"The tide has turned ... enough to be a bit scary," said Chuck Smith,
chairman of the board.
But, he added, "together we can win this thing ... We've got to fight
them on their own grounds."
Smith outlined several "tactics" he said the antiairport side has used to
fight the supervisors' plans for El Toro, including preventing air cargo
flights out of the base last summer and putting the Safe and Healthy
Communities Initiative on the ballot. The initiative, if passed in March,
would require two-thirds of county voters to approve additions to or the
creation of new airports, jails and hazardous waste fills.
"These are little roadblocks they've thrown in our way," Smith said.
"Their strategy has been ... let's stall as long as we can and maybe
they'll forget they want an airport."
Smith said the way to beat the initiative is to target undecided North
County voters and to stress the effects it could have on jails.
"If we can't build a new jail ... it will turn into a very unsafe and
unhealthy Orange County ... if we have to keep letting out prisoners,"
Supervisors Jim Silva and Cynthia Coad had similar sentiments.
"Whether you realize it or not, this is a war," Silva said. "We have our
hands tied behind our backs."