It's an environmental and public safety nightmare. Planes will fly over residential areas 24 hours a day. More than 40,000 school children will attend noise-impacted schools in the flight path, and may suffer health and learning impairment. Planes will spew pollution over much of Orange County. The County's Environmental Impact Report admits that significant air pollution will result. Traffic in much of the region will strangle as millions of passengers drive here from surrounding counties. A giant airport will push O.C. towards becoming another Los Angeles.
It is the wrong place for a 21st century airport. The Marines abandoned El Toro because of urban crowding. Dangerous mountains in the takeoff path and crowded airspace restrict its usefulness. The FAA says El Toro will cause flight delays at other area airports because of crossing flight paths. Around the world, planners are building new airports out-of-town and connecting to them with high speed ground access. Most of the region's future growth will occur in the Inland Empire where airports are both needed and wanted.
The region has underutilized airport capacity. There are 7 airports within about 50 miles of El Toro. Ontario recently expanded and has room to grow. Long Beach is adding service. Palmdale, and former military air bases at March, Norton and George, want to handle LAX's overflow. John Wayne has seen no passenger growth since 1996 and can be better utilized. The Air Transport Association and major airlines object to operating two OC airports, only 7 miles apart. Therefore, building El Toro is likely to result in the wasteful closing of John Wayne.
El Toro threatens John Wayne security. In the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, we should stop draining JWA funds for El Toro plans. JWA's surplus has been wiped out and airport managers project a $10 million loss. Funds are needed to make our existing airport as secure as possible... not wasted on a risky second airport.
The people don't want it. The pressure for El Toro comes from Newport Beach, where residents want to restrict use of John Wayne, LAX neighbors, special interests, and from their political allies. Supervisors Coad, Smith and Silva are unwilling to let the people vote on their airport plan. Why? Because the UC Irvine Orange County Opinion Survey and every other independent poll shows support for an airport has dropped to about 35 percent.
The former Marine base lacks essentials for a safe civilian airport. The military runways are unsafe for commercial use. They are too close together and too steep. The County plans to remove and replace them. The County expects to deliver hundreds of truckloads of jet fuel to the base each day over crowded freeways. El Toro lacks modern air traffic control, terminals, runways, and access roads. A commercial airport must be built almost from scratch.
Orange County will lose a once-in-a-lifetime chance. Wise planning can turn the 4,700 acres into a great Orange County Central Park and Nature Preserve with schools, cultural centers, health care facilities, open space and recreational opportunities. Park development will be funded by leasing housing, farmland and other vacant property at the base, by state park bonds and through philanthropy. The Auditor-Controller reports that passage of Measure W will not require any new taxes or tax increases. In contrast, airport noise, pollution and traffic congestion drive down property values and tax revenue. They deter high-tech employers, who look for attractive residential communities. Measure W protects the quality of life that attracts people to live and work in Orange County!