Proposed “Gypsum Canyon” site alongside the 91 freeway, just 5 miles from Riverside County

In the days leading up to the Fourth of July — a time when we come together as Americans to honor our revolutionary history and our military — Irvine Mayor Farrah Khan, along with Councilmembers Tammy Kim, Anthony Kuo and Mike Carroll, were scheming to defeat the long-promised Veterans Memorial Park & Cemetery on the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station here in Irvine.

Unfortunately, Irvine residents have seen this movie before. A few years ago, just as Veterans Cemetery construction was set to begin on the 125-acre “ARDA” site at the Great Park, a previous Mayor and Council hatched a heartless scheme with Irvine land developer FivePoint. Their scheme? To relocate the planned Veterans Memorial Park & Cemetery — shoving it alongside the El Toro “Y” at the I-5 and I-405 freeway interchange so that FivePoint could bring their massive office and industrial projects to the ARDA site. At least the then-Mayor and Council were honest as to what they had in mind. (Irvine voters successfully stopped that scheme through a ballot measure in June 2018.)

This year, there is a new set of bad actors at City Hall who have devised a truly terrible new scheme. Khan, Kim, Kuo and Carroll are working to shove the proposed Veterans Memorial Park & Cemetery out of Irvine altogether banishing it to “Gypsum Canyon,” which is actually another noisy, polluted freeway interchange site (just past the 241 toll road and the 91 freeway connector). This new site is 23 miles from Irvine, and just 5 miles from Riverside County.

Khan, Kim, Kuo and Carroll are the same four Councilmembers who, just three months ago, publicly stated their support for building the Veterans Memorial Park in Irvine. In fact, at the March 23rd Council meeting Mayor Khan said that honoring veterans with a Veterans Memorial Park & Cemetery was a “top priority” for the Council. Khan stated: “We are in a unique position as a City to actually get this done. I see it happening in May or June….We are all committed to making this happen!”

At that same March 23rd meeting, Councilmember Kim said: “It’s important we build a cemetery [in Irvine].” And Councilmember Kuo told a representative from CalVet: “You are going to get one of the pieces of [Irvine] land. There’s no question about that.”

Gypsum Canyon is located just past the 91 freeway/241 toll road connector

Three months after making those public statements, Khan, Kim, Kuo and Carroll have unilaterally decided — contrary to the expressed will of the people — that Irvine no longer wants a Veterans Memorial Park & Cemetery. (Councilmembers Kim and Carroll even attended a July 1st press conference in support of the newly proposed 91 freeway site.)

Experienced civil engineers familiar with the proposed Gypsum Canyon/91 freeway site say that it will take several years and many millions of dollars to build the infrastructure required to support construction of a Veterans Cemetery.

As founding publisher of Irvine Community News & Views, I feel obliged to say what must be said: It is more than shameful … it is dishonest that Mayor Khan and Councilmembers Kim, Kuo and Carroll have broken the promises they made just three months ago to our veterans, their families, and all Irvine residents.

Franklin J. Lunding