Irvine’s Christina Shea Shows Where Her Priorities Lie; With Developers

Irvine City Council member Christina Shea

The proposal to empower Irvine tax payers to directly influence ongoing development issues that the developer-beholden Irvine City Council majority seems to rubber stamp regularly is causing fear from those who will lose influence should Irvine for Responsible Growth’s ballot measure passThe draft proposal hadn’t yet been cleared by the city clerk’s office and already there are cowardly anonymous online surveys asking dishonest and deceiving questions and attacks on the character of the proposal’s sponsors.

And it all starts with Irvine Councilmember Christina Shea.

TheLiberalOC filed a public records request on August 29, 2017 seeking: “All communications, emails, letters, notes and voice mails with the city council regarding a ballot measure from Irvine for Responsible Growth.”  The city typically has 10 days to comply and they informed this blog of an extension on September 6 that the city needed more time.  The records were sent a week ago, but not all responsive records from Council member Shea were provided — because I was made aware of the email she sent to one of the three ballot measure sponsors on August 14 lashing out at him.  That email was nowhere to be found.

The timing is important here.  The way it works is when the Mayor and City Council members are informed of a public records request, they need to review the last 30 days of their emails and notes to see if they possess responsive records.  In fact, they have to sign a statement saying they found records and forwarded them or they didn’t find records.  Shea did forward records, but not all of them.  After 30 days, the records go to a central clearing house of sorts where they can be exposed in a secondary search.

Because I filed my request two weeks after the caustic emails were sent, Shea was obligated to share it.  She did not.  The city sent me records, and I looked for her August 14 email to Joe Martinez and it wasn’t there.  Martinez has since left the group seeking to pass the measure, so Shea’s short and blistering email accusing Martinez of “working with Larry Agran” on this and it was “unbelievable” shows the measure of a city council person using her authority to bully a citizen and taxpayer.

Here is the exchange:

On Aug 14, 2017, at 10:32 PM, Christina Shea <city email address deleted> wrote:

You are working with Larry Agran?

Can’t believe this!

Sent from my iPhone


On Aug 14, 2017, at 7:35 PM, Joe Martinez <address deleted> wrote:

What do you mean. I haven’t spoken to him in years.

– Regards Joe

Joe Martinez


From: Christina Shea

Sent: Monday, August 14, 2017 7:39 PM

To: Joe Martinez

Subject: Re: Ballot initiative

He is behind this initiative, we know he is talking to folks about it.

Please take me off your business website.

Thank you,


Because for Christina Shea, Larry Agran is the monster behind everything she fights for.  In you’re a horror movie buff at all, and I’m not, Agran is the Jason to her Crystal Lake camp counselor.  He is Michael Myers on Halloween to her babysitter/protector persona. He is Pennywise the clown with a balloon to her kid in a raincoat.  The name “Larry Agran” is the dog whistle Shea and her cronies use that triggers millions of dollars in mailers that developer funded IEs send every election cycle prompting developers to find compliant candidates to support for city council.

Agran told us he’s not familiar with the new ballot proposal.  On September 18, Agran told this blog:  “I haven’t carefully read and fully analyzed the proposed initiative. And I haven’t taken a position on it,” said Agran.  “To claim I’m a proponent of an effort I know very little about is false and deceptive.  The fact opponents are willing to lie about my involvement in this measure tells you everything you need to know about the honesty and integrity of those who don’t want Irvine voters to have a voice in the future of their city.”

Karen Jaffe and Arthur Strauss, who make up the grassroots group “Irvine for Responsible Growth,” submitted to the city  that would require developers to secure voter approval on any project that adds significant traffic, 40 or more housing units, or 10,000 square feet of non-residential use which would prompt changes to the city’s general plan or changes to zoning.  It’s modeled after a similar measure that voters in Costa Mesa passed in November 2016 (and notice that measure did not stop the Los Angeles Chargers from moving into Costa Mesa for training camp).  The pair withdrew the application when Martinez dropped; the measure was then resubmitted with only the names of Jaffe and Strauss.

Last Friday, I contacted to city to ask why Shea’s email to Martinez was not part of the responsive records and that I already had a copy.  Officials got back to me almost immediately and send me the emails from a “secondary search.”  Shea’s August 14 emails were now part of that larger pool where city staff has access.  But who on this city council will hold Shea accountable for her deliberate omission or willful ignoring of the law?

The biggest tell in the records sent is what Shea did first upon being notified of the ballot measure’s intent.  She contacted developers.   She sent emails to Paul Hernandez at the Irvine Company on Monday August 14 at 7:27 PM forwarding the email from city manager Sean Joyce describing all of the details of the ballot measure.  Three minutes later, at 7:30, the same email was forwarded to Patrick Strader of Starpointe Ventures, a consultant for FivePoint.  The threatening email to Martinez was sent at 7:32; he replied three minutes later and she replied four minutes later — at 7:39 PM– that “we know” Larry Agran is behind this.  Who the hell is “we?”

There are a couple of emails where all contact information is completely redacted.

A copy was sent to Anthony Kuo on Saturday August 19; Kuo is rumored to be running for Irvine City Council again as a complete FivePoint rubber stamp.  Perhaps his time he’ll be honest about his arrest record.

Hernandez got an email from Shea on August 21 and Strader on August 22 informing them with the ballot measure’s withdrawal and refiling.  In her email to Strader, Shea commented “somebody is coaching her.”

FivePoint consultant Patrick Strader (photo courtesy of ICNV)

Here is the PDF with all the emails and as you read them, know Shea’s first response was to alert all of those who directly impact her re-election bids via Independent Expenditures. SheaEmailsToDevelopers2017.

An important ballot measure is submitted to the city for review by the city council members.  Shea’s first response isn’t to seek answers to questions that Jaffe and Strauss might be able to provide.  Her first response is to alert the developers who control this city and attack one of the citizens who lent his name to the measure.

Is Shea representing the best interests of taxpayers and residents, or the best interests of developers?


  27 comments for “Irvine’s Christina Shea Shows Where Her Priorities Lie; With Developers

  1. senior
    September 29, 2017 at 9:39 am

    Who prosecutes these types of things or are our public officials above the law? I’m confused as to what country I live in?

  2. Shea loves Haddad
    September 29, 2017 at 11:43 am

    Shea is completely corrupt and in the pocket of Emile Haddad and Five Points. And now she has infected Melissa Fox. We need to rid this city of the cancer that is Christina Shea

    • Straderville
      September 29, 2017 at 1:18 pm

      Fox is one and done. She’ll lose badly in 2020. Her pal Lauren Johnson is FivePoint’s “blue stooge”. Someone who votes for Emile no matter what

  3. Bad Mom
    September 29, 2017 at 11:46 am

    What a corrupt POS. Wagner’s not much better

  4. Eyes Wide Open
    September 29, 2017 at 12:10 pm

    I’m not quite certain but when Councilwoman Shea says “somebody is coaching her”, what I infer is Agran must be involved so “he” is the somebody coaching Karen Jaffe, the “her”, being coached?
    Wow, if you’ve ever spent 15 mins. speaking to Karen Jaffe you know how smart and articulate she is and certainly doesn’t need coaching from just about anyone. Is this the old saw of a woman couldn’t possibilty be doing well on her own? And from another woman? Sad.

  5. Alan
    September 29, 2017 at 5:43 pm

    This just shows how out of touch Christina is with the citizens of Irvine. Has nothing to do with Larry Agran. This has everything to do with people being fed up with the traffic and over development that she has been a major part of for years. She is directly responsible for the mess our City is in and she is obsessed with making it worse..

  6. September 29, 2017 at 6:27 pm

    Dear Dan,

    Your take is interesting as always. Christina Shea has oft disappointed me by making her distaste for renters clear on many occasions, notably when in 2016 council debates when she said renters should be no more than 30% of the Irvine residential population (we are about 50%).

    But I have also been sorely disappointed in my interactions with Irvine for Responsible Growth representatives. My correspondence with Karen Jaffe reveals her lack of understanding of how this ballot measure would decrease housing supply and affordability for vulnerable millenials, seniors and moderate-income workers. It disadvantages the already financially strained under the pretense of reducing traffic (it will merely increase the existing burden of 100,000+ commuters) or preventing pollution. Air and water quality have been improving in recent decades, building standards have never been more strict, and one third of Irvine land is permanently preserved open space. Sprawling outward with more freeways is also obviously worse for the environment than infill development.

    Common arguments for growth restriction are easily disproven. The haves really want it to make their own homes more valuable and schools more exclusive, at the expense of the have-nots. But the joke’s on the voter if he limits growth; with successful young people leaving for more affordable places, how will Irvine’s graying homeowners on fixed incomes repay IUSD’s 1.2 billion debts?

    Besides not comprehending basic economic issues such as supply and demand, the cost of regulation and years-long delays or special election costs, Jaffe appears totally unaware of the history of NIMBYism , density restriction, and car-required suburban layouts in Southern California as a way to fight race and class inclusion — and even more sinister, to preserve the legacy of the KKK in Orange County. When I discussed building upward and using transit and walkable mixed-use to encourage inclusion, she claimed “OC isn’t laid out that way and wasn’t meant to be. We escaped LA – don’t want it. If you do, move there” (Facebook, Sept. 18). She didn’t even recognize the term “white flight” when I asked if that’s what she meant.

    This blog purports to represent progressivism, but NIMBYism is not progressive. Character preservation and the wasteful suburban lifestyle is as backwards and conservative as can be.

    By welcoming rich athletes and shutting the door on underprivileged workers and families, Costa Mesa’s ballot initiative puts them on the wrong side of history; I hope we will not make the same elitist mistake.

    I don’t take a cent from developers or any special interests. I know right from wrong, and I recognize irresponsible public policy with racially disparate effects on both sides of the aisle. People who actually care about upward mobility have to speak out.

    • Anonymous
      September 29, 2017 at 11:43 pm

      The legacy of the KKK is the Democratic Party.

      • October 2, 2017 at 8:36 am

        and today, it belongs to Trump and the Republican party

    • October 2, 2017 at 8:44 am

      Courtney —
      This measure does not stop development; it does stop the rubber stamp developers are accustomed to getting from the city. Fully half of Irvine’s residences are rentals and Irvine is not a cheap place to live. Choosing where to live is often based on where you work, how far is a reasonable commute and what you can afford. Accountability certainly is progressivism and giving voters a stronger voice when the council seems to go to developers first over residents and voters is what Jaffe’s measure is all about.

      I’m not sure where you get this measure is “public policy with racially disparate effects” — traffic issues and out of control development affect Irvine’s very diverse population. And if you mean Costa Mesa, you’d be wrong as the new council majority there is doing more underprivileged workers and families than the previous majority ever hoped to do.

  7. Sherry and Robert Clifford
    September 29, 2017 at 9:12 pm

    Naive Orange County voters Luke me. If you thought you knew politics. You haven’t educated yourself enough.

  8. Eyes Wide Open
    September 29, 2017 at 9:37 pm

    I’m wary when arguments virtually throw the kitchen sink at someone. And a BIG kitchen sink, at that.
    Rich athletes, underprivileged workers,elitist, wateful suburban lifestyle, racial disparity, nimbyism, KKK, graying homeowners, vulnerable millenials, seniors, moderate income workers: did you leave anything out?
    I’m to believe all these “ills”will be lessened if runaway development goes unchecked?
    I don’t believe it.
    I’m suspicious that the anger that exists in the previous opinion is distorting the counter arguments of the Responsible Growth people.

  9. George P
    September 29, 2017 at 9:41 pm

    I doubt that – Karen Jaffe is Jewish and would never condone anything associated with KKK. Your reference is disgusting and horrific. Many people have left LA to escape the traffic and growth. The racist reference is highly inappropriate.

  10. Alan
    September 30, 2017 at 12:23 am

    Some day you will grow up Ms. Santos. You argue theory when the reality is quite different. I have been alive long enough to know that unchecked growth is irresponsible and is ruining our City and more of the same will just make it worse.

  11. Juliana Ortiz
    September 30, 2017 at 7:11 am

    Christina Shea and her cronies need to go!!!
    She is pulling the same lies with the Toll Road to San Clemente.
    Her and Ed Sachs and nothing more than developers mouthpieces.

  12. George P
    September 30, 2017 at 9:32 pm

    This sinister, disturbing and abhorrent racial reference crosses the line and belongs nowhere near this initiative.

    For citizens who are baffled by the $4m giveaway of 125 acres in the middle of Irvine, this initiative provides you a voice.

    For citizens who want a proper environmental impact assessments to ensure quality of life – the air we breathe- and not the justification of same based on a 2013 study (land swap), this initiative provides you an opportunity for input.

    For citizens who who are tired of sitting in traffic because of applicant funded/biased traffic studies, this initiative provides you a platform for project input.

    For citizens who want a voice for what goes into the great park, this initiative gives you that voice.

    It’s that simple.

    I would assume anyone that wants a voice into the process would support this initiative.

  13. Senior
    October 1, 2017 at 4:31 am

    Well said George P!!!!!

  14. Eyes Wide Open
    October 1, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    Thank you,George. Solid distillation of the issue and facts

  15. Ltpar
    October 2, 2017 at 11:12 am

    It appears Agranista “Boo Birds” are out in number commenting on the article by Agran mouthpiece Dan C. I won’t bore you with the truth as you would not believe it anyway. The article exposes Dan C. who clearly hates Christina Shea. I will say this however, “As with the National Elections, you liberals and lefties lost. The same applies to Irvine after a wasted 10 years of King Larry sitting on the throne and getting nothing done.” There is a new Sheriff in town and the old corrupt Agran philosophy is out the door. Get used to it.

    • senior
      October 2, 2017 at 12:23 pm

      Hi Ltpar-

      Question – can you explain how 125 acres in the middle of Irvine was devalued by half in the last 3 years when all other surrounding area tripled?


    • October 2, 2017 at 5:25 pm

      Actually Pat, the majority of Americans didn’t vote for Trump. Larry Agran got plenty done

  16. Alan
    October 2, 2017 at 4:24 pm

    Ltpar is nothing more than a mouth piece for Christina Shea. Apparently she has made things so good here that Lptar has left and does not live here anymore. I guess you couldn’t deal with the traffic.

  17. Ken McEwan
    October 3, 2017 at 4:33 am

    Christina Shea is not the only one on the city council that needs to be replaced. They seem to be puppet of Five Points and must be getting well paid by the developer. They certainly do not care about the people of Irvine. The quality of life in Irvine continues to drop as more traffic and housing density increases.

  18. October 3, 2017 at 11:57 pm

    Quality of life is dropping for whom? The presence of new renters, homeowners and students going to college is an increase in their standard of living. I’m proud to welcome them to Irvine. As a moral stance, I believe I can’t close the gates of upward mobility on people because I don’t want traffic. So instead I try to be part of the solution. Join me on the bus. I’m happy to show any neighbor how it works.

    To be clear, no one called Jaffe or any activist racist nor am I taking a partisan stance as I have no idea what her politics are. it seemed clear to me in our conversation that she didn’t understand the history of why we have a lot of low-density sprawl or why people left LA in the second half of last century, but a lack of knowledge should not be confused with racism. Voter-imposed density limits and legislated residential planning do stem from a legacy of segregation, white flight and the KKK, which you can read further about on your own. When the government desegregated schools, banks introduced redlining and citizens banded together to fight density and subtly fight the integration along with it. De facto segregation. Now that everyone has gotten used to a suburban lifestyle for many decades, the history is forgotten and the suburbanite fights density as a matter of course.

    But I’ve found it useful to become mindful of the roots of the issue in order to understand its effects. People now have grown up believing everyone needs a car and a lawn and to protect our way of life, even though lawns are environmentally devastating, sprawl discourages efficient public transit, and we’re also effectively barring the impoverished and increasingly the entry-level professional from accessing both better jobs and housing, since you can only commute so far. I’ve got first-generation students who work but still have to live in their cars because they can’t afford to rent a room. Increasingly, I also have colleagues in the same situation.

    I’m not angry, but I am disappointed; I care about the workers who make this country and this city great, and I have to stand up for individual rights, including the right to free movement and the right to contract for shelter, when the collective seems bent on depriving others of basic rights for their own comfort without really thinking about the domino effects on others. Yes, we’re experiencing growing pains. Still, freedom means we don’t close the gates or tell people they’re not welcome on our streets, in our schools, etc. That just makes the pain radiate to others. Concern for quality of life shouldn’t only be afforded to well-to-do homeowners, and urbanism is a change but not necessarily a *reduction* in quality of life.

    The question isn’t really whether you want people to vote; you know that many people will vote to fight others off from what they have rather than include everyone else in prosperity. We don’t have to look far for evidence; neighborhood segregation is as obvious today in Orange County as it was right after Mendez v. Westminster. We can also see from San Francisco and Silicon Valley how much worse the gentrification and cost of living can get when NIMBY policies are implemented. Is the voter’s opinion valuable? Absolutely. Is the voter always right or fair? No, and that’s why we have a Bill of Rights and a judiciary to intervene, when either legislatures or voters create laws that violate rights, a tyranny of the majority, whether that be extreme cronyism with developers (i.e. eminent domain, kickbacks) or extreme backlash against them (i.e. voter-approved development or moratoriums). But hopefully, we take a deeper look and a more full accounting of the evidence before it ever gets that far, so that policies aren’t about whatever makes us feel good in the moment, but evidence-based, fair and just.

    And from what I can discern, the evidence suggests new residents are contributing more than they take; they fund new infrastructure, help pay our school debts, start new businesses and make investments, contribute ideas and energy. New neighbors enrich us and make our culture and our economy stronger. In my view, we are lucky to have them here just as much as longtime residents who preserve Irvine’s historical and environmental treasures, and fortunate to have the opportunity to introduce others to this unique community.

    • Alan
      October 4, 2017 at 10:50 am

      Courtney, I must be missing something. Are you actually tying together people who want slow and responsible growth to racism and trying to keep people down? If this is the case you are trying to make you could not be further from the truth. That is a real stretch.

      • October 15, 2017 at 9:43 pm

        Hi Alan. No, I’m not calling the current day movement racist. I’m stating the policies they support have racially disparate effects, like the Drug War or Three Strikes. Policies that slow growth and reduce availability of housing increase the cost of housing, disproportionately impacting the poor and minorities. Non-grid layouts and lower-density zones that make public transit costly and inefficient also disproportionately impact the poor and minorities. The net effect of so many cities having slow growth policies is a drag on the upward mobility of millions of Californians. The people in Irvine who want to slow or stop growth are probably unaware of the racially disparate impacts and also unaware of the history of how suburbs developed in the era of desegregation. You could check out a library book or search Google Scholar to learn about how de facto segregation developed and the unintended effects of slow growth policies. But if you just need a quick overview, Adam Ruins Everything covered the history fairly well in his episode on the surburbs.

        • October 16, 2017 at 8:27 am

          Irvine is a master-planned community and I’m certain many of the issues you bring up won’t be in play here. The notion there is some sort of white flight from Irvine is inaccurate and, frankly, insulting. Do you really want Irvine to turn into another Houston TX where planning is an afterthought and zoning means little? Half of Irvine is rental apartments; the other is homes. Turn your ire towards developers who charge outrageous rents for renters and small businesses alike.

Comments are closed.