On June 5th, our citizen-led “NO on B” referendum campaign culminated in a resounding 63% voter mandate. Irvine voters rejected the City Council’s land-swap and development scheme and, instead, made it clear that they wanted the Mayor and City Council to immediately begin building the Veterans Cemetery in the Great Park … as originally promised, planned and approved.
Below is the timeline and path to completion for the Southern California Veterans Memorial Park & Cemetery (with links to official government documents supporting each statement we make).
Path to the Veterans Cemetery - Past/Present/Future
January 14, 2014
Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, Introduces Legislation [AB 1453]
Press Release: “Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, Chair of the Assembly Veterans Affairs Committee, introduced legislation [AB 1453] that would direct the California Department of Veteran Affairs to establish a Southern California Veterans Cemetery…to construct a state-owned and state-operated Orange County Veterans Cemetery.”
February 7, 2014
Meeting with Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva
Councilmember Larry Agran, along with Bill Cook, Harvey Liss and others meet with Sharon Quirk-Silva at her District Office in Fullerton to discuss the process for establishing a Veterans Cemetery in Orange County.
March 11, 2014
Irvine City Council Approves Initial Great Park Site
Irvine City Council Meeting: Council adopts Councilmember Larry Agran’s proposal to:
- Support AB 1453
- Express the City Council’s “strong interest” in identifying and designating a site at the Orange County Great Park for conveyance to the State for purposes of creating and operating a State Veterans Cemetery.
July 22, 2014
Irvine City Council Unanimously Approves Transfer of Site
Irvine City Council Meeting: ”Item 5.3 consideration of Councilmember Agran’s request to convey specific city property to the State for purposes of creating the Southern California Veterans Memorial Park and Cemetery” in furtherance of AB 1453, putting the City “one giant step closer to the earliest possible realization of the Southern California Veterans Memorial Park and Cemetery at the Great Park.”
Adopted unanimously was Agran’s motion (seconded by Councilmember Jeff Lalloway) resolving to convey to the State the 125-acre “ARDA Transfer Site” at the Great Park.
This meeting was attended by a large contingent of veterans organized by Bill Cook and others, who spoke movingly of their service and the need for a Veterans Cemetery at the Great Park (the former MCAS El Toro) which was described as the “perfect site.”
September 27, 2014
Gov. Jerry Brown signs AB 1453
Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 1453, establishing what would be the first veterans cemetery in Orange County on 125 acres of Irvine’s Great Park, also appropriated $500,000 for the State Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) to complete preliminary design work and directed CalVet to seek federal funds to help cover the cost of construction.
June 17, 2016
Concept Plan for the Southern California Veterans Cemetery is released
Concept Plan for the Southern California Veterans Cemetery is released by the State’s Department of General Services, a 333-page report covering site design, plantings, grading, site demolition, hazardous materials removal, roadway systems, architecture, building program, soil boring logs, and cost estimate (totaling about $78 million).
August 16, 2016
FivePoint’s Consultant/Lobbyist Gives $50,000.00 to California Democratic Party
From California Secretary of State Campaign Finance Database:
September 13, 2016
FivePoint’s Consultant/Lobbyist Gives $40,000.00 To Republican Party of Orange County
From California Secretary of State Campaign Finance Database:
April 4, 2017
Land-Swap Deal Introduced at City Council Meeting
Irvine City Council meeting: Motion made by Councilmember Lalloway, to: “Authorize and direct the City Manager to take all necessary steps in cooperation with Cal Vet,and the U.S. Veterans Administration, to accelerate the processing and final approvals for expedited construction of the Southern California Veterans Memorial Park and Cemetery on Veterans Cemetery Facts Supported by Documents… the State and City designated 125-acre parcel of land known as the ARDA Transfer Site within the Great Park, with the goal of commencing memorial park and cemetery operations on or before Veterans Day 2019.
The City Manager is further directed to: … Convey to the Governor’s office and the California Veterans Administration, … (…and the U.S. Veterans Administration), the City’s offer to guarantee local funding of up to $40 million from Account 180 at the Great Park toward completion of design, demolition, grading and construction in order to commence operation of the Veterans Memorial Park and Cemetery within the Great Park by Veterans Day 2019.
This motion first carried 3-2, with Fox, Lalloway and Schott voting YES; then, Councilmember Fox suddenly said she made a mistake and wanted to reconsider her vote. In the reconsideration, Lalloway’s measure was replaced by one limiting the City’s contribution to $38 million; requiring that the balance of the cost — $40 million — come from the State and Federal governments; and introducing a land-swap alternative in case the State failed to appropriate the funds.
With Fox’s changed vote, this new motion passed.
May 17, 2017
Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva adds $30 Million Grant to State Budget
Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva successfully inserted into the pending 2017-2018 State budget, a $30 million grant to CalVet to commence construction of the Veterans Cemetery in the Great Park, beginning with demolition, removal of hazardous waste and site clearing.
June 6, 2017
Suspicious Council Meeting Called on 24-Hour Notice – Rejects $30 Million State Funds
City Council meeting. Even though Councilmember Melissa Fox’s requirement of State funding was met, this special meeting was called on 24-hour notice by Mayor Don Wagner and Councilmember Fox, just 10 days before the State budget was to be adopted by the Legislature.
At this June 6th meeting, on a 3-2 vote (Mayor Wagner and Councilmembers Christina Shea and Melissa Fox voting YES; and Councilmembers Jeff Lalloway and Lynn Schott voting NO) the Council rejected the $30 million in pending State funding, abandoning the Great Park Veterans Cemetery project in favor of a vaguely described land exchange with FivePoint Communities that would put the Veterans Cemetery at the “Strawberry Fields.”
July 1, 2017
Construction Cancelled for Veterans Memorial Park and Cemetery
Construction of the Southern California Veterans Memorial Park & Cemetery at the Great Park location was scheduled to begin in the summer of 2017 after the California Legislature approved the State budget.
However, since the three pro-developer Councilmembers rejected the $30 Million in state funds (during their June 6th emergency meeting), construction was cancelled.
The first phase of the Veterans Memorial Park and Cemetery at the Great Park was scheduled to be operational by Veterans Day 2019.
October 10, 2017
City Council Finalizes Vote for Land-Swap Scam: Ordinance 17-08 (Measure B)
City Council approved Ordinance 17-08 (Measure B), in concept, a transfer of ownership of the 125-acre originally designated, City-owned, Great Park Veterans Cemetery site to developer FivePoint Communities, along with a zone-change ordinance entitles FivePoint to build 812,000 square feet of office and commercial development on that Great Park property.
October 13, 2017
Irvine Veterans Launch Referendum Petition to Overturn City Council Decision
Irvine veterans, along with their families, friends and neighbors launch a Referendum Petition to overturn the October 10th ordinance and Council action. On this day, a lawsuit was filed challenging the Council action and its failure to adhere to the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
October 27, 2017
Just days after final land-swap vote, developer donates $12,000
Just 10 days after the Irvine City Council finalized the land-swap deal, StarPointe (developer FivePoint’s lobbyist), donates $12,000 to the Orange County Victory Fund, run by Democrats.
October 30, 2017
Three days later, Councilmember Melissa Fox receives $10,000
Just three days after the Orange County Victory Fund received the $12,000 donation from StarPointe (affiliated with FivePoint), $10,000 was transferred to Melissa Fox’s account.
According to the Orange County Register, the sneakiness of this transfer is that it was deposited in Melissa’s obscure Central Committee account to bypass Irvine City’s campaign donation limits!
November 9, 2017
Required Signatures Collected to Put City Council Land-Swap Decision on June Ballot
Volunteers from the Save the Veterans Cemetery Committee turn in 19,125 signatures of Irvine residents (far in excess of the 12,000 required), petitioning the City Council to reconsider and repeal its Great Park zone-change ordinance or, alternatively, put the matter on the ballot for Irvine voters in 2018.
April 6, 2018
Court Orders Irvine City Council to Re-Write Ballot Label
After three pro-developer Councilmembers submitted a deceptive ballot question (referred to as a ballot label) stating Measure B was only about building a Veterans Cemetery and nothing about the fact that Measure B would rezone the Great Park site for massive commercial development, we took them to court and won!
The OC Superior Court forced them to include the truth about Measure B.
April 6, 2018
Orange County Superior Court Ruling Validates “NO on B” Campaign Claims
The Orange County Veterans Memorial Park Foundation (funded by developer FivePoint) sued U.S. Army veteran Ed Pope and the “No on B” campaign, claiming false and misleading statements in its Ballot Argument Against Measure B and in its rebuttal to the “Yes on B” Ballot Argument. The Court ruled in Ed Pope’s favor on the following issues:
The OC Superior Court ruled the following “NO on Measure B” statements (in bold) that will appear in the Voter Information Guide are VALID and TRUE [words in brackets provide context]:
[Passage of Measure B will result in] “massive, new office, commercial, manufacturing and industrial development and 8,000 more car/truck trips every day on Irvine Boulevard, Sand Canyon, Jeffrey, and throughout Irvine.”
“Claims that putting the Veterans Cemetery at the developer’s freeway interchange site would save taxpayers money are baseless.”
[A] “developer commitment to help fund the cemetery was not established by clear and convincing evidence.”
“The truth is that the Cemetery, at either site, will be built to the highest standards — and maintained forever by the State at absolutely no cost to the City.”
[The original site for the Veterans Cemetery, along Irvine Blvd., is] “the State-approved Veterans Cemetery alongside the Great Park”
April 25, 2018
It’s Official: Developer Bankrolling the “Yes on B” Campaign!
Although they tried to hide it as long as possible, campaign finance laws forced the “Yes on B” campaign to disclose the fact that their ONE and ONLY donor is developer FivePoint, who contributed a whopping $600,000 to start the campaign!!
On the other hand, our “No on B” filing contains 25 pages filled with hundreds of individual Irvine residents that have donated $10, $25, $50, along with a loan we took out (and are paying back) to fight FivePoint.
Everything put out by the “Yes on B” campaign is coming directly from FivePoint who will spend whatever it takes to move their 812,000 square feet of commercial development from the El Toro “Y” over to the Great Park. Even at the cost of delaying our Veterans Cemetery, which would have already been under construction for a year at the Great Park site, and was scheduled to open by Veterans Day 2019.
It’s all about the money for FivePoint! Which do you think is more valuable to them? Selling apartments and offices overlooking one of the busiest, most congested freeway interchanges in the nation or selling apartments and offices overlooking a quiet park?
Official Irvine City Finance Reporting page (under “Search by Name”, enter “valor”)
May 1, 2018
“Yes on B” Campaign Insults Irvine Veterans
The “Yes on B” campaign (which has only ONE donor – developer FivePoint) flooded Irvine streets with signs attacking the military service of any veteran who is voting “NO on Measure B” claiming they aren’t “Real“ veterans.
Click on the video below to hear what Marine Combat Veteran Tom Robb thinks about FivePoint’s insulting street signs.
May 20, 2018
Even though developer FivePoint is pushing outright lies about Measure B somehow stopping development and reducing traffic, the ballot tells the truth.
Although the language is technical, you can see the ballot states that Measure B moves (relocates) planned development (almost a million square feet of development) from the El Toro “Y” (Bake Parkway) into the Great Park (Pusan and Irvine Blvd.).
NOTE: The very first section on the ballot (dealing with development) is what we had to sue the “Yes on B” campaign to include. They wanted to hide the fact that this ballot measure is tied to moving almost a million square feet of massive development from the freeway into the Great Park.
City studies estimate that the transfer of those development projects would add 10,000 cars and trucks to Irvine Blvd., Sand Canyon, and Jeffrey every day.
May 22, 2018
More & More Lies
Developer FivePoint spends half a million dollars on TV ads, social media and direct mail pieces pushing the outright lie that Measure B stops development and traffic!
Who in the world believes that a developer is spending half a million dollars promoting a ballot measure that would stop any new development in Irvine?
May 24, 2018
“Yes on B’ Receives $100,000 More from Developer FivePoint
After creating the “Yes on B” campaign with an initial investment of $600,000 in April, developer FivePoint donated another $100,000 in May.
The latest campaign disclosure shows more than half a million dollars has been spent in the last month on mass media advertising (TV, social media, and direct mailers), pushing the false statement that Measure B somehow stops development and reduces traffic.
To review their campaign disclosure form, click here.
June 5, 2018
June 5th Election
On June 5th, 63% of Irvine voters REJECTED Measure B by Voting NO!
A NO vote NEGATED the October 10th City Council ordinance that “swapped” the 125-acre site in the Great Park with FivePoint’s strawberry field at the El Toro “Y”.
The developer keeps their crappy property next to the El Toro “Y” and veterans get to keep their property at the Great Park for the Veterans Memorial Park and Cemetery.
A NO vote also NEGATED the rezoning of the Great Park site for FivePoint’s 812,000 square feet of commercial development.
The almost 10,000 cars and trucks resulting from the developers building plans will stay at the El Toro “Y” instead of being dumped onto our city streets.
A No vote KEEPS the Veterans Memorial Park and Cemetery at the Great Park where it was originally approved by CalVet and the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, and fully funded!
Contrary to what the opposition says, there WILL be a Veterans Memorial Park and Cemetery. After being cancelled by the developer and their City Council cronies, the construction can be back on track within weeks of the election.
June 12, 2018
Council Members Ignore Speakers
At the first Council meeting following the June 5th election, a dozen or so Irvine residents (mostly veterans) addressed the three pro-developer Councilmembers during the Public Comments portion of the meeting to discuss the issue of the Great Park Veterans Cemetery.
Ironically, as the veterans asked the Council to listen to the voters, the Council completely ignored them, staring at their phones and texting the entire time they spoke.
If Irvine residents take the time to attend a Council meeting, our City leaders should respect their constituents enough to pay attention and listen.
July 10, 2018
Council Shocks Residents: Rejects Motion to Immediately Begin Construction at the Great Park
Councilmember Jeff Lalloway introduced an agenda item, directing staff to immediately commence construction of the previously approved Veterans Cemetery in the Great Park — beginning with demolition, cleanup, and site preparation — in accordance with the approved 333-page CalVet design and Concept Plan. To read Councilmember Lalloway’s memo and agenda item, click here.
The meeting included hundreds of Irvine residents who spoke for nearly three hours in support of Councilmember lalloway’s motion.
Shamefully, Mayor Donald Wagner and Councilmembers Christina Shea and Melissa Fox ignored the voters’ mandate, rejected the motion and then passed a substitute motion that will keep the Veterans Cemetery in red tape for years to come.
The meeting ended with chants for a recall!
November 11, 2019
Original Opening Day
Today was the day the Veterans Memorial Park and Cemetery was to have opened if developer FivePoint had not interfered by convincing three City Councilmembers to stop the project, reject the $30 Million funds from the State Legislature, and give FivePoint the property at the Great Park in exchange for property FivePoint wanted to unload alongside the El Toro “Y”.
November 11, 2020
Proposed Opening Date
After defeating Measure B with 63% voting NO on B, the City Council SHOULD direct staff to immediately begin construction at the original Great Park site, the Southern California Veterans Memorial Park & Cemetery so that it can be serviceable by Veterans Day 2020.
It’s unfortunate that developer FivePoint and three pro-developer Councilmembers were able to stall the process for a full year, but with 63% voting “NO on B” vote, the Veterans Cemetery should finally be completed in the beautiful Great Park site, as previously planned, approved and funded!