I’m Celebrating a Special St. Patrick’s Day!

This Saturday, March 17, is very special St. Patrick’s Day for me!

Last week,  I was named a 2018 Irish Honoree by the City of Los Angeles.  The award came as a result of my help in bringing the annual Irish Fair and Music Festival to the Great Park in Irvine.

I am tremendously honored to be named an Irish Honoree.  Irish Americans have contributed enormously to our nation, and I am proud to help share and celebrate Irish culture in our Great Park.

The Irish Fair and Music Festival will be held on June 9 and 10, 2018, at the Great Park in Irvine.   It is dedicated to preserving and promoting Irish and  Irish-American culture in the Southern California area by presenting Irish music, dance, theatre, language, sports and all other aspects of the Irish heritage.

Now in its 43rd year, the Irish Fair has become a landmark for Irish and Irish American culture and family entertainment. Over 30,000 people attend the event annually. It has been described as the happiest and most fun filled event in all of Southern California.

Among the many artists appearing at the Festival at the Great Park this year are The Fenians,  The Humble Hooligans,   Craic in the Stone,  Sligo Rags,  Cillian’s Bridge,  Rory Makem, and Dónal Clancy.

The Irish Fair also features Irish Step Dancing, Irish, Scottish and British import shops and arts & craft vendors.

You can find more information, and tickets, online at BIG Irish Fair and Music Festival.

See you there!

Slán go fóill

Irvine History Happy Hour: On the Street Where You Live (How Our Irvine Streets Got Their Names)

Please join the Irvine Historical Society on Sunday, March 18 for a new “Let’s Talk History” happy hour event from 3:00 -5:00 pm.

We’ll be talking about how many of the streets in Irvine got their names. Culver, Jeffrey, Michelson — all have stories to tell!  And, as always, we welcome stories about your personal history in Irvine.

Albert Abraham Michelson

Tell us something special about the street you call your own!

The presentation begins at 3:00 pm and will be held at the Irvine Historical Society  located at 5 San Joaquin, Irvine, CA 92612

Stay afterwards for light refreshments and a chance to meet fellow local history lovers!

Admission is free but a donation of $5 per person is suggested.

You can find the Irvine Historical Society on Facebook here.

The Irvine Historical Society is located in the San Joaquin Ranch House, commissioned by James Irvine in 1868 and considered the oldest standing structure within the original boundaries of Irvine Ranch.

Built for $1,300, the home was the first wooden house to be erected between Anaheim and San Diego. A research library and extensive photo collection of local historic information are available.

Standard hours of operation are Tuesday and Sunday from 1 to 4; closed holidays. Members are free; a $1.00 donation per non-member is appreciated. One-hour walking tours of Old Town Irvine are available on the first Sunday of each month at 11:30 a.m. Free for members; $5 for non-members.

My Trip to Sacramento to Advocate for OC Cities and Affordable Housing

I recently joined other Orange County elected officials on the annual Local Government Advocacy Trip to Sacramento with the Association of California Cities — Orange County (ACC-OC), meeting with state elected officials, department directors, and executive staff to advocate for positions on bills, discuss  Orange County’s regional priorities, and represent the voice of Orange County cities.

Among the issues we discussed were building more affordable housing, increased regulation and better supervision of sober living homes, solutions for homelessness, and reforms of the sales tax.

Among the state officials and legislators that I met with were California State Controller Betty T. Yee, Board of Estimate Member Fiona Ma, Senator Jim Beall (Chair, Senate Housing Committee), Senator John Moorlach (37th Senate District, which includes portions of Orange County), Senator Steve Glazier (Senate Committee on Jobs and Economic Development), Senator Scott Weiner (Senate Housing Committee), Assemblymember David Chiu (Assembly Housing Committee), and Susan Bransen (Executive Director, California Transportation Commission).

Melissa Fox with Dirissy Doan (Orange County Assn of Realtors) and Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva (D- AD 65) in Sacramento.

Following the ACC-OC trip, I remained in Sacramento to attend the Housing California Annual Conference and to meet with legislators on behalf of the Irvine Community Land Trust, of which I am the Vice Chair.

The Irvine Community Land Trust (ICTL) was created by the City of Irvine to provide secure, high-quality affordable housing through the operation of a non-profit community land trust, securing and retaining title to land on which permanently affordable rental, ownership and special needs housing will be constructed and maintained for the benefit of income-eligible families.

The vision of the ICLT is that by the year 2025, the ICLT will have created approximately 5,000 units of permanently affordable housing in the City of Irvine, contributing more than 50 percent of the City’s 2025 goal of 9,700 affordable units. In addition, the ICLT will conduct a monitoring program and provide stewardship for these units, insuring high-quality construction, design, sustainability, maintenance and permanent affordability. ICLT will achieve self-sufficiency by ensuring that fees and other earned income are sufficient to support the organization’s ongoing operating costs.

On behalf of the Irvine Community Land Trust, I meet with Senator Janet Nguyen, Senator Ricardo Lara, Senator John Moorlach, Senator Jim Beall, Senator Bob Hertzberg, Assembly Member Steven Choi, Assembly Member Matt Harper, and Assembly Member Sharon Quirk-Silva about legislation to make it easier to build more affordable housing.

I believe we are making significant progress in creating a more supportive legislative environment for building affordable housing.  Everyone I spoke to in Sacramento — on both sides of the aisle — is keenly aware of California’s severe housing shortage and our state’s growing housing insecurity and homelessness crisis.

I was happy to work with my colleagues in both the ACC-OC and the Irvine Community Land Trust to advocate for legislative reforms that will make it easier to build affordable housing in California, and specifically in Orange County.

City of Irvine Wins Awards in Financial Reporting, Budget Reporting and Operational Budget

Congratulations to the City of Irvine’s Administrative Services Department, which this week received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA).

This is the nation’s highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting.

Irvine also received two other prestigious awards: The GFOA Distinguished Budget Presentation Award representing the City’s commitment in meeting the highest principles of governmental budgeting, and the California Society of Municipal Finance Officers Award for Excellence in Operational Budget.

In January, Irvine was rated the #1 city in the nation in regard to fiscal health, according to a recent report by Truth in Accounting, an organization that promotes clarity in public financial records.

I’m extremely proud of Irvine’s number one financial rating in the nation and its national recognition for its financial reporting by the Government Finance Officers Association.

I am also proud to have received the Orange County Taxpayers Watchdog Award for “demonstrating dedication to the protection of taxpayer funds and for the advocacy of government transparency and fiscal responsibility.”

I ran for City Council on a platform of using my skills as a business attorney to safeguard every public dollar, and I intend to keep that promise by making sure that Irvine is financially transparent and doesn’t spend more than it can afford.

These awards reflect the firm commitment that my colleagues on the Irvine City Council, our Finance Commission, our professional City staff, and I have to the taxpayers and residents of Irvine, and to the principles of government transparency and fiscal responsibility.

Join Irvine Animal Care Center’s Foster Donation Drive and Kitten & Puppy Shower!

The Irvine Animal Care Center invites the community to support its Foster Donation Drive, March 1-31.

Support puppies, kittens and young rabbits at the center by donating supplies such as formula, blankets and toys. View a complete wish list on the Irvine Animal Care Center’s Gift Registry at irvineanimals.org.

Animal-lovers can also enjoy an afternoon on the lawn “showering” the center’s new puppy and kittens with much-needed supplies at the Kitten & Puppy Shower on March 10, noon-2 p.m. Event and parking are free; donation suggested.

The Irvine Animal Care Center Foster Care Program provides shelter, supplies, food and veterinary care for animals too young to be spayed/neutered, or those recovering from medical procedures.

Foster parents provide temporary care for kittens, puppies, and baby rabbits, or animals recovering from a medical procedure, in their own homes. This includes time, energy and a quiet secure space away from any pets you may otherwise have. The Irvine Animal Care Center will provide the training, supplies, food and veterinary care. Fostering can last from a few days to several weeks.

The success of programs like Third Chance for Pets, which brings animals in from other Southern California shelters where their chances for survival are limited, relies heavily on the number of fosters the center has available. The more fosters supporting the center, the more animals it can help.

Those interested in becoming a foster pet parent can attend a Foster Volunteer Workshop on April 8, 1-4 p.m.

Registration required at yourirvine.org by Wednesday, March 28.

Click here to learn more about the Center’s adoption program and to see the dogs, cats, rabbits and other animals that are currently looking for new forever homes.

We are so fortunate to have the Irvine Animal Center in our community!  Please consider contributing and/or volunteering.  Making donations to the Irvine Animal Care Center is easy and available online.

Irvine Animal Care Center’s Hours of Operation:

Weekdays: Noon to 7:00 PM

Weekends: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Closed Tuesdays and Holidays.

Adoptions stop one hour prior to closing.

The Irvine Animal Care Center is located at 6443 Oak Canyon Road.

For more information, visit irvineanimals.org or call 949-724-7740.

Irvine Police Department Adds Safe E-Commerce Exchange Zone


The Irvine Police Department (IPD) has added an E-Commerce Exchange Zone in an effort to provide a more secure location for those conducting e-commerce transactions.

The E-Commerce Exchange Zone is located in the parking lot adjacent to the Police Department at 1 Civic Center Plaza.

The area is clearly marked and is equipped with high-definition cameras that record activity 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The video feed from the cameras can be seen in IPD’s Communications Center.

Increasingly, residents are choosing to buy and sell items online.  The Irvine Police Department offers the E-Commerce Exchange Zone as a public service to community members looking for a more secure location to exchange items in these types of transactions.  No reservation is necessary, and there is no fee to use the E-Commerce Exchange Zone.

If you have questions, call the IPD front desk at 949-724-7000.

Thanks to our professional and caring law enforcement team, Irvine is consistently named the safest city in the nation among cities with populations of over 100,000.

To learn more about Irvine Police Department programs and services, visit irvinepd.org or follow IPD on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

What I’m Listening for in the Mayor’s 2018 State of the City Address

On Tuesday, February 27, Irvine Mayor Don Wagner will present his second “State of the City” address at the City Council chambers.

Mayor Wagner and I are members of different political parties and have very different views on many state and national issues. Yet in the year that we have served together on the Irvine City Council, we have been able to work in cooperation and with mutual respect to improve the lives of the residents of our City.

We have accomplished a lot in this past year. Since last year’s State of the City, Irvine has been rated:

• No. 1 Major American City in Fiscal Strength.
• No. 1 FBI’s Safest American City. Lowest rate of violent crime among cities with a population of 250,000 or more (12th consecutive year that City of Irvine has earned the Safest City accolade).
• No. 2 Safest Big City, based on categories that go beyond violent crime rates, including motor vehicle safety.
• No. 3 Most Prosperous City.
• No. 3 Happiest Residents.
• No. 6 Least Stressed American City
• No. 8 Best Public Parks.
• No. 8 Best City to Raise a Family, based on crime rate, vehicle safety, air quality, and educational attainment.
• No. 9 Healthiest Lifestyles.
• No. 15 Best Places to Buy a Forever Home.
• One of 20 Western Dream Towns.

While I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished, much more remains to be done and problems remain to be solved. We have moved past the partisan bickering and gridlock that prevented progress for so many years, but we need to continue to work together to improve the lives of all of Irvine’s residents.

Here’s what I will be listening for in this year’s State of the City Address:

More plans to solve Irvine’s traffic and transportation problems.

Every person who ran for Mayor or City Council in 2016 – including myself and Mayor Wagner – promised to take bold and meaningful action to reduce traffic congestion.

In fact, in our first year, we have already accomplished a great deal:

• The City Council did not approve a single new entitlement for housing or offices in 2017.
• Reinstated Irvine Transportation/Traffic Commission (with my appointee, Ken Montgomery, as Chair).
• Created and filled new City of Irvine staff position of Director of Transportation.
• Curtailed traffic in and out of Concordia University.
• Approved $19 million plan to reduce traffic congestion throughout Irvine.
• Approved plan to widen University between MacArthur and Campus, adding a lane in each direction and upgrading traffic signals.
• Working with CalTrans to upgrade and improve timing on 40 traffic signals near freeway ramps.
• Moved forward the construction of a pedestrian/bicycle bridge over Jamboree at Michelson.
• Defeated proposed 1,960-unit “Travel Land” apartment complex at the 5 and Sand Canyon, based on negative impact on traffic congestion.

But more needs to be done.

Irvine still needs to increase the safe, effective, and efficient transportation choices available in the City (including public transportation, bicycle routes, and active transportation) and will need to continue to hold developers accountable for resolving traffic issues before any entitlements and building permits are issued.

I look forward to hearing more detailed and concrete plans for resolving our traffic and transportation issues, and for increasing the transportation alternatives that are needed to reduce automobile congestion in our streets. In addition, I would like to hear about working with our school board to offer transportation to students to and from school to reduce congestion in the mornings and afternoon rush.

Building the Cultural Terrace at the Great Park.

For far too long, the residents of Irvine and Orange County were given nothing but empty promises about building our Great Park on the grounds of the old El Toro Marine Base.

This year we have finally succeeded in creating a Great Park that residents can enjoy.

• We opened the temporary 12,000-seat live music FivePoint Amphitheatre while planning the permanent Great Park Amphitheatre.
• We broke ground on and will soon open a new ice skating facility in the Great Park (largest public ice skating facility in the West).
• We opened our 5,000-seat Championship Soccer Stadium and numerous other sports fields and facilities in the first phase of 194-acre Great Park Sports Park, the largest of its kind in Orange County – larger than Disneyland and Disney California Adventure combined.
• Our Great Park Sports Complex was presented with the Orange County Business Council’s Turning Red Tape into Red Carpet Award for Public-Private Partnership.
• The Great Park Championship Stadium opens its second season as the home of the Orange County Soccer Club, Orange County’s only professional soccer team.
• We reached an agreement with Wild Rivers for a new 30-acre water park in the Great Park.

This year, I will be listening for details of even more progress on the Great Park.

I will be listening for details of the opening this year of the “bosque” (tree-lined walking and biking trail area), as well as further development of the Great Park Sports Complex, including additional soccer and softball fields and a baseball stadium.

I want to hear about more specific plans and dates for the reopening of Wild Rivers. I will also be paying careful attention to the Mayor’s plans for the Cultural Terrace. I have advocated for the City Council to make commitments regarding placing museums, a library, and world-class botanical gardens so that we will have a truly Great Park.

Education and childcare.

It is time to squarely address the shortage of childcare for families in Irvine.

Nearly 2,500 Irvine families do not have adequate child care, with the most acute shortage for children under 2 years-old and children 6 to 12 years-old. Churches and other houses of worship traditionally provide a third of childcare. Our Irvine City Council and the Planning Commission must zone sufficient areas for churches and houses of worship, as well as take other steps, to meet our growing child care needs. I have been working with City staff, my Community Services Commissioner Lauren Johnson Norris, developers, childcare providers, and the business community to increase childcare through an overall city childcare development plan. I will be listening for the Mayor’s plans to help us in this important area.

Commitment to building the Veterans Cemetery and Memorial.

One of my proudest moments as an Irvine resident was when the City Council in 2014 voted unanimously to set aside 125 acres for an Orange County Veterans Cemetery. Since that time, we learned that the cost of building a veterans’ cemetery on the originally designated site would be more than $77 million – in other words, prohibitively expensive. For this reason, I support the land exchange according to which the Great Park developer will build the cemetery in another, close-by, location known as the “strawberry fields.”

This strawberry fields site, overwhelmingly preferred by veterans and all veterans’ groups, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion, saves at a minimum $77.5 million in city, state, and national tax dollars, does not require the substantial remediation and decontamination of the original site, and reduces traffic through the City. The land exchange to build the veterans cemetery is also officially supported by the Democratic and the Republican parties.

Despite this near unanimous and bipartisan recognition that the strawberry field site is the better location and that land exchange is the only way to build the veterans’ cemetery, a deceptive and cynical campaign with paid signature gatherers placed the land exchange on the ballot on June 5.  If these nay-sayers prevail, there will never be a final resting place for veterans in Orange County, and certainly not in Irvine.  A “YES” vote on the cemetery referendum means there will be a veterans cemetery.  A “NO” means our promise to Orange County veterans will be broken.

I look forward to hearing the Mayor make a clear call to all who are grateful for our veterans’ service to vote YES on the referendum on June 5.

Affordable housing and county-wide help for the homeless.

Our state has a severe housing crisis that is getting worse. Our supply of housing has not kept pace with the growth of jobs and population.  As a result, housing prices continue to rise, and rents are skyrocketing. As housing costs rise, more people are being pushed into poverty and even homelessness.

Many students in Irvine’s public schools qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. Too many of the jobs created in recent years do not pay a middle-class or even a living wage. We don’t have enough places to live, and too many people can’t afford the places that do exist.  Millennials and working families have a tough time finding places they can afford to live in our City.

Our lack of affordable and workforce housing has also been a significant cause of our traffic problems. As an economically  successful city and an expanding regional job center, Irvine is inundated by commuter traffic because so many people who work in Irvine cannot afford to live here.

I have advocated for more affordable housing and for additional municipal affordable housing requirements.  I would like to hear the Mayor say he agrees and will be offer proposals to increase affordable housing.

In addition, our local region has a severe homelessness crisis that our city, along with other cities and Orange County, must pitch in together to solve. I want to hear the Mayor commit to meaningful steps that Irvine can take now to help the homeless find both the shelter and the full range of services that they need to transition into permanent housing.

Innovative and Responsible Leadership.

I want to hear an inspiring vision for Irvine’s future as a world leader in education, smart planning, environmental awareness and responsibility and technological innovation.

This past year, Irvine has made tremendous progress in environmental awareness and responsibility. We have reinstated the Irvine Green Ribbon Environmental Commission, which I am honored to Chair.  We have received the Organic Landscape Leadership Award from Pepperdine Center for Sustainability for Irvine’s exclusive use of organic non-toxic materials in its gardens, parks, and grounds-keeping. We were named Sustainable Government of the Year for recycling and waste reduction from Sustain OC and received the 2017 Eco-Award from U.S. Green Building Council.

I want to hear the Mayor commit to continuing to ensure that all City of Irvine pest pressure is maintained organically, and that our public gardens and fields are not only beautiful, they are safe.

In addition, Irvine needs to move forward with state-of-the-art communications and smart transportation systems, as well as environmental protections for its residents and incentives for entrepreneurs and innovators.

Our great City of Irvine is blessed with the tools and resources needed to continue to be among the best cities in the world. I look forward to hearing Mayor Wagner’s vision for Irvine that continues our quest for being the best place in the world to live, work and raise a family.

The event begins with a reception at 5:00 pm, followed by the Mayor’s address at 6:00 pm.

Both the “State of the City” address and the reception are open to the public. No RSVP is necessary to attend.

The Civic Center is located at 1 Civic Center Drive. Call 949-724-6077 for more information.

I hope to see you there!