Liss:  Original Veterans Cemetery Site is Best Option for Veterans & Irvine

I’ll get to the merits of Brown and Worrel’s  argument, later; but whatever it is, it’s already tainted because Brown and Worrel are just repeating FivePoint’s talking points (propaganda).   For example:

First, both sites are not on the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, as they state.  That’s just a FivePoint false claim.  Look at a 1997 USGS map of the area to see the actual base boundaries, and it’s clear that the site adjacent to the I-5/I-405 interchange is not within the MCAS El Toro.  But why is mentioning that falsehood relevant to Brown and Worrel’s discussion other than to push FivePoint’s agenda?

Second, Measure B is not a squabble, as they state in their opinion piece.  Measure B is the biggest scam being perpetrated on the City in Irvine’s history, involving moving 812,000 square feet of development from a location adjacent to the I-5/I-405 interchange to north Irvine, along Irvine Boulevard.  How will the cars get to that location, most likely from the freeways?  By air?  Is the purpose of their “squabble” comment to minimize what Measure B is about to induce Irvine residents to not consider it important enough to vote on, or even to vote “yes” on?

Third, the statement that neither site is in the Great Park is another bit of FivePoint propaganda.  What purpose is served in repeating this highly misleading statement that is not believable if someone just looks at the map of the area, other than to repeat a misleading FivePoint talking point?

It is true that the OC Superior Court ruling of April 6, 2018, said that the “No on B” campaign could not write that the original site for the Veterans Cemetery, along Irvine Blvd. (the ARDA site), was “in” the Great Park; but that was because, believe it or not, the highly-biased, so-called “Impartial Analysis” printed in the Voter Information Guide called the ARDA site “outside” the Great Park boundary.   That Analysis was written by the same City Attorney who wrote the original Ballot Label thrown out by the Court as false and misleading.  Remarkably, the Court gave deference to that “Impartial Analysis” because it went unchallenged.  So, the Court required the “No on B” campaign to use the word “alongside” in their Ballot Argument.”  However, the Judge acknowledged that the ARDA site is contiguous with the Great Park on three sides.  And the contract by which the City acquired the ARDA site says it’s “part of the Great Park.”

As long as they’re at it, why don’t Brown and Worrel also mention that the “Yes on B” campaign lost all of the major Court rulings that established the truthfulness of the “No on B” Argument statements, like: “Claims that putting the Veterans Cemetery at the developer’s freeway interchange site would save taxpayers money are baseless.”  And that Measure B will result in “massive, new office, commercial, manufacturing and industrial development and 8,000 more car/truck trips every day on Irvine Boulevard, Sand Canyon, Jeffrey, and throughout Irvine.”

Regarding Brown and Worrel’s touting of land-use principles, moving 821,000 square feet of R&D space, along with 8,000 daily vehicle trips, from a site next to the I-5/I-405 interchange (and also near a train station), to a site about 3 miles away in north Irvine, which is what Measure B does, is hardly good land use.  Those cars and trucks are not going to fly from the freeway to the parking lots at the redeveloped ARDA site.  They will get there via the already, vastly overcrowded major arterials—that’s pretty awful land use.

Brown and Worrel go on to claim that the original cemetery site is “surrounded by urban development and Irvine Blvd on all sides”  That’s clearly false, or maybe it was a typo.  The original cemetery site is surrounded on three sides by, and is contiguous with, the Great Park, and is adjacent to Irvine Boulevard only along a short stretch.

Measure B is a horrible deal for Irvine, a horrible deal for veterans, and an absurd solution to gain additional greenbelt adjacent to the wildlife corridor.  It’s a land-use disaster.  FivePoint gets kudos for constructing their portion of the wildlife corridor, but that was part of their deal.  In any case, whether considered philanthropic, or not, those costs are inconsequential compared to FivePoint’s gains.

So, if the problem now is that the wildlife corridor is not wide enough, that means the land swap that moved the wildlife corridor to where it is now, and also satisfied FivePoint’s development plans, was not such a great deal for the wildlife, after all, according to Laguna Greenbelt!  In that case, why should Irvine residents and veterans take the full brunt of solving that problem with the worst possible solution, when there are other obvious solutions?

A far better solution that Laguna Greenbelt, Inc., ought to demand, is that FivePoint contribute an additional green buffer on either side of the wildlife corridor that now separates those parcels on which strawberries are growing.  Problem solved, and Irvine and the original Veterans Cemetery are saved!

It is grossly and crassly inappropriate for Laguna Greenbelt to advocate for a solution to the problem of insufficient wildlife corridor width by regurgitating FivePoint propaganda to support a measure that only benefits one other party—FivePoint. and throws everyone else “under the bus!”  If Laguna Greenbelt is truly interested in good land use, then “No on B” is the only way to go.

Harvey H Liss, P.E., Ph.D., is currently a writer and editor of Irvine Community News & Views.  He has resided in Irvine for 42 years, and was an Irvine Planning Commissioner in 2014.  A former assistant professor of civil engineering and applied mechanics, he was afterwards, in the late 1970s, project civil engineer for the Irvine Village of Woodbridge’s NE quadrant.  Harvey holds a Bachelor of Civil Engineering from The Cooper Union,, in NYC, and a Ph.D. in Applied Mechanics from New York University.  He is a California licensed professional civil engineer.

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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

For a different view on this issue, consider

Brown and Worrel: A Bird’s Eye View of Irvine’s Disputed Veteran’s Cemetery