Irvine Voters to Decide Whether to Keep Right to Vote on City Development Projects

By Spencer Custodio

Irvine voters will decide June 5 if they want to keep the ability to vote on city development projects after Mayor Don Wagner proposed two ballot questions, including one that would exempt developments approved by the City Council from voter approval.

“What we’re saying here is that if the council has approved a development agreement … that that is not something that can come back and be undone through a ballot measure,” Wagner said in a phone interview.

But some residents said voters should keep the right to approve or reject developments.

“We stand here in complete dismay at the second item on tonight’s agenda, which proposes a city charter amendment which completely removes any voice from the Irvine voters in the development process,” resident Karen Jaffe said at the Feb. 27 City Council meeting.

Continue reading at Voice of OC…Photo Credit: Spencer Custodio, Voice of OC

Irvine City Council adds ballot measure to counteract growth control initiative

By Tomoya Shimura

Irvine residents will weigh in on two additional ballot measures, proposed by Mayor Don Wagner, during June’s primary election.

One will ask voters whether a super-majority, or two-thirds, vote of the City Council should be required for the city to impose new taxes. Currently, the Irvine charter requires a majority vote.

The second, if adopted by voters, would “require that no city procedures or requirements delay important revenue streams from development projects which provide a fiscal benefits to Irvine residents.”

Representatives from Orange County and Irvine taxpayers associations – who Wagner said proposed these ideas to him – told the City Council at a Feb. 27 meeting the measures would protect taxpayers while securing future revenue, from development projects, for the city without having to raise taxes. The Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce also showed its support for both measures.

Continue reading at The Orange County Register…
Photo Credit: Tomoya Shimura, Orange County Register/SCNG

Newport council to consider possible probe of Peotter recall petitions

By Hillary Davis

The Newport Beach City Council may vote Tuesday on whether to move ahead with a suggested probe of possibly fraudulent signature-gathering in the recent unsuccessful recall effort against Councilman Scott Peotter.

A city-led investigation is allowed under a section of the city charter that gives members of the council the power to subpoena witnesses and question them under oath “in any investigation or proceeding pending before the City Council.”

In this case, the investigation would be to follow up on the possibility, raised publicly by recall organizers, that paid petition circulators retained last year by the Committee to Recall Scott Peotter forged signatures.

Continue reading at Los Angeles Times…

Irvine is ranked the No. 1 city in the nation for good fiscal health, report says

By Teri Sforza

Of the nation’s 75 most populous cities, two of the top three – in terms of fiscal health – are Irvine and Stockton, suggesting the power of both beige and bankruptcy, according to data from the nonprofit Truth in Accounting. Fresno is the third city showing decent fiscal health.

But all of California’s other big cities are “sinkholes,” according to the report. That means they’re in the red, with what they owe eclipsing what they have, thanks largely to unfunded pension and retiree health care promises, the report said.

Schoolmarm-like, with ruler in hand, Truth In Accounting doled out letter grades based on the “Taxpayer Burden” per household. All three surplus cities earned “B” grades. Earning “C’s” were those with “burdens” of less than $4,900 per household, including Long Beach ($1,500), Riverside ($2,600) and Santa Ana ($3,400).

Continue reading at The Orange County Register…
Photo Credit: David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG

Former Irvine Mayor Larry Agran files lawsuit to stop veterans cemetery land swap

By Tomoya Shimura

Former Mayor Larry Agran and two other residents have sued the city in their latest effort to overturn a decision on where to build Orange County’s first military veterans cemetery.

Agran and the other plaintiffs argue the City Council’s change of mind to put the proposed cemetery near the I-405/I-5 interchange, instead of city-owned property just north of the Orange County Great Park, “benefits wealthy developers at the significant expense of the people of Irvine, California, veterans and the environment,” according to a lawsuit filed Thursday, Nov. 9 in Orange County Superior Court.

They also claim Irvine didn’t take proper steps when the City Council approved an agreement to swap the originally proposed site with the freeway property owned by developer FivePoint. They are asking the court to nullify the agreement.

Continue reading at the Orange County Register…
Photo Credit: Michael Ares, Contributing Photographer

Irvine City Council Votes to Sue County Over Big Commercial Development Near Great Park

By Nick Gerda and Spencer Custodio

The Irvine City Council unanimously voted Tuesday night to sue the County of Orange over a huge development plan on 108 acres south of the Great Park, hours after the Board of Supervisors moved forward with the project.

“They’re going with an ill-conceived project and we’re not going to let it go without a challenge because it’s not consistent with what we want to do,” Mayor Don Wagner said in a Tuesday night phone interview. “We got lots of problems.”

The massive project would create up to one million square feet of office space, 2,100 homes, 200,000 square feet of retail space, and a 242-room hotel.

Councilman Jeff Lalloway said the County is violating an agreement created in 2003 when it transferred the Great Park land to Irvine, but kept the 108 acres south of the park. He said any housing, office or retail development was never in the agreement.

Continue reading at the Voice of OC…

Photo Credit: Voice of OC staff

Irvine to sue Orange County over its Great Park condo, retail development plan

By Jordan Graham and Tomoya Shimura

The Irvine City Council voted unanimously Tuesday, Nov. 14, to sue Orange County over its plan to develop 108 acres south of the Great Park into a large residential and commercial complex.

The city’s decision came only a few hours after the county voted to finalize its plan to build 1,998 housing units, 1 million square feet of office space, 200,000 square feet of commercial space and a 242-room hotel on land it kept when it annexed the Great Park to Irvine in 2003.

Plans for the development – which the county projects could earn it upwards of $4 billion over 75 years – have caused friction between the county and city over the past year and a half.

Irvine Mayor Don Wagner, Councilwoman Christina Shea and Councilman Jeff Lalloway all have said the project would hog road capacities and prevent the city from completing the final major piece of the Great Park, which could include an amphitheater, museums, a library, a lake and a water park.

Continue reading at the Orange County Register…

Photo Credit: Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

Orange County to finalize plan for Great Park condo, retail development as Irvine threatens lawsuit

By Jordan Graham

Orange County is set to finalize its plan to develop 108 acres just south of the Great Park into a massive commercial and residential complex – a move that could initiate a legal showdown with Irvine, where officials claim it could prevent the development of a public amphitheater, museum and other facilities.

The county has refuted the city’s assertion and is moving ahead with the project.

On Friday, the county released its final Environmental Impact Report detailing its plan to build 1,998 housing units, 1 million square feet of office space, 200,000 square feet of commercial space and a 242-room hotel on land it kept when it annexed the Great Park to Irvine in 2003. Once completed, the project could earn the county upwards of $4 billion over 75 years, giving it a new revenue stream for countywide infrastructure improvements and to help the homeless.

Continue reading at the Orange County Register…

Photo Credit: Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG

Stop the politics and build the veterans cemetery now

By The Editorial Board

Politicians will exploit anything to gain political power. That’s exactly what is happening over the veterans cemetery in Irvine. It’s despicable to use veterans as pawns and our entire community should be outraged and informed.

A misleading petition drive has been launched in the city to “Save the Veterans Cemetery.” But the cemetery doesn’t need saving; it’s just a veiled effort to derail the current cemetery plans. There is already a great space approved, the veteran community supports it and the city had a dedication for the land last Friday.

But this is all about politics and trying to win next year’s city election. Sadly, this is par for the course in Irvine where creating a political wedge issue and riding it to the election seems torn right out of the pages of former Irvine Mayor and Councilman Larry Agran’s playbook. It should come as no surprise that the pro-Agran Irvine Community News and Views publication supports the referendum. Agran even wrote a column in its pages supporting it.

Continue reading at the Orange County Register…
Photo Credit: Michael Ares, Contributing Photographer

Veterans cemetery clash leads to arrest when Irvine Councilwoman Melissa Fox claims assault

By Tomoya Shimura

A 28-year-old Colorado man was placed under citizen’s arrest on suspicion of hitting Irvine Councilwoman Melissa Fox with a political sign she was carrying to oppose signature gathering intended to overturn the city’s decision on where to put a military veterans cemetery.

The incident happened around 1:50 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 29, at the Alton Square shopping center at Alton Parkway and Jeffrey Road, Irvine police spokeswoman Kim Mohr said.

Fox told the Register Monday that she was at the center asking people not to sign a petition. Some residents have recently started to hold a referendum on Irvine’s decision to put a state-run veterans cemetery on 125 acres near the I-5/I-405 interchange. Supporters of the Save the Veterans Cemetery campaign want the city to stick to its original plan and build it on a piece of land north of the Orange County Great Park. (Click here to read the Register’s article about the Save the Veterans Cemetery campaign.)

Continue reading at The Orange Country Register…
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