With the long-awaited release of the CalVet studies on the potential costs of the proposed Veteran’s Cemetery, the truth is finally out. We, the residents of the City of Irvine most affected by the proposed project, call on Councilmember Larry Agran to immediately end his campaign of lies and deception and to acknowledge once and for all that the ARDA site is infeasible due to its adjacency to homes, schools, and its unnecessarily higher price.
The State-published report shows that the ARDA site would cost $110 million compared to $74 million for the Golf Course site.
For the cost difference between these two sites, $36 million, the residents of Irvine could have:
-Major improvements on Irvine’s most important needs like traffic flow improvement, child day care, and elderly care centers that would improve the quality of life of all its residents.
-Complete the construction of the Great Park by adding the planned but not yet built botanical gardens, permanent amphitheater, library, dog park, bicycling and walking trails and museums.
Larry Agran is notorious for promising things that he never delivers. For example:
He promised a wildlife corridor to the environmental community and never built it. FivePoint and the City Council who was elected after him built it.
He promised to build a Great Park grander than Central Park in New York City and delivered only 4 soccer fields, an unprofitable balloon ride, an aging carrousel from Fashion Island and a pile of unbuildable plans, leaving others to build those as well.
Larry Agran had $200 million and instead of building a Veteran’s Cemetery at the Great Park, he spent over $100 million on plans for canyons and features of the Great Park which could never be built. It’s no wonder that he has no interest in protecting taxpayers or sound judgment regarding costs. Everything to him is viewed through how he can use it for political gain.
Last week, Larry Agran leafleted our neighborhoods promising a walking park on the ARDA site. Nowhere in the CalVet study does this feature exist nor could it under the rules of the Federal VA for Veterans Cemeteries.
Smoke and mirrors and bait and switch are Agran’s stock in trade, but there is no way that he can spin this one — the facts are clear and the site location he has tried to force down everyone’s throats has been proven to be infeasible.
The State of California has budgeted $25 million for a cemetery and the two sites cost double that on the golf course or over 4 times that for the inferior ARDA site. Larry Agran has now destroyed the chances of a Veterans Cemetery ever getting built at the Great Park by blocking the only two sites that had a chance and forcing his supporters to fixate on the one site that could never be built.
Larry Agran and his supporters always invoke the “will of the people” when talking about the ARDA site, but we were at the retail centers and community events where his supporters gathered signatures and they were telling people “sign this petition or there will not be a veterans cemetery in Irvine” or “sign this to stop the developers from building in your backyards.” We know this because we personally witnessed it happening. In 2020, the Irvine City Council adopted the Initiative with assurance from the City Attorney that the Zone Change does not apply in any way to a Cemetery created by the Federal Government or the State of California.
It is hardly the “will of the people” or has he likes to say, “the majority of Irvine residents” when his initiative barely had the minimum number of signatures to be placed on the ballot.
It is time to put an end to the deception of Irvine residents that the ARDA site could ever be built. We call on Larry Agran to stop his lies and we call on the Irvine City Council to explore the golf course or any other site that could actually get a cemetery built for our veterans. We further ask Larry Agran to forgo his threatened lawsuit against the City of Irvine if the majority of the City Council choose to proceed with the lower cost and better funded golf course site to honor our veterans.
Parrisa Yazdani, Sandra Paperny, and Phil Fuchs are residents of the Great Park Neighborhoods and are very active in numerous groups and activities in the City. Phil is also an Air Force Veteran from the Vietnam era. Sandra’s father served in the Army in Vietnam and her father-in-law is Lt Jg USNR (Fmr). This editorial was written in collaboration with many of their friends and neighbors.
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