Judge Says Public Vote on Airport Development is Unconstitutional

DECEMBER 1, 2000

Superior Court Judge S. James Otero ruled today that an initiative placed on the ballot by anti-airport groups is unconstitutional. The decision came in lawsuits brought by Orange County, the City of Newport Beach, and several Newport groups against Measure F. (See court decision.)

Measure F -- passed on March 7 with 67.3 percent approval -- mandates that any airport expansion, toxic dump, or large jail construction within one-half mile of homes must be submitted to the voters, and that it must receive two-thirds approval before the County proceeds.

Proponents of Measure F plan to appeal the ruling of the trial court.

Regardless of any legal interpretation, the landslide victory of Measure F at the ballot box killed the airport politically. No planes are flying, the airport is years behind schedule, and a lease between the Navy and the County provides for non-aviation uses only. Today's ruling launches a new ballot effort. One resident noted, "The airport is dead. We just have to work some more to bury it."

Bill Kogerman, Chairman of Citizens for Safe and Healthy Communities (CSHC), the official YES ON F campaign committee, announced that the organization is expanding and is ready to lead a new citizens' ballot drive "to end the airport threat, once and for all", by overturning Measure A. Judge Otero mentioned this possible remedy in his ruling.

In 1994 Measure A changed the County General Plan, zoned the property for airport use, and has provided Supervisors Smith, Silva, and Coad's justification for continuing with the unpopular airport project. Using this rationale, the three continue to defy the will of the people and press for an airport.

The same three supervisors also are defying the voters who passed a popular health care initiative, Measure H, on the November ballot. They have challenged that ballot measure in court as well.

Source: El Toro Airport Website