The pro-airport propaganda machine that once filled mailers with warnings that El Toro might become a maximum-security prison has stalled. Today the best it can generate is bumper-sticker politics—derisively referring to the proposed Great Park as a "Great Pork."
"Every credible expert who's examined the city of Irvine's grandiose plans for El Toro agrees building and maintaining a park will require millions of your tax dollars!" says the official ballot argument against Measure W, which would rezone El Toro from aviation to open space, commercial, education and residential uses—thus paving the way for the Great Park.
Never mind that the most "credible expert," county auditor-controller David E. Sundstrom, CPA, determined that Measure W's development costs "are likely to be minimal and could be absorbed within existing budgetary resources."
Sundstrom's conclusion is remarkable because he works for the same county government that has been pushing the airport since 1995.
There's more irony: in truth, it's the airport that will prove a taxpayer rip-off. But don't rely on pro-airport types to tell you that. Go ask a real-estate expert.
"The impact of noise from a national or international airport on residential properties is universally negative on residential property market values under or near a heavy flight corridor," wrote licensed appraiser and Laguna Beach resident Randall Bell in a July 2001 Appraisal Journal article called "The Impact of Airport Noise on Residential Real Estate."
In the same article, Bell calculated that airports diminish nearby medium- and high-value residential property values. The impact ranges from 9.4 percent to an astonishing 29 percent. If that's not a Great Tax, what is?