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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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