Hike to OC’s Grand Canyon with Irvine Councilmember Melissa Fox!

Join me and naturalists from the Irvine Ranch Conservancy on Friday, January 26, on a hike up Agua Chinon Wash to The Sinks, with a visit to one of Irvine Ranch Conservancy’s large riparian habitat restoration projects.

This spectacular hike takes you alongside a dry creek bed in Agua Chinon Wash, the headwaters of San Diego Creek, which meanders through Irvine before eventually flowing into Newport Bay.

It begins with a flat and sometimes sandy walk through lush riparian, or creek side, habitat with periods of shady, oak woodlands. Elderberry and mulefat shrubs abound in the creek bed while the hillsides of the canyon are covered in native sage scrub.

After a couple of miles, the trail begins to climb relatively steeply out of the canyon and away from the creek bed, leading to extraordinary views of the iconic geological formation known as The Sinks.

It is sometimes called “OC’s mini-Grand Canyon.”

A rich diversity of plants and animals is found in this canyon, which is currently undergoing habitat restoration.

The hike to the Sinks involves multiple steep climbs and descents and is 6 miles round trip with a 1300′ total elevation change and a challenging hill climb on a dirt ranch road.

This hike will be done at a moderate pace of approximately 3 mph with rest breaks as needed.

Please bring plenty of water as well as everything you need to keep healthy on the trail (sun protection, medications, snacks) and please wear sturdy closed-toe shoes.

This activity originates in the City of Irvine and travels into OC Parks’ Limestone Canyon Nature Preserve. This hike is moderate to strenuous (level 3) in nature.

Pre-registration is not required in order to attend, however a waiver will be provided at the activity for you to complete at this special event.

What: Hike to OC’s Grand Canyon with Irvine Councilmember Melissa Fox!

Date: Friday, January 26, 2018

Time: 8:00 am – 11:00 am

Duration:  About 3 hours

Type: Hiking & Fitness

Organization: City of Irvine

Area: Irvine Open Space Preserve

Staging Area: Portola Staging Area (Take Portola Pkwy past Portola Springs all the way to the toll road – go across the toll road and make a left down the access road and the staging area is right there.)

Difficulty: 3

Distance: 6 miles

Elevation Change: 1300 feet

Minimum Age: 18

You can see more details about the hike (and register) on the Irvine Ranch “Let’s Go Outside” website here.

You can also see information about the hike on the Facebook event page here.

For more information, contact Allison Binder at 949-724-6226.

The Sinks is a magnificent sight to see and is located right in our own backyard!  It is accessible only via guided hikes through the Irvine Ranch Conservancy.

I hope you’ll join me!

Irvine Wins Tennis Magazine’s Parks & Rec Agency of the Year!

“Tennis is mostly mental. Of course, you must have a lot of physical skill, but you can’t play tennis well and not be a good thinker. You win or lose the match before you even go out there.” — Venus Williams

“Tennis is a perfect combination of violent action taking place in an atmosphere of total tranquillity.” — Billie Jean King

“Life is like a tennis game. You can’t win without serving.” — Arthur Ashe

I’m proud to announce that Tennis Industry Magazine has named Irvine’s Community Services Department as Park & Rec Agency of the Year for 2017.

In making the award, Tennis Industry Magazine explained:

“For the last 14 years, Steve Riggs has been the tennis director for the city of Irvine, Calif., overseeing one of the top city-run tennis programs in the country. Riggs is in charge of 91 public tennis courts (all with lights) at 19 facilities, including the brand-new, 25-court Orange County Great Park Sports Complex. On weekends, he also oversees 31 courts at four high schools.

‘At first, I wasn’t happy about having all these neighborhood parks,’ Riggs says. ‘But for customer service, it’s actually better. It’s easy for kids, for instance, to get to nearby courts.’

The courts are free to play on, but Riggs says programming brings in about $1.8 million from lessons, clinics, leagues and tournaments. ‘As a city-run program,’ he says, ‘we’re lucky to be in a strong tennis community.’

That’s why the city of Irvine’s Community Services Department is Tennis Industry’s 2017 Park & Rec Agency of the Year.

Riggs is quick to credit the 24 full-time teaching pros for the success. ‘Our program is built on our pros,’ he says. ‘If they don’t do a good job, then you don’t have a good program. I have a great staff—many have been here for many years — and they make it all go’.”

Thank you to Steve Riggs for your dedication to Irvine and to tennis.  As Southern California Tennis News wrote in 2016:

Steve Riggs

“When it comes to giving back to the Southern California junior tennis community, few can match Steve Riggs’ dedication and drive to make life better tennis players. Riggs, the Director of Programming and Tennis for the City of Irvine, has a passion to share his love of the sport with all. This year, the highlights include organizing two coaching education seminars (January and June) and a new four-tournament Grand Slam Round Robin series for novice level juniors.

Riggs is a certified teaching pro, tournament organizer, and community advocate. He has been a leader in the Southern California tennis world for the past 25 years, and based in Orange County since 2004. During that time he has run So Cal junior tournaments at every level from novice to national. Other past accomplishments include being a JTT Area League Coordinator, and a member of the SCTA Advocacy and Red-Orange-Green (ROG) Committees.

When the USTA introduced the 10-and-Under Tennis program, Riggs was one of the first to step up and offer Red-Orange-Green (ROG) Events for kids. He currently offers an innovative 4- tournament ROG Grand Slam Round Robin Circuit in 2016, which highlights the Australian, French, British and U.S. Opens respectively at each event.

Tennis education is also very important to Riggs. For the past eight years, he has offered a variety of seminars on various topics for adults and juniors.  ‘I’m happy to be in a position to give players, parents and coaches at all levels a taste of fun and competitive tennis as well as great information,’ Riggs said. ‘All it takes is a few good ideas and the time to plan them. I have an outstanding staff and together we make things happen’.”

The City of Irvine has 91 public tennis courts and offers beginning, advanced beginning, intermediate or advanced level tennis lessons, leagues and tournaments for youth, adults and seniors.

The new tennis courts at the Orange County Great Park Sports Park.

The newly opened Sports Complex at the Great Park has a new Tennis Center that includes a championship tennis court with seating for 132 spectators and an additional 24 lighted tennis courts.

It also includes a conference room, concession area, restrooms, and City athletics offices.

These new Great Park tennis courts offer space for kids camps and lessons, adult team workouts, recreational programs, and the Brymer Lewis Tennis Academy, as well as leagues, match play and championship tournaments.

Drop-in courts are also available daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. For more information about tennis at the Great Park, call the Tennis Center at 949-724-6400 or email tennis@cityofirvine.org.

I am proud to serve on the City Council that is finally fulfilling the promise of a truly Great Park for the residents of Irvine and Orange County!

Coffee with a Cop!

I’m extremely proud of the men and women of our Irvine Police Department and of our commitment to community policing.

As our Police Chief Mike Hamel has said, “One of the best things about Irvine is that we are dynamic and diverse. We are made up of people from cultures and countries all over the world, but this also means that various community groups may have specific and unique needs. We are here to do all we can to help address your needs.  It doesn’t matter where you come from, your lifestyle, what language you speak or what religion you practice, we are your police department and we are here for you.”

Join the Irvine Police Department for a cup of coffee and a chance to chat in a relaxed, one-on-one atmosphere.

Irvine Police Officers will be at Starbucks at Alton Square on Jan. 18  from 7 to 9 a.m.

WHAT: Coffee with a Cop!

WHERE: Starbucks, Alton Square (5365-B Alton Parkway, on the corner of Alton and Jeffrey).

WHEN: Thursday, Jan. 18, 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. Join us at any time during this two-hour event.

WHO: This is a kid and family-friendly event. All ages are welcome!

COST: Free.

See the Facebook event page here.

 

Irvine Parents: Join Us for a “Diversity Play Date”

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 ethnic, linguistic, religious, and cultural diversity.

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.

But sometimes we face prejudice in Irvine.

That’s what happened recently when a young African-American boy was teased at school because of the color of skin.

His mother, Kourtney McGowen, was understandably hurt and upset and reached out on social media to other Irvine moms.

I’m proud of my community to say that the response she received was 100% love.

Kourtney then decided to create a “diversity play date” at an Irvine park to share — and celebrate — our diversity.

Here is how Kourtney describes what happened:

“It all started with Johnathan sharing his experiences at school with me.  He told me that children were calling him names because of his skin color. As a mom of course I tried to make him feel better about being black by purchasing books, watching certain movies and talking to him about it. I even reached out to the school leadership. But his peers quickly diminished what confidence he had just gained.

I then decided to vent to my Irvine moms group on Facebook and share my concern and frustration. I even went as far as saying ‘please teach your children to accept other children that look different than they do, it starts at home.’ I wasn’t sure how the response would be. But, to my surprise, the post went viral. I had many moms express how sorry they were, private message me for play dates and share their own similar experiences with the same thing! I felt like this was an opportunity to make a difference so I went for it!

I am now planning a play date for the entire community and calling it “Celebrate Diversity”. To my surprise so many families got excited and I have over 84 saying they’re going. I now have the City Councilwoman Melissa Fox of Irvine as well as the Irvine Community Service Commissioner Lauren Johnson-Norris co-hosting this event with me! It will be next Sunday January 14th at 2:00pm. I plan to go live on Facebook for a portion of the event.

This is just another example of how one voice can make change happen. How are we using our voices? For change? Or for gossip? So excited for this opportunity!”

Here are the details:

What: Diversity Play Date

When: Sunday, January 14, 2018  2:00 pm — 5:00 pm.

Where: Santa Ynez Park, 110 Santa Ynez, Irvine, CA 92606

Description:  “All ages are welcomed! Come bring your kiddos dressed in cultural clothing (if you’d like) and their favorite snack to share! This is an opportunity for us as parents to bring awareness to an ongoing issue of separating by race, culture, religion, skin color. Please join me in bringing our little ones together to encourage acceptance of others! Can’t wait to see you all!”

You can see the Facebook page for the event here.

As a member of the Irvine City Council, I am extremely proud of our city for surrounding Kourtney McGowan and her son with so much love and delighted to co-host this event together with Kourtney and Community Services Commissioner Lauren Johnson-Norris.

I am also tremendously impressed by how Kourtney McGowan turned a negative incident into a positive learning and sharing experience for our whole community!

Please join us!

See you there!

 

 

Join Me at a Town Hall Meeting on Saturday, October 21!

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I will be having a Town Hall Meeting on Saturday, October 21 at 11:00 am – 12:00 pm to discuss and answer questions about issues and events in Irvine.

Among the topics will be transportation and traffic, child care, the Southern California Veterans Cemetery, and affordable housing.

The location is the VIP Room of the Orange County Great Park Championship Stadium, 6950 Marine Way,  Irvine,  CA  92618.

To see our Facebook event page, click here.

Everyone is welcome!

For more information and to rsvp, contact Allison Binder at 949-724-6226 or abinder@ci.irvine.ca.us.

I hope to see you there!

Melissa

UPDATE:  Watch the Town Hall Meeting here.

 

 

Take a Sneak Peek at Irvine’s New Amphitheatre!

I had the opportunity to visit the nearly completed FivePoint Amphitheatre about a week before its Grand Opening on Thursday, October 5.

Wow!

When I visited, dozens of workers were still putting finishing touches on the stage and the berm that will serve as a barrier protecting the homes near the Great Park from the sounds coming from the amphitheatre.

It was already clear that the new FivePoint Amphitheatre will be a magnificent addition to our city.

The new live music venue will contain 12,000 seats (6,500 fold-down seats including the 280 seats within VIP boxes; 5,500 people can comfortably fit in the grassy front-of-stage area.

The amphitheater will include both standing and seating areas, including features such as: 116,000 square feet of festival grounds, 38,000 square feet of bleacher seating, 29,000 square feet of turf seating, 3,000 square feet of box seating, and 23,500 square feet for a VIP area and hospitality zone.

The venue is also beautiful. Comfortable red seats face the stage. Between the stage and the seats is an expanse of grass-covered open space.

In March, I was delighted to vote with my colleagues on the Irvine City Council to approve the construction of the new temporary amphitheatre located on FivePoint’s property adjacent to the Orange County Great Park.

The annual revenue generated to the city is estimated to be at least $20,000 to $30,000, from onsite sales tax. Costs of service for Irvine Police Department personnel, both onsite and offsite, are covered by the operators of the amphitheater.

Now I am excited to see – and hear – the great performances that will take place in Irvine!

The FivePoint Amphitheatre opens on October 5, 2017, with performances by Young the Giant, Cold War Kids, and Sir Sly.

For more information about the Young the Giant concert and upcoming shows, call 800-745-3000 or go to Livenation.com or FivePointAmphitheatre.com.

I’m also looking forward to building a new and permanent amphitheater at the Great Park!

Can’t wait for live music to return to Irvine!

Join Me Saturday for Irvine’s Global Village Festival!

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

This coming Saturday, September 23, 2017, is the Irvine Global Village Festival!

Irvine Community Services Commissioner Melissa Fox at Irvine's Global Village Festival 2013

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.

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 16th 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; and an international village just for kids.

More than 40 local restaurants and gourmet food trucks serve up samples of regional and international specialties from boba smoothies, miso soup, falafel, Mexican fusion tacos and German pretzels to Japanese dumplings, Hawaiian shaved ice and the all-American bacon-wrapped hot dog. Please be prepared with cash for food and beverage purchases.

At the heart of the Festival is the Community Partners Pavilion, where nonprofit, local community groups and government agencies have an opportunity to showcase their programs and services to the community. Be sure to stop by the OC Voters Trailer and take the Festival Survey.

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 23, 2017, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

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

Cost: Admission is FREE! Please be prepared with cash for food and beverage purchases.

Parking: There is no on-site parking at the event.  Festival Parking is permitted in the lot at 20 Corporate Park and in the structure at 30 Corporate Park only. The Festival is 0.7 miles from this location.  Take the free shuttles to the Festival that will be in operation 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. or the walk (about 15 minutes) via Murphy to Alton. 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:  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 Irvine’s Bike Map to plan your trip.

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.

See you there!