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    Dissenting OC Supervisors Smith & Silva Send Letter to U.S. Trans. Sec'y Mineta Applauding L.A. Proposal To Operate Airport @ El Toro; We Post Letter

    (June 17, 2003) -- Two days after the Orange County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to send a letter to U.S. Dept. of Transportation (D.O.T.) Secretary Norman Mineta blasting an L.A. proposal to operate a commercial airport at El Toro, the two dissenting Orange County Supervisors sent a letter to Secretary Mineta applauding L.A.'s plan and urging Mineta to support the proposal.

    "Orange County, due to its affluence and economic base is a major contributor to our [airport runway] capacity crisis. We must not shirk our responsibilities and over-burden the southern California region. According to the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), without an airport at El Toro, the region will fail to accommodate over 50 million annual passengers by 2025," wrote Supervisors Charles Smith and Jim Silva in a letter dated June 12th to Secretary Mineta. posts a copy of the letter in its entirety on a link, below.

    The letter from Supervisors Smith and Silva added:

    "Some of our colleagues will continue to actively argue that Los Angeles should mind its own business and stop attempting to dictate an Orange County land use decision. We would argue that by allowing this existing aviation facility to be destroyed, they are passively placing an undue burden on the citizens of Los Angeles and the region as a whole...

    Mr. Secretary, there is a need for federal intervention and [L.A.] Mayor Hahn's proposal is the responsible alternative for all the citizens of our region...We urge the federal government to make El Toro a true regional asset for the benefit of all of southern California for now and our future generations.

    Word of the letter was revealed during a June 17 meeting of the County Board of Supervisors at which the 3-2 Board majority voted to remove Supervisor Smith from his long time position as Orange County's representative to SCAG...and replace him with anti-El Toro Airport Supervisor Chris Norby. Board chair Thomas Wilson fumed at the Smith-Silva letter. "[T]he Board was not copied on that letter. The Chair [Wilson] and my colleagues had to find it, but we did find it..."

    Two days earlier, the anti-El Toro Airport Board majority voted 3-2 to send Secretary Mineta a letter blasting the L.A. proposal to operate an El Toro Airport. That letter stated in part:

    We are outraged at this suggestion which blatantly ignores the decision of the citizens of Orange County who passed Measure W more than a year ago designating El Toro for park and other public benefit uses. The Orange County Board of Supervisors will not tolerate any attempt by the City of Los Angeles to overturn a local land use decision made by the voters of Orange County and endorsed by its political leadership.

    The developments follow transmittal to Mineta of a 37-page legal style memorandum (first revealed by the L.A. Times and subsequently posted verbatim by in related coverage, linked below) in which L.A. officials argued that OC Measure W (passed by OC voters in 2002, preventing OC Supervisors from developing an El Toro Airport) may control local land use decisions...but is not binding on the federal government. The L.A. memorandum noted that both the FAA and the U.S. Navy considered an El Toro commercial airport their preferred alternative.

    The L.A. proposal has been endorsed -- subject to voted approval of OC voters -- by OC-LB Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R., HB-LB-PV)...but was not supported by his colleague to the south, Cong. Christopher Cox (R., Newport Beach-Irvine).

    In separate developments reported by, the Orange County Regional Airport Authority (OCRAA), a joint powers authority comprised of 14 north Orange County cities, has adopted a resolution urging the U.S. Dept of Transportation and U.S. Dept of the Navy to seriously consider the request by the City of Los Angeles to operate the former military airport at El Toro as a commercial airport.

    And CA state Senator Kevin Murray (D., Los Angeles) has introduced a resolution by which the CA Senate would call upon "the United States Navy and Department of Transportation to preserve a national aviation asset by approving the City of Los Angeles's offer to lease the El Toro marine base and operate the facility as a civilian passenger and cargo airport."

    To view the letter joinly sent by OC Supervisors Smith and Silva to U.S. Transportion Secretary Mineta, click OC Supervisors Smith-Silva June 12 letter to Sec'y Mineta.

    Related coverage:

    State Senator Kevin Murray (D., Los Angeles) Introduces Resolution Backing L.A.'s Offer To Operate El Toro As Commercial Airport; We Post Text

    Orange County Regional Airport Authority -- Comprised of 14 North OC Cities -- Backs L.A. Bid to Operate El Toro As Comm'l Airport; We Post Resolution

    OC Supervisors Vote 3-2 To Remove Pro-El Toro Airport Supervisor Smith As OC SCAG Rep...And Replace Him With Anti-El Toro Airport Supervisor Norby

    OC Supervisors' letter to U.S. Dept. of Transportation re El Toro.

    OC Cong. Chris Cox -- South of OC Cong. Rohrabacher -- Reacts To L.A. Proposal To Operate Comm'l Airport @ El Toro; We Post Statement Verbatim

    LA Airport Agency Seeks To Operate El Toro As Airport; LB-HB Cong. Rohrabacher Supports Plan Subject To OC Voter Approval; We Post L.A.'s 37-Page Legal Brief Style Memo

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