Irvine Community Poll on the Veterans Cemetery
I’m pleased to take this opportunity to invite you to participate in our Irvine Community Poll. Created and owned by Irvine Community News & Views (ICNV), the online Irvine Community Poll enables us here at ICNV to “take the pulse of the Irvine community” by creating a real opportunity for Irvine citizens to be heard on important issues of citywide concern.
We at ICNV believe this is especially important at this time when, unfortunately, a majority of the City Council — especially on issues of growth and development — is doing the bidding of big developers and not listening to what the people of Irvine want.
In January, we again activated the Irvine Community Poll with a question about the “replace-and-rezone” scheme — pushed by multi-billion-dollar developer FivePoint Communities and approved on a 3-to-2 vote of the Irvine City Council — to replace the long-planned Veterans Cemetery in the Great Park and rezone the property for FivePoint to begin massive office, commercial, and industrial development on the site.
Published below is our poll question as it appears online, along with the background information available for poll-takers. Also published are poll results, to date. This is followed by a sampling of the scores of comments we are receiving, so far.
An important point: The Irvine Community Poll remains open for those who have not yet had the opportunity to participate, and for those who may have additional comments to offer.
To take the online poll, click here. We will continue to update the results in the weeks ahead.
Irvine Community Poll
Replacing the Veterans Cemetery With Massive Development . . .What do YOU think?
You can still take our Poll! Remember, the Irvine Community Poll is an opportunity for YOU to let the Irvine community know how YOU feel about this important issue right now! What do YOU think?
Background: For four years, from 2013 to 2017, the City of Irvine successfully pursued establishing a Veterans Memorial Park and Cemetery on a 125-acre site within the City’s 1300-acre Great Park.
With broad public support, City leaders gained all necessary State and Federal approvals for the project, including adoption of a 333-page State Concept Plan and Design for the $78 million project. In fact, in June of 2017, the City was just 10 days away from receiving a State Budget appropriation of $30 million to immediately begin site cleanup and construction of the Veterans Cemetery in the Great Park.
Suddenly, at a “special” June 6, 2017 City Council meeting — called on just 24-hours notice at the behest of developer FivePoint Communities — three members (Mayor Donald Wagner and Councilmembers Christina Shea and Melissa Fox) of the five-member Irvine City Council voted to do the following:
Reject the $30 million in State construction funding; Abandon the Great Park Veterans Cemetery project; Transfer ownership of the property from the City to developer FivePoint; Rezone the 125-acre site so FivePoint could build 812,000 square feet of office, commercial, industrial, and manufacturing development on the site.
Councilmembers Jeff Lalloway and Lynn Schott voted against the radical property “giveaway.”
Shocked and outraged at the giveaway of our Great Park Veterans Cemetery site to developer FivePoint, thousands of citizens in the Irvine community rallied to the cause to Save the Veterans Cemetery in the Great Park — and stop the FivePoint land-grab and development scheme.
An historic citizen-led “Referendum Petition” was launched, gathering the signatures of a record-breaking 19,125 Irvine residents in just 28 days — qualifying the Referendum for the ballot on June 5, 2018 election ballot.
To take our Poll, click here.
Comments from Irvine Veterans, Veterans’ Families and Residents
- I’m both a proud U.S. Navy Veteran and a resident of the City of Irvine. The recent decision to literally give away valuable property for less valuable property to facilitate further commercial development while taking away a currently approved, El Toro military-based Veterans Cemetery [part of the Great Park] based on the pro-development attitude of the current City Council is, to me, unconscionable and outrageous. If Mayor Don Wagner and Councilmembers Christina Shea and Melissa Fox hadn’t succumbed to developer FivePoint and their self-serving scheme, construction of our Cemetery would be under way right now. These three members of the City Council should feel ashamed. They should not be trusted to act on our behalf again.
— E.R. Hilderbrand
- Having served my country in both Iraq and Afghanistan, I feel the Veterans Cemetery should remain on the old El Toro Marine base, as planned. I currently reside at the edge of the Great Park and would be honored to have those who served our great country interred as my neighbors.
— William C. Hyser
- I am a retired military member who served 30 years in the Air Force. What the City Council has done is a slap in the face to all veterans living in Orange County, and not just Irvine.
— George Gumbrecht
- My husband would like to be buried in the Veterans Cemetery, as originally planned, where he was stationed at El Toro in 1943. When he returned from overseas, we married and later bought our home in Turtle Rock in 1972, and still reside here. It is sinful what is happening. It is all political and disgraceful to our vets.
— Aggie Piampiano
- I’m a Vietnam-era veteran that would most probably be using the cemetery when my time comes. There must be some under-the-table inducements to the council members supporting the change. I would consider a recall of the three members who are thwarting the will of the people on this issue. The shift by the three “co-conspirators” smacks of some under-the-table payola from FivePoint to enrich themselves at the expense of the people of Irvine.
— Timothy Hoffmann
- The Attorney General of California should open an investigation into the circumstances regarding this land-swap and entanglements between FivePoint and the Irvine City Council.
— Arthur Strauss
- Drain the swamp in Irvine too! It’s time to restore the Veterans Cemetery to its rightful place in the Great Park. Recall Wagner, Shea and Fox. Make Irvine GREAT again!!!
— The Honorable Eddie Rose (former Laguna Niguel Councilmember)
- The Veterans Cemetery was planned for the Great Park and should remain there. FivePoint has been running a very deceptive and misleading campaign from the start. Has anyone found out why the three Councilmembers that voted for the swap did so? What did they get from FivePoint?
— John O’Connor
- This is so appalling, outrageous and atrocious. Our vets deserve much better. I’m surprised at Melissa Fox flip-flopping. I regret giving her my vote in the election. That will never happen again. Every day I am on Irvine Boulevard, Sand Canyon and Jeffrey, I dread the thought of more traffic on these streets. Count me in on the fight to help in any way I can.
— Tiffany Lewis
- I’d rather have more shops, restaurants, and things to do than a cemetery.
— JR Vigil
- I am a U.S. Army Veteran and have done hundreds of Honor Guard missions, honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. We have been looking forward to the Veterans Cemetery. I am highly disappointed that the corrupt City Council would change the plans at the last moment and think that the people wouldn’t notice. We took notice!
— Jeffrey Woo
- My grandfather was a World War II veteran and my cousin is currently a Navy man, so I know the importance of our veterans. I think that it’s outrageous for some Councilmembers to replace the land for development purposes. These men and women fought for our country and deserve recognition.
— Taylor Morales
- This decision is against the initial plans of the Great Park and against the best interests of Irvine.
— Teresita Vanderdys
- I vehemently oppose the City Council’s action to replace the Veterans Cemetery. The influence the FivePoint company has with the Mayor and the two Councilmembers is questionable. Their duty is to the residents of Irvine, not to the financial gains of FivePoint.
— Candace Mury
- Please stick with the original plan. My Uncle and his Army Air Corps buddies trained there during WWII — some of them did not come back. Even though I do not live in the City of Irvine proper, but live one mile from the City limits, this over-development will impact our quality of life as a result of increased traffic and water usage. I urge the Council to do the right thing and vote for the original plan. This would show our veterans, including me, that we honor their sacrifice to keep our American way of life and our freedom secure. Thank you for your great efforts and commitment!
— James Larsen, US Navy Veteran
Letters to the editor are welcome. Please include your name and ZIP code. Letters for publication must be addressed to Editor, 4199 Campus Drive, Suite 550, Irvine, CA 92612 or email Editor@IrvineCommunityNews.org. Letters may be edited for publication. Unpublished letters will not be acknowledged or returned.