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Land Swap for Vet’s Cemetery Rears Its Ugly Head Again

Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva and American Legion Chaplain Bill Cook at the Assembly Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on Tuesday April 29th, 2014

Irvine Council member Christina Shea (R-Five Points) is bringing up a proposed land swap for the Veterans Cemetery and Memorial yet again at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

What the nutshell: FivePoints CEO Emile Haddad wants to swap industrial land not worth all that much acre for acre in exchange for prime land where the cemetery has been designated that would make it easier for him to sell mega mansions to wealthy Chinese homebuyers paying cash from a Kiosk in Beiing in exchange for giving Vets a place to host the cemetery right away.  Emile wants the Vets fine bottle of wine for old and crusty raisins in his pocket — Even Stevens.

Instead of an acre for acre swap, make it a dollar for dollar swap instead.  And better still is an idea being presented by Republican council member Jeff Lalloway to have the city and state develop the initial site together.

We’ve written Bill Cook to ask for documents from various government groups who claims they are OK with the landswap only to have been met with stony silence.  Many believe Cook has been bought off in some way by Five Point, a charge he denies, but offers no proof one way or another.  Cook has turned his back on Larry Agran, Beth Krom and Sharon Quirk-Silva to embrace this unfair idea by FivePoints on a landswap that makes Haddad even richer.

But to enable the land swap on a acre-for-acre plan is bad policy.  A dollar for dollar swap would give the veteran’s millions to run the cemetery for decades.  But Emile needs to sell houses to those paying millions in cash who don’t want ghosts and goblins near their yards.

We believe Shea and Mayor Don Wagner (R-Five Point) will vote to help Haddad (they owe him afterall).  Lalloway and Schott are like to go for Lalloway’s plan.  We’re going to urge Melissa Fox to side with the Lalloway/Schott vote on this one.

Here’s a memo from Irvine Community News & Views publisher Frank Lunding on Lalloway’s idea:

To:  Irvine Citizens and Others 

From:  Franklin J. Lunding, Publisher of Irvine Community News & Views

Subject: An Urgent Alert — Key Vote for Funding of Veterans Cemetery

In a dramatic turn of events, the proposed Southern California Veterans Memorial Park and Cemetery — previously designated by the State and the City of Irvine, and approved by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to be located on 125 acres within the Great Park — is once again on the Irvine City Council agenda for a critically important vote. The Council meets this Tuesday evening, April 4th, beginning at 5 p.m.

In a bold move to expedite the Veterans Cemetery project, Irvine City Councilmember Jeff Lalloway is proposing that the City Council authorize the expenditure of up to $40 million in available Great Park development funds —  enough to fund half of the estimated costs to construct Phase One of the Veterans Memorial Park and Cemetery.  The other half — up to $40 million — is expected to come from the State of California, according to Orange County Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, who has pledged to work with her colleagues in the Legislature and Governor Jerry Brown to secure the necessary State funds.

Unfortunately, Councilmember Christina Shea, at the behest of developer FivePoint Communities, is again bringing forward an “alternative plan” — a so-called “land-swap” scheme that would hand over the 125-acre Veterans Cemetery site to FivePoint Communities, in exchange for a lesser amount of land near the Irvine Train Station.  The “catch” is that FivePoint Communities would also be expecting to receive entitlement to build 1,500 (or more) homes on the previously designated Great Park Veterans Cemetery site, adding to the overdevelopment and the traffic crisis that is worsening every day in Irvine.

This Shea-FivePoint land-grab for private developer gain would set the Veterans Cemetery back at least 3 to 5 years, delaying and ultimately defeating the years-long effort to designate a site and bring the Southern California Veterans Memorial Park and Cemetery to the Orange County Great Park, in Irvine.

Now, with the actual construction and operation of the Veterans Cemetery within reach, we can’t allow ourselves to be diverted and defeated. We can’t allow private special interests and developer greed to override the public interest and the interests of veterans and their families.

It is unclear how Irvine Councilmembers are going to vote on the Lalloway funding proposal and the Shea-FivePoint “land-swap” scheme. Let Irvine’s Mayor and Councilmembers know how you feel about this matter! Tell them to vote YES on the Lalloway funding proposal to actually expedite construction of the Veterans Cemetery (Item 4.3 on the agenda); and, tell them to vote NO on the Shea-FivePoint Communities “developer land-swap” scheme (Item 4.2 on the agenda), because it would effectively kill our Veterans Cemetery that has already been approved by the City, the State and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Here are three things you can do right now: 

  •  First, email the Mayor and Council right away at:
  •  Second, you can also call Irvine City Hall and leave a message for the Mayor and City Council:  (949) 724-6233.                  
  •  Third, plan to attend the Tuesday night (April 4) City Council meeting at Irvine City Hall, located at 1 Civic Center Plaza, corner of Harvard and Alton in Irvine. To be sure to have a seat, be there by 5:00 p.m., when the regular business meeting begins. And, when this item comes up, don’t hesitate to fill out a speaker’s slip and speak up! (You don’t have to speak, but if you do, the Mayor typically grants speakers up to 3 minutes to be heard.)


Thank you!


Franklin J. Lunding 

Publisher, Irvine Community News & Views




  1. Ltpar Ltpar April 3, 2017

    Dan, glad to see you haven’t lost your flair for the “Art of Bullshit.” Unless you served as a veteran and that is highly unlikely, you have not earned the right to criticize or condemn the Veteran’s Cemetary. Bottom line is, if the cemetery site is not relocated on Tuesday, chances are it will be dropped and never be built period. Not sure why “Bully Boy” Lalloway and his clone Lynn Schott would want to pump 40 million of taxpayer dollars into the original site, but my understanding is they have already been told don’t expect any funding from the State of California. Hell, with Jerry Brown’s high speed train to nowhere, the State is back to the brink of bankruptcy and no money to take care of the basics, like road & dam repairs, much less fund a cemetery. Frankly, It is time to do it, or get off the pot. Hopefully three Council Members will show common sense and approve the new location.

    • Dan Chmielewski Dan Chmielewski Post author | April 3, 2017

      Well Pat, since you are a veteran, I hope you’ll be buried in the cemetery on its original site. And soon.

      • Ltpar Ltpar April 3, 2017

        I seriously doubt I wll make the 40 years it will take if the original site is maintained. With the new location, I might just make it? Thank you for your concern.

  2. Todd Nicholson Todd Nicholson April 4, 2017

    Jeeeeez — does everything need to be some kind of conspiracy???? The focus needs to be on facilitating a veteran’s cemetery at the Great Park. Quit talking and positioning and get the job done!

    • Dan Chmielewski Dan Chmielewski Post author | April 4, 2017

      Not that simple Todd; the trade is a diamond for a common rock. It’s about money. Graverobbing is a crime and allowing this deal to go through on a straight square acre for square acre swap without additional tens of millions of dollars to manage the cemetery moving forward would be a crime. Haddad isn’t going this out of the goodness of his heart; he’s got unhappy Chinese homeowners furious about a nearby cemetery and he has homes to sell.

  3. Michael Macko Michael Macko April 4, 2017

    Dan’s point is clear. It is a bad business decision. I wish it was about veterans and how “Americans” honor them, but it is not. Competing cultural values are irrelevant and should be put aside. The only values to be considered by us are those that honor American sacrifice. I would like the Veterans Memorial to be where it is planned. It would be an important feature of the park… a place of beauty and honor as it should be. What I do not like about the alternate is that it is not really part of the Great Park. It would be peripheral, non-integral, out of the way. But maybe we could say the same thing about Arlington. Heck, it’s in another state across the Potomac from memorial central. No, wait, It’s fully integrated within the whole DC complex. Why, it even has it’s own bridge direct to the Lincoln memorial … a chip shot away.

    In the end an exchange could work if the memorial park was fully integrated, but the deal would have to be sweetened with a few more barrels of sugar.

    BTW, Pat, using a scare tactic suggesting it’s the exchange or nothing at all is pretty lame. Have you noticed the Brown-doggle is moving right along despite your fiscal analysis?

    • Ltpar Ltpar April 5, 2017

      Michael, Dan wouldn’t kknow a good business decision if it came up and kissed him on the lips. In case you forget, Dan thought Larry Agran’s parceling out 200 million taxpayer dollars to his BFF’s and political advisors was a good business deal. Put the political rheotric aside and ask yourself, if the alternative site is so bad, why are all the Veterans groups supporting it? Many were directly involved in the negotiation process with Five Polints and know exactly what we would be getting. Lalloway and Schott have the blindfold on when it comes to their assertations of additional entitlements. That point was made very clear indicating it would only be a transfer of existing entitlements held on the alternative site to that of the original site. No toxic clean up, no EIR concerns regarding wild animals and Community concerns regarding homes and school are resolved. Add to that, Five Points will pay for the Phase 1 Construction. If approved, construction could be underway within six months. You don’t need a Ph.D Degree to see the alternative site is a win – win for everyone concerned and the actual negotiations haven’t even happened yet. Depending on who actually negotiates with Five Points, the deal could get better. One has to wonder what is Lalloway’s real motivation for his intransigency?

      • Dan Chmielewski Dan Chmielewski Post author | April 5, 2017

        I think I know a lot more about business than you do Pat

  4. Veteran Veteran April 4, 2017

    Greg Diamond, who is self described as being “Heavily Involved”, has something to say about this.

    As usual, that bag of hot aircan’t decide what side he’s on. But for a suppossed progressive, bashes Asians.

    What a blow hard.

    • Dan Chmielewski Dan Chmielewski Post author | April 5, 2017

      I deleted a comment from Mr. Vasquez this morning that was up overnight and over the top even for him. Apologies to readers

  5. NoShea NoShea April 4, 2017

    If Melissa Fox votes for the swap, it means Haddad and Strader got to her


      I was so surprised, what the hell (forgive me) happened? Even Larry Agran was there commending Jeff, Beth, and Sharon, he mentioned that he knew Melissa would make the right choice. Then it happened, a 3 to 2 vote the Veterans Cemetery at the Great Park, Shea’s collusion with Five Points lost, then within a moment Melissa withdrew her vote, I think? It happened so fast, Shea smiling ear to ear – the Cemetery awaits another 2 months either Silva comes up with 40 million by June or Five Points and Strader win, wow I think we lost.

      • Ltpar Ltpar April 5, 2017

        Katherine, you have been a loser since the first day you happened on the scene in the City of Irvine. Melissa Fox did the smart thing with her decision. She kept both options open for consideration. If the State doesn’t come up with 40 million dollars, which they are highly unlikely to do, with only one option the Cemetery would have been dead. With two options, negotiations can be done with Five Points and a specific contract brought back to the Council for considration. You claim to be a Republican, but what kind of conservative would spend 40 million tax dollars when you can get a private sector partner to build it for you? Get your head out of that proverbial spot and understand, it is not Five Polints who wins here, it is the Veterans.

        • Alan Alan April 5, 2017

          Pat, Just help me to understand one thing that no one is talking about. Why is 5 Point doing this and what is in it for them? I know they are not doing it because they care so much for the vets. By the way since you don’t even live here anymore why do you care so much. You should see the traffic that your buddy Christina has played a huge role in creating. It is absolutely out of control.

  6. NoShea NoShea April 5, 2017

    Melissa’s vote is a huge mistake. Shane on you Melissa

  7. Shea'sTinderProfile Shea'sTinderProfile April 6, 2017

    errors in Diamond’s story are numerous. Josh Newman is from Irvine. Homes sold to Chinese had a disclosure about a cemetery but it was never read. Greg thinks there’s a case. There isn’t. Two other cemeteries close by? Where? Stick to Brea.

    • Dan Chmielewski Dan Chmielewski Post author | April 7, 2017

      I’m not sure where Josh Newman is from, but he lives in Fullerton now. He has lived in San Francisco and in Los Angeles. Greg did call him “Irvine’s Josh Newman,” because he makes mistakes like we all do. But Newman has never lived in Irvine. I have a copy, somewhere, of the FivePoint disclosure page in regards to a possible cemetery. These documents are enormous and frankly no one reads them. Sign here, sign there. Initial this. I’m aware of a cemetery in Newport Beach (Corona Del Mar) and there’s one in Westminister and Santa Ana…close but not sure about the actual mileage. I don’t think Ms. Shea is a Tinder sort of person.

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