A Map of Misreading

OC politicians and their financial backers in the real-estate development community habitually lie to the public when it comes to "open space." Ask them how much land they're preserving, and the developers will typically add up acreage dedicated to roads, parking lots, toxic-waste sites, buildings, sheer cliffs—even the beach at low tide—as "undeveloped open space."

Such claims, while unreported by the local mainstream media, are nothing new. Orange County is the place where backers of an international airport at El Toro said it would "reduce" pollution, where a congressman concerned about "decency" publicly described gay sex acts, and where politicians in office for two decades call themselves champions of "term limits."

We can thank the Irvine Co.—the county's most politically potent land developer—for the most recent (and comic) distortion of reality.

In an effort to portray OC as an environmental paradise and thus sell its expensive new housing projects, the company published in July (and distributed through the local dailies) a glossy color map (figure A): OC from "The Mountains to the Sea." It depicts the old Irvine Ranch region as a sprawling wilderness park in which the only real signs of human habitation are bike trails, hiking paths, fishing lakes, campgrounds, empty roads, wildlife sanctuaries and a few athletic white people.

Those things are surely present—what white man doesn't enjoy an invigorating hike along the Laguna coast, where the only thing larger than a lifeguard tower is the massive compass floating just off Main Beach?

But there's more to this place. Much more. And as a public service, the Weekly has annotated the Irvine Co.'s map.



1. Blame the annoying roar in the skyon the 354,598 flights of commercial, private and cargo aircraft at John Wayne Airport last year.

2. Psychopaths keep placing razor blades in the sand at area playgrounds.

3. Local cops love to bully dark-skinned people, even rich ones.

4. Thanks to Caltrans' neglect, toxic runoff has poured into the Pacific Ocean from the Newport Coast/Crystal Cove area.

5. These toxins dump intoone of California's two dolphin birthing grounds.

6. Leave your doors unlocked: inmate labor works in the park.

7. Eric Bechler killed his wife in a yacht off the Newport Coast, claimed it was an accident and became the subject of a TV movie.

8. Irvine Co. owner Don Bren, a billionaire,transferred to taxpayers responsibility and thus liability for the sheer cliffs around his massive housing developments.

9. Newport Beach and Costa Mesa helicopter cops have little to do so they buzz the homes of residents all day and night.

10. More than 120 gas stations litter the map area, many of which dumped the fuel additive MTBE into the soil for more than a decade.

11. Politicians said the San Joaquin Hills toll roadwould "alleviate" traffic congestion, but it's worse than ever.

12. Home to a large number of skinheads, white supremacists and Nazi sympathizers.

13. Nearly 500,000 people livein approximately 200,000 homes in the mapped area.

14. Locals who live in the new inland communities saythey're surprised by coyote and mountain lion attacks.

15. One definitive accomplishment of the area's toll roads: carcasses from dozens of deer killed by traffic.

16. How can you put Laguna Beach on the map and not mention its gay bars?

17. In the heart of the new housing and commercial developmentknown as the Great Park sits a massive toxic waste dump.

18. Real-estate developers own OC's politicians who permit the overbuilding of cookie-cutter housing developments in areas without adequate roads.

19. When Laguna homes aren't burningthey seem to fall off cliffs.

20. Each summer, hundreds of local bar patrons moon Amtrak passengers (not to scale).

21. Newport Coast is ground zero for an earthquake zone scientists call "a geological time bomb."

 
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