Irvine Council Votes on Cemetery

Julia Kim and Maya Sabbaghian

Amid the ongoing controversy surrounding the location of the Veteran’s Cemetery, former  Irvine Mayor Larry Agran proposed a new ballot initiative on Aug. 12 for the Veteran Cemetery to be built at the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, going against Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva’s newly-signed Assembly Bill 368 on Sept. 11, which supports the golf course site as the future home.

“I feel like this issue is something that bothers more people that think about the school from the community rather than the students themselves,” senior Nishad Francis said. “As students, we’re surrounded by a lot of nothingness [around Portola High]. There is not much here. If we have something here that gives meaning to Irvine, then that is something that should be there.”

The actions are in response to Irvine City Council’s vote on July 23 that resulted in a 4-1 decision to move the designated site of the Veteran’s Cemetery to the golf course site within the Great Park instead of the El Toro Marine Base, which sits adjacent to Portola High. 

As of now, Assembly Bill 368 authorizes “the department [of Veteran Affairs] to locate the cemetery at either a specified site in the Orange County Great Park in the City of Irvine, or at a site known as the Golf Course Site, as specified.” 

However, if Agran’s new proposal to keep the Cemetery at the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station gets 13,000 valid signatures from registered voters in Irvine, the decision will be left solely to Irvine residents on a new ballot in early 2020. 

“It’s basically left up to Irvine voters at this time. And that’s what the initiative is about,” Agran said in a phone interview with Voice of OC. 

Locally known as Measure B, the controversy surrounding selecting the home of the Veteran’s cemetery has been an ongoing debate for several years. 

The controversy surrounds the location of the Cemetery, and several sites have been considered,  from the strawberry farms to the Great Park to the Marine Corps Air Station El Toro. 

“I think this issue is very complicated,” Irvine resident Howard Lee said. “Whichever method they [the Council] choose[s], I just hope that they are efficient with it and support the opinion of residents in Irvine.”