Noise News for Week of August 23, 1998

Who Is A Reliable Source of Information for the El Toro Airport?

PUBLICATION: Los Angeles Times
DATE: August 23, 1998
SECTION: Metro; Part B; Page 9; Editorial Writers Desk
DATELINE: Los Angeles, California

The Los Angeles Times published the following four editorials regarding the proposed conversion of the El Toro Military Airbase. Two of the editorialists are residents. The two other editorialists are members of the El Toro Airport Citizens Advisory Commission (CAC).

The editorial from CAC chairperson Gary Proctor scolds the Los Angeles Times for giving credence to residents' "ridiculous" claims about noise by publishing their assertions in a previous Aug. 12 story. (That story entitled, "El Toro Jet Noise Analysis Isn't Sound, Critics Say" discussed the differences of opinion over the amount of noise residents will experience who live around the proposed El Toro airport.) CAC member, L. David Markley, submits his own editorial in which he scolds Proctor for inappropriately representing his personal views as the official position of the CAC and scorns Proctor for his desire to silence the views of El Toro critics.

The four editorials read as follows:

I almost choked on my breakfast when I read your story "El Toro Jet Noise Analysis Isn't Sound, Critics Say" (Aug. 12).

Vince Mestre, a nationally recognized acoustics expert, told the Board of Supervisors recently that most of the noise from commercial airplanes would be contained on the El Toro base.

According to Mestre, commercial airplanes will have a minimal impact on surrounding communities. In fact, most residents will be exposed to much less noise than they are now because commercial airplanes are much quieter than the military jets that currently use El Toro.

With striking graphics, Mestre also showed that El Toro has a much bigger buffer zone around it than LAX or John Wayne Airport.

What astonished me about the story is that it gave credence to ridiculous claims from a handful of South County residents brandishing Radio Shack noise meters who said their "calculations" differed from Mestre's.

Even worse, the story repeated an undocumented, outlandish assertion by a Leisure World resident that noise from a commercial airport would somehow cause numerous deaths.

Now it's one thing for citizens to stand up in a public meeting and say preposterous things. This is a free country, and that's their right.

But it's quite another for your newspaper to legitimize those inflammatory comments by repeating them. It's also wrong and misleading to equate amateurish noise "calculations" performed by laymen with those of an expert like Mestre.

I understand that the technical issues related to building the El Toro airport are complicated. But it's your job to separate the truth from the nonsense.

I have served on the Airport Commission for 15 years and I was around for the John Wayne master-planning process. I have seen these kind of outrageous claims before, made by people with absolutely no technical expertise, and they have been proven wrong again and again. It is irresponsible to give this garbage this much ink.

There are enough half-truths and myths floating around already without the Los Angeles Times making it worse. I hope that you will print this letter and at least attempt to set the record straight.



El Toro Airport

Citizens Advisory Commission

Santa Ana

I should point out that I totally support Mr. Proctor's right to editorialize his opinions as many of us do. However, I consider his letter just another example of using his position on the CAC inappropriately. You may recall that during the Measure S campaign, Mr. Proctor signed a mailer as chairman of the CAC that stated the passage of S would result in a jail being built at El Toro.

Your newspaper has done an excellent job presenting both sides of the El Toro question. Mr. Mestre's presentation to the Board of Supervisors was a prime example of what's wrong with the entire El Toro process. The conclusions drawn from his presentation should have stated that if the pilots (who have already expressed their opposition) flew the proposed flight tracks, the quietest aircraft in the fleet mix would have minimal impact to the surrounding communities. The presentation was just another example of the county taking one element of data and using it to draw all-encompassing conclusions. The frustration expressed by those quoted in your article are to be expected, and are a part of this process. Mr. Proctor's desire to silence those who are exercising their right to express their opinions is understandable given the weakness of the existing airport planning assumptions.

I hope this letter has served to set the record straight. I sincerely hope your paper will continue to provide balanced coverage of this extremely important issue allowing both sides the opportunity to be heard.



El Toro Airport

Citizens Advisory Commission

A professional acoustics expert hired for his experience and knowledge told supervisors that most noise from jet engines at the proposed El Toro airport would be contained on the El Toro base and not have a serious impact on Orange County residents. South County activists denied and dismissed the report with varying criticisms. Who is right?

Let me see. Who should I believe? An unbiased professional whose career is dependent on accurate reports or anti-airport South County residents?


Santa Ana


Lake Forest

It stated that during the election campaign in 1994, Citron's office refused to release documents in a timely manner to then-candidate John Moorlach, our current treasurer. Furthermore, Citron sent him information that Moorlach wouldn't be able to use.

Does this not sound all too familiar? Did not the El Toro Planning Reuse Authority (ETPRA) recently have to take legal action in order to force the county to release information? It is my understanding that county staff is still not forthcoming in providing the required documents to ETPRA. Why is the county purposely obstructing the planning process? Because an open and honest process will make it difficult to hide negative information affecting their airport study. The integrity of the process is therefore highly suspect. By contrast, the study ETPRA conducted on the Millennium Plan was an open process with full public participation and total access to all documentation.


Capistrano Valley

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Neighbors in Rural Florida React to Welding Business

PUBLICATION: Tampa Tribune
DATE: August 23, 1998
SECTION: Brandon, Pg. 1
BYLINE: Susan M. Green
DATELINE: Sydney, Florida

The Tampa Tribune reports that persons living in rural areas near Sydney, Florida are shocked to learn that the county can grant a rural home industry permit without a public hearing or other notice to nearby property owners.

Permit rules merely require that noise levels of home industries be no higher than those associated with the same uses and that traffic must be less than twice of what is expected from homes or farms.

According to the article neighbor Dale Davis had not been aware that rural home industry permits even existed until some neighbors down the road started up a welding business in November of 1997. Although the county revoked that particular permit on a technicality, Davis fears that county authorization of such industries could lead to authorization of other rural businesses.

"I don't want to be driving through an industrial park to get to my house," the paper said, quoting Davis. She believes that the potential authorization of businesses - without access to public hearing or notice - could destroy the pastoral, equestrian environment she sought when she purchased the 40-acre lot three years ago.

According to the article Davis' property includes a mobile home and two large horse stables. Along the same road are two other commercial stables, about eight homes, three private stables and an orange grove.

John Granger operates the welding and repair shop criticized by Davis. The article indicates that Granger leases the shop from his brother-in-law and that he hasn't heard any other complaints. His own rural home industry permit was revoked because such permits require the property owner to live on the site. The owner of the property, Robert McLeod, has 30 days to appeal.

Davis' property is just a few doors east of the welding site. She says she is concerned about excess traffic in and out of the property and the possibility of stray sparks from welding equipment igniting the hay in the barn next door.

Davis also points how she has seen 18-wheeler trucks on a nearby route that horseback riders and cyclists use to reach a large park. Davis does not believe the two uses are compatible.

Granger, on the other hand, is described in the article as willing to do anything he can to make his enterprise acceptable to neighbors. The article indicates that by his own report only a few tractor-trailers have made deliveries to his establishment and that he would be willing to go without those deliveries and pick up materials in his own vehicles. He points out that his business employs four to five persons, all of them relatives. He does not believe his business is out of place in the neighborhood.

According to the article the county's code enforcement operations manager, Don Shea, finds with Davis that the business is not compatible with surrounding land uses. The article says that Shea is concerned with the business' compliance with noise and traffic restrictions. Both are conditions for permit(s).

The permit requires that noise levels should be no higher than those associated with the same uses. Traffic must be less than twice of what is expected from homes or farms.

Shea is quoted in the article saying, "The usual noise levels are cows chewing grass. It created somewhat of an enforcement nightmare." How much traffic a typical home and farm might generate is difficult to say, the article continued, referring to Shea's comments.

According to the article information supplied by the applicant becomes the basis for issuing the permit. Manager for the Permit Services Department, Mike Allgire, said an applicant who meets the county's criteria must be issued a permit. Typically, there is no on-site inspection and there is no public hearing or notice requirement for neighbors.

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