By 2002, opponents of an international airport in Orange County, to be built on the abandoned Marine base at El Toro, had already tried and failed to get voters to kill it. So they put a new measure on that year's ballot, called measure W, that basically read:
Wouldn't it be cool to have a park right here in Orange County just like Central Park, with lakes and merry-go-rounds, and, like, about a million soccer fields, and places to go hiking, and everything? There'll be hot dogs and cotton candy, and you can ride your skateboard and take your kids there, and no one will ever be sad ever again, instead of an icky old airport?
They even printed posters showing happy people walking through the woods in, evidently, the Sierra Nevada. The measure passed with 54% of the vote. I would've voted for it, but the then-chairman of the Nixon foundation, George Argyros, the airport's biggest booster, was standing in the voting booth behind me.
The problem was that there was no evidence that a "Great Park" was warranted or achievable. No feasibility studies, no nothing. It was a deft if cynical campaign slogan (aren't they all?), and it worked. Now OC Weekly is complaining that there's no Great Park and that politicians and their cronies are getting rich off the fantasy. "I'm shocked," Capt. Renault said. "Shocked!"