Two developments have put the airport dream in jeopardy. The passage
of Measure W on March 5 rezoned the land from aviation to open space.
Also, Navy officials announced that they would allow the land to be sold
off to the highest bidder or developed as parkland.
Coupled with the Board of Supervisors' decision last week to hand the
bulk of the closed base to the City of Irvine in an annexation bid, the
announcement, many officials agreed, has dimmed the lightbulb for any
operating air-traffic control tower at the base.
But Rohrabacher jumped back into the the issue to say those opinions
"[I disagree with] this idea that simply because at last there's going
to be some movement on that carcass out there at El Toro that any
aviation possibilities are out," Rohrabacher said. "Nothing will be done
that will preclude those aviation assets out there."
The 4,700-acre base, of which 1,000 acres have been set aside for a
wildlife preserve, still have runways and a decaying network of
The congressman also said the Navy's announcement isn't as significant
as it seems. A Record of Decision, which was released April 23, only
signals the Navy's intention about how the land will be released.
The base must still go through what is known as a conveyance process,
the formal transfer of ownership.
South County leaders who mounted and passed Measure W discounted
Rohrabacher's comments as unrealistic.
"That's almost funny," said Meg Waters, the spokeswoman for a
coalition of South County cities. "He can dream about it, but obviously
he's sounding very desperate and not very rational."
North County cities and pro-airport groups have challenged Measure W
If they win their appeal, or if another ballot measure can overturn
that initiative before the Navy conveys the land, then the airport plan
could breathe new life, Rohrabacher said. The Navy has yet to announce
when it plans to convey the land.
* PAUL CLINTON is a reporter with Times Community News. He covers City
Hall and education. He may be reached at (714) 965-7173 or by e-mail ato7 firstname.lastname@example.org .