OC Judge Orders City Council to Tell Irvine Voters the Truth: Measure B Means More Development!
Irvine’s Measure B on the June 5th ballot calls for voters to cast a “yes” or “no” vote on Zoning Ordinance 17-08 — an unpopular “land-swap” and development scheme put forward by Mayor Donald Wagner and Councilmembers Melissa Fox and Christina Shea at the behest of developer FivePoint.
The purpose of Measure B? To replace the long-planned Veterans Cemetery in the Great Park by transferring ownership of the 125-acre site to FivePoint, along with zoning rights for FivePoint to develop massive office, manufacturing and industrial projects on the Great Park site. At the same time, the planned Veterans Cemetery would be relocated to a site at the I-5/I-405 freeway interchange, known as the El Toro “Y”.
The City walked right into legal problems in January when Wagner, Shea and Fox put the Zone Change Ordinance on the June 5th ballot, but intentionally worded the ballot question to omit any mention of development at all. Wagner, Shea and Fox pretended the question was only about whether voters want a Veterans Cemetery when, in fact, the primary purpose of Zoning Ordinance 17-08 is to grant FivePoint permission to dismember 125 acres of the Great Park for its own development and profit.
Mary Ann Gaido, former City Councilmember and long-time Irvine Planning Commissioner, sued the City Council, claiming the ballot question — what voters see before they cast their vote — has to be an honest statement of the question presented to the voters. “Measure B,” said Gaido, “would allow FivePoint to develop 812,000 square feet of office, manufacturing and industrial projects in the Great Park. A fairly worded ballot question,” she claimed, “would disclose that Measure B is about development.”
Superior Court Judge Walter Schwarm agreed, ruling on April 6th that the City’s ballot question was not impartial. He ordered that the ballot question must refer first to the primary purpose of Measure B — to replace the Veterans Cemetery in the Great Park with development. So, the ballot question (legally called the ballot label) will now read as follows:
Measure B: Shall Ordinance No. 17-08, approving zone text amendments to allow for a land exchange agreement that facilitates (a) the allocation of development previously planned for the Bake Parkway Site to property near the intersection of Pusan and Irvine Blvd, and (b) the development of the State approved site for the Southern California Veterans Cemetery on strawberry fields located near the intersection of I-5 and Bake Parkway, be adopted?
After Judge Schwarm’s ruling, Mary Ann Gaido issued the following statement: “Thanks to Judge Schwarm’s ruling, Irvine voters will now be presented with a ballot question that is clear: Measure B is all about development. If you vote NO, you’ll be keeping the Veterans Cemetery where it belongs — at the originally designated site in the Great Park.”
Gaido concluded, emphatically: “Vote NO on Measure B, and Save the Veterans Cemetery in the Great Park!”