[Take the surveys below at the end of this blog post.]
The voters in Irvine recently rejected Measure B.
The issue now is what, in rejecting Measure B, did the voters really decide.
Some argue that the rejection of Measure B means that the voters said that the proposed veterans cemetery should be located at the ARDA site that was originally selected by the City Council in July 2014.
But the actual language of Measure B said nothing about the original ARDA site, except that the development previously zoned for the strawberry fields site would be moved there.
Looking at the specific language of Measure B, what the voters said No to was “allowing the previously planned development for the Bake Parkway Site to be relocated to the intersection of Pusan and Irvine Blvd and allowing the development of a veterans cemetery near the intersection of I-5 and Bake Parkway.”
Thus, by its express language, the no vote on Measure B rejects that zoning decision, but does not authorize the city to place a veterans cemetery on the ARDA site.
In addition, the City Council’s approval of the ARDA site in 2014 was based on the belief that the City would provide the land for the veterans cemetery, but the costs of construction and subsequent maintenance of the cemetery would be wholly paid by state and federal government.
Crucially, the City Council’s approval of the ARDA site also came several years before we learned that construction of the veterans cemetery at the ARDA site would cost nearly $80 million, mostly due to the need for decontamination of the soil and the decontamination and removal of numerous existing structures, and that in addition to providing the land, the City would have to bear a significant portion of these construction costs.
In particular, Measure B said nothing at all about approving the spending of tens of millions of dollars that are now earmarked for creating the features of the Great Park that residents have said they want – such as museums, botanical gardens, a new Wild Rivers Water Park, and a permanent amphitheatre for live music – and, instead, using that money for a veterans cemetery.
My belief is that the rejection of Measure B means that the voters did not want a zoning change that, as the No on B campaign said, would have allowed “massive development projects” at the ARDA site, add “812,000 square feet of development,” and “bring 10,000 more cars and trucks to Irvine streets and neighborhoods every day.”
For me, the lesson of Measure B is that the voters did not want to risk the possibility that the land exchange would lead to more development and more traffic congestion, as well as the voters believing that it was too favorable a deal for the developer.
In other words, I see the rejection of Measure B as a vote against more development and traffic congestion, and not a vote in favor of spending tens of millions of dollars on a veterans cemetery rather than building other popular features of the Great Park
I would like to know what you believe the rejection of Measure B means, especially if you were among the majority in Irvine who voted against it.
Please take the surveys below:
The City Council must now decide whether, and how, to proceed with a veterans cemetery. What do you want the City Council to do:
Please share these surveys with your Irvine friends and neighbors. I would like as much resident input as possible.
The surveys are now closed.
While the surveys are not scientific, I believe their results are straight-forward and present an accurate view of why Measure B failed.
The survey results show that the main reason people voted No on Measure B was opposition to development and traffic, rather than a desire to return the veterans cemetery to its original site.
These results should not be unexpected since the No on Measure B campaign focused almost exclusively on the claim that Measure B would lead to more development and traffic (“B = Thousands MORE Cars on THIS Road!”).
Further underscoring the conclusion that Measure B failed because of perceptions about development and traffic rather than preference for the original site, the survey results show that few residents are in favor of spending the $40 – $80 million required to build the veterans cemetery on the original site.