Vote "Yes on B" on June 5th, so we can break ground on the Orange County veterans cemetery immediately at a pristine location that has already been approved by local, state, and federal governments. We need to respect and honor our veterans by keeping our promise to them and building the cemetery.

FAQ

Why do Measure B opponents argue that voting “No” on the June 5 ballot measure honors military veterans?

This is pure politics.

The Orange County Veterans Memorial Park Foundation, a non-profit established by Veteran leaders to advocate the building of a Veterans Cemetery at the former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro are the same leaders who worked with Larry Agran in 2014 to help get a State bill passed to begin the process.

However, when the State estimated the costs to build the Cemetery at the ARDA site were over $77 million and that there were no available sources of funds to complete this difficult task, the Veterans leaders approached the developer and the Irvine City Council and inquired about another site.

Nestled on a hill, visible from two major Southern California freeways, and development ready, was a parcel with no demolition costs. This site is commonly known as the Strawberry Fields site and when the Veterans asked the developer if they would consider a land exchange with the City, the developer agreed.

In 2017, after the City Staff, Transportation Commission, and Planning Commission studied the Strawberry Fields site and recommended approval, the Irvine City Council approved the land exchange allowing the City and the developer to exchange an even number of acres and keep the development rights and obligations exactly as they are now.

Unhappy that this solution to everyone’s problems was not found by him, Larry Agran embarked on a mission to create an anti-Cemetery group which he deceitfully named the “Save the Veteran’s Cemetery” Committee.  Paid signature gatherers using deceitful tactics forced a referendum of the zoning text amendment.

That vote will occur on June 5 and if the voters vote YES, the land exchange, immediate deeding of the property to the State and $10 million in construction funds from the developer, will immediately move forward.  If Measure B fails, there will be no approved Cemetery site in the State Law or City General Plan. With no funding to build at the ARDA site or approved studies, the City of Irvine MAY elect to build intense, traffic-producing uses on the site.

Who is funding the “No on B” campaign?

The No on B campaign is funded by former Councilmember Larry Agran and his “newspaper” the Irvine Community News and Views. He used the newspaper he created and controls to put more than $150,000 of money into the campaign and, in addition, he personally contributed another $150,000 for the No on B effort.  As mayor and a councilmember, Agran had control over the City Council and Great Park for more than a decade and never took a single step towards constructing a veterans cemetery.

Is either the “Strawberry Fields” site or the original ARDA site for the Veterans Cemetery located in the Orange County Great Park?

Neither site is located at the Great Park, but both were part of the former MCAS El Toro and sold by the Navy to the developer in 2005.  After the developer purchased the air base from the Navy and dedicated approximately 1,200 acres to the City of Irvine for the Great Park, the Great Park Board and City Council approved a Great Park Master Plan in 2007. The ARDA site was owned by the developer at the time of the Great Park Master Plan approval and was deeded to the City in 2010. No further steps were ever taken by the City to Master Plan the ARDA site or include it in the “Great Park.”

Opponents of Measure B claim that the passage of the referendum will add 10,000 vehicle trips to Irvine streets. True or false and why?

This is another false statement.  Measure B does not add one square foot or one more car to the road than was originally planned. When the original environmental studies for the site were conducted in 2003, the development rights were set for the City and the developer.  In 14 subsequent environmental reviews, the number of traffic trips has never changed and would not be changed by Measure B in any way.

The developer has the right to build at the Strawberry Field site.  At the ARDA site, the City of Irvine has the right to build two hotels, 250 units of residential development, and retail on that site if it is not a Cemetery.  If Measure B passes, the developer moves its rights to the ARDA site and the City gets the Strawberry Field site which it must immediately transfer to the State for a Veterans Cemetery.  Voting YES on Measure B is the only way to truly guarantee that the City won’t add more than 10,000 trips in the future. It is also the only plan which has ever had a traffic study conducted which showed there would be no traffic impacts caused by the exchange of land.

Is the Measure B referendum a vote to select a Veterans Cemetery site?

NO.  The Strawberry Field site is the ONLY site approved by the City of Irvine after conducting a traffic study and review from Irvine City Staff, several City Commissions and the Irvine City Council.  If Measure B fails, there will be NO APPROVED CEMETERY SITE in the City of Irvine.

Additionally, the State Law AB 1453, was amended in 2017 to refer to the Southern California Veterans Memorial Park at the Alton & Bake Parkway site (commonly known as the “Strawberry Fields”).  If Measure B does not pass, there will be NO APPROVED CEMETERY SITE under the State Law.

Is either cemetery site “shovel ready” to begin construction of the Veterans Cemetery?

The Strawberry Field site is the ONLY site to have conducted a City of Irvine traffic study and to got through the rigorous Irvine planning process.  It was approved by the Irvine Transportation Commission which studied the traffic, the Irvine Planning Commission, which analyzed all planning issues, and the City Council which considered these issues and more such as the appraisal showing that the Strawberry Field site is worth almost ten times as much as the ARDA site.

The ARDA site has never been studied by the Irvine City Staff, Irvine Transportation Commission or Irvine Planning Commission, nor has a traffic study conducted.  The ONLY report ever done on the site was conducted by the California Veterans Administration which found that 77 buildings would need to be demolished and it placed a price tag of $77 million on the site.

Have state officials actually approved a specific Veterans Cemetery site in Irvine?

Yes.  AB1453 names the Strawberry Field site at Alton & Bake Parkway on the former MCAS El Toro, in the City of Irvine, as the ONLY site for the Southern California Veterans Memorial Park.

Is there disagreement between city and county leaders on the Veterans Cemetery?

No, The Republican Party of Orange County and the Democratic Party of Orange County have taken the unprecedented step of both endorsing the Yes on B campaign.  Many other Veterans organizations and bipartisan members of the US Congress and California State Legislature have also endorsed Measure B.  Not one organization outside of Larry Agran’s fake newspaper have taken a position opposes Measure B.

Who is funding the “Yes on B” campaign?

The Yes on B Campaign has many supporters directly and indirectly, many of them individual veterans who have been working on getting a Veterans Cemetery built at the Great Park for over a decade.  The main effort being run by the group Honor Our Veterans is a special project of VALOR, the Veterans Alliance of Orange County.  VALOR has formed a special independent expenditure committee to support the building of the cemetery which has received funding from multiple sources.  One of them is FivePoint, the company responsible for building the majority of what currently exists at the Orange County Great Park; the Sports Park, Amphitheater, Wildlife Corridor, Bee and Bosque, hiking and running trails, two elementary schools and a High School.

VALOR’s board is made up of a diverse group of Orange County Veteran leaders from many branches of the military and many different time periods of service.  They include:

  • Robin Umberg, former U.S. Army Brigadier General
  • Nick Berardino, former U.S. Marine Corps Veteran and President of VALOR
  • Bill Cook, former U.S. Marine Corps Veteran and Chairman of the Orange County Veterans Memorial Park Foundation
  • Bobby McDonald, a U.S. Navy Veteran, President of the Black Chamber of Commerce of Orange County and winner of the 2016 Veteran Small Business Champion of the Year
  • Steven Spriggs, a U.S. Army Veteran active in The American Legion and VFW organizations
  • Jim Torres, a U.S. Army Veteran and State Senior Vice Commander of Disabled American Veterans

Didn’t the City of Irvine already approve the Strawberry Fields location as the Veterans Cemetery site? If so, why is this issue going to residents for a vote on June 5?

The City of Irvine DID approve the Strawberry Fields site as the only approved Veterans Cemetery site after conducting a traffic study and processing a zone change application through its planning department, Planning Commission, and City Council.  That zone change had a referendum filed against it by a group led by former Councilmember Larry Agran when he and his supporters hired paid signature gatherers to obtain the signatures to force a vote on this issue which will be held on June 5. 

What happens if Measure B is not approved?

If Measure B is not approved, the State Law which authorized up to $5 million will no longer apply to any parcel in Irvine and could be lost.  The $10 million contribution from FivePoint to the construction of the Cemetery will be lost.  There will be no approved Cemetery site in Irvine under the City or State’s consideration.

Opponents of Measure B have argued that the failure of Measure B means that the old ARDA site could be immediately built as a Cemetery.  This couldn’t be farther from the truth.  In fact, the Veterans were forced to sue Agran’s team and a Judge ruled that the old site is neither approved nor construction ready and that the opponents had intentionally tried to mislead the voters.

Is there a current cemetery or approved cemetery site?

There is no current cemetery.  Paid, out-of-town signature gatherers working for the anti-Cemetery side, have told people that actual buried veterans would need to be moved.  There is not now, nor has there ever been a cemetery at the former MCAS El Toro.

Also, the original bill AB1453 which created the Southern California Veterans Cemetery process was amended to specifically state that the only site approved by the State of California is the “Alton & Bake Parkway” site commonly known as the Strawberry Fields site.