State asked to question local park audit

By Steven Greenhut

SACRAMENTO — One of Orange County’s longest-running feuds involves the proposed redevelopment of the old Marine Corps Air Station at El Toro. The decommissioning of the 4,700-acre base sparked a heated battle in the 1990s between proponents of an international airport — and residents who preferred a park-oriented alternative.

Preferred is a nice way of putting it. In 1994, voters OK’d an initiative that zoned this unincorporated area for an airport, triggering a “quality of life” battle that led to three more countywide voter initiatives. The base closed in 1999, and the matter seemingly was settled in 2002 when voters amended the general plan to create the “Orange County Central Park and Nature Preserve.” (It later was annexed by Irvine.)

This barely scratches the surface of the dispute, which became heated in recent weeks after several San Diego-area politicians dragged the Legislature into the matter. Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez and Sens. Ben Hueso and Marty Block were joined by Republican Assemblyman Brian Maienschein and Sen. Joel Anderson in asking for intervention by the state’s Joint Legislative Audit Committee.

It gets weird. The committee doesn’t often meddle in local matters. And San Diego legislators weren’t asking for an audit of public funds spent on a park development that has fallen short of promises. They are asking the state to audit the city’s audit.

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