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Joan Irvine Smith shares history

October 18, 2002

Irvine Co. board in 1957, at age 24. She spent 32 of the next 34

years in litigation with the management.

She blocked the sale of the company to Mobile Oil and later, when

Donald Bren sought to buy out the shareholders, she tried to fight

that. When she lost the legal battle, she took her dissenter's

rights. The valuation of her shares was so low that she went again to

court. That lawsuit lasted from 1983 to 1990.


One of the conditions of the settlement was that Irvine Smith

would do nothing to impede Bren's developments. But she and her late

mother always called Newport Coast Drive, Donald's Road.

"I came out of the environmental closet in 1990 when Donald told

me he had no plans to develop Crystal Cove," Irvine Smith said.

Irvine Smith subsequently joined forces with Laura Davick,

president of the Alliance to Rescue Crystal Cove, putting the full

weight of the Irvine influence and resources behind the fight against

the development of the cove into a glitzy resort.

Irvine Smith is also a member of 18 conservation groups and groups

that support the restoration of El Moro Canyon at Crystal Cove State

Park. The group includes Laguna Greenbelt Inc., the Laguna Beach

Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, Village Laguna and the Laguna

Canyon Conservancy,

"We held a fund-raiser in Huntington Beach and raised $80,000 to

get Prop. 50 on the ballot," Irvine Smith said. "Prop. 50 is

important because it is unique to have the state allocate money to

this area. Most of it goes to L.A. north. We need to get the money

down here."

The conservation groups announced Oct. 9 that a letter had been

sent to Gov. Gray Davis urging him to restore public access to El

Moro Canyon, which is now occupied by trailers at El Morro Village.

"The public spent $32 million to buy the land. It is time they got

to use it," said Greenbelt President Elisabeth Brown.

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