The Huntington Beach and Santa Ana city councils became the latest to unanimously support building a veterans cemetery in Anaheim’s Gypsum Canyon on Sept. 7.
The Huntington Beach City Council unanimously “bypassed” its own charter rules to pass the resolution on the first reading rather than reviewing it in two separate readings.
City Attorney Michael Gates said the council’s decision “sets a precedent too that other resolutions may come forward” and be passed upon first reading.
“It’s generally speaking a good idea to look at these things in the context of other ordinances and make sure there’s no conflicts. Here clearly there isn’t one; it’s fine,” Gates said during the Sept. 7 council meeting.
Huntington Beach Councilman Mike Posey, who brought the item forward as a resolution, said he intended to bring it to the council “two weeks ago, but we canceled the meeting. So there is a time of the essence element.”
“If you’ve seen where Gypsum Canyon wraps the 91 freeway, it’s a beautiful scenic peaceful spot, and it’s going to be able to be seen from both directions by travelers on the 91 freeway. There’s quite an extensive list of supporters,” Posey said during the council meeting.
Councilman Erik Peterson, the only military veteran on the council, said although it is very important for Orange County to have a veterans cemetery, he was concerned about violating the city’s charter rules.
Peterson said during the meeting that he doesn’t “have a problem” moving the item to the next council meeting to follow the city’s handbook, “but if you guys want to bypass it, that’s fine. I still think that we should really follow our rules. I mean, we ask everyone else to follow rules.”
Posey said in opposition to Peterson’s comments: “We’re going to stand in the way of a formality, and I can let the veterans know that we’re going to be taking in another two weeks to think about this.
Mayor Kim Carr interjected, “The rules in place are important, but we can make exceptions for certain special circumstances, and I can’t think of anything more important than this right now.”
Carr added that she was “comfortable with setting the [handbook aside] … for something that’s very important like this.”
“This one I feel is exceptional, especially in light of everything that’s happened over the past week. I think this is the right message,” she said.
A number of councils have already stated their support for the Gypsum Canyon location, including Anaheim, Mission Viejo, Villa Park, Tustin, Orange, Lake Forest, Laguna Niguel, Dana Point, and others.
The Orange County Board of Supervisors approved a $20 million spending plan for a veteran’s cemetery at the Gypsum Canyon site on July 27.
The cemetery was initially planned to be based at a former Marine Corps. Air Station in Irvine, but when those plans fell through after years of political controversy, the site moved to Gypsum Canyon.
Harvey Liss, volunteer executive director of Build the Great Park Veterans Cemetery, said the Irvine site is “not dead at all” and only needs city council approval to begin construction.
“Legislation is there, federal funding is still there,” Liss told The Epoch Times, adding that no such funding or legislation has been approved for the Gypsum Canyon site.
The Gypsum Canyon site will need to undergo a similar process of getting state and federal approval, a process that took Irvine’s site around two years to complete.