq feet of commercial (see top of page 3) building right in the middle of the great park crippling a city whose master plan was a fairy tale at best.

Great Park map


City Council has the absolute power to change the entitlement as a part of the terms of the land swap. They can and they should ensure that only park-like development happens on the Great Park land and NOT more traffic inducing development.

The entire council ran on the promise of no more traffic and congestion. If they vote to allow this land swap to go through without changing the entitlements it shows that they have complete disregard for the citizens of this city and only care about the developers who have supported their campaigns.

Fallacy #1: The development at the new site will be less expensive. On the surface, there isn’t the demolition that is required for the ARDA site at the Strawberry Fields location. However, we have no information. We do not have a construction cost for this site so how can we unequivocally state that it’s cheaper when we don’t even know? Five Point has NOT given any money and the state has only allocated funds in a letter. How can City Council breach their fiduciary responsibility to the citizens that have voted them into office?


*The above does NOT include ongoing maintenance. AB1453 creates the INTENT for a maintenance fund.

Why are Irvine Citizens are the ONLY Orange County constituents that will be paying for this cemetery through their taxes. Why are we being asked to foot the bill for the whole of Orange County? Isn’t it the fiduciary responsibility of the Irvine City Council to ensure that we are not burdened with these expenses? Why not put these tax dollars to our crumbling infrastructure?

Fallacy #2:   The development at the new site will be faster. This is wholly untrue. CalVets has just completed a $500,000 9 month study on the ARDA site that will need to be repeated for the Strawberry Fields. Not only is this a waste of funds, but again, it will take time to execute. State Law AB1453 will need to be amended to reference the new site and everyone knows that the wheels of government move rather slowly. Lastly, the Federal Government also needs to bless the new location. An educated guess would put this out about 3 years.

Fallacy #3: There are no new entitlements – the land value is the same. This is the most difficult statement to swallow. There’s a reason why Five Points wants to swap the land. They are a public company and not an altruistic entity. A house on the Strawberry Fields sitting on the 5 Freeway and across the street from the train station has infinitely less value than one adjacent to the Great Park which is precisely what Five Points wants to leverage. Guaranteed that if this goes through, Irvine will be home to 9000 more ADT smack in the middle of the Great Park, and why does the city of Irvine have to forgive the difference in the land value? This has to be taken into account.

Fallacy #4:   A Cemetery will produce more traffic than residences. We have contacted other cemeteries in Southern California and this data does not compute. At best an ADT of 1000 is what a cemetery of this magnitude would generate.

Irvine City Council has long rubber stamped development without consideration for the citizens and residents. THE NUMBER 1 issue for the last election was traffic and congestion. Promises to maintain Irvine as a livable city have been broken. We are in full support of the cemetery and are not beholden to either site. This decision, like so many other development decisions in our city will be made in a vacuum solely serving the veteran constituency and the developers without consideration of the ultimate impact to the remainder of the residents of Irvine. If we can strike a compromise where if the land swap is made, the ARDA site / Great Park land is used for something other than traffic generating residences which will ultimately impact a much larger segment of the constituency then we might have a win-win-win situation but everyone seems to focused on choosing politically charged viewpoints. We all live in a community and Irvine City Council needs to change its view to consider the community as a whole and not a result of campaign contributions. City Council has an opportunity to do what’s right for the Veterans, the City and for the Irvine citizen. It’s not just a win-win but a win-win-win. Let’s see if they will do it!!

Karen Jaffe and Joe Martinez are representatives for Irvine for Responsible Growth, a citizen organization that is promoting a responsible growth plan for Irvine. Our objective is to ensure that the voices of the residents of Irvine are heard over the wallets and greed of the developers. Traffic was THE NUMBER ONE concern for the 2016 elections and we aim to ensure that the elected officials of our city represent the tax paying, voting citizen. They can be reached on FaceBook or at stopirvinetraffic@gmail.com.

Opinions expressed in editorials belong to the authors and not Voice of OC.

Voice of OC is interested in hearing different perspectives and voices. If you want to weigh in on this issue or others please contact Voice of OC Involvement Editor Theresa Sears at TSears@voiceofoc.org

  • RyanCantor

    “Why are Irvine Citizens are the ONLY Orange County constituents that will be paying for this cemetery through their taxes. Why are we being asked to foot the bill for the whole of Orange County?”

    Because you annexed the land after denying us our airport.

    That’s why.

    • J Money 74

      Sounds like Irvine owes the county for that because they didn’t want it? LOL ok

  • J Money 74

    Please use real facts. You don’t think motorcades cause more traffic??? How about gun salutes right next to neighboring homes and schools??? Plus the amount of money to demo and clear out the area is going to cost more than the budget. Please try to actually make a valid argument.

    • Karen Jaffe

      1) We have spoken to other cemeteries and the max ADT would be 1000 for a cemetery of this size and Phase 1 is only 1900 graves. The current ADT is 9000 which was a result of uncontrolled development for the last 10 years.
      2) Riverside Cemetery has 2 schools within 3 miles.
      3) The demo will cost $30mm on this site but in order for the Strawberry site to be privately funded which is what is being claimed, 5 Point will have to come up with $45 mm. My spreadsheet data derived from the last pages of the OWEN report is below. Has anyone heard that 5 Point is coming through with this money?
      Buildings ARDA Strawberry
      Administration Building $848,400.00 $848,400.00
      Maintenance Building $1,252,600.00 $1,252,600.00
      Committal Shelter $182,400.00 $182,400.00

      Cemetery and Roadways
      Site Clearing $184,300.00 $184,300.00
      Hazardous Waste Remediation $3,446,200.00 $-
      Site Demolition & Clearing (12.5 Acres) $2,484,700.00 $-
      Site Demolition & Clearing (Remaining site 112.5 acres) $6,205,000.00 $-
      Building Demolition & Disposal $18,121,200.00 $-
      Site Improvements $5,445,000.00 $5,445,000.00
      Site Development $14,518,800.00 $14,518,800.00
      Site Utilities $1,672,900.00 $1,672,900.00

      Escalation $7,746,600.00 $7,746,600.00
      Construction Contingency at 5% $3,105,400.00 $1,592,550.00

      Ph 1 construction cost subtotal (Note 1) $65,213,500.00 $33,443,550.00

      Soft Cost $12,158,500.00 $12,158,500.00
      “A/E, Inspection, Special Consultants, Materials Testing
      Project/Construction Management, Agency Retained,
      CEQA (EIR/EIS), Mitigation/Surveys, Other Fees”

      Total $77,372,000.00 $45,602,050.00

      • justanon

        Phase 1 is for only 1900 graves? Riverside National Cemetery buries over 7,000 a year.

        Looking at the small amount of land and large amount of money I think they should use 25-50 acres for a memorial Columbarium (which could serve 1,000’s of more vets) and use the rest of the land to help living vets.
        Shelters, job retraining, recreation, therapy etc., for the veterans struggling with PTSD and other injuries.

        • Karen Jaffe

          According to the Owen report, phase 1 is for 1900 graves and some crematorium space. While a great idea, they won’t vote for the vet housing. From what I heard last night, 5 point put a $10m contribution towards a $45m ph 1 cost. Who wants to take my bet that the tax payers will end up paying for the difference?

          • justanon

            Do you know if having this site be exclusively for cremated remains was discussed and whether cremated remains are considered ‘bad’ Feng Shui (as silly as that sounds it’s obviously a ‘problem’)?
            The amount of land set aside for this is very small for a Veteran’s cemetery and it looks like both locations would offer no room for expansion (the Riverside National Cemetery was expanded by 185 acres). A Columbarium would make more sense and even if they couldn’t build veteran housing there, even recreational and therapeutic facilities would be a better use of the land.

          • Karen Jaffe

            No, I’m sorry. I don’t know. The best I can do is to point you to the Owen report wherein it has all of the options considered and the costs.

          • justanon


          • J Money 74

            I heard that it’s only for cremated remains due to the small space. I think the feng shui thing was overblown and a weapon to use against those who opposed the AR site. majority of the residents never wanted to live next to the cemetery, period. I agree with you though, better to have built this somewhere else and put in a Vet hospital or something to actually help the vets.

          • justanon

            Actually found this info. in the link Karen provided:

            “Phasing for this project is estimated to be a 100-year build-out. At full build-out, the SCVC will provide 60,066 standard in-ground crypts, 645 oversize In-ground crypts, 55,614 In-ground cremains, and 94,800 columbarium niches.”

    • Asking for real facts? please. Crying & whining about an occasional 21 gun salute where the detail shoots blanks honoring our veterans, how about the veterans that faced live bullets from enemy fire while defending this nation? Crying about a Veterans Cemetery next to a school, Hey how about paying a visit to Santa Ana, El Toro, Anaheim, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Yorba Linda, Brea, Cypress or Westminster each of the cities named has one or more cemeteries located in or near residential areas. There are about 17 other cemeteries in Orange County. I know that in Santa Ana they have some veterans interred from all US wars to include the Civil War. Perhaps such a historical landmark close to schools would be beneficial to learning American History. But perhaps there is a moronic fear of military trained veterans being turned to zombies? I suspect the NVA, Viet Cong, Taliban, & DESH are less dangerous enemies to us veterans than Five Points, (Miami based Lennar Corp) & the Irvine City Council. Lets face it Haddad CEO of five points never served this country, in fact, he ran from the fight in his own country Beirut, Lebanon. All the other board members of five points are also long time Lennar management that have never served this country.

  • LFOldTimer

    Thank you for giving us the inside story to the radical changes in the vet cemetery proposal.

    The Irvine Council harlots will sell their constituents and our deceased vets down the river to please their big money sugar daddy developers.

    I expect this behavior from Wagner and Shea. But Flip-Flopper Fox should be ashamed of herself. I wonder what sort of back room deal was made to draw her into the den of jackals?

    In my opinion these bottom-feeders are are no better than those who spat on the Vietnam vets as they arrived home from their assigned deployments.

    And shame on any vet who goes along with this scam. Sell-outs!