On November 11th, we commemorated Veterans Day. There were plenty of speeches from elected leaders who professed to support our veterans and all who have served our nation.
Personally, I find those sentiments to ring hollow when coming from Irvine Mayor Farrah Khan and her Council majority — Tammy Kim, Anthony Kuo and Mike Carroll.
Just weeks ago, Khan, Kim, Kuo and Carroll voted to embrace the latest scheme hatched by billion-dollar-developer FivePoint. In direct defiance of the Irvine citizens’ voter-adopted initiative, Khan and her Council majority declared they wanted to abandon plans for the Veterans Cemetery at the Great Park ARDA site. Instead, Khan, Kim, Kuo and Carroll want to move the planned Veterans Cemetery out of Irvine altogether — forcing Irvine families to travel 20 miles outside of Irvine to visit their loved ones at a Veterans Cemetery site that will be located alongside the noisy 91 freeway at Gypsum Canyon, which is just a few miles from Riverside County.
Even before the vote was taken, a political mailer — apparently developer-funded — was sent to thousands of Irvine residents to “thank” Khan, Kim, Kuo and Carroll for “protecting” the City from a Veterans Cemetery. How’s that for honoring our veterans?
For those who may not know, the Great Park sits on land that was transferred to the City from the U.S. government after the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station was decommissioned. The City made a commitment to designate a small portion of the donated land (less than 10%) to honor the tens of thousands of servicemembers who had passed through the Marine base over its nearly six decades of operation.
The Great Park ARDA site — with its iconic air control tower — served as the heart and soul of the El Toro Marine Corps base, welcoming thousands upon thousands of military personnel home from overseas deployments during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.
While Khan, Kim, Kuo and Carroll have treated the long-promised Veterans Cemetery as some sort of burden to the City, Councilmember Larry Agran — who has championed the Veterans Cemetery on the ARDA site since the initial promise was made — recently stated: “I don’t understand the actions of the Mayor and my Council colleagues. I believe that having a Veterans Cemetery in Irvine is a great honor for the City, not a burden.”
While the State studies the Gypsum Canyon site to see if it’s even feasible for a Veterans Cemetery, Councilmember Agran recently submitted his own plan for preserving the ARDA site. Agran is proposing that the City should immediately begin building a beautiful Veterans Memorial Park on the ARDA site — a vast park filled with trees, trails, and memorial gardens that honor the City’s rich military history and our veterans. Who wouldn’t support that? Apparently, the Mayor and her Council majority.
Through her undemocratic “Rule of Two,” the Mayor and her Council majority have refused to allow Agran to even agendize a public Council discussion of his proposal to build a Veterans Memorial Park on the ARDA site.
Clearly, the vote to abandon the Veterans Cemetery in Irvine had nothing to do with a Veterans Cemetery. It has always been about eventually handing over the ARDA site to developer FivePoint for massive development … and profit.