The City of Tustin (City) acting in its Federally designated role as the Local Reuse Authority (LRA) for former Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Tustin (now called Tustin Legacy), has taken action to remove the previously proposed Orange County Regional Park use from the Tustin Legacy Reuse Plan/Specific Plan and begin a reuse planning process for the site.
This area at Tustin Legacy, known as Reuse Parcel 18, surrounds the North Hangar and is owned by the Department of the Navy (Navy). The decision to remove the County Regional Park from the Tustin Legacy Reuse Plan/Specific Plan was due to the County’s years of inaction and a failure to build the promised Regional Park.
The City supported the County’s application in 1995 to build a Regional Park, however the County has not advanced planning or financing since then, nor has it agreed to maintain and secure the property. The lack of maintenance and security has forced the City to respond at its expense to several instances involving trespassing, vandalism, and an officer involved shooting at the property. These issues were documented in a recent Orange County Grand Jury Report “What’s Happening with the Historic Tustin Hangars?” dated June 9, 2020.
The City (acting as the LRA) has given the County numerous opportunities to commit, at a minimum, to maintaining and securing Reuse Parcel 18 while County demonstrates it has a development plan and budget to move forward on the Regional Park. In February 2021, the City (acting as the LRA) held a forum on development progress at Tustin Legacy that can be viewed here. All recipients (or future recipients) of property reported on current and future development, including the County at this meeting. The City (acting as the LRA) held a second meeting on August 11, 2021 focused solely on Reuse Parcel 18 and the proposed County Regional Park. Prior to this meeting, the County sent a letter indicating it will not accept a lease to provide maintenance and security, and that there is no County budget or identified funding source to construct the Regional Park. The County chose not to participate in the August 11 meeting and address any of these issues in a public setting. With no progress made by the County in the last 20 years and no commitment provided at or before the August 11 meeting, the City (acting as the LRA) adopted a resolution to remove the County Regional Park from the Tustin Legacy Reuse Plan/Specific Plan which begins a reuse planning process by the City (acting as the LRA) in partnership with the Navy for the property.
“The County is welcome to participate in the coming reuse planning process for any alternatives they wish to propose, but our action today is a direct result of a lack of progress on the promises made to the community from the County,” said Mayor Letitia Clark. “We have worked with the County for decades based on their plans to build their proposed Regional Park concept, but the lack of progress and security concerns on the site have forced the City to move forward on behalf of the community. There is still a long road ahead to re-plan the area, but we need to move on, secure the site, and begin planning new uses that can be implemented which will benefit residents and visitors to Tustin Legacy, worthy of what the community deserves.”
Now that the City (acting as the LRA) has removed the County Regional Park use from the Tustin Legacy Reuse Plan/Specific Plan, the City (acting as the LRA) will be undertaking a reuse planning process for new land uses at Reuse Parcel 18. The City, acting as the LRA and in partnership with the Navy, will evaluate a number of different use alternatives for the site that may include public parks as well other land uses that will be presented publicly in the future. The County will be able to participate and propose a re-imagined park or alternative uses for review, which the City (acting as the LRA) encourages the County to do. In the interim and in the best interests of the Tustin community, the City will be entering into an agreement with the Department of the Navy to maintain and secure Reuse Parcel 18 at the City’s expense.