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Sharon Quirk-Silva’s AB 1453, which would have the state commission a new veterans cemetery in Orange County, could be one of two things: (1) a symbolic but ultimately ineffectual statement of support that got nothing done, or (2) the means to actually get a cemetery built.
For it to be the latter, some donor had to stand up and say that they were willing to give the state the land, so that it could then apply for federal funding through the Department of Veterans Affairs. (It could also be sold to the state — but the state has not been particularly interested in that.)
Such a donor could be private — but that wasn’t likely. Finding a public donor would also be hard. The only public donor with appropriate land that was obviously available and possibly willing was the City of Irvine, which had a 125-acre parcel of the Great Park left over, one that was not owned by Lennar or Five Point. So on Tuesday night, Irvine voted on whether they were willing to seriously consider giving the state the land.
This wasn’t going to be a commitment, which the state would really like. And it wasn’t specifying the Great Park site; if another Irvine site became available, that would be just fine, so far as this resolution went. But it would probably be enough of a gesture to get AB 1453 past its initial hurdles — at which point it would tend to pick up steam. So, in a sense, this was a make or break vote for really actually getting a veteran’s cemetery in Irvine — potentially the last best chance to do so for a long time.
Proponents of the veterans cemetery won. The critical vote was 3-2, with Jeff Lalloway joining Larry Agran and Beth Krom in rejecting a substitute amendment by Christine Shea with the support of Mayor Steven Choi. That amendment would have delayed the decision process long enough that AB 1453 would not be able to be approved by the deadlines imposed by the legislative calendar. (Once the killer amendment was rejected, Choi joined Lalloway in voting for the final bill — but however many people he thinks that will fool, this blog will make sure that it fools fewer than that.)
Orange Juice Blog will have a more extensive story on this development sometime tomorrow. But that’s the big news; in the meantime, see this preview story from Monday for more details about the deal generally. (And there are plenty of more details about this vote — it was quite a meeting!)