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Critical Irvine Planning Commission Meeting Tonight

soccer at the Great Park

Irvine is the best planned city in Orange County. Sure, there are many nice cities, and lovely coastal towns, but when it comes to the combination of great planning, great schools and public safety, Irvine wins hands down. That’s why I live here.

People often ask why I support Beth Krom and Larry Agran.  My initial answer sounds like this: “They put money in my pocket.”  Did I get cash payments?  Nope.  When their efforts to defeat the El Toro airport was successful, the value of my home — all of three miles from the runway — went up.  A lot.  And I wasn’t alone.  Homes throughout South County and Irvine went up.  To say I have a significant investment in seeing Irvine thrive is an understatement.

Sadly, a lot of people in Irvine have forgotten that an international airport at El Toro was considered a done deal and some have no idea how close we came to having jets takes off and land in Irvine. Everyone’s property values went up. It was a wonderful example of what can happen when people put the public interest before special interests.

Tonight, the Irvine Planning Commission is meeting to discuss the new plan from FivePoints to try and

It’s interesting that the Planning Commission no longer seems interest in making “planning” the community priority it once was in America’s most successful planned community. Under Mayor Pro Tem and Great Park Chair Jeff Lalloway, the Great Park Corporation no longer pays attention to Ken Smith’s Master Design…something we paid millions for that everyone seemed to embrace.   The park plan was driven by vision and innovation — so much so that the U.S. Department of Energy selected the Great Park to host the prestigious Solar Decathlon — there is now a chance that a private developer’s vision will trump the public vision.

An as a far as the Solar Decathlon goes, attendance the last weekend was spectacular after word of mouth got around; attendance the first weekend was anemic at best; note to city council majority…you have to spend money on marketing.  The lack of attendance the first weekend wasa a major fail and it’s on you.

All it takes is three votes. Do they have three votes? Sure they do.  The Planning Commission and City Council who have put the public process on overdrive while the city council is making excuses for delays in the Forensic Audit.

The developers are dangling a pretty big carrot — the promise of a sports park, a golf course (is there really a shortage of golf in Irvine?) and some other features. Interestingly, I got called out by someone working for the developer because I put up a post urging the public to attend the Planning Commission meeting. Never a good sign when the developer is afraid of public involvement.  I’m still waiting for that follow up call.

While the sports park proposal is being trumpeted by a group called “Build the Great Park Now” in the pages of the Register (I don’t know who these guys are, but full page ads are expensive so somebody must be bankrolling them), no one seems to be talking about the 5,000 additional housing units they want in return and what impacts that development will bring. There’s already a lot of development going on north of the 5 freeway. Before the City Council starts approving more development, they better be prepared to lay out the details and make the case that this meets Irvine’s longterm interests.

I’d feel better about the whole bunch if they could tell me what the Harvest Cup tournament is….

What’s clear to me is there isn’t so much an interest in building the park now as there is in getting premium land cheap to build mini-mansions. There’s profit to be made and if anyone suggests that FivePoints is doing this out of the goodness of their hearts, there’s an Airport in Irvine I’d like to sell you.

As they say, “the devil’s in the details.”