Irvine Community Land Trust Distributes Free Face Masks to Affordable Housing Residents

As Chair of the Irvine Community Land Trust, I’m pleased to announce that the Land Trust has distributed hundreds of free face masks to residents of our affordable housing communities.

I want to thank FivePoint for its generous contribution of these masks.

I also want to thank Farrah Khan, my colleague on the Irvine City Council and a Community Land Trust Board Member, for arranging and coordinating the delivery of the face masks from FivePoint to the Land Trust so that we can distribute them free of charge.

COVID-19 spreads when an infected person speaks, sneezes, or coughs within 6 feet of others. You may have the virus and spread it even if you feel well.

To prevent infection, you must cover your nose and mouth when outside your home. Wearing a mask or cloth face covering can slow the spread of COVID-19 by limiting the release of virus into the air. It also reinforces physical distancing, and shows you care about the health of others. Wearing a mask is now required statewide. It’s also the law in Irvine, and common sense and good neighborliness everywhere.

I am honored to serve as Chair of the Irvine Community Land Trust  guiding its mission of providing secure, high-quality affordable housing for the benefit of income-eligible families.  

We’re all in this together!

 

 

Full Public Participation in City Council Meetings Must Be Ensured During the COVID-19 Crisis!

The Voice of OC recently noted that “Throughout the coronavirus shutdown, many of Orange County’s public agencies have struggled to provide access for constituent voices to be heard.”

In Irvine, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced our city to limit in-person participation for members of the public during City Council meetings.  As a result, since the onset of social distancing and emergency public safety measures in March 2020, members of the public have been limited in their ability to participate in the decisions made by the City Council during public meetings.

Currently, the public can make comments only through the eComment feature on the City of Irvine website, and only a very limited number of these comments have been read aloud during our live City Council meetings.

I believe this situation raises serious questions about government openness and public participation under the Brown Act, which states that “the public commissions, boards and councils and the other public agencies in this State exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business. It is the intent of the law that their actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly. The people of this State do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.”  As I told the Voice of OC, “This isn’t actually a hearing, [since] there’s no testimony from the public.”

Clearly, we need to do much better to ensure public participation in our City Council meetings, while still maintaining public safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

For this reason, Councilmember Farrah Khan and I have placed a discussion for better accommodating public participation and accessibility on the agenda for the Irvine City Council meeting on August 11, 2020. 

In addition, we must also ensure that the public can fully participate in our very important Commission meetings.

We look forward to hearing from City staff, the Mayor and other City Councilmembers, and the public, on ways to best ensure full public participation in our meetings during the COVID-19 crisis.

Please use the eComment feature to make your views on this important topic known to the Mayor and the City Council.

Watch the City Council meeting live online HERE.

 

Irvine Community Land Trust to Distribute Free Face Masks

As Chair of the Irvine Community Land Trust, I’m pleased to announce that the Land Trust will be among the non-profit organizations that will be distributing the face masks that FivePoint Communities has donated to the City of Irvine.

I want to thank FivePoint for its generous contribution.

I also want to thank Farrah Khan, my colleague on the Irvine City Council and a Community Land Trust Board Member, for arranging and coordinating the delivery of these face masks from FivePoint to the Land Trust so that we can distribute them free of charge.

We hope these free face masks will help you to continue staying safe during these unprecedented times.

We ask that you do your part as well, and wear your mask when in public, especially when shopping.  It’s the law in Irvine, and common sense and good neighborliness everywhere.

Specific details regarding mask distribution are being arranged and will be posted soon.

I am honored to serve as Chair of the Irvine Community Land Trust  guiding its mission of providing secure, high-quality affordable housing for the benefit of income-eligible families.  

We’re all in this together!

Irvine Again Extends COVID-19 Testing at the Great Park

Due to continued high demand, the City of Irvine has again extended the time period for COVID-19 testing at the Great Park.

Irvine began to offer COVID-19 testing on July 13.  On July 24, we added additional test appointments.  Tonight, we agreed to have the testing program continue for an additional 30 days.

Testing is available for individuals who live or work in Irvine, regardless of whether they are symptomatic or asymptomatic. Only PCR testing, which determines if someone currently has the SARS-CoV-2 virus, is available.

Testing is by appointment only and is available Mondays through Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Lot 6 at the Great Park. There is no out of pocket fee for this COVID-19 testing.

To sign up for an appointment, visit curogram.com/covid-testing/irvine. Please note that Chrome and Firefox are the preferred web browsers for registering.

In order to facilitate the registration process, please have the following information available:

  • Insurance card, if you have insurance.
  • Driver’s license or state ID.
  • Proof of residence or employment in Irvine (i.e. any utility bill with Irvine address and your name or copy of pays tub from work with an Irvine address. If your pay stub lists a corporate address NOT in Irvine, please ALSO include some identifying document with your name and place of work in Irvine.

Once residency or employment verification is complete, you will receive an opportunity to select an appointment. This may take several days and participants will be processed in order of registration.

At the appointment, patients must remain in their vehicle, bring a driver’s license or photo ID, and registration confirmation. During the appointment, a licensed healthcare professional will be present during the self-administered nasal or oral swab test to collect the specimen to send to FDA-approved laboratories. Test results should be expected within three days after the appointment.

Tests will be conducted by Curogram and multiple medical laboratories, including Orange County based Pangea Laboratory.  Curogram has worked with many other cities, including New York City and Atlanta, to provide COVID-19 testing.

The Orange County Great Park is located at 8000 Great Park Blvd. Lot 6 can be accessed via Marine Way and Skyhawk. Visit ocgp.org/maps for complete directions. Please note that GPS systems may not provide reliable directions.

For more information, please review the FAQ at cityofirvine.org/covid19testing.

As I have said before, while I am pleased to have authorized expanding these much-needed tests, Irvine should never have had to provide COVID-19 testing on its own.  We are now doing so because of the failure of the federal government and Orange County Board of Supervisors to provide adequate COVID-19 testing. 

Irvine does not have a public health officer or a public health department.  We rely on Orange County to provide these critical services.  The taxes we pay to the State of California for public health services go to Orange County, not the City of Irvine.  Orange County received all of our CARES ACT funds from the federal government.  But regarding COVID-19, we can not rely on Orange County.

The City of Irvine is providing COVID-19 testing — at our own taxpayers’ expense — because at this point, with COVID-19 infections setting new records on an almost daily basis in both Orange County and the nation, we have no other choice.

We should not be in this position.  While other nations are seeing declines in the number of new COVID-19 infections, our new infections continue to rise.  The basic reason for our continuing rise in infections and deaths is the catastrophic failure of our federal government to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, including President Trump’s continuing denial of its seriousness and his undermining of social distancing and face coverings as the best weapons we now have against this virus.

Our Board of Supervisors followed Trump’s lead and also bear responsibility for the rising number of COVID-19 infections and deaths in Orange County.  For months, it was unclear how or even if California’s statewide mask mandate would be enforced in Orange County

As the Voice of OC reported, “Throughout the pandemic, OC officials haven’t strictly enforced business closures on restaurants and bars.  And OC Sheriff Don Barnes said he wouldn’t enforce former health officer Dr. Nichole Quick’s mandatory mask order, which was issued over Memorial Day weekend as diners and shopping centers reopened.”

The Board of Supervisors also allowed Orange County’s chief health officer Dr. Nichole Quick to be driven from office by threats against her life from anti-mask and conspiracy theory extremists, failing to back up her public health orders or provide her with protection.

Under these circumstances, it is good that Irvine is now providing free COVID-19 testing for residents and people who work in Irvine. But Irvine’s COVID-19 testing also highlights the failure of our federal government and the Orange County Board of Supervisors to provide testing or any effective strategy in response to this deadly disease. Our friends and neighbors who live or work in other Orange County cities still have no good COVID-19 testing options.

Be safe and wear a mask!

Schedule a COVID-19 Test Appointment HERE.

 

Irvine Adds Additional COVID-19 Testing Appointments

The Irvine City Council has expanded COVID-19 testing capacity at the Great Park.  Registration for testing will re-open on Friday, July 24 at 12:00 p.m. to fill additional appointments available through this expansion.

Testing is available for individuals who live or work in Irvine, regardless of whether they are symptomatic or asymptomatic. Only PCR testing, which determines if someone currently has the SARS-CoV-2 virus, is available.

Testing is by appointment only and is available Mondays through Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Lot 6 at the Great Park. There is no out of pocket fee for this COVID-19 testing.

To sign up for an appointment, visit curogram.com/covid-testing/irvine. Please note that Chrome and Firefox are the preferred web browsers for registering.

In order to facilitate the registration process, please have the following information available:

  • Insurance card, if you have insurance.
  • Driver’s license or state ID.
  • Proof of residence or employment in Irvine (i.e. any utility bill with Irvine address and your name or copy of pays tub from work with an Irvine address. If your pay stub lists a corporate address NOT in Irvine, please ALSO include some identifying document with your name and place of work in Irvine.

Once residency or employment verification is complete, you will receive an opportunity to select an appointment. This may take several days and participants will be processed in order of registration.

At the appointment, patients must remain in their vehicle, bring a driver’s license or photo ID, and registration confirmation. During the appointment, a licensed healthcare professional will be present during the self-administered nasal or oral swab test to collect the specimen to send to FDA-approved laboratories. Test results should be expected within three days after the appointment.

Tests will be conducted by Curogram and multiple medical laboratories, including Orange County based Pangea Laboratory.  Curogram has worked with many other cities, including New York City and Atlanta, to provide COVID-19 testing.

The Orange County Great Park is located at 8000 Great Park Blvd. Lot 6 can be accessed via Marine Way and Skyhawk. Visit ocgp.org/maps for complete directions. Please note that GPS systems may not provide reliable directions.

For more information, please review the FAQ at cityofirvine.org/covid19testing.

As I have said before, while I am pleased to have authorized expanding these much-needed tests, Irvine should never have had to provide COVID-19 testing on its own.  We are now doing so because of the failure of the federal government and Orange County Board of Supervisors to provide adequate COVID-19 testing. 

Irvine does not have a public health officer or a public health department.  We rely on Orange County to provide these critical services.  The taxes we pay to the State of California for public health services go to Orange County, not the City of Irvine.  Orange County received all of our CARES ACT funds from the federal government.  But regarding COVID-19, we can not rely on Orange County.

The City of Irvine is providing COVID-19 testing — at our own taxpayers’ expense — because at this point, with COVID-19 infections setting new records on an almost daily basis in both Orange County and the nation, we have no other choice.

We should not be in this position.  While other nations are seeing declines in the number of new COVID-19 infections, our new infections continue to rise.  The basic reason for our continuing rise in infections and deaths is the catastrophic failure of our federal government to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, including President Trump’s continuing denial of its seriousness and his undermining of social distancing and face coverings as the best weapons we now have against this virus.

Our Board of Supervisors followed Trump’s lead and also bear responsibility for the rising number of COVID-19 infections and deaths in Orange County.  For months, it was unclear how or even if California’s statewide mask mandate would be enforced in Orange County

As the Voice of OC reported, “Throughout the pandemic, OC officials haven’t strictly enforced business closures on restaurants and bars.  And OC Sheriff Don Barnes said he wouldn’t enforce former health officer Dr. Nichole Quick’s mandatory mask order, which was issued over Memorial Day weekend as diners and shopping centers reopened.”

The Board of Supervisors also allowed Orange County’s chief health officer Dr. Nichole Quick to be driven from office by threats against her life from anti-mask and conspiracy theory extremists, failing to back up her public health orders or provide her with protection.

Under these circumstances, it is good that Irvine is now providing free COVID-19 testing for residents and people who work in Irvine. But Irvine’s COVID-19 testing also highlights the failure of our federal government and the Orange County Board of Supervisors to provide testing or any effective strategy in response to this deadly disease. Our friends and neighbors who live or work in other Orange County cities still have no good COVID-19 testing options.

Be safe and wear a mask!

Schedule a COVID-19 Test Appointment HERE.

 

Irvine Providing Free COVID-19 Testing at the Great Park! Make an Appointment Now!

The City of Irvine will begin providing free drive-up COVID-19 testing for individuals who live or work in Irvine beginning Monday, July 13, 2020, at the Orange County Great Park.

Irvine will be the first city in Orange County to provide testing to those who live or work in Irvine, regardless of whether they have symptoms.

This month long testing program will be available by appointment only and will take place Mondays through Thursdays, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Lot 6 at the Great Park. To schedule an appointment, visit https://curogram.com/covid-testing/irvine.

The Great Park testing site can accommodate approximately 200-260 tests per day. Only PCR testing, which determines if someone currently has the COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2 virus), is available.  No testing will be provided for the presence of anti-bodies.

At the appointment, patients must remain in their vehicle, bring a driver’s license or photo ID, and registration confirmation. During the appointment, a licensed healthcare professional will be present during the self-administered nasal or oral swab test to collect the specimen to send to FDA-approved laboratories. Test results should be expected within three days after the appointment.

Tests will be conducted by Curogram and multiple medical laboratories, including Orange County based Pangea Laboratory.  Curogram has worked with many other cities, including New York City and Atlanta, to provide COVID-19 testing.

The Orange County Great Park is located at 8000 Great Park Blvd. Lot 6 can be accessed via Marine Way and Skyhawk. Visit ocgp.org/maps for complete directions. Please note that GPS systems may not provide reliable directions.

For more information, including an important FAQ, visit cityofirvine.org/covid19testing.

I agree with my Irvine City Council colleague Farrah Khan that “I’m happy to see that we will now be offering COVID-19 testing in our City. I understand that people were frustrated with the delay. However, it is important for us to make sure that we provide residents and workers with a quality test vendor.”

I would also add that Irvine should never have had to provide COVID-19 testing on its own.  We are now doing so because of the utter failure of the federal government and Orange County Board of Supervisors to provide testing. 

Irvine does not have a public health officer or a public health department.  We rely on Orange County to provide these critical services.  The taxes we pay to the State of California for public health services go to Orange County, not the City of Irvine.  Orange County received all of our CARES ACT funds from the federal government.  But regarding COVID-19, we can not rely on Orange County.

The City of Irvine is providing COVID-19 testing — at our own taxpayers’ expense — because at this point, with COVID-19 infections setting new records on an almost daily basis in both Orange County and the nation, we have no other choice.

We should not be in this position.  While other nations are seeing declines in the number of new COVID-19 infections, our new infections continue to rise.  The basic reason for our continuing rise in infections and deaths is the catastrophic failure of our federal government to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, including President Trump’s continuing denial of its seriousness and his undermining of social distancing and face coverings as the best weapons we now have against this virus.

Our Board of Supervisors followed Trump’s lead and also bear responsibility for the rising number of COVID-19 infections and deaths in Orange County.  For months, it was unclear how or even if California’s statewide mask mandate would be enforced in Orange County

As the Voice of OC reported, “Throughout the pandemic, OC officials haven’t strictly enforced business closures on restaurants and bars.  And OC Sheriff Don Barnes said he wouldn’t enforce former health officer Dr. Nichole Quick’s mandatory mask order, which was issued over Memorial Day weekend as diners and shopping centers reopened.”

The Board of Supervisors also allowed Orange County’s chief health officer Dr. Nichole Quick to be driven from office by threats against her life from anti-mask and conspiracy theory extremists, failing to back up her public health orders or provide her with protection.

As a result of the Board of Supervisors’ failures to follow or enforce basic state-mandated guidelines for stopping the spread of COVID-19, a Harvard University website that shows “How severe is the pandemic where you live?” places Orange County in the red extreme danger zone.   Today, the Orange County Register reports that “In the last five days, 5,796 new cases were reported [in Orange County], and more than half the cases of the virus in the county have been reported in the last 30 days.”

Under these circumstances, it is good that Irvine is now providing free COVID-19 testing for residents and people who work in Irvine. But Irvine’s COVID-19 testing also highlights the failure of our federal government and the Orange County Board of Supervisors to provide testing or any effective strategy in response to this deadly disease. Our friends and neighbors who live or work in other Orange County cities still have no good COVID-19 testing options.

Be safe and wear a mask!

Schedule a COVID-19 Test Appointment HERE.

Irvine Should Help Renters Impacted by COVID-19: Ban Evictions and Rental Increases, Prohibit Unconscionable Lease Termination Fees, and Create an Emergency Rental Assistance Program

The deadly COVID-19 pandemic has killed more than 100,000 Americans, including nearly 5,000 deaths out of more than 125,000 cases in California and nearly 200 deaths out of more than 7,000 cases in Orange County.

In addition, the economic shock of the pandemic has been devastating, causing billions of dollars in business losses and an unemployment rate of 16.3% nationally and nearly 25% in California.

,

As a result, our pre-existing California housing crisis has been exacerbated, with increases in our already much too high levels of homelessness and housing insecurity.

Faced with these tremendous COVID-19-related challenges regarding incomes, jobs, and housing, many of the residents of our City -– more than half of whom are renters — are pleading with the Irvine City Council to protect them. So far, we are failing them.

I have repeatedly asked my colleagues on the Irvine City Council to take action to help renters, but my requests for real help for our renters have been rejected. In March, not one other member of the City Council supported my motion to order an enforceable moratorium on evictions and rent increases.

More recently, my attempt to have the City Council order an enforceable moratorium on evictions and rent increases was rejected on a 3-2 vote, with each of my Republican colleagues voting No.

Mayor Christina Shea and her Republican majority on the City Council have claimed that our renter residents do not need these protections. But we know from thousands of emails, social media posts, and demonstrations in the streets, that our renter residents are pleading with us for help in this crisis.

We should stop ignoring their voices and enact meaningful protections for renters immediately.

First, we need to (1) approve the basic protections that I called for in March and to order an enforceable moratorium on evictions and rent increases. Our renters are entitled to peace of mind about not being forced out of their homes because of the COVID19 crisis.

We also need to (2) prohibit unconscionable, and likely unlawful, lease termination fees.  Many people in Irvine, including students, have lost their jobs, and therefore their incomes, as a result of the COVID19 crisis. Yet I have been told by residents that lease termination fees charged by the Irvine Company have exceeded $15,000.

In addition, we should (3) create an Emergency Rental Assistance Program.  Even with a moratorium on evictions, paying back rent for many of our residents is a very high mountain to climb.  We should direct our City staff to develop an Emergency Rental Assistance Program. These programs have been enacted in other cities, including our neighboring city of Anaheim, to help residents through this unprecedented public health and economic crisis.

As city officials, we have the power and ability to help protect our residents, including renters, both student and non-student. I believe we also have the moral obligation to do so. We should do it now without any further delay.

The Irvine City Council Refuses To Order Moratorium On Evictions. Instead, Council “Encourages” Landlords Not To Evict. Tell Them To Order That Irvine Residents And Businesses Be Protected From Eviction Due to the COVID-19 Crisis.

At tonight’s Irvine City Council meeting, Mayor Christina Shea and three City Councilmembers refused to order a legal moratorium on evictions due to the COVID19 crisis, and instead adopted a non-binding resolution to “strongly encourage . . . residential and commercial landlords, and all utility providers, in the City of lrvine to abide by the provisions of the Governor’s Executive Order, and to specifically refrain from evictions, foreclosures, rent increases, or service and utility disconnections during the period of the COVID-19 emergency.”

Photo: Tomoya Shimura, Orange County Register.

I voted No because the resolution passed by the Council has absolutely no legal force or effect. 

I am extremely disappointed in the Mayor and my Irvine City Council colleagues, who have failed to use the authority granted to us by the Governor to fully protect our residents and businesses by legally ensuring that they will able to remain their in homes and shops during this crisis — as has been done in many other California cities, including San Jose, Los Angeles, Long Beach, El Monte, Fresno, San Francisco,  Camarillo, Ojai, Oxnard, Thousand Oaks, Moorpark, and Santa Monica.

The Council also claimed that it had no authority to halt evictions due to foreclosure, although the Governor’s Executive Order explicitly states that local governments like the City of Irvine are empowered to halt evictions where “The basis for the eviction is nonpayment or rent, or a foreclosure” due economic loss because of COVID19.

Our residents and businesses deserve a legally binding order halting evictions due to COVID19.

Corporations are always asking for certainty and clarity in laws and regulations. Don’t the people also deserve certainty and clarity?

If the Mayor and the rest of the City Council choose to attack me personally because I stand for real protections for our residents and local businesses, so be it.

See the Voice of OC story HERE.

However, I have not given up on the people getting the Irvine City Council to do the right thing and use the our authority to order a legally binding moratorium on all COVID-9 related evictions.

Please continue to contact the Mayor and the members of the Irvine City Council and ask them to exercise their full power to protect Irvine residents and businesses from eviction.

If you are personally in danger of eviction, or in the process of eviction, please let them (and me) know.

You can contact all of us on the Irvine City Council at citycouncil@cityofirvine.org

Thank you.

We’re all in this together.

Melissa

 

 

California Apartment Association Calls for Halt on Evictions, Rent Freeze, and Property Tax Relief

Last week I called for the Irvine City Council to use the power specifically granted to us by the Governor to order a temporary 60-day ban on evictions for all residential and business tenants and subtenants, as well as for those people who are unable to pay their mortgage, due to reasons related to COVID-19.

Irvine City Hall (Tomoya Shimura, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Today, I received an email from the California Apartment Association (CAA), the nation’s largest statewide trade group representing owners, investors, managers and suppliers of apartments, which has adopted a program it calls the Safe at Home Guidelines, asking its every California rental housing provider to commit to the following through May 31, 2020:

  • Freeze rents on all residents & pledge to not issue any rent increases.
  • Halt evictions on renters affected by COVID-19, absent extraordinary circumstances.
  • Waive late fees for residents who pay rent after the rent due date because they have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and related government actions.
  • Offer flexible payment plans for residents who cannot pay rent by the due date.
  • Direct renters to available resources to assist with food, health, and financial assistance.
  • Communicate with residents proactively that you are available to assist them and want to work with them to ensure they remain housed.

The CAA further noted that “As our members continue serving residents, they continue to incur expenses such as mortgages, taxes, insurance, maintenance, and payroll. Therefore, we are seeking your support in advocating for property tax and additional mortgage relief beyond those that are backed by federal programs. Temporary relief will benefit California renters, homeowners, and housing providers who are all struggling from the COVID-19 virus.”

I applaud the CAA for stepping up in this crisis. 

I also strongly agree that state and local property tax and mortgage relief measures are necessary to help property owners through this difficult time.

Accordingly, it is even more important that the Irvine City Council, at its meeting on Tues., March 24, order a temporary 60-day ban on evictions for all residential and business tenants and subtenants, as well as for all those people who are unable to pay mortgage, due to reasons related to COVID-19, in addition to property tax relief measures.

If you believe, as I do, that the currently agendized proposal is inadequate in the face of the crisis, and that, instead, the City of Irvine should  use the power specifically granted to it by the Governor to order a temporary 60-day ban on evictions for all residential and business tenants and subtenants, as well as for those people who are unable to pay their mortgage, due to reasons related to COVID-19, please email the Mayor and the Irvine City Council to let them know.

Send emails to: citycouncil@cityofirvine.org

Also, because the March 24, 2020, Irvine City Council meeting will be held online, you may make a comment opposing the proposed resolution (Item 5.2) and supporting an order for a moratorium on evictions. Your comments will be read into the record. 

Submit your comment at: E-Comment Link

Thank you.

We’re all in this together.

Melissa

UPDATE:  The Irvine City Council Refuses To Order Moratorium On Evictions. Instead, Council “Encourages” Landlords Not To Evict. Tell Them To Order That Irvine Residents And Businesses Be Protected From Eviction Due to the COVID-19 Crisis.

 

 

THE IRVINE CITY COUNCIL SHOULD ORDER A 60-DAY BAN ON ALL EVICTIONS DUE TO THE COVID-19 CRISIS

During California’s housing crisis, we now face a pandemic of exponential growth and danger. This public health emergency would be made worse by adding to our homeless and unsheltered population.

Amid layoffs, job losses, business closures, and wage and stock market losses, families are struggling to stay housed and obtain food, medicine, and other staples. Every local Irvine business is experiencing stress from the impacts of this pandemic. Most of those who will become ill from this virus will go through it at home, cared for by family, friends and neighbors.

In response to the need to keep people sheltered and financially secure during this epidemic, the Governor of California issued an Executive Order on March 16, 2020, that specifically authorizes local governments such as the City of Irvine to halt evictions for both renters and homeowners.

Irvine City Hall (Tomoya Shimura, Orange County Register/SCNG)

The Governor stated, “Californians are experiencing substantial loss of hours or wages, or layoffs related to COVID-19, affecting their ability to keep up with their rents, mortgages, and utility bills. People shouldn’t lose or be forced out of their home because of the spread of COVID-19. Over the next few weeks, everyone will have to make sacrifices – but a place to live shouldn’t be one of them. I strongly encourage cities and counties take up this authority to protect Californians.”

At this time of unprecedented stress and vulnerability to our residents and businesses, we cannot add to our homeless and unsheltered population. It is a matter of conscience as well as public health and safety.

We must also help our business community survive.  Therefore, I am calling for a temporary 60-day ban on evictions for all residential and business tenants and subtenants, as well as for mortgagees, who are unable to pay their rent or mortgage due to reasons related to COVID-19 (as spelled out in detail in the Governor’s Executive Order).

Any meaningful relief from eviction during this crisis must include mortgagees as well as renters.  The power of local governments like the City of Irvine to order a moratorium on evictions due to foreclosure is specifically included in the Governor’s Executive Order. The critical importance of this protection during our present crisis has been acknowledged by mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which, along with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Federal Housing Finance Agency, have already suspended foreclosures and evictions of homeowners behind on their mortgages.

Based on the above, I believe that the proposal by Mayor Shea and Councilmember Khan that is now agendized as Item 5.2 for the March 24, 2020, Irvine City Council meeting is inadequate to deal with the current crisis.

According to the memo submitted by Mayor Shea and Councilmember Khan, rather than enacting an order declaring a moratorium on all evictions, it is proposed instead that the Irvine City Council would “memorialize” a commitment between the City and major landlords/developers The Irvine Company and FivePoint Holdings that they are “both committed to honoring the spirit and intent of the Governor’s executive order.” The memo further stated that “If, despite our best intentions, we see a need to enact a local ordinance to limit evictions, we will immediately do so.”

The currently agendized proposal is inadequate for the following reasons:

  • It does not protect homeowners paying a mortgage who are in danger of foreclosure.
  • It does not protect tenants of any landlords other than The Irvine Company and FivePoint.
  • It does not protect subtenants.
  • It does not offer full legal protection, affording no real security or peace of mind.

Therefore, I recommend that the Irvine City Council order a temporary 60-day ban on evictions for all residential and business tenants and subtenants, as well as for all those people who are unable to pay mortgage, due to reasons related to COVID-19.

If you believe, as I do, that the currently agendized proposal is inadequate in the face of the crisis, and that, instead, the City of Irvine should  use the power specifically granted to it by the Governor to order a temporary 60-day ban on evictions for all residential and business tenants and subtenants, as well as for those people who are unable to pay their mortgage, due to reasons related to COVID-19, please email the Mayor and the Irvine City Council to let them know.

Send emails to: citycouncil@cityofirvine.org

Also, because the March 24, 2020, Irvine City Council meeting will be held online, you may make a comment opposing the proposed resolution (Item 5.2) and supporting an order for a moratorium on evictions. Your comments will be read into the record. 

Submit your comment at: Ecomment on Agenda Item 5.2

Thank you.

We’re all in this together.

Melissa

UPDATE:

See The Irvine City Council Refuses To Order Moratorium On Evictions. Instead, Council “Encourages” Landlords Not To Evict. Tell Them To Order That Irvine Residents And Businesses Be Protected From Eviction Due to the COVID-19 Crisis.

 

 

Why I Voted “No” on a Zoning Change to Permit 1,000 More Million Dollar Single Family Houses in Irvine. Tell the Irvine City Council What You Think!

Recently, I voted “No” on continuing the second reading of a re-zoning proposal that would allow the addition of 1,000 single family million dollar houses to be built by the Irvine Company in the area of Portola Springs/Orchard Hills in Irvine.

This vote could have been the end of the issue, since on the first reading both Mayor Christina Shea and Councilmember Mike Carroll voted against the re-zoning.

However, Councilmember Mike Carroll now voted with the supporters of adding 1,000 new homes (Councilmembers Anthony Kuo and Farrah N. Khan) to continue the item to January 2020.

Carroll, Kuo and Khan won the vote to continue, 3-2. This means that these additional 1,000 million dollar single family houses will again come before the Council.

As a longtime advocate for local communities to permit more housing to alleviate our statewide affordable housing crisis, I was initially disposed to vote in favor of this re-zoning proposal.

But on further reflection, it became apparent to me that this proposed housing development would be built without the necessary infrastructure, including new schools and a local retail center, which are needed and have long been promised to residents.

I am a strong advocate for action on the local and state level addressing the housing crisis, but not at the cost of overcrowded schools and the abandonment of Irvine’s renowned village model and our Master Plan balancing housing with schools, retail centers, and open space.

In particular, I am a strong supporter of Irvine’s village concept, which is intended to reduce sprawl and traffic congestion, and create walkable neighborhoods and a sense of community, by locating housing, at several different levels of purchase price or rental cost, around both local schools and a local retail center.  This village model — an essential part of Irvine’s Master Plan long promoted by the Irvine Company — has been enormously successful.  As the Irvine Chamber of Commerce has boasted, Irvine is a “City of Villages.”

You can see a video promoting the Irvine Master Plan, with specific reference to the Irvine village model as an integral part of the Master Plan, here:

For this reason, I was very concerned — shocked, actually — when a representative of the Irvine Company responded to my questioning by stating that the Irvine Company had no plans to build a retail center near these new homes and were no longer committed to the village model.

In other words, I came to see that voting in favor of this zoning change is tantamount to voting for Irvine to no longer be a “City of Villages.”

On the issue of whether these proposed 1,000 million dollar homes would help alleviate the affordable housing crisis, here are the facts:

This week’s OC Register reports on an analysis by the Southern California News Group that graded every jurisdiction in California on its progress on state-mandated housing goals (the Regional Housing Needs Assessment or RHNA).

According to the article, Irvine is supposed to permit 12,149 homes between 2013 and 2021. Housing units are mandated in each of four categories: (1) very low income, (2) low income, (3) moderate income, and (4) above moderate income.

The number show that Irvine has done exceptionally well in providing housing in the moderate and (especially) above moderate income categories, but is not doing nearly as well in the low income and very low income categories, where it is seriously off track in meetings its RHNA goals.

Very Low Income Units: Irvine has permitted 907 very low income units, needs 1,761 to be on track, 2,817 for final goal.  In sum, very low income units are not on track, and are far from the final goal.

Low Income Units: Irvine has permitted 3 units, needs 271 to be on track, 2,034 for final goal. In sum, low income units are not on track, and are far from final goal.

Moderate Income Units: Irvine has permitted 12,973 units, needs 1,399 to be on track, 2,239 for final goal. In sum, moderate income units are more than on track, and are already in excess of the final goal.

Above Moderate Income Units: Irvine has permitted 12,137 units, needs 3,162 to be on track, 5,059 for final goal. In sum, above moderate income units are far more than on track, and are already far in excess of the final goal.

These numbers demonstrate what everyone knows: Irvine’s housing is overwhelmingly skewed toward the “Above Moderate Income” market.

The 1,000 housing units that would be added to Portola Springs/Orchid Hills under the re-zoning proposed by the Irvine Company are single family homes costing above $1,000,000.  These 1,000 “Above Moderate Income” units would not help Irvine meet its Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) goals.

On the contrary, they would exacerbate Irvine’s school over-crowding and traffic congestion problems while doing little or nothing to ease our affordable housing crisis.

That’s why I voted No.

It is my belief that only saying No to these projects that provide housing only for the well-to-do, will we encourage developers to build more environmentally responsible and affordable housing projects.

I hope Irvine residents will make their views on this proposal for an additional 1,000 million dollar single family houses clear to all members of the Council between now and then.

Contact information for all members of the Irvine City Council can be found here.

Join Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, Irvine Councilmember Farrah Khan, and Me on Saturday Morning, June 29, for a Free Child Car Seat Safety Clinic!

This Saturday, June 29, at 10:00 a.m. at Irvine City Hall, California State Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (AD 74), Councilmember Farrah Khan and I will be hosting a free Child Car Seat Safety Clinic with the California Highway Patrol and the Irvine Police Department.

To help parents ensure the safety of their children, specially trained technicians will be available to inspect car seats and make sure that they are properly installed and equipped.

Did you know that 43% percent of children die in car crashes were improperly restrained?

Did you know that 73% of children’s car seats are not used or installed correctly?

Do you know whether your child’s car seat is properly installed and equipped?

Join Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, Councilmember Farrah N. Khan, CHP, IDP and me to make sure that your car seats are properly installed and ensure your kids are protected!

The event is FREE, but you must RSVP HERE.

For more information please call (949) 251-0074 or visit asmdc.org/Petrie-Norris.

Irvine City Hall is located at 1 Civic Center Plaza, Irvine, CA 92606

Light refreshments will be served.

See you there!

 

Join Me at the ASUCI Housing Security Town Hall on April 4 at UCI’s Crystal Cove Auditorium!

Please join me and leaders from the Associated Students of the University of California, Irvine (ASUCI) on Thursday, April 4, 2019, at 5:30 PM for the presentation of a groundbreaking report on student housing issues at UC Irvine.

Despite opposition from many community members and UCI student leaders, the Irvine City Council recently voted 4–1 to tighten restrictions on “boarding houses” and to ramp up code enforcement of housemate arrangements that are not the “functional equivalent of a family.”

As the UCI student newspaper New University has reported, “Housing insecurity has been an increasing burden on UCI’s student population due to rising tuition prices and the growing Irvine housing market. Irvine Company, which owns several apartment complexes near campus as well as throughout the affluent city of Irvine, raises rent prices for students alongside prices for renters throughout the city. Housing insecurity has become such a problem that students are sometimes living in their cars because they are unable to find an affordable apartment.”

As a member of the Irvine City Council, I voted against this proposed ordinance.  I believe that preserving neighborhood character is important, as is preventing excessive noise and improper home modifications. But these goals can best be achieved by enforcing regulations we already have on the books, not by prohibiting living arrangements that are financially necessary to students and young people.

I also have serious concerns about the constitutionality of the proposed ordinance, its intrusion into residents’ private lives, as well as its conflict with state law regarding housing.

Indeed, the California Department of Housing and Community Development contacted the City of Irvine immediately after the vote, expressing their concern that the ordinance violated state law.

As a result, the ordinance is being re-worked by City staff and will not move forward in its current form.

But those of us concerned about student housing insecurity and homelessness can’t let down our guard.

Brought to you by ASUCI Office of the President’s Housing Security Commission, the ASUCI Housing Security Town Hall will feature a groundbreaking report on student homelessness and housing insecurity presented by Izzak Mireles, a UCI Masters of Urban and Regional Planning graduate student.

In addition, I will be making some remarks and engaging in a question and answer session.

I hope you will join us alongside experts and leaders from across the Irvine community.

What: ASCUI Housing Security Town Hall 

When: Thursday, April 4, 2019, 5:30 – 7:00 PM

Where: UCI Crystal Cove Auditorium

Free admission. All are welcome!

You can find the Facebook Event Page here.

See you there!

Join Us on an Irvine “Wine & Dine” Bike Tour with Commissioner Melissa Fox!

pedego-junction-electricJoin us on Friday, July 18th, at 6:00 PM for a terrific summer evening starting with a light dinner before we ride into the sunset on an electric bike tour of some of Irvine’s most picturesque bikeways!

It’s the Irvine “Wine & Dine” Bike Tour with Commissioner Melissa Fox!

First, we’ll meet at Pedego Irvine, at 4624 Barranca Parkway, Irvine 92604

melissafoxblog, Melissa Fox, melissajoifox, Irvine Commissioner Melissa Fox, Melissa Fox for Irvine City Council

Irvine Community Services Commissioner Melissa Fox with Irvine Pedego owner Bob Bibee.

Then, we’ll have a light catered dinner.

Next, we’ll ride our Pedego Electric Bicycles on a sunset tour of Irvine’s bikeways.

Lastly, we’ll return to Pedego Irvine for a wine tasting provided by a boutique winery!

Cost is only $30 for a Mediterranean wrap, salad and hummus, electric bike rental, and wine tasting!

Please RSVP for dinner to Farrah at 323-428-3611.

We hope to see you there!

Did you know that Irvine has 301 miles of on-street bike lanes and 54 miles of off-street bikeways. Our bicycle trails are some of the most beautiful and peaceful places in Irvine.

Also, Irvine been rated as “Silver” Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists.  This makes Irvine the most bicycle-friendly city in Southern California — and we can do ever better!

Electric bicycles provided by Pedego Irvine. Pedego Electric Bicycles are made right here in Irvine!

What: Irvine “Wine & Dine” Bike Tour with Commissioner Melissa Fox!

Co-Hosted by UCI Professor Catherine Liu.

When: Friday, July 18th at 6:00 PM

Where: Meet-up at Pedego Irvine, 4624 Barranca Parkway, Irvine 92604

Cost: $30 for dinner, electric bike rental, and wine tasting!