There is a serious child care crisis in Irvine.
At present, nearly 2,500 Irvine families do not have adequate child care.
Recently, the City of Irvine received a Child Care Needs Assessment that it had commissioned — at my urging — from an expert private consultant.
The Assessment revealed a current city-wide shortfall of 2,433 child care spaces across all age groups, with the most acute shortage for children under 2 years-old and children 6 to 12 years-old.
The majority of the shortfall was found to be in the northern and most recently developed part of the city.
The Assessment further projected that Irvine will need an additional 4,551 child care spaces by 2035, due to the increase in housing development and the concomitant increase in the number of families with young children moving to Irvine.
What this means in plain language is that the current City Council and Planning Commission have not zoned sufficient areas of the city — in particular in the northern and most recently developed part of the city — for churches and houses of worship, instead zoning nearly everything for more profitable residential development.
Churches and other houses of worship traditionally provide a third of all child care. The Irvine City Council and the Planning Commission have approved thousands of new homes, but have not zoned sufficient areas for churches and houses of worship to meet our growing child care needs.
As a direct result of these shortsighted decisions of the City Council and Planning Commission, there are far more people and families in Irvine — and therefore more need for child care — but far less child care available.
This child care crisis is an easily foreseeable and direct consequence of the zoning and land use decisions of the current City Council and Planning Commission, which have put the short term profits of developers ahead of the longer term needs of Irvine’s families.
The problem is not that simply that we are building homes and developing Irvine, which was always intended to grow, but that we are building and developing homes out of balance with any other concerns, and with thousands more homes approved by the current City Council and Planning Commission without adequate child care, as well as without adequate school spaces, adequate local shopping, or adequate transportation choices.
And, as the Child Care Needs Assessment shows, this crisis will only get worse until we elect a City Council that puts families first and insists on a balanced approached to development .