Perhaps the most unexamined-yet-powerful man in Orange County is Emile Haddad, CEO of FivePoint Communities, the developer of Irvine’s eternally unbuilt Great Park. I remember the first time he appeared in Inside OC with Rick Reiff (which just celebrated its 500th episode—huzzah!) about a decade, when Haddad worked for Lennar, which had just bought the former El Toro Marine base. Ever since, Haddad has fiendishly turned what was long promised to OC voters as a public treasure to rival Central Park into yet another boring, orverpriced Irvine development, with homes crammed into every possible nook Haddad can convince the Irvine City Council to let him build on while continually telling the world it’s all part of his plan to make the Great Park great.
In other words, Haddad is the Lebanese Don Bren. Yet the local press—OC Weekly included—has given him only fawning coverage (in our defense, we have given him next-to-none). Even as Haddad has tried to steer a proposed veterans cemetery (the first in OC) away from near his precious homes and toward a vacant spot off the 5 freeway—away from the sacred ground of El Toro MCAS and into what’s little better than a dump where strawberries are grown—few have dared portray Haddad for what he is: a developer who cares only about the bottom line.
Until now. Weekly artist Leslie Agan drew the above piece, and offered this simple artist’s statement:
Please give our service men and women the honorable burial land they deserve!
Here, here. Haddad: what’s good?