“A Misuse of Taxpayer Dollars” – Lalloway Gives $1.3 Billion of Taxpayer Money for Toll Lanes on the 405

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The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) recently committed $1.3 billion of taxpayer money to a plan that will result in toll lanes on the 405 freeway.

Leading the OCTA to this toll road decision was Jeffrey Lalloway, OCTA Vice-Chairman and Irvine City Councilmember. 

stop pay tollOur own Orange County Supervisor, Todd Spitzer, said that the OCTA had “given up its leverage” and surrendered to the toll road special interests.

Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach called the OCTA decision “a misuse of taxpayer dollars.”

I agree.

Toll roads are not what Orange County voters intended when we passed the Measure M sales tax to pay for transportation improvements to alleviate traffic congestion.

The vast majority of residents along the 405 freeway vehemently oppose toll lanes – often referred to as “Lexus lanes” that are affordable only for the well-to-do.  They don’t think residents should pay upwards of $20 a day to drive the 405.

Toll roads are bad policy. Toll roads foster corruption and political patronage. They discourage needed improvements on the rest of our highway system. They’ve been financial disasters and boondoggles across the county.

And when toll roads are built with public money – $1.3 billion in public money taken from the sales tax of Measure M – they amount to double taxation.

California is rightly famous for its freeways, not tollways.

As  Irvine Assemblyman Allan Mansoor said, “This issue really boils down to trust and truth. Without Measure M, Caltrans cannot build toll lanes on the 405 . . . [The] OCTA can stop the toll lanes from going forward.”

Jeffrey Lalloway had a chance to stand up for Irvine and Orange County residents and oppose toll lanes on the 405.  Instead, he stood with big developers and special interests who want to replace our freeways with tollways.

Now it’s time to replace Jeffrey Lalloway.

Lynn Schott’s Planning Commission Decision Dooms Irvine Farmers’ Market

We were excited to report last June that Irvine, which has long has two certified farmers’ markets, was getting two more.

Now it appears that soon there will be one less.

The farmers’ market at University Town Center, which has been serving the University area and all of Irvine for nearly 20 years, is scrambling to find a new location.

The reason?

In January 2014, the Irvine Planning Commission, by a close vote of 3-2, approved the development of a drive-through fourth fast-food restaurant at the University Town Center, including the removal of 58 parking spaces.

Voting in favor of the fast-food drive-through restaurant development and the removal of the parking spaces was Jeffrey Lalloway appointee Lynn Schott, who is now seeking her own seat on the City Council.

The loss of these parking spaces is what is now causing the University Town Center farmers’ market to struggle to find another location – which will be difficult, if not impossible, to find in the area.

I hope that the farmers’ market at University Town Center finds a new location in time for a 20th anniversary celebration and continues to serve Irvine for another 20 years, but a new location may not be found.

Fast-food and fast growth.

Bad planning has bad consequences.

Important Message from Seven-Year-Old Amin, My Favorite Campaign Volunteer!

Melissa Fox, Melissa Fox for Irvine City Council, Melissa Fox Irvine, melissafoxblog, melissafoxblog.com, votemelissafox, votemelissafox.com, Irvine Commissioner Melissa Fox

Here is a message to all Irvine voters from seven-year-old Amin, my favorite campaign volunteer.

As Amin says: “I am seven-years-old. I can not vote, but YOU CAN! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote Vote!”

Listen to Amin: 

Click here to visit Melissa’s campaign website.

Listen to Melissa Fox’s Interview on KUCI’s ‘Ask a Leader’

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Here is the interview I did on October 14 with Claudia Shambaugh on the program Ask a Leader on KUCI-FM about my campaign for Irvine City Council and the future of the City of Irvine.

We discussed development and over-development, traffic congestion, infrastructure, protecting Irvine’s villages and local businesses, the Irvine Barclay Theatre, improving our bikeways and the iShuttle,  environmental issues, losing one of farmers’ markets, my Irvine Food Tours, the OCTA’s irresponsible toll road decision, and more.

I hope you’ll listen and let me know what you think!

 

Traffic Congestion Causes Irvine to Drop to 14th Place in America’s Best Places to Live

Irvine’s national standing as one of America’s best places to live has declined sharply in the last few years, from 4th place in 2008, to 6th place in 2012, and now a precipitous drop out of the Top Ten to 14th place in Money Magazine’s recent “Best Places to Live 2014.”

The problem: while Irvine still receives raves for its “more than 54 miles of bike paths and 20,000 acres of parks and preserves” as well as for our master plan, “median home prices top $650,000, and traffic can be a brute during rush hour.”

What this means is that Irvine’s terrible – and increasing – traffic congestion problem is no longer our own little secret.

The rest of the country has noticed, and is re-evaluating the desirability of living in Irvine accordingly.

In the short run, Irvine’s drop to 14th best place to live – slotted between Centennial, Colorado, and Newton, Massachusetts – will primarily impact our civic pride.

But in the middle and longer run, the decline in Irvine’s reputation because of traffic congestion – and the serious underlying problem of over-development without adequate planning – could have far more dire, and costly, consequences.

Our real estate market could be adversely affected, as well as our ability to attract companies and business that are looking for the best quality of life for their executives and employees.

Most important, Irvine’s fall to 14th place in Money Magazine’s “Best Places to Live” is the canary in the coal mine, warning us of worse to come, as the rest of the world notices our rapid over-development without proper planning or infrastructure and our increasingly over-crowded schools.

We should take heed now, while we still can, and return to the principles of planning and measured growth that not very long ago made Irvine Number One.

To do that, we’re going to have to replace the current City Council’s fast-growth majority – Mayor Steven Choi and Councilmember Jeffrey Lalloway, who have approved 10,000 new housing units in just the last two years and demonstrated that they will simply rubber stamp whatever the big developers want – with our pro-resident, slow-growth team of Mary Ann Gaido for Irvine Mayor, and Larry Agran and Melissa Fox for Irvine City Council, committed to putting residents’ quality of life ahead of big developers’ profits.

We want Irvine to be America’s “Best Place to Live” now and in the future, not just in the past.

Saving the Irvine Barclay Theatre is Up to You

One of the first things that Mayor Steven Choi and Councilmember Jeffrey Lalloway did when they captured the majority on the Irvine City Council was attempt to slash the City’s funding for the Irvine Barclay Theatre.

Choi and Lalloway asserted that the City’s contribution to the Irvine Barclay Theatre is “wasteful spending” and proposed to cut it by more than half, from $925,000 to $425,000.

Doug Rankin, president of the Irvine Barclay, warned that if the City’s contribution to the Barclay was cut as Choi and Lalloway wanted, the impact on the Barclay would be  “Somewhere between completely adverse and catastrophic.

Diavolo Dance Theatre, Irvine Barclay Theatre, Melissa Fox, Melissa Fox for Irvine, Melissa Fox for Irvine City Council, melissajoifox, votemelissafox.com, melissafoxblog, Irvine Commissioner Melissa Fox

World Famous Diavolo Dance Theatre performing at the Irvine Barclay Theatre

Founded in 1990, the Irvine Barclay Theatre is a unique collaboration among the City of Irvine, the University of California, Irvine, and the private sector.  The Barclay has earned “a reputation for wide-ranging programming in the fields of contemporary dance, music, and theater arts . . .  The Barclay’s 750-seat Cheng Hall is now virtually in constant use.  The Irvine Barclay Theatre has gained a national reputation for its great acoustics, intimate feel, and the high quality of its production facilities. Among artists, it is a venue of choice when performing in southern California.”

Choi’s and Lalloway’s attempt to impose “catastrophic” cuts in the Barclay’s funding failed when dozens of citizens – from across the political spectrum – including former Irvine Mayor Sally Anne Sheridan, UCI Claire Trevor School of the Arts Dean Joseph Lewis, Bluestone Communities President Michael Kerr, Arts Orange County Executive Director Richard Stein, and Philharmonic Society of Orange County President Dean Corey – showed up at the City Council chambers to protest.

Republican Councilmember Christina Shea then voted with Democratic Councilmembers Beth Krom and Larry Agran to restore the Barclay’s funding – to much audience applause.

Angry over losing the vote and undeterred by the overwhelming popular sentiment in favor of restoring the Barclay’s funding, Lalloway responded by publicly insulting Councilmember Christina Shea, saying she had deceived the voters when she claimed to be ‘fiscally responsible.

China National Opera and Dance Company, Irvine Barclay Theatre, Melissa Fox, Melissa Fox for Irvine, Melissa Fox for Irvine City Council, melissajoifox, votemelissafox.com, melissafoxblog, Irvine Commissioner Melissa Fo

China National Opera and Dance Company performing this month at the Irvine Barclay Theatre

Now, the Barclay is again in danger.

If Choi and Lalloway are re-elected this November, they will again try to inflict catastrophic cuts in the City’s funding for the Barclay Theatre.

And if Tea Party candidate and Lalloway-ally Lynn Schott is elected to the City Council, she too will push to eliminate the Barclay’s funding.

The result would be, in Doug Rankin’s words, “catastrophic” for the Barclay, as well as many other City of Irvine programs.

In contrast, if I am elected to the Irvine City Council, I will ensure that the City continues to support the Irvine Barclay Theatre – where I have seen numerous wonderful performances from both UC Irvine students and touring professionals from around the globe, most recently last week’s performance of the China National Opera and Dance Drama Company – so that it continues to be Irvine’s most treasured cultural center for at least another 25 years.

The fate of the Irvine Barclay Theatre depends on who the voters elect this coming November.

Whether the Barclay survives for another 25 wonderful years – and more – is up to you.

I promise to do my part on the City Council.

But first you have to do your part on Election Day.

Join Me at Irvine’s Global Village Festival 2014!

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My favorite Irvine cultural event of the year is almost here!

This Saturday, September 27, 2014, is the Irvine Global Village Festival!

In Irvine, we are proud of saying that our City is not only among the most diverse cities in the nation, it is also the most fully integrated. There are no ethnic, linguistic, religious, or cultural enclaves in Irvine: every neighborhood reflects Irvine’s harmonious ethnic, linguistic, religious, and cultural diversity.

Commissioner Melissa Fox at Irvine Global Village Festival 2013

Commissioner Melissa Fox at Irvine Global Village Festival 2013

How diverse is Irvine?  A non-English language is spoken in a remarkable 58% of Irvine homes, with more than 70 different languages spoken in residences throughout Irvine.  Nearly 40 % of Irvine’s public school students have a primary language other than English.  Irvine is also home to more than 80 different churches, mosques, synagogues and other places of worship, serving Irvine’s wonderful cultural and religious diversity.

This year marks the 13th anniversary of the Irvine Global Village Festival – Irvine’s largest and most attended community event.  Founded in 1998 by a group of Irvine residents to help promote understanding and build harmony within Irvine’s many diverse cultures, the Global Village Festival is now Irvine’s signature event, featuring more than 100 performances on five stages; international cuisine and food from more than 50 restaurants; an international marketplace filled with unique crafts and textiles; interactive, educational and entertaining cultural displays, demonstrations, and performances; an international village just for kids; and a world religions area, providing an opportunity to explore and interact with many of the numerous faith-based organizations in the Irvine area.

Globalvillage03Among the groups whose members have been integral in organizing the Irvine Global Village Festival are the Algerian Cultural Society of Southern California, the Asian American Senior Citizen Service Center, EKTAA Indian Cultural Center, First Drops Interfaith Group, Friends of Outreach (for Irvine seniors), Hindu Swayam Sevak Sangh, Humanity United, the Irvine Chinese School, the Irvine Evergreen Chinese Senior Association, the Irvine Iranian Parents Association, the Irvine Multicultural Association, the Irvine Thai Arts & Culture, the Orange County Jewish Community Center, NEDA Iranian Senior Group, Network of Arab American Professionals, Orange County Chinese Artists Association, Orange County Veterans Employment Committee, South Coast Chinese Cultural Association, and TTIYA Foundation.

Among the performers scheduled to appear at the Irvine Global Village Festival are Benjamin Ordaz, Lan Nartthasin, Caporales San Simon, Nicholson Pipes and Drums, Adaa Dance, It’s Samba Showtime, Hato Paora, Kapa Haka, Meliza and the Jewels That Raq!, Naked Rhythm, Mexikas, Upstream, Caribbean Jems, La Sirena y Mar de Ashe, Lisa Haley and the Zyedkats, Sneha Krish, JJ & the Habibis, Hozan Murat, Galaxy Youth Ensemble, KANANEA, Ava Dance Studio, IKPA Samulnori Team, Southern Young Tigers, Calistoga Falls,
Mei-Ling Lee Chinese Dance, Sueda, Kerry and the Surftones, Kutturan Chamoru Foundation, Brian Young and the Blues Station, UK Beat, Mahoor Ensemble led by Alireza Khademi, Orange County Friendship Choir, AACCP-Orange County Dance Group, International Peace Choir, Korean Line Dancers, Lithikhaa Mageswaran, Adaa Dance Academy, South Coast Chinese Cultural Association/Irvine Chinese School, SUR Academy Irvine SANAD Foundation, Khayyam Persian School Foundation, Haven Belly Dance Collective, Yakshaloka,  Phernandho, Bolivia Internaciona, Goporum Dance, R3Play – Chinese Folk Dance, Naoki Atkins, Halau Hawaii OCUdita Academy, and Udita Academy

What an incredible array of world and American music, dance, and performance!

I’m looking forward to celebrating the many facets of Irvine’s diversity at the Global Village Festival – and I look forward to seeing you there!

Here are some important Festival details:

What: Irvine Global Village Festival

When: Saturday, September 27, 2014, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Where: Bill Barber Park, 4 Civic Center Plaza, Irvine, CA

Cost: Admission is FREE! Food tasting tickets are available for purchase at the event. Tickets are $1 each; with tasting prices ranging from 1 to 3 tickets per item. Cash, checks, MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Discover are accepted at designated ticket booth locations. Prices for sample sized items range from $1 to $3; it is recommended to purchase $10 per person. Tickets are non-refundable. For your convenience, a Schools First automatic teller machine (ATM) is located at the Irvine Civic Center, adjacent to the Irvine Police Department entrance.

Parking: There is no on-site parking at the event. While parking is not available at the event site, FREE shuttle buses will be in service to transport guests to and from the Festival’s satellite parking locations at Main and Jamboree and Woodbridge Community Park. Shuttles will be running from 7:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Disabled Person Parking will be available at the San Juan or Civic Center parking lots adjacent to Bill Barber Park. Please have the appropriate placard visible when entering the parking lot.

Bike to the Festival – that’s how I’m getting there!  By far the easiest way to get to the Festival is by bike. The City of Irvine has an extensive system of bike trails to get you to and from the event, and once inside, riders can safely and securely store their bikes at the Festival’s free Bike Valet area, hosted by the Bicycle Club of Irvine and the Orange County Bicycle Coalition. Use the City’s Interactive Bike Map to plan your trip. Enter the destination address as “4 Civic Center”. Or Click here to download the City of Irvine Bikeways Map for the Global Village.

Pets: Dogs are welcome at the Irvine Global Village Festival! However, owners must be responsible for their pets; dogs must be on leash, interact well in a large crowd and remain in the charge of a person competent to restrain them.