In a dramatic turn of events, the proposed Southern California Veterans Memorial Park and Cemetery — previously designated by the State and the City of Irvine, and approved by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to be located on 125 acres within the Great Park — is once again on the Irvine City Council agenda for a critically important vote. The Council meets this Tuesday evening, April 4th, beginning at 5 p.m.
In a bold move to expedite the Veterans Cemetery project, Irvine City Councilmember Jeff Lalloway is proposing that the City Council authorize the expenditure of up to $40 million in available Great Park development funds — enough to fund half of the estimated costs to construct Phase One of the Veterans Memorial Park and Cemetery. The other half — up to $40 million — is expected to come from the State of California, according to Orange County Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, who has pledged to work with her colleagues in the Legislature and Governor Jerry Brown to secure the necessary State funds.
Unfortunately, Councilmember Christina Shea, at the behest of developer FivePoint Communities, is again bringing forward an “alternative plan” — a so-called “land-swap” scheme that would hand over the 125-acre Veterans Cemetery site to FivePoint Communities, in exchange for a lesser amount of land near the Irvine Train Station. The “catch” is that FivePoint Communities would also be expecting to receive entitlement to build 1,500 (or more) homes on the previously designated Great Park Veterans Cemetery site, adding to the overdevelopment and the traffic crisis that is worsening every day in Irvine.
This Shea-FivePoint land-grab for private developer gain would set the Veterans Cemetery back at least 3 to 5 years, delaying and ultimately defeating the years-long effort to designate a site and bring the Southern California Veterans Memorial Park and Cemetery to the Orange County Great Park, in Irvine.
Now, with the actual construction and operation of the Veterans Cemetery within reach, we can’t allow ourselves to be diverted and defeated. We can’t allow private special interests and developer greed to override the public interest and the interests of veterans and their families.
It is unclear how Irvine Councilmembers are going to vote on the Lalloway funding proposal and the Shea-FivePoint “land-swap” scheme. Let Irvine’s Mayor and Councilmembers know how you feel about this matter! Tell them to vote YES on the Lalloway funding proposal to actually expedite construction of the Veterans Cemetery (Item 4.3 on the agenda); and, tell them to vote NO on the Shea-FivePoint Communities “developer land-swap” scheme (Item 4.2 on the agenda), because it would effectively kill our Veterans Cemetery that has already been approved by the City, the State and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Here are three things you can do right now:
- First, email the Mayor and Council right away at: irvinecitycouncil@cityofirvine .org
- Second, you can also call Irvine City Hall and leave a message for the Mayor and City Council: (949) 724-6233.
- Third, plan to attend the Tuesday night (April 4) City Council meeting at Irvine City Hall, located at 1 Civic Center Plaza, corner of Harvard and Alton in Irvine. To be sure to have a seat, be there by 5:00 p.m., when the regular business meeting begins. And, when this item comes up, don’t hesitate to fill out a speaker’s slip and speak up! (You don’t have to speak, but if you do, the Mayor typically grants speakers up to 3 minutes to be heard.)