The Irvine Veterans Cemetery Moves




…and moves forward, hopefully.

The former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro is outlined in yellow. The previously state-approved site of the cemetery is in orange. The approved new cemetery site (“Strawberry Fields) is in blue.  The 5 and 405 are both highlighted in pink. Their junction is the “El Toro Y.”

At Tuesday’s Irvine City Council meeting, the city council approved on a 3-2 vote (Lynn Schott and Jeff Lalloway voting nay) to approve Mayor Don Wagner‘s motion to swap the 125 acre “ARDA” site that had been previously approved for a veteran’s cemetery for 125 acres that had been previously planned to be part of Broadcom’s headquarters.  As these fields are currently used foe growing strawberry, it’s called the “strawberry fields” site.

This land swap solves a problem for Great Park developer Five Points Communities.  Five Points is developing residential properties adjacent to the “ARDA” site where many of those houses are being financed by mainland Chinese flight capital. Those purchasers do not like being next a cemetery, and generally don’t give a fig about our veterans. Moving the veteran’s cemetery to the other side of the old El Toro MCAS removes that selling impediment for Five points while providing Five Points with more developable land adjacent to their current parcels.  Five Points like the idea so much, they have offered to provide $10 million to develop the initial 25 acres of the cemetery.

The prior cemetery site, the “ARDA” site, will now have the same development entitlements as before:  a corporate R&D site. A lot of folks think Five Points actually wants to convert the ARDA site to residential.  We’ll see.

One claimed benefit of the swap is that the “ARDA” site requires $30 million in demolition and toxic remediation.  While there certainly won’t be any need for demolition at the “Strawberry Fields” site, I am unclear how thoroughly the toxicity issue has been evaluated at the new site.

The deal has several oddnesses.

  1. Five Point has said they’ll put $10 million, but any enforcement mechanism was stripped out the agreement.  The letter from Five Point’s attorney’s Gibson & Dunn essentially says “Trust us.”  These sharks? yeeesh.
  2. Mayor Don Wagner was given sole authority to approve the final deal. He’s pledged to post the deal publicly for at least five days, but has not pledged to subject the final deal to public approval (ie. another vote).  Irvine has had a mayor with sole control of Great Park development agreements before, and look how that turned out.
  3. This moves 8,600 vehicle-trips per day to a different place in Irvine. Larry Agran claims this requires a new Environmental Impact Report. He has all but said he’ll file a lawsuit over this.

So the deal moves forward, and Larry and his Agranistas are still fighting against it.  This is not finished.

About Tyler in Irvine

Twenty Year Irvine Resident. Native Texan and proud Longhorn. Pro-Choice Ron Paul supporter. "Do I contradict myself? ... then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes." - Walt Whitman