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Briefly

November 11, 1999

-- Susan McCormack

NEWPORT BEACH -- Three seemingly frustrated pro-airport county

supervisors said this week their side is losing the battle to build an

international airport at the former El Toro air base.

But the supervisors, speaking Tuesday night to the Airport Working Group

at its annual meeting at the Balboa Bay Club, said they are determined to

fight back.

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"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,"

Smith said.

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."

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