This Is War?

Behind-the-scenes ties between El Toro Airport supporters and the countys biggest anti-airport groups have to make you wonder

On the surface, many things have been going right for the anti-airport movement. A few weeks ago, Newport Beach Congressman Christopher Cox chided Orange County's Board of Supervisors for callously trying to force the proposed airport on unwilling residential communities; he wants the federal government to sell the old military base to the highest bidder. Volunteers—including members of TRP and Clean Air/No Jets—have reportedly collected more than 100,000 signatures to place the Safe and Healthy Communities Initiative on the March 2000 ballot. Pro-airport county CEO Jan Mittermeier and the supervisors continue to blunder in the planning process. Spurred by their sense that developers control the county's airport planning process, thousands of South County residents have opened their checkbooks and generously poured more than a million dollars into TRP's war against the airport.

Nevertheless, the extensive connections between anti-airport officials and pro-airport developers—particularly at the Headlands and Treasure Island—raise reasonable concerns about future loyalties in the fight over El Toro. TRP's track record doesn't help: the group has lost two countywide anti-airport initiative battles with Argyros in recent years. Now they're gearing up for a third. Oddly, in this weird, weird war, the businessmen running the anti-airport campaigns have proved more successful in helping Newport Beach real-estate developers crush citizen opposition to overdevelopment throughout Orange County.

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