Efforts to establish an Orange County veterans cemetery took a significant step forward Thursday when Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill authorizing studies of two potential sites in Irvine.
The governor signed a bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton, that authorizes feasibility studies of a so-called Amended and Restated Development Agreement (ARDA) site and a golf course site, which are both near the Orange County Great Park.
An effort led by former Irvine Mayor Larry Agran is gathering signatures for a ballot initiative in March that would ask voters to weigh in on the ARDA site. If that fails, Quirk-Silva’s bill would turn all of the focus on the golf course site, which is backed by the Great Park developers, who have offered $28 million for the project.
If voters choose the ARDA site then that will be where state and federal officials focus on developing the cemetery, Quirk-Silva said.
But Newsom’s action on Thursday gets the analysis going on both sites right away, the lawmaker said.
“It isn’t a matter if, it’s a matter of which site now,” Quirk-Silva said. “I’ve made statements in support of the golf site as the funding is there. It would speed up the project by at least a few years.”
Irvine City Council members recently voted 4-1 for the golf site. Quirk-Silva noted the council also recently rezoned the ARDA site for light commercial use.
The governor’s action on Thursday would seem to all but close the door on a proposed site in Anaheim Hills favored by Orange County Supervisor Don Wagner, a former mayor of Irvine. But if for some reason the project cannot get off the ground in the Irvine sites then the Anaheim Hills property is a backup, Quirk-Silva said.
“If for whatever reason that doesn’t happen (in Irvine), I would not be opposed to the Anaheim site,” Quirk-Silva said.
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