A couple of phone calls from a Washington DC number came in to Chmielewski Manor on Sunday. My wife saw the caller ID number and said “telemarketer” and let it ring. The same number called back about 30 minutes later and I answered it; a public opinion research poll was the automated response. Normally, I get out of these things because I do communications work for a living and my wife is a journalist which negates her participation, but only a recorded message greeted me, so I wanted to see what the research poll was all about.
The automated message said it was research about Irvine’s Measure B and D. It started with B and asked if I voted. One for yes and two for No – once you selected a choice, it asked why. Because 1) you wanted the cemetery at the original location or 2) you were confused by the ballot question on how to vote 3) Irvine doesn’t want a Veteran’s Cemetery. There was another question in there I missed.
Then we moved on to Measure B — how did you vote and why. You voted no because you thought D would surrender your right to petition the city council. That big development issues ought not to be put on the ballot.
Two other questions asked if the current city council acted in the best interest of Irvine residents and whether or not the make up of the council should change to reflect Irvine’s racial and cultural diversity.
I’m told FivePoint uses automated pollster firms from the DC area, but there was no sponsor identified for this opinion poll. But it looks like the pollsters are trying to say “Irvine voters were confused and really didn’t mean to reject B and D” and “maybe the sponsor of the poll needs to back different horses for city council.”
It’s hard to swallow the notion Irvine voters were confused when 19,000 signatures were gathered in November to put this on the ballot and, as of early Monday, the No on B vote is around 63-37% which hasn’t changed that much since election night. More Irvine voters were No on B than signed the petition with 20,414 votes as of Monday morning — 8,354 voters more than Yes on B.
The question is will the city council listen to the will of the voters after this second, overwhelming message about what the voters want?
A clue exists in the June 11-17 edition of the Orange County Business Journal (you need a subscription to read it online). A front page call out to a page 3 story on the vote says ” ‘No’ vote on veterans cemetery doesn’t faze FivePoint, Haddad.”
From the story on page 3: “We’ll be fine one way or another,” he (Haddad) said at a meeting on primary election day at his company’s Aliso Viejo headquarters as Irvine voters headed out to determine the fate of a proposed veterans cemetery.
Whether backers of a different, voter preferred site the city swapped out for the strawberry fields site — which FivePoint officials argue is far more costly to convert to cemetery uses…and far less practical to develop for those uses — will find the political clout and associated funding to get the project built remains to be seen.
Haddad said he wasn’t optimistic that the politicians (editor’s note; none of the No on B leaders is an elected official) who successfully pushed for the “No on the City’s Measure B” vote would follow through with the needed efforts to get the project off the ground at the other site.
FivePoint retains the same amount of entitlements for its land, regardless of where the cemetery gets built, if it is. It (FivePoint) has the ability to build about 9,500 homes, plus commercial space on the land, which largely surrounds Orange County Great Park. To date, half the homes and lots have been sold.
“We were selling land (in Irvine) for $3 million an acre before and now we’re selling it for $5 million an acre. What does that say?”
What does that say? On land value alone, the ARDA site — undeveloped — with worth $625 million to FivePoint. The ARDA site was recently downgraded in its assessment from $9 million to $4 million with no change in the property’s status. Conservatively, the ARDA site is worth more than a $1 billion to FivePoint once fully developed. What’s a lot of dough to buy off elected officials.
Meanwhile, on social media feeds for the OC Veterans Memorial Park page, lots of bitterness from the Vets at Irvine voters.
Irvine did leave us behind …. to the 100,000+ apathetic Irvine voters your Veterans say “thank you for your service”.
$80M bond issue Irvine! You asked for it!
No on B leader Ed Pope will address the city council at Tuesday’s meeting. Council members Jeff Lalloway and Lynn Schott will agendize reinstating ARDA for the site of the cemetery at the June 26 council meeting. Anything done legislatively to do the land swap can be undone.
Governor Jerry Brown and State Rep. Sharon Quirk Silva said they’d adhere to the wishes of the city. The voters spoke with a decisive voice in defiance of the developer-backed city council majority.