Happy Earth Day 2020!

Today, Wednesday, April 22, is Earth Day.

Nearly 50 years ago, on April 22, 1970, millions of people took to the streets to protest the negative impacts of 150 years of industrial development.

In the US and around the world, smog was becoming deadly and evidence was growing that pollution led to developmental delays in children. Biodiversity was in decline as a result of the heavy use of pesticides and other pollutants.

The global ecological awareness was growing, and the US Congress and President Nixon responded quickly.  In July of the same year, they created the Environmental Protection Agency, and robust environmental laws such as the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act, among many.

Earth Day is now a global event each year, and more than 1 billion people in 193 countries now take part in what is the largest civic-focused day of action in the world.

The City of Irvine has been a leader in earth-friendly environmental policies, green technology, and environmental awareness.  Irvine’s environmental programs have been on the leading edge of advances in green building and construction, environmental education, recycling, water conservation, waste disposal, and energy-saving.

Under Irvine Mayors Larry Agran, Beth Krom and Sukhee Kang, Irvine was indeed a world leader in environmental programs and innovation. One of the highlights of Irvine’s environmental engagement was presence of the U.S. Solar Decathlon at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine. The Solar Decathlon is an international competition held every two years that challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive. The houses are assembled at a central location for display, evaluation, and awards. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency. The Solar Decathlon was held at the Great Park in 2013 and 2015.

Another highlight of Irvine’s environmental leadership was the creation of the Green Ribbon Environmental Committee in 2012.  The Green Ribbon Committee was charged with the crucial task of developing and recommending environmental policy initiatives and programs, including sustainability policies related to energy, recycling and waste management, mobility, open space and water issues.

Unfortunately, when Steven Choi became mayor of Irvine in November 2014, both the Great Park Solar Decathlon and the Green Ribbon Committee became victims of Choi’s climate change denial and hostility to environmental action.

As I’ve detailed in How Orange County Lost the U.S. Solar Decathlon, Steven Choi was hostile to the very premises of the Solar Decathlon — the need for replacing burning fossil fuels with renewable sources of energy.  In sharp contrast to the previous three Irvine mayors who championed environmental and climate concerns, Choi “completely question[ed] the idea of global warming being caused by human intervention.”  Rather than recognizing the importance of environmental action,  both as an opportunity for technological innovation and as an existential imperative, Choi saw all environmental concerns as anti-business and climate change as wholly unconnected to human activity. You can read the full story of the Solar Decathlon here.

Similarly, Choi sabotaged the Green Ribbon Environmental Committee. In fact, when I was elected to the Irvine City Council in November 2016, the Irvine Green Ribbon Environmental Committee had been inoperative for several years because Mayor Steven Choi and his allies on the Irvine City Council did not appoint sufficient members to constitute a quorum. In fact, the Committee did not meet during all of 2014 and 2016, cancelling every scheduled meeting. The words “climate change” and “global warming” were not permitted to be used in official City of Irvine publications or staff reports. Choi didn’t even allow the City of Irvine to participate in the Annual National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation, sponsored by the Irvine-based Wyland Foundation.

As a longtime environmental activist, I wasn’t going to allow the City of Irvine to continue to ignore environmental issues and global warming. I convinced newly elected Mayor Donald P. Wagner, who replaced Steven Choi, to re-invigorate the Green Ribbon Environmental Committee and appoint me to the Committee as the City Council’s representative.  I then appointed Krishna Hammond, a young progressive scientist, as my representative to the Committee and encouraged the other Councilmembers to make appointments.  At our first meeting, I was elected Chair of the Committee and Krishna was elected Vice Chair. The Green Ribbon Environmental Committee was out of Choi-imposed exile and was off and running.

 

 

.

A crucial environmental issue facing Irvine in the near future is whether to switch from purchasing energy from SoCal Edison to utilizing a Community Choice Energy provider.

Community Choice Energy (CCE) is a program that brings local control and freedom of choice and competition into the electricity marketplace. Community Choice allows cities and counties to purchase power on behalf of their residents and businesses to provide cleaner power options at a competitive price.

We’ve made progress since the days when Steven Choi drove the U.S. Solar Decathlon out of town, shut down the Green Ribbon Environmental Committee, refused to participate in the Wyland Foundation’s Water Challenge, and banned the words “climate change” and “global warning.”

But there is still much to be done. In particular, the current Irvine City Council leadership needs to show that its professed concern for action on climate change and protecting the environment isn’t just lip service and a public relations smokescreen.

Instead, the City Council needs to adopt a stand-alone Climate Action Plan that we’ve been promised and implement the Community Choice Energy program that we’ve shown to be a tremendous benefit to both the City and the planet.

 

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.

Happy Earth Day 2019!

Today, Monday, April 22, is Earth Day.

Nearly 50 years ago, on April 22, 1970, millions of people took to the streets to protest the negative impacts of 150 years of industrial development.

In the US and around the world, smog was becoming deadly and evidence was growing that pollution led to developmental delays in children. Biodiversity was in decline as a result of the heavy use of pesticides and other pollutants.

The global ecological awareness was growing, and the US Congress and President Nixon responded quickly.  In July of the same year, they created the Environmental Protection Agency, and robust environmental laws such as the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act, among many.

Earth Day is now a global event each year, and more than 1 billion people in 193 countries now take part in what is the largest civic-focused day of action in the world.

The City of Irvine has been a leader in earth-friendly environmental policies, green technology, and environmental awareness.  Irvine’s environmental programs have been on the leading edge of advances in green building and construction, environmental education, recycling, water conservation, waste disposal, and energy-saving.

Irvine’s San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary. Photo by Geoff Fox.

Unfortunately, when Steven Choi was Irvine’s mayor, our city took several steps backwards. The term “climate change” was banned from all city documents and not enough Councilmembers made appointments to the Green Ribbon Environmental Committee to enable a quorum.

Mayor Steven Choi even refused to participate in the National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation, sponsored by Irvine’s own Wyland Foundation.

When I joined the Irvine City Council, I successfully pushed for revitalization of the Committee, which has now resumed its work of serving as the official environmental advisory committee, increasing public participation in energy conservation and sustainable practices, and helping the city serve the community through advancing environmental policy initiatives and programs.

I am delighted that the Committee now has the full support of the entire City Council, and both Mayor Don Wagner and Mayor Christina Shea have joined with other mayors across the country in asking residents to make a commitment to conserve water and protect this vital resource by taking part in annual Wyland Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation, through the month of April.

One of the best — and most distinctive — qualities of Irvine is our commitment to preserving open space. The City of Irvine has more than 16,000 acres of permanently preserved parkland and open space – remarkable for a city of our size.

“The Sinks” — Irvine’s own Grand Canyon.

In 1974, early in our city’s history, voters approved multi-million dollar measures to fund public parks and recreational facilities, and for the acquisition and development of bicycle trail and hiking trail improvements.

In 1989, the City negotiated an historic agreement with the Irvine Company that set aside more than 9,500 acres as permanent open space marshlands, bike trails, parks, nature conservancies and agricultural areas, protecting fully one-third of the city from development.

In addition, in 2006, nearly 37,000 acres of the Irvine Ranch were selected as a National Natural Landmark, a designation which reflects the outstanding condition, rarity, diversity, and value to science and education of the natural resources on the land.

As our Irvine Open Space Preserve website explains, “Since its incorporation in 1971, Irvine has had a strong desire to balance the built and natural environment. As this incredible master-planned community has grown, each phase of development has been accompanied by the preservation and enhancement of natural open spaces, creating the network of parks, trails, and wildlands that residents and visitors may enjoy today and for generations to come.”

Bommer Canyon. Photo by Sanjay B. Dalal.

A crucial environmental issue facing Irvine in the near future is whether to switch from purchasing energy from SoCal Edison to utilizing a Community Choice Energy provider.

Community Choice Energy (CCE) is a program that brings local control and freedom of choice and competition into the electricity marketplace. Community Choice allows cities and counties to purchase power on behalf of their residents and businesses to provide cleaner power options at a competitive price.

It has been operating in California since 2002 following passage of Assembly Bill 117.

On September 25, 2018, the Irvine City Council approved conducting a feasibility study to determine the pros and cons of implementing a CCE program, including potential economic benefits for the community.

Community Choice programs enable local government control over energy procurement to purchase power, set competitive rates, and collect revenue. The local utility still maintains the electricity grid, deliver energy, and bill customers.

Community Choice Energy programs offer automatic enrollment to businesses and residences in its jurisdiction, with the ability for the customer to opt out and continue to purchase electricity from the utility. Customers have the option of choosing increased percentages of renewable energy.

Councilmember Melissa Fox with the artist Wyland at his studio in Irvine.

CCE programs in California generally procure and resell a power mix between 50 percent and 100 percent renewable energy to their customers.

Community Choice Energy can be one of the most powerful ways to accelerate the transition from fossil to cleaner renewable energy.

Community Choice introduces competition and consumer choice into the electricity sector with a focus on local, renewable energy to stimulate rapid innovations in clean energy systems.

By the mid 2020s, as much as 85% of Californians will be served by a Community Choice Energy program.

When our feasibility study is completed, I hope Community Choice Energy will soon be available in Irvine and throughout Orange County.

At our best, the City of Irvine has striven to be simultaneously people-friendly, business-friendly, and earth-friendly.

We must continue to insist that each phase of our City’s development be informed by science, accompanied by careful planning, and prioritize the preservation and enhancement of our environment.

Sunday, March 30, is Earth Hour 2019

This Saturday, March 30, join millions of people around the world in switching off your lights and electronics from 8:30 – 9:30 p.m. for Earth Hour.

Starting as a symbolic lights out event in Sydney in 2007, Earth Hour is now the world’s largest grassroots movement for the environment, inspiring millions of people to take action for our planet and nature.

As a member of the Irvine City Council, I have been able to reinstate and vitalize the Irvine Green Ribbon Environmental Commission, which seeks to increase public participation in energy conservation and sustainable practices, helping the City serve the community through advancing environmental policy initiatives and programs.

I’ve also helped move the City toward adopting Community Choice Energy, which allows cities and counties to purchase power on behalf of their residents and businesses to provide cleaner power options at a competitive price.

In addition, I’ve helped to make Irvine a national leader in finding non-toxic solutions to weed and pest control, and finding effective, non-toxic and eco-friendly ways to maintain Irvine’s open spaces and reduce fire danger.

I’ve helped Irvine increase our iShuttle program by 50 percent, and worked to improve Irvine’s bike trails for recreation and commuting.

But we need to do more, and faster. Most importantly, we need to step up efforts to switch from using fossil fuels – the biggest cause of climate change – to clean, renewable energy.  And we need to help people and nature adapt to the inevitable changes ahead.

Climate change is perhaps the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced.  It affects every corner of our planet – from the poles to the tropics, and from the mountains to the oceans. People and nature worldwide are already feeling the effects: water supplies are shrinking, extreme weather events increasing in frequency and intensity, forests burning, and coral reefs dying.

All around the world, governments and communities are coming together to act –- and we can still escape the worst impacts of climate change, and build a safer future for all.

You can find out more about Earth Hour and how you can participate at EarthHour.org.

You can also find out more about what Irvine is doing to preserve and protect our planet, and what else you can do, at https://www.cityofirvine.org/environmental-programs/make-earth-day-every-day.

Our connection to Earth and nature is undeniable: our planet’s gain is everyone’s gain.

Nature not only provides us with all the things we need to live — from the air we breathe to the water we drink, and from the shelter we need to the economy we rely on — but also makes our lives better.  But its growing loss puts this all under threat.

This Earth Hour, join millions around the world to turn off the lights and speak up about why nature matters!

Celebrating Earth Day 2018: Preserving Irvine’s Earth-Friendly Tradition

Today, Sunday, April 22, is Earth Day.

Irvine’s San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary. Photo by Geoff Fox.

Nearly 50 years ago, on April 22, 1970, millions of people took to the streets to protest the negative impacts of 150 years of industrial development.  In the US and around the world, smog was becoming deadly and evidence was growing that pollution led to developmental delays in children. Biodiversity was in decline as a result of the heavy use of pesticides and other pollutants.

The global ecological awareness was growing, and the US Congress and President Nixon responded quickly.  In July of the same year, they created the Environmental Protection Agency, and robust environmental laws such as the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act, among many.

Earth Day is now a global event each year, and more than 1 billion people in 193 countries now take part in what is the largest civic-focused day of action in the world.

The City of Irvine has long been a leader in earth-friendly environmental policies, green technology, and environmental awareness.  Irvine’s environmental programs have been on the leading edge of advances in green building and construction, environmental education, recycling, water conservation, waste disposal, and energy saving.

Irvine’s Open Spaces

One of the best — and most distinctive — qualities of Irvine is our commitment to preserving open space. The City of Irvine has more than 16,000 acres of permanently preserved parkland and open space – remarkable for a city of our size.

The Limestone Sinks. Irvine Ranch Conservancy Open Space.

In 1974, early in our city’s history, voters approved multi-million dollar measures to fund public parks and recreational facilities, and for the acquisition and development of bicycle trail and hiking trail improvements.

In 1989, the City negotiated an historic agreement with the Irvine Company that set aside more than 9,500 acres as permanent open space marshlands, bike trails, parks, nature conservancies and agricultural areas, protecting fully one-third of the city from development.

In addition, in 2006, nearly 37,000 acres of the Irvine Ranch were selected as a National Natural Landmark, a designation which reflects the outstanding condition, rarity, diversity, and value to science and education of the natural resources on the land.

As our Irvine Open Space Preserve website explains, “Since its incorporation in 1971, Irvine has had a strong desire to balance the built and natural environment. As this incredible master-planned community has grown, each phase of development has been accompanied by the preservation and enhancement of natural open spaces, creating the network of parks, trails, and wildlands that residents and visitors may enjoy today and for generations to come.”

The Green Ribbon Environmental Committee

Irvine Ranch Open Space.

Irvine’s Green Ribbon Environmental Committee seeks to increase public participation in energy conservation and sustainable practices, helping the City serve the community through advancing environmental policy initiatives and programs. The Committee is supported by the Public Works Department. Comprised of 10 members, the committee is an advisory body to the City Council and provides advice on sustainability policies related to energy, recycling and waste management, mobility, open space and water issues.

For some time, Irvine’s Green Ribbon Committee was dormant because there were not sufficient members to constitute a quorum.  One of my goals in joining the Irvine City Council was to get this important committee going again.  Working with Irvine’s mayor, Donald Wagner, I was  able to bring the Committee back to full functioning strength.

Irvine’s Green Ribbon Environmental Committee seeks to increase public participation in energy conservation and sustainable practices, helping the City serve the community through advancing environmental policy initiatives and programs. The Committee is supported by the Public Works Department. Comprised of 10 members, the committee is an advisory body to the City Council and provides advice on sustainability policies related to energy, recycling and waste management, mobility, open space and water issues. In addition, we have subcommittees relating to Active Transportation, Energy Development, and Green Infrastructure.

We have a lot of exciting things moving along  the pipeline, including a Request For Proposals for developing a feasibility study and technical assessment of Community Choice Energy, a means of allowing the city to purchase clean energy at a 3-7% savings on average.

If you’d like to get involved and share your ideas related to these policy areas, please consider joining us at the next Green Ribbon Environmental Committee meeting!

Mayor’s Water Challenge

This year, Irvine Mayor Donald P. Wagner is joining other mayors across the country in asking residents to make a commitment to conserve water and protect this vital resource by taking part in the 7th annual Wyland Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation.

City Council Member Melissa Fox and the artist Wyland at his Irvine studio.

“This annual challenge to conserve water, sponsored by the Wyland Foundation here in Irvine, reminds us of our precious resource,” said Mayor Wagner. “I am hopeful that what is a short-term challenge for our residents becomes a long-term practice of conservation.”

 Last year, residents from over 4,100 cities in all 50 U.S. states pledged to reduce their annual consumption of freshwater by 1.9 billion gallons, reduce waste sent to landfills by 42 million pounds, and prevent more than 87,000 pounds of hazardous waste from entering our watersheds. The challenge goes beyond recent drought issues and looks at the ways water use will affect the future of our communities.

To participate, enter online at  mywaterpledge.com , and then make a series of online pledges to conserve water on behalf of the City of Irvine.

One winning city will be determined from five population categories. The city with the most pledges in each population category will win.

Residents from the winning cities who take the online pledge will be entered to win hundreds of environmentally friendly prizes, including $5,000 for home utilities, water-saving fixtures and home improvement gift cards.

I am thrilled that our mayor has decided to join in the Wyland National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation. Thank you to Irvine-based Wyland Foundation for your commitment to promoting, protecting, and preserving the world’s oceans, waterways, and marine life. All of us in Irvine are proud that this wonderful artist and conservationist is located in our city!

For more information, visit cityofirvine.org .

Keeping Our Commitment

From its beginnings as a visionary master-planned community developed from the Irvine Ranch, the City of Irvine has striven to be simultaneously people-friendly, business-friendly, and earth-friendly.

That success can continue into the future, as long as we insist that each phase of our City’s development be accompanied by careful planning and the preservation and enhancement of our environment.

 

 

Listen to Irvine City Councilmember Melissa Fox’s Interview on KUCI’s “Ask a Leader”

Irvine, CA — Irvine City Councilmember Melissa Fox was recently interviewed by Claudia Shambaugh on KUCI’s award-winning program “Ask a Leader.”

The topics covered include the new composition of the Irvine City Council, Irvine’s recent progress on environmental issues, traffic, Melissa Fox’s goals for the Great Park,  and the Orange County Veterans Cemetery.

To listen to the podcast of the interview, click here.

Melissa Fox’s section of the podcast starts at 29:30, right after “Amazing Grace.”

Melissa Fox’s GOTV Playlist!

7663e8cd8b2abc564b732004d714f85d

14918953_1389324517752165_7241925762230285332_oTurn Up The Volume!

Get pumped for Election Day!

Listen to my Melissa Fox GOTV Playlist!

Find your polling place here.

Join our GOTV Team!

Now Get Out and Rock the Vote!

Thanks!

Melissa

[This is a Spotify playlist.  You can download Spotify for free here. We recommend that you play it on shuffle.]

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

radio-waves

“I’m going to be bringing my 25 years of advocasy to bear for the residents of Irvine in negotiating with our partners in development, our major developers, FivePoint Communities and the Irvine Company.” — Melissa Fox, on KUCI’s “Ask a Leader.”

Here is the interview I did on October 4 with Claudia Shambaugh on the program “Ask a Leader” on KUCI-FM about my campaign for Irvine City Council and the future of the City of Irvine.

We discussed development and over-development, my plan to fix Irvine’s traffic congestion and make our streets safer, protecting Irvine’s villages and local businesses, improving our bikeways and the iShuttle, environmental issues, and more.

My interview begins at 1:30 and ends at 22:50.

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

 

UC Irvine Boot Camp for Employers: Veteran Talent Recruitment and Retention

bannerHomeNew

UC Irvine, along with other community partners, is collaborating on the upcoming 2016 Joint Veteran Talent Reintegration Conferences to help the courageous and talented men and women who have served in all branches of the armed forces transition successfully into civilian industry jobs.

Whether your company is interested in tapping into the specialized leadership, teamwork, discipline and/or strategic thinking skills and dedication veterans are known for,  you want to learn more about employer rewards for hiring veterans, or you simply want to do your part to show veterans how much you appreciate their service and sacrifices for our Country, this event is for you.

july18announcement_textwebsm (1)July 18, 2016, will be the first of three strategic programs focused on helping Veterans find employment.

The first event — Veteran Talent Recruitment and Retention Bootcamp for HR Professionals — is not just for HR professionals, but also business and organization managers to improve their veteran recruitment and retention programs, de-mystify stigmas, understand veteran health issues including establishing a realistic perspective on PTSD, learn relevant laws, employer rewards, and overcoming challenges to retention. You will hear best practices directly from companies successfully utilizing Veteran talent and discover helpful community resources available to veterans and employers.

Participating experts include Thomas Parham, Vice Chancellor Office of the Vice Chancellor Student Affairs; Michael Hollifield MD, Associate Clinical Professor, Director, Program for Traumatic Stress, Long Beach VA Healthcare System; Eli Pascal, UCI Assistant Director, CARE Campus Assault Resources in Education; John Tyler, US Army Sergeant (Ret), Employment Coordinator, Long Beach VA Healthcare System; Grace Tonner, Professor, Lawyering Skills, University of California, Irvine School of Law; Mario Barnes, US Navy Commander (Ret), Professor, Co-Director UCI Center on Law, Equity and Race; Antoinette Balta Esq., California State Military Reserve, Captain, JAG, Installation Support Command, President, Veterans Legal Institute; Veteran Law Clinic Lecturer, UCI School of Law; Jan Serrantino, PhD, Director, UCI Disability Services Center; Adam Karr, Partner, O’Melveny & Myers; Aaron Anderson, US Army Special Forces Green Beret (Ret), Associate, Trade Compliance, PIMCO; Stephanie Soltis, US Air Force Reserve Pilot, Vice President, Account Management, PIMCO; Jeff Matsen, US Army Officer, Vice President, Enterprise Risk Management, Edwards Life Sciences; Tim White, US Marine Corps Captain (Ret), Executive Vice President, Account Manager, PIMCO; Chip Hawkins, US Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer (Ret), Senior Military Recruiting Strategist, Veteran Outreach Specialist, Aetna; and Mark Whalls, US Navy Master Chief Petty Officer (Ret), Head of Military and Veteran Recruiting, HR Talent Acquisition Professional Recruiting, Aetna.

Follow this link for more detailed information.

UCI Veteran Services provides veterans, reservists, active-duty members and dependents assistance in obtaining the educational benefits to which they are entitled. The office is responsible for submitting entitlement requests for new and continuing students to the V.A., answering any questions veteran students or dependents may have concerning their educational benefits and providing resources and programs to assist veterans in navigating their transition to civilian and student life.

Join Me on the Next Irvine Food Tour: Phans 55 Vietnamese Bistro and Bar

food3

Please join me as we continue our Irvine Food Tour, showcasing and sharing our wonderful cultural diversity in Irvine as expressed in scores of amazing local restaurants and markets featuring cuisines as diverse as Irvine’s population.

Irvine is home to scores of remarkable locally-owned restaurants featuring cuisine as diverse as Irvine’s population. But many people who live in Irvine are not aware of the great restaurants we have, or perhaps they’re a little uncertain about trying food they perhaps have not eaten before. That is why I created the Irvine Food Tour, where we visit a local restaurant and the owner or chef selects the menu and explains the food as it is brought to us.

The Irvine Food Tour is also a great way to support local businesses and to connect local business owners with the community.

Our next Irvine Food Tour Destination is Phans 55, a Vietnamese Bistro and Bar.

As the home of more than 200,000 people of Vietnamese heritage, Orange County has hundreds of restaurants specializing in Vietnamese cuisine.  You can find restaurants featuring traditional dishes from every region and city in Vietnam. Irvine’s Phans 55, a family owned and operated restaurant, takes a slightly different approach: Vietnamese cuisine with a modern flare.

The menu is built around the healthy, fresh, distinctive cuisine of Vietnam, as beautiful as it is delicious.

OC Metro Magazine has raved about Phan 55’s “quality of the locally sourced food and the outstanding diversity of inspiring flavors.” OC Coast Magazine promised its readers that they “will love Phans 55, a sexy Vietnamese bistro and bar that serves healthy Vietnamese and focuses on the green movement.”

Our hosts and guides will be owners Tom and Susie Phan, who bring to Phans 55’s wonderful cuisine many years of technique and training passed on from generation to generation.

As always they’ll be great food and great conversation!

There are vegetarian and kid-friendly options.  Each diner will purchase their own items from the menu.

As Tom and Susie Phan have said, “it is through eating that we can take a moment and listen to each other’s lives. Food always has this magical element that can bond different people from different backgrounds together. ”

We could not agree more!

What: Irvine Food Tour with Commissioner Melissa Fox

When: Monday, April 4, 2016, at 6:00 p.m.

Where: Phans 55, a Vietnamese Bistro and Bar. 6000 Scholarship, Irvine CA 92612

If you have any questions, please contact me at 949-683-8855 or melissa@melissafoxlaw.com.

Seating is limited, so please reserve your spot as soon as possible by calling me at 949-683-8855 or emailing me at melissa@melissafoxlaw.com.

See you there!

Please note:  Commissioner Melissa Fox’s Irvine Food Tour is the creation of Melissa Fox and Dr. Catherine Liu, based on their love of Irvine’s many cultures and cuisines and their desire to share Irvine’s many wonderful cultures and cuisines with you, and is not an official activity or event of the City of Irvine

The Irvine Food Tour with Commissioner Melissa Fox Returns! Join Us for a Spectacular Persian Dinner at House of Kabob!

HOK.01

“I don’t know anyone who has had Persian food and didn’t like it. Seriously.” ― Rick Steves, Guidebook Author and TV host.

Food is an expression of culture and a central focus of family life.  Here in Irvine, our cultural diversity is expressed in many forms, including restaurants.  I would like to share my love of Irvine’s many cultures and cuisines with you. That’s why I’ve launched the Irvine Food Tour with Commissioner Melissa Fox.

Food Tour HOK 2-8-16 (2) (1) (1)-page-0Please join us as we continue our Irvine Food Tour, showcasing and sharing our wonderful cultural diversity in Irvine as expressed in scores of amazing local restaurants and markets featuring cuisines as diverse as Irvine’s population!

As always, there’s going to be great food and great conversation!

Our next Irvine Food Tour destination is House of Kabob on Monday, February 8 at 6:00 p.m., for a spectacular dinner of Persian food.

House of Kabob is an award-winning restaurant that offers a casual yet refined dining experience through a meticulous fusion of flavorful food, pleasant ambience, and congenial hospitality.  The restaurant’s goal is to provide authentic Persian/Mediterranean cuisine coupled with impeccable service. Every dish is prepared fresh daily with only the finest ingredients.

The Los Angeles Times has raved that “House of Kabob cooks with self-assurance, its name a declaration of the restaurant’s dominion over all things skewered. Kabobs do indeed fare well, gobbets of beef, lamb or chicken charred in a primal, pleasing way. The koobideh kebab — ground beef formed into a torpedo — is the juicy ideal of what a kebab can be, the meat made almost silken amid the flames.  Combination kebabs offer a complete experience. The zafarani kebab trio provides a taste of everything: a boneless chicken kebab, a koobideh kebab and two lamb chops. Each kebab plate is served with a heap of basmati rice and orbs of charbroiled tomato, their skins blistered and scarred like the craggy surface of some comet-battered planet.”

Our expert host will be owner Jozef Besharati, who has more than 30 years of experience in culinary creations, event planning, and hotel management.  Mr. Besharati’s experience first began when he attended Le Vieux Bois in Geneva, Switzerland, which is known to be one of the top culinary schools in Europe.  After six rigorous years of training, he proceeded to work at Geneva’s acclaimed AAA Five Star Hotel du Rhone. After nearly 10 years of advancing his knowledge of management and culinary expertise where he worked under some of the most well-known chefs in Europe, Mr. Besharati moved to Irvine, California, where he spent the next 15 years working as the Catering and Banquet Manager at the AAA Five Star Le Meridian Hotel and later the AAA Five Star Sutton Place Hotel.

Seating is limited, so please reserve your spot as soon as possible by calling me at 949-683-8855 or emailing me at melissa@melissafoxlaw.com.

There are vegetarian and kid-friendly options.  Each diner will purchase their own items from the menu.

See you there!

What: Irvine Food Tour with Commissioner Melissa Fox

When: Monday, February 8, 2016, at 6:00 p.m.

Where: House of Kabob, 92 Corporate Park, Irvine, CA 92606

If you have any questions, please contact me at 949-683-8855 or melissa@melissafoxlaw.com.

See you there!

Please note:  Commissioner Melissa Fox’s Irvine Food Tour is the creation of Melissa Fox and Dr. Catherine Liu, based on their love of Irvine’s many cultures and cuisines and their desire to share Irvine’s many wonderful cultures and cuisines with you, and is not an official activity or event of the City of Irvine

Help Irvine Win the Wyland Foundation’s National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation

Wyland-mural

Help Irvine win the Fourth Annual National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation, sponsored by the Wyland Foundation.

My Water Pledge is a friendly competition between cities across the US to see who can be the most “water-wise.”  Mayors nationwide challenge their residents to conserve water, energy and other natural resources on behalf of their city through a series of informative, easy-to-use pledges online.  Cities with the highest percentage of residents who take the challenge in their population category win.  Participants in the winning cities are eligible to win hundreds of prizes.

“Whether it’s drought conditions in the West or the high costs of energy related to water use in the East, saving water has become one of the most talked about issues facing the nation today,” said the artist Wyland, president and founder of the Wyland Foundation. “This contest gives city leaders a way to supplement their awareness efforts in a friendly, spirited way.”

my water pledge.02

Your own city’s mayor does not have to participate for your city to win.

Unfortunately, Irvine Mayor Steven Choi has decided not to be a participating mayor – but you and I can still make a difference!

Last year, the challenge awarded more than $50,000 in prizes to nearly 1,000 residents in U.S. cities.

Last year, residents from over 3,600 cities in all 50 U.S. states pledged to reduce their annual consumption of freshwater by 1.4 billion gallons, reduce waste sent to landfills by 36 million pounds, prevent more than 179,000 pounds of hazardous waste from entering our watersheds, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 5.3 billion pounds. Participants have included mayors from Seattle, Dallas, Houston, Denver, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Honolulu, San Diego, San Francisco, Long Beach and Miami.

Currently, Irvine is not in the top 10 cities in our population size in water-saving pledges.  We can fix that – and save water.

And maybe win some prizes, too.

Take the Water Conservation Challenge pledge here.

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

radio-tower-full

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

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

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

 

Questions and Answers with Irvine City Council Candidate Melissa Fox

Irvine Community Services Commissioner Melissa Fox

Irvine Community Services Commissioner and City Council candidate Melissa Fox

Melissa Fox for Irvine City Council, Melissa Fox, melissajoifox, votemelissafox.com, Melissa Fox Irvine

Melissa Fox for Irvine City Council

 

Q. What are the three things people should know about Melissa Fox?

I’m a wife, mother and daughter. I’m an attorney and I run my own law firm in Irvine. And I’m Irvine’s most enthusiastic cheerleader.

Q. What kind of law do you practice?

I’m a litigator – a lawyer who actually goes to court. My clients are usually businesses, large and small, as well as individuals who have business and contract issues. I’m also a specialist in fighting fraud – preventing bad guys from stealing, scheming or taking advantage of people through deceit and misrepresentation.

Q. Why do you choose to live in Irvine?

I was born in Orange County and first came to Irvine when I was 16 years old as a freshman at UCI. I moved away to finish school at Brandeis University in Boston and then Tulane Law School in New Orleans. I moved back to Irvine with my husband Michael when he was selected to be among the first Ph.D. students in the UCI School of the Arts. Irvine’s great schools and stellar public safety record were major factors in choosing to live here. And we loved the commitment to open spaces and parks and amazing cultural diversity. Our neighborhood is composed of people from all over the world. Irvine truly is a global village.

Q. How do you like being an Irvine Community Services Commissioner?

I love being an Irvine Community Services Commissioner! I was brought up to believe in public service. My father was in the United States Air Force flying bombers in the Korean War. Afterwards, he became a police officer and then an inspector for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. My mother was a nurse and then a librarian. My parents instilled in me a strong belief in public service. I’ve been an Orange County Reserve Park Ranger, a volunteer with Cub Scouts and Sea Scouts, and a board member of Beckman High School Football and Wrestling Boosters. I’m an active member of the Irvine Chamber of Commerce, where I love celebrating new business openings. So when I had the opportunity to become an Irvine Community Services Commissioner, I jumped at the chance.

Melissa Fox for Irvine City Council, Melissa Fox, melissajoifox, votemelissafox.com, Melissa Fox Irvine

Irvine Commissioner Melissa Fox welcoming OC Blues FC to Irvine

As a Commissioner, I’ve been able to make sure that new developments provide ample open space and park facilities for both children and adults. I’ve also been able to work with community leaders on planning and getting the go-ahead for a new Adventure Playground. Plus, I really love supporting Irvine’s community events — from the Irvine Korean Festival to the Diwali (Indian) celebration to New Year’s at the Irvine Chinese School to the Memorial Day ceremonies at Bill Barber Park and the Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial. I have the privilege of representing our City at many of these events.

Q. Tell us about the “Irvine Food Tours” you’ve led as a Commissioner.

Irvine is home to scores of remarkable locally-owned restaurants featuring cuisine as diverse as Irvine’s population. But many people who live in Irvine aren’t aware of the great restaurants we have, or perhaps they’re a little uncertain about trying food they haven’t eaten before. So UCI Professor Catherine Liu and I decided to create the Irvine Food Tour, where we visit a local restaurant and the owner or chef selects the menu and explains the food as it is brought to us. So far, we’ve done Food Tours to Japanese, Chinese, Hawaiian, and Middle Eastern restaurants. The Irvine Food Tour is also a great way to support local businesses and to connect local business owners with the community. I definitely plan to continue with the Irvine Food Tour after I’m elected to the City Council.

Q. You were very active in the movement to create a Veterans Cemetery in the Great Park. Why does that cause matter so much to you?

rvine Community Services Commissioner Melissa Fox with her father, Korean War veteran Stan Kay, at Memorial Day ceremony at Col. Bill Barber Marine Corps Memorial Park

Irvine Community Services Commissioner Melissa Fox with her father, Korean War veteran Stan Kay, at Memorial Day ceremony at Col. Bill Barber Marine Corps Memorial Park

As the daughter of a combat veteran, I know what veterans have sacrificed for our nation. Orange County veterans do not have their own official military cemetery and those who want to visit a veteran’s grave in a veterans cemetery must travel to Riverside, San Diego or Los Angeles. When a bill introduced in the Assembly to remedy this problem by creating a Veterans Cemetery in Orange County, I decided to do whatever I could to make it a reality. It’s time that Orange County offered its veterans a final resting place close to their families and loved ones. And, as an Irvine resident, I strongly believe that a portion of the Great Park in Irvine, which was once the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, is the perfect location for a Veterans Cemetery and a fitting memorial to Irvine’s proud military heritage.

I spoke to the City Council in support of a Veterans Cemetery in March, April and May, and attended the subcommittee meetings. It often seemed to me that the Council majority cared more about developers’ desire for more profit than about the veterans. I was thrilled when the City Council in July voted 5-0 to approve 125 acres in the Great Park as a military cemetery. Our veterans won a great victory, but the battle isn’t over. The developer still will not allow a Veterans Cemetery to be located in the Great Park unless the pressure from the veterans continues and the Council backs the veterans. That’s not going happen with the current pro-developer Council majority. So we need to stay vigilant and we need to make our support for a Veterans Cemetery clear with our vote in November.

We also need to do more for our veterans across-the-board. Irvine is home to thousands of military veterans. They should be represented within Irvine’s city government by an advisory committee expressly dedicated to the unique needs and perspective of the men and women who have served and are serving in our nation’s armed forces. That’s why one of the very first things I’ll do once I’m elected to the City Council is create a permanent Irvine Veterans Advisory Council to provide advocacy for veterans and to advise the Council on issues of importance to veterans and their families.

Q. Why are you running for Irvine City Council?

Melissa Fox for Irvine City Council, Melissa Fox, melissajoifox, votemelissafox.com, Melissa Fox Irvine

Melissa Fox for Irvine City Council

As a business owner, attorney and City Commissioner, I understand the relationship between strong, pro-resident leadership and our Irvine quality of life. Runaway development is negatively impacting our schools, traffic flow, public safety, and our quality of life – all the reasons we choose to make Irvine our home.  We need smarter growth that protects and preserves what has made Irvine such a special place to live, work and raise our families.

I also want to safeguard Irvine’s standing as a world-class city in education and public safety. I want to ensure every public dollar is wisely budgeted and accounted for, using my skills as a business attorney specializing in fighting fraud. I want to promote Irvine businesses, large and small.

And, finally, I’m going to make very sure that a Veterans Memorial Park and Cemetery is actually created in the Great Park.

I will keep my eyes focused on Irvine’s future – creating opportunities, solving real problems, and producing concrete results.

It’s Official! Melissa Fox Files for Irvine City Council

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

It’s official!  Yesterday I filed the paperwork to qualify as a candidate for Irvine City Council.

Here is the press release we sent out:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Jason Mills (714) 576-4303

Community Services Commissioner Melissa Fox Files for Irvine City Council

Irvine Business-Owner and Attorney the Top Fundraiser Among Candidates

Irvine Community Services Commissioner Melissa Fox announced her filing for Irvine City Council on Friday. Fox has also filed her campaign finance reports, showing her to be the top fundraiser among all candidates – even outpacing two council incumbents running for re-election.

“I’ve been tremendously encouraged by the support our campaign has received,” Fox said. “People in Irvine are responsive to a message that focuses on restoring smart growth and community-oriented planning. I’m very proud of the work we’ve done so far and excited about ramping up our campaign and focusing on the November election.”

An Irvine business-owner and attorney, Fox has also been holding neighborhood meet-and-greets across the city after opening up her campaign committee last year. In listening to residents from across the political spectrum, she has heard the same complaints about the direction of the city.

“People think that the current council is rubber-stamping too much development in the city. New housing tracts and apartment buildings are springing up over-night — they aren’t seeing the thought and planning that has made Irvine so special,” Melissa added. “People don’t move to Irvine to sit in traffic and send their kids to over-crowded schools. As a member of the City Council, I pledge to address the runaway development that’s threatening our quality of life.  I will be a strong pro-resident voice on the Council.”

Fox also pledges to ensure every public dollar is wisely budgeted and accounted for using her skills as a business attorney specializing in fighting fraud; promote Irvine businesses, large and small; and safeguard Irvine’s standing as a world-class city in education and public safety.

Melissa Fox is the daughter of a Korean War combat veteran and has been active in advocating for a Veterans Cemetery and Memorial Park in the Great Park.

Melissa Fox lives with her husband, Dr. Michael Fox, their son, Max, and their Siberian Husky, Scout, in the Northwood Park area of Irvine.

How to Inspire Millions More Americans to Ride Bicycles

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

[Traffic congestion is increasing in Irvine. This article by Jay Walljasper, originally posted by PeopleforBikes, looks at ways that other cities have found to reduce traffic congestion by taking steps that encourage and increase bicycle ridership. It is re-posted here with the author’s permission.  I’m proud that Irvine has been rated as a “Silver” bicycle-friendly city by League of American Bicyclists, but we can do better. As a member of the Irvine City Council,  I will work to cut traffic congestion,  increase our active transportation options, encourage bicycle riding for commuting and recreation, and improve safety for drivers, bike riders and pedestrians. — Melissa]

Washington, D.C.

You can see big changes happening across America as communities from Fairbanks to St. Petersburg transform their streets into appealing places for people, not just cars and trucks.

“Over the past five years we’re seeing an infrastructure revolution, a rethinking of our streets to accommodate more users — busways, public plazas, space for pedestrians and, of course, bike lanes,” says David Vega-Barachowitz of the National Association of City Transportation Officials. “More protected bike lanes is one of the most important parts of this.”

Protected bike lanes separate people on bikes from rushing traffic with concrete curbs, plastic bollards or other means — and sometimes offer additional safety measures such as special bike traffic lights and painted crossing lanes at intersections. Protected bike lanes help riders feel less exposed to danger, and are also appreciated by drivers and pedestrians, who know where to expect bicycles. Streets work better when everyone has a clearly defined space.

The continuing evolution of bicycling

Protected bike lanes are standard practice in the Netherlands, where 27 percent of all trips throughout the country are made on bicycles. That’s because more women, kids and seniors along with out-of-shape, inexperienced riders feel comfortable biking on the streets. Dutch bike ridership has doubled since the 1980s, when protected bike lanes began to be built in large numbers.

Chicago

American communities, by contrast, paint bike lanes on the street, often squeezed between parked cars and busy traffic. With just a white line dividing bicyclists from vehicles, it’s no surprise that only a small percentage of Americans currently bike for transportation.

“Conventional bike lanes have not worked well to get new people on bikes — they serve mostly those already biking,” says Martha Roskowski, vice president of local innovation for PeopleForBikes. “It’s time to evolve the bike lane.”

Nearly two-thirds of Americans would bicycle more if they felt safer on the streets, reports the Federal Highway Administration. Protected bike lanes, along with public bike share systems, are two of the best ways to get more people out on bikes, according to a growing chorus of transportation leaders.

Protected lanes have recently popped up in more than 30 communities across the U.S. from Munhall, Pennsylvania, to Temple City, California, with many additional projects set to open later this year.

Bicycling Goes Mainstream

Montreal is North America’s pioneer in protected lanes. Inspired by Dutch, Danish and German examples, the city established a network of protected lanes that now covers more than 30 miles. The idea began to stir Americans’ imaginations in 2007 when New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan launched plans to tame the city’s mean streets. New York has since built 43 miles of protected lanes, with measurable results in safer streets and rising bike ridership.

New York’s first protected lanes provoked fierce opposition from a few people, but Paul White of the local bike and pedestrian advocacy group Transportation Alternative says the public debate has now shifted to “Where’s mine? How come that neighborhood has safe streets and we don’t — don’t my kids matter as much as theirs?”

Washington, D.C.

Chicago aims to catch up with New York, and has recently opened 23 miles of protected lanes. San Francisco has built 12 miles so far. “Wherever we can, we try to put in protected bike lanes,” stresses Seleta Reynolds, former Section Leader of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency who oversaw the installation of many of San Francisco’s protected bike lanes. Reynolds was recently tapped by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to head the City’s Department of Transportation.

Other leaders in the field are Austin with 9 miles and Washington, DC with 7 miles, including a highly visible route down Pennsylvania Avenue leading to the U.S. Capitol, which has tripled the number of people riding bikes on the street. More protected bike lanes are planned or under construction in all of these cities.

This year more than 100 cities submitted proposals to PeopleForBikes to be part of the Green Lane Project, a competitive fellowship which offers cities financial, strategic and technical assistance valued at $250,000 per city to build or expand protected bike networks during a two-year period. Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and Seattle were selected in March to be the second round of Green Lane Project cities.

Just-released research on protected bike lanes in five of the first-round Green Lane Project cities (Chicago, San Francisco, Austin, Washington D.C. and Portland) shows why so many communities are eager to follow their lead. The federal Department of Transportation-funded study found an increase of ridership from 21 to 142 percent on streets featuring protected lanes in the first year, with an average increase of 75 percent. Meanwhile evaluation of protected bike lanes by the city of New York found that traffic injuries declined for all road users (not just bicyclists) by an average of forty percent.

Beyond the white stripe

What about the conventional bike lanes painted on the pavement — that simple white stripe we’ve grown used to? “They are the camel’s nose in the tent for growing bike use,” because they legitimize bicycling as transportation in the eyes of prospective riders and remind motorists to share the road, says Randy Neufeld, director of the SRAM Cycling Fund.

San Francisco

“Conventional bike lanes can work very well on a two-lane street with light traffic and slow speeds,” notes Roskowski. “But they are not enough for busy streets and fast traffic, which need an extra degree of separation between bicycles and motor vehicles.”

That’s the logic embraced by Dutch traffic engineers, which has doubled the number of bicyclists in the Netherlands. According to the Dutch Design Manual for Bicycle Traffic, physical separation of bicyclists from motor vehicles is recommended for any urban street with more than two lanes or where the speed limit exceeds 50 km per hour (31 mph).

One problem with conventional bike lanes is that they raise expectations beyond what they can deliver. “Cities all over the country painted stripes on busy streets, and when these lanes attract only a modest increase in bicyclists, city officials conclude there is only limited interest in bicycling,” notes PeopleForBikes president Tim Blumenthal. “A lot of people just won’t venture out on busy roads without a greater level of protection from traffic. That’s where protected bike lanes come in.”

Protected bike lanes benefit everyone, not just people riding bikes

“We are at a turning point in how we think about bikes,” notes Martha Roskowksi. “This change is being driven by cities preparing for the future. Mayors, elected officials, business leaders and citizens want their cities to be resilient, sustainable and attractive, and they realize bikes and protected bike lanes can help achieve that. These new bike lanes make the streets safer for everyone and improve city life for people who will never even get on a bike.”

Irvine

Here are some of the benefits of protected bike lanes enjoyed by the entire community:

Attract and Keep a Talented Workforce: Richard Florida, originator of the Creative Class strategy for urban prosperity, contends that safe, convenient bike lanes are important to communities that want to attract entrepreneurs and sought-after workers in creative fields — not just young hipsters, but those with kids too. “Traffic-free bike paths become especially important to them,” Florida said about young families in the New York Daily News.

Expand Economic Opportunities: Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel promised to build 100 miles of protected bike lanes in his first term as part of a strategy to attract high-tech firms to the city. In Austin, Texas, Cirrus Logic, a computer company, moved from the suburbs to downtown two years ago because the area’s bike trails and plans for protected lanes made the firm “more attractive as an employer,” explains PR director Bill Schnell. “We can’t just pluck anybody for our jobs. The people we want are mostly younger, and biking is part of the equation for them.”

Boost Local Businesses: A study of protected bike lanes on 9th Avenue in New York City showed a 49 percent increase in retail sales at businesses on the street. Another study in San Francisco found 65 percent of merchants on Valencia Street reporting that protected bike lanes were good for business. A study done in Portland shows that customers arriving on bike buy 24 percent more at local businesses than those who drive.

Irvine

Make the Streets Safer for Everyone: Not only are fewer bicyclists involved in accidents on streets with protected lanes, but pedestrians and motorists are safer too. A study of Columbus Avenue in New York City after protected bike lanes were added found a 34 percent decline in overall crashes.

Save Municipalities Money: Building protected bike lanes to move more people is “dirt cheap to build compared to road projects,” says Gabe Klein, former transportation commissioner in Chicago and Washington, D.C. Cities of all sizes find that protected lanes can serve more people using existing infrastructure without the economic and environmental costs of widening streets.

Reduce Tension Between Bicyclists and Motorists: “If you actually give bicyclists a designated place in the road, they behave in a way that’s more conducive for everyone getting along,” explains Jim Merrell, campaign manager for the Chicago’s Active Transportation Alliance. He points to recent findings that bicyclists stop for red lights 161 percent more often at special bike signals on the city’s new Dearborn Avenue protected lanes. And a study of protected lanes on Chicago’s Kinzie Street shows that half of cyclists report improved motorist behavior on the street.

Ease Traffic Congestion: Chad Crager, interim Bicycling Program Manager in Austin, calculated that the city’s ambitious network of protected lanes will create significantly more street capacity downtown if only 15 percent of commuters living within three miles of downtown switch from cars to bikes and just seven percent of those living three-to-nine miles.

Decrease Pollution & Curb Climate Change: A person traveling four miles to work and four miles back on a bike every day instead of a car means 2000 pounds less carbon (which translates to a five percent reduction downsizing the average Americans’ carbon footprint) and reductions in other pollutants fouling our air, according the Worldwatch Institute.

[Don’t forget — we can talk about increasing bicycle ridership and cutting traffic congestion in Irvine (or about something entirely different) at our up-coming Irvine “Wine & Dine” Bike Tour with Commissioner Melissa Fox! on Friday, July 18th at 6:00 PM when we’ll meet for dinner, e-biking, and wine tasting at Pedego Irvine.  Click here for details!]

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!

 

Make Your Voice Heard! Take the 2015-2019 Irvine Consolidated Plan Community Survey!

Irvine City Hall,  Melissa Fox, Melissa Fox for Irvine, melissajoifox, melissafoxblog.com

The City of Irvine is asking for input from residents and local community organizations in order to develop a plan that reflects the priorities of our community for the 2015-2019 Consolidated Plan Community Survey.

City of Irvine,  Melissa Fox, Melissa Fox for Irvine, melissajoifox, melissafoxblog.comEvery five years, the City of Irvine prepares a Consolidated Plan to submit to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This plan is required to receive federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) funds and will identify the City’s priorities for allocating these funds.

Public input is very important in helping the City plan for how CDBG and HOME funds will be used over the next five years. CDBG funds are designed to benefit low and moderate-income residents, prevent or eliminate slums or blight, and address community development needs. HOME funds are designed for the development and support of affordable housing.

Please help the City of Irvine determine its housing and community development needs by participating in this survey. If you need assistance or have any questions regarding this survey, please contact the City of Irvine Housing Division at (949) 724-7444.

We appreciate your time and assistance in helping us plan for the next five years!

Click for the 2015-2019 Consolidated Plan Community Survey.

You can read the 2010-2014 City of Irvine Consolidated Plan here.

Thank you for taking the time to complete the survey!

By a Veteran, For Veterans Job Search Guide

jobs.vets.01

by Omar Masry

[Note: This “By a Veteran, For Veterans Job Search Guide” was written by my friend Omar Masry, formerly a city planner for the City of Irvine and now a city planner for the City and County of San Francisco. Omar served in the U.S. Army in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.  It is reposted, with his permission, from the website of the City and County of San Francisco Veterans’ Affairs Commission. Much of Omar’s great advice works for non-veteran job seekers, too.]

You must approach the description and translation of your military responsibilities, experiences, and accomplishments in the proper manner to perspective employers. I am a veteran of the U.S. Army Reserves and currently a San Francisco City Planner.

Omar Masry, Melissa Fox, melissafoxblog, melissajoifox, Irvine Community Services Commissioner Melissa Fox, Melissa Fox for Irvine

Author Omar Masry in Iraq, 2003.

Here is my “By a Veteran, For Veterans” job search guide:

Alpha

If a hiring manager has to read through four pages of a resume to quickly figure out a quick sense of your job history and your education, you’re doing it wrong!

To make your resume more concise and comprehensible, use bullet points:

Think in 3’s. First, indicate your duties.

Second, indicate something you improved upon or built or were proud (be confident, not cocky. Better to say you excelled/achieved/initiated than to say you were awesome/on point/hard charging).

Third, highlight a transition to a sub-specialty within the job or a special project.

Fourth, add a few more bullet points for jobs with more relevance to the position you are applying for.

Finally, use action verbs as first word of a few bullet points, such as “completed,” “managed,” “built,” etc.

Bravo

Chronological job listing is NOT a requirement; especially if it doesn’t pertain to the job you are applying for. You can put previous jobs in order of relevance, especially if you recently took a part time temp job to make ends meet, but you’ve had more substantial/relevant jobs a year or two ago.

Charlie

Education versus work experience. If new to workforce, education should come at the top of the resume, then experience. If your school experience involved hands-on application relevant to the job, then mention it.

While there are websites where you can enter your MOS and rank/pay grade and find a “civilian” job translation, bear in mind some of the answers are a bit odd/lame/irrelevant. If you try it, only use it as a starting point.

Delta

State accomplishments in numbers/scale; whether $$$, number of people managed, square footage built, state the measurements of what is measurable. For example: You were a Finance Clerk in the Military. An employer has no idea from that title if you handed out $20 bills to buy stuff from the Post Exchange or if you balance ledger books for million dollar accounts.

Echo

Save the resume as a PDF. Don’t hire a resume writer; it’s often a waste of $100-200.

Test, test, test any links to a resume but still send a PDF resume.

If the job is one where you’d like to post examples of projects online (designs, videos, news articles about your work). Include it as a link on the resume and use a service like http://bit.ly or http://tinyurl.com to create a shortened link.

If you work with a recruiter they will want a word document version, and PDF. They often add a logo and other information.

Foxtrot

Military Supervision/Management experience. Explain your rank and the size of any group you led. Were you akin to a Supervisor, a manager, or CEO?

Most civilian managers don’t know what a Sergeant or Captain means. If you indicate you lead a squad or platoon, they don’t know if that means 5 or 50 soldiers.

Did you engage in counseling, write performance or counseling reviews? If so, convey that!

Many employers assume it’s all akin to boot camp and you yell all day, when it came to supervisory experience in the military. Highlight your ability to engage in effective written counseling. Brag (mildly) if you improved outcomes or morale.

Golf

You’re a bit special; your experience might make some managers awkward about asking questions (so you’re not alone in terms of comfort level).

Hiring managers with no military experience might wonder: if you come back “unable to deal” with the lack of a strict work structure; can you function amongst a lot of hippies/hipsters? Play up the fact that you probably dealt with all types in the military. If you think it will work with the interviewer use sports analogies at times.

Hotel

Don’t use military acronyms. If you use terms that sound “unique” then put a short explanation next to it. For example: “Psychological Operations (battlefield public relations/media engagement)”

India

Create a LinkedIn profile. Remove/block photos of you acting a fool on social media sites. Don’t be afraid of establishing a professional facing profile on Twitter or Facebook.

Juliet

If you do all this, and you don’t have someone else, who is a professional, read your resume, then you’re wasting your time. Don’t be shy about asking. If you don’t know anyone personally, and you’re in a small town, check with the EDD (Employment Development Department, or organizations like Kiwanis, Rotary, the Chamber of Commerce, etc.). They’re often looking for opportunities to connect with and mentor vets.

Kilo

Intel. Use Google.com/alerts to receive an email every time a search term shows up online. Follow a company or field and receive emails about it automatically from Google. Read the mission statement of the company you’re applying to (often in the “About Us” portion of the website). Follow interesting companies on LinkedIn, Twitter, and/or Facebook (people sometimes notice it then reach out to you).

Lima

Volunteer or intern. UnitedWay, Friends of the Library, Veteran’s Affairs, Habitat for Humanity, Red Cross, County Parks, City Hall, local Federal agencies like a nearby National Park. Sometimes, what starts out as an unpaid internship can turn to a paid opportunity.

Mike

Practice! Print out some interview questions and ask your friend to interview you or record yourself. Reduce your likelihood of using words like “um,” or rambling.

November

Spell check every resume, cover letter, and email to the company!

October

White space! Leave some room on your resume so it doesn’t have an overwhelming sense of being too full of text. Print it out and take a look at your resume. There is no magic rule on the number of pages (less is more), but generally the first page should convey a fairly complete sense of relevant job history and education. If needed, try to only use the 2nd page to list certifications, and other less relevant jobs.

Papa

Include the same keywords in your resume (to the extent relevant) that are in the job description (e.g. technical qualifications/concepts, lead, manage, supervise).

Quebec

Strongly advise against expensive private schools in combination with private loans. Be very skeptical on job placement claims. Always ask for increases in Subsidized Stafford versus Unsubsidized Stafford loans whenever job or medical or family expenses change for worse. Do not be afraid to ask for assistance/scholarships. It’s a hand-up, not a handout. You’ll do far more for yourself, and your Country if you take advantage of any assistance now and succeed in the long run.

Romeo

Did you come back from serving, act a fool one night, and get caught up with a misdemeanor? If so, get it expunged. Start the paperwork 2-3 months before you are off probation. If you need help, write a letter asking your County’s public defender if they have a “Clean Slate” (San Francisco Example: http://sfpublicdefender.org/services/clean-slate/), or similar program; in Orange County, contact the Legal Aid Society for help. Check with local law firms (written letter, not a phone call/email), if they do any pro bono (free) legal work with Vets. You’d be surprised how often they just might say yes.

Sierra

Dress Code. Even if it’s some funky/hip company and they all wear jeans, you’re still wearing a suit to the first interview. No sport watch, white socks, or funky ties.

Tango

Your turn: when you are asked if you have any questions during the interview, don’t ask about salary or hours. Instead, ask for a description of workplace culture and priorities. Ask what would make a person successful in this position. Show an interest in any interesting mentions that came up earlier.

Uniform

Consider taking notes during interview. Often times you’ll receive a two-part question. The trick is making sure to look down at your notes and not forget to answer the second part of the question.

Victor

Send a thank you letter; by email OR written letter. Yes, it may seem cheesy, but it’s important. I’ve seen an example where a Vet was only contacted after the interview because he sent in a thank you letter. Or times when the Vet didn’t get the specific job they applied for but received a call months later because another position opened up. Don’t ramble in your letter, but use two or three bullet points in your letter as an opportunity to build upon the interview.

Whiskey

Don’t use the phrase “references available upon request.” If you are asked for a list of references before/after the interview, then list their contact information and also include two to three sentences about how you interacted with them. Did you report to them? Was that person a peer who can speak to your ability to work in a team?

X-ray

Team… highlight your ability to work in a team environment (often with folks you would have never known had you not joined the military) and what you specifically contributed to the team, especially if the job involves small team groupings.

Yankee

Get excited about the next phase of your career. Opportunity is out there. Don’t believe me? Check out tech resources for vets, TED talks for job search inspiration, these job and skill specific job sites, or VetNet (Hire Heroes USA and Google’s Partnership to Help Veterans).

Zulu

Stay the course, and stay on point. Finding a career is a job in itself.

Join Our Next Irvine Food Tour: A Spectacular Dim Sum Lunch at Capital Seafood!

Capital Seafood Irvine, Melissa Fox, Irvine Commissioner Melissa Fox, melissafoxblog.com

“The shared meal elevates eating from a mechanical process of fueling the body to a ritual of family and community, from the mere animal biology to an act of culture.” ― Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto (2008)

Please join us as we continue our Irvine Food Tour with Commissioner Melissa Fox and UCI Professor Catherine Liu, showcasing and sharing our wonderful cultural diversity in Irvine as expressed in scores of amazing local restaurants and markets featuring cuisines as diverse as Irvine’s population!

Our next food tour stop is on Thursday, May 8, 2014, at 1:30 pm for a spectacular Hong Kong style Dim Sum lunch at Capital Seafood at 2700 Alton Pkwy #127, Irvine, CA 92606, in the Diamond Jamboree Center.

Capital Seafood Irvine, Melissa Fox, Irvine Commissioner Melissa Fox, melissafoxblog.comOur expert hosts will be Professor Catherine Liu and Capital Seafood General Manager James Tea, who will curate a diverse, vegetarian friendly, selection of dim sum.

Dim Sum is a style of Cantonese food prepared as bite-sized or individual portions, traditionally served in small steamer baskets or on small plates. In restaurants, dim sum dishes are carted around for customers to choose their orders while seated at their tables. You are offered an assortment of dishes and pick what you like.

Scholars believe that dim sum is linked to the Chinese teahouses that sprung up to accommodate weary travelers journeying along the famous Silk Road, providing them with tea and conversation while eating an assortment of bite size dishes.

In the west, dim sum came about as a natural result of 19th century Chinese immigrants – many of whom were from the Canton region – settling on the East and West coasts.  Some experts believe that the dim sum eaten by Chinese-American immigrants inspired the idea of “brunch” – combining breakfast and lunch into one relaxing midmorning meal.

Dim Sum is the perfect way to try new and varied food.

Capital Seafood offers over 100 types of dim sum, including classics shiu mai (pork dumplings), har gow (shrimp dumplings) and steamed bbq pork buns, as well as dishes such as dried scallop in sticky rice, cheong fun (rice noodle rolls), and crispy fried squid.

For vegetarians (like me), there are a host of deliciously prepared Chinese vegetables (such as Chinese broccoli, pea sprouts, bok choy) and vegetable dumplings.

Oh – and leave room for delicious deserts like egg pudding, egg tarts, and crispy bread with almond cream filling!

As always, there’s going to be great food and great conversation!

What: Dim Sum Lunch on the Irvine Food Tour with Commissioner Melissa Fox and Professor Catherine Liu. Hosted by Capital Seafood General Manager James Tea.
When: Thursday, May 8, 2014, at 1:30 PM
Where: Capital Seafood at 2700 Alton Pkwy #127, Irvine, CA 92606, in the Diamond Jamboree Center.
Price: Prix Fixe $25.00 (before tip).

If you have any questions, please contact me at 949-683-8855 or melissa@melissafoxlaw.com.

See you there!

Upcoming Food Tour Destinations:

Diamond Jamboree Tour – TBA

Previous Irvine Food Tour Destinations:

Da Lu’au Hawaiian Grill14151 Jeffrey Rd, Irvine, CA 92620.

99 Ranch Market, 15333 Culver Dr., Irvine, CA 92604

Gourmet Grill Masters Restaurant, 14141 Jeffrey Road, Irvine, CA 92620

Mokkoki Shabu Restaurant, 14041 Jeffrey Rd., Irvine, CA 92620

Four Sea Restaurant, 15435 Jeffrey Rd., Irvine 92618 (Jeffrey and Irvine Center Drive)

Please note: The Irvine Food Tour is the creation of Melissa Fox and Dr. Catherine Liu, based on their love of Irvine’s many cultures and cuisines and their desire to share Irvine’s many wonderful cultures and cuisines with you, and is not an official activity or event of the City of Irvine.

Welcoming the Orange County Blues Football Club to Irvine!

OC Blues, Melissa Fox, melissafoxblog.com, Melissa Fox for Irvine

I had the honor yesterday of representing the City of Irvine in ceremonies welcoming the Orange County Blues Football Club to its new home at UC Irvine’s Anteater Stadium.

Founded in 2010 as the Los Angeles Blues, the team plays in the USL Professional Division, the third tier of the American Soccer Pyramid. Its owner is Ali Mansouri and its manager is soccer great Daryuosh Yazdani.

Irvine — a thriving young city that loves soccer and is attracting a growing population from all over the world — is the perfect location for this dynamic young soccer club, full of talented players from around the globe.

Here is what I said:

OC Blues, Melissa Fox, melissafoxblog.com, Melissa Fox for Irvine

Melissa Fox presenting City of Irvine Certificate of Recognition to OC Blues owner Ali Mansouri

“On behalf of the City of Irvine and the Irvine City Council, I would like to enthusiastically welcome the Orange County Blues Football Club to Irvine. We are thrilled to have you!

Many professional players have come from Orange County and Irvine is excited to host this new era in Southern California soccer.

Like many others here, I grew up playing AYSO soccer and we are so pleased to have a new professional team of our own to root for!

We appreciate the business and revenue you bring to our community, the sportsmanship and skill you display on the field, and the opportunity your organization provides to host a professional sports franchise.

OC Blues LogoWe look forward to cheering your effort on the pitch, tonight and every night you play.

Congratulations!

Thank you!

And good luck!

Go OC Blues!”

The Orange County Blues went on to crush the Harrisburg City Islanders in a 4-1 victory in front of more than 600 happy fans.

For tickets future games, call (714) 738-8011, email seats@bluessoccerclub.com or visit www.ocbluesfc.com. If you can’t make it to the game, you can watch the live stream online, via the OC Blues FC’s official YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/OCBluesFC.

The next home game is on Sunday, April 27, 2014, at 4:00 PM versus LA Galaxy II at UCI’s Anteater Stadium, 4000 Mesa Road, Irvine CA 92617.

Tickets are only $15.

Go OC Blues!

Earth Day: Preserving Irvine’s Earth-Friendly Tradition

earth day 2014 poster.  Irvine Commissioner Melissa Fox. melissafoxblog.com.

Irvine’s Earth-Friendly Tradition

The City of Irvine has long been a leader in earth-friendly environmental policies, green technology and environmental awareness.  Irvine’s environmental programs have been on the leading edge of advances in green building and construction, environmental education, recycling, water conservation, waste disposal, and energy saving.

Irvine has also demonstrated its commitment to green buildings through the enactment of the Irvine Build Green Program, which encourages builders to create environmentally sensitive, healthier developments for its residents, businesses and visitors.

sanjoaquin.  Irvine Commissioner Melissa Fox. melissafoxblog.com.  photo by Geoff Fox.

In addition, Irvine’s Green Ribbon Environmental Committee, under the jurisdiction of the Community Services Commission, advises the City Council on matters related to climate protection, energy, recycling, waste management, sustainability, transportation, and water, helping the City serve the community through advancing environmental policy initiatives and programs.

The Irvine Chamber of Commerce is also helping Irvine get greener with its new Irvine Green Business Certification Program, which helps improve its members’ bottom lines by reducing energy and waste costs, and by providing access to tax credits, rebates and incentives. This certification will also allow the Chamber to encourage Irvine businesses to take steps to “green” their business as a means to protect the environment, save money, and use energy more efficiently.

Irvine.green.sanjoaquin.  Irvine Commissioner Melissa Fox. melissafoxblog.com. photo by Geoff Fox.

Irvine also offers numerous other environmentally conscious programs, including the National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation, in which Irvine residents and businesses are encouraged to join this friendly, national competition by pledging to conserve water and other resources. This program and other environmental programs are detailed on the City of Irvine’s website, as are the City’s Annual Earth Day Tips to Save Resources and Money.

Irvine’s Open Spaces

Irvine.sunset.  Irvine Commissioner Melissa Fox. melissafoxblog.com. photo by Geoff Fox.

One of the best — and most distinctive — qualities of Irvine is our commitment to preserving open space. The City of Irvine has more than 16,000 acres of permanently preserved parkland and open space – remarkable for a city of our size.

In 1974, early in our city’s history, voters approved multi-million dollar measures to fund public parks and recreational facilities, and for the acquisition and development of bicycle trail and hiking trail improvements.

In 1989, the City negotiated an historic agreement with the Irvine Company that set aside more than 9,500 acres as permanent open space marshlands, bike trails, parks, nature conservancies and agricultural areas, protecting fully one-third of the city from development.

In addition, in 2006, nearly 37,000 acres of the Irvine Ranch were selected as a National Natural Landmark, a designation which reflects the outstanding condition, rarity, diversity, and value to science and education of the natural resources on the land.

Irvine.trail.  Irvine Commissioner Melissa Fox. melissafoxblog.com. photo by Geoff Fox.

As our Irvine Open Space Preserve website explains, “Since its incorporation in 1971, Irvine has had a strong desire to balance the built and natural environment. As this incredible master-planned community has grown, each phase of development has been accompanied by the preservation and enhancement of natural open spaces, creating the network of parks, trails, and wildlands that residents and visitors may enjoy today and for generations to come.”

Irvine: A Bicycle-Friendly City

Irvine bicycle sunset.  Irvine Commissioner Melissa Fox. melissafoxblog.com.

Irvine has also been recognized as the most bicycle-friendly in Southern California by the League of American Bicyclists, the oldest and largest membership organization of cyclists in the United States.

Irvine is indeed a wonderful city for biking, whether for commuting, exercising, or just enjoying the outdoors. We currently have 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.

We also know that we can — and will — do even better in the future.  As in other California cities, Irvine residents primarily rely on their cars to get around town.  But Irvine has also made it a priority to support and encourage other, environmentally conscious, forms of transportation – including walking and biking.

In fact, we’ve just conducted an important study to better understand how residents, employees, and visitors walk, bike or get around Irvine. The results of this study will help us make better transportation decisions for our community, and help us increase the ease and safety of biking and walking around town.

Irvine as Solar Capitol USA

Irvine Commissioner Melissa Fox at Solar Decathlon

Irvine Commissioner Melissa Fox at Solar Decathlon

Irvine is now an international center for the development of efficient, environmentally conscious solar energy as the home of the United States Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon, the award-winning international competition held every two years that challenges college teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive.

In 2013, the Solar Decathlon was held for first time outside of Washington, D.C.– at the Great Park, here in Irvine. The 2015 Solar Decathlon will be held once again here in Irvine, which can now claim the title of the nation’s energy innovation capitol.

Keeping Our Commitment

From its beginnings as a visionary master-planned community developed from the Irvine Ranch, the City of Irvine has striven to be simultaneously people-friendly, business-friendly, and earth-friendly. That success can continue into the future, as long as we insist that each phase of our City’s development be accompanied by careful planning and the preservation and enhancement of our environment.

Join Us on Our Next Irvine Food Tour Destination: Da Lu’au Hawaiian Grill!

da luThe shared meal is no small thing. It is a foundation of family life, the place where our children learn the art of conversation and acquire the habits of civilization.” Michael Pollan, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation (2013) 

Please join us as we continue our Irvine Food Tour with Commissioner Melissa Fox and UCI Professor Catherine Liu, showcasing and sharing our wonderful cultural diversity in Irvine as expressed in scores of amazing local restaurants and markets featuring cuisines as diverse as Irvine’s population!

Our next food tour stop is on Monday, April 21, 2014, at 6:00 pm for a casual and delicious dinner at Da Lu’au Hawaiian Grill, 14151 Jeffrey Rd, Irvine, CA 92620.

Our host and Irvine Food Tour guide will be Da Lu’au Hawaiian Grill’s owner Marc Ner will introduce us to his delicious island cuisine that has gotten rave reviews.

The menu includes Kalua Pork, Chicken and Pork Katsu, Beef Jun, Kalbi Ribs, Coconut Shrimp, Loco Moco and Poke Bowl.

There are vegetarian and kid-friendly options.

And save room for shaved ice for dessert!

Each diner will purchase their own items from the counter.

As always, there’s going to be great food and great conversation!

What: “Irvine Food Tour with Commissioner Melissa Fox and Professor Catherine Liu.”
When: Monday, April 21, 2014, at 6:00 PM
Where: Da Lu’au Hawaiian Grill, 14151 Jeffrey Rd, Irvine, CA 92620

If you have any questions, please contact me at 949-683-8855 or melissa@melissafoxlaw.com.

Upcoming Food Tour Destinations:

Dim Sum Lunch at Capital Sea Food — 1:30 pm on May 8, 2014 (Please RSVP now!)

Diamond Jamboree Tour — TBA

Previous Irvine Food Tour Destinations:

99 Ranch Market, 15333 Culver Dr., Irvine, CA 92604

Gourmet Grill Masters Restaurant, 14141 Jeffrey Road, Irvine, CA 92620

Mokkoki Shabu Restaurant, 14041 Jeffrey Rd., Irvine, CA 92620

Four Sea Restaurant, 15435 Jeffrey Rd., Irvine 92618 (Jeffrey and Irvine Center Drive)

Please note: The Irvine Food Tour is the creation of Melissa Fox and Dr. Catherine Liu, based on their love of Irvine’s many cultures and cuisines and their desire to share Irvine’s many wonderful cultures and cuisines with you, as well to support local businesses, and is not an official activity or event of the City of Irvine.

Join Us on Our Next Irvine Food Tour Destination: 99 Ranch Market and Bread Farm Bakery!

“There is no love sincerer than the love of food.” George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman (1903)

Please join me as we continue our Irvine Food Tour with Commissioner Melissa Fox and UCI Professor Catherine Liu, showcasing and sharing our wonderful cultural diversity in Irvine as expressed in scores of amazing restaurants and markets featuring cuisines as diverse as Irvine’s population.

Our next food tour stop is on Friday, March 14, 2014, at 4:30 pm for a guided store tour (with samples) and then dinner at Irvine’s 99 Ranch Market on 15333 Culver Drive.

Founded by Taiwanese American immigrant Roger H. Chen in Orange County’s Little Saigon neighborhood in 1984, 99 Ranch Market has grown to become the largest Asian American supermarket in the United States, with over 35 store locations in California, Nevada, Texas and Washington State.

The 99 Ranch Market on Culver Drive in Irvine also features a newly opened Bread Farm Bakery and Café, which offers customers traditional Taiwanese and European bread and pastries, prepared fresh every day. Bread Farm Bakery is the first endeavor for Executive Chef Haruka Lin, who headed 99 Ranch’s pastry department for the past several years. Chef Lin was trained in Taiwan and served as a pastry chef at the Grand Hyatt in Taipei.

Irvine Food Tour co-host Catherine Liu is Professor of Film & Media Studies and Director of the UCI Humanities Collective. Professor Liu studied at Yale University and received her Ph.D. in French from the Graduate Center, CUNY.  She also speaks Mandarin Chinese, German, Italian, and Spanish.

As always, there’s going to be great food and great conversation!

What: “Irvine Food Tour with Commissioner Melissa Fox and Professor Catherine Liu.”
When: Friday, March 14, 2014, at 4:30 PM
Where: 15333 Culver Dr., Irvine, CA 92604

If you have any questions, please contact me at 949-683-8855 or melissa@melissafoxlaw.com.

Previous Irvine Food Tour Destinations:

Gourmet Grill Masters Restaurant, 14141 Jeffrey Road, Irvine, CA 92620
Mokkoki Shabu Restaurant, 14041 Jeffrey Rd., Irvine, CA 92620
Four Sea Restaurant, 15435 Jeffrey Rd., Irvine 92618 (Jeffrey and Irvine Center Drive)

UPDATE:

Teresa Leung

Teresa Leung

Our host will be 99 Ranch Marketing Associate Teresa Leung.  Teresa is a specialist in exposing Asian cuisines and Asian culture to the larger SoCal community.

The store tour will start at 4:30 pm and last approximately 30-40 minutes.  It is suggested that we bring a jacket, since it gets cold in the store.

Teresa and 99 Ranch staff will guide us around each department of the store with food sampling along the way: Produce, Drinks, Meat, Seafood, Dairy, Freezer, Bread Farm, Asian Kitchen and Deli.

We will conclude the guided tour at the Hot Deli department with samples, around 5:10

We will then take a group photo prior to dinner and may purchase our own meals.

Again, if you have any questions, please contact me at 949-683-8855 or melissa@melissafoxlaw.com.

Reservations are not necessary, but are requested so we can better estimate the size of our group.

I hope you’ll join us!

Melissa

Please note: The Irvine Food Tour is the creation of Melissa Fox and Dr. Catherine Liu, based on their love of Irvine’s many cultures and cuisines and their desire to share Irvine’s many wonderful cultures and cuisines with you, as well to support local businesses, and is not an official activity or event of the City of Irvine.

Irvine Gets Greener as the Irvine Chamber of Commerce Launches Green Business Certification Program

Green_BuildingThe City of Irvine has long been a leader in environmental policies, green technology, and environmental awareness.  Irvine’s environmental programs have been on the leading edge of advances in green building and construction, environmental education, industrial and household recycling, composting, water conservation, waste disposal, and energy saving.  Irvine has also demonstrated its commitment to green buildings through the enactment of the Irvine Build Green Program, which encourages builders to create environmentally sensitive, healthier developments for its residents, businesses, and visitors.

Chamber.green.02In addition, Irvine’s Green Ribbon Environmental Committee, under the jurisdiction of the Community Services Commission, advises the City Council on matters related to climate protection, energy, recycling, waste management, sustainability, transportation, and water, and seeks to increase public participation in energy conservation and sustainable practices, helping the City serve the community through advancing environmental policy initiatives and programs.

Now Irvine is getting even greener as the Irvine Chamber of Commerce launches its Irvine Green Business Certification Program.  The program is designed to help improve its members’ bottom lines by reducing energy and waste costs, and by providing access to tax credits, rebates and incentives. This certification will also allow the Chamber to encourage Irvine businesses to take steps to “green” their business as a means to protect the environment, save money, and use energy more efficiently.

Sustaining a high quality environment is the goal of the program and the Chamber’s 800+ membership will be invited and encouraged to take part in implementing important actions that will both save them money and improve the environment.

Sponsored by seven founding companies dedicated to green initiatives – Eberle Co., Waste Management of O.C., Ware Disposal Co. Inc., Atria Senior Living, Rancho Santiago Business & Entrepreneurship Center, Goodwill of Orange County, and Enlightened Energy Services – the Chamber has created an innovative program that recognizes small to medium sized businesses that strive to protect, preserve, and sustain our environment.

To be considered for certification and recognition, a company must be an Irvine business demonstrating green business practices in each of the following areas:

  • Waste Reduction & Recycling
  • Green Purchasing
  • Energy Efficiency & Conservation
  • Alternative Transportation
  • Water Conservation & Pollution Prevention
  • Staff Training & Public Awareness

“The Chamber is developing a model,” says Steve Eberle, owner of Eberle Company and Chair of the Chamber’s Green Task Force, “that builds awareness and establishes a benchmark for building owners, managers, and tenants who want efficiencies, cost savings, and bragging rights.”

Eberle also believes that just as the USGBC LEED Program recognizes buildings and its owners for completing a rigorous site, water, energy, atmosphere, materials and indoor environmental air quality and efficiency program, the Chamber program provides building occupiers the opportunity to adopt simple practices that will immediately save the company money, raise consciousness among employees and industry colleagues, and earn recognition for helping to sustain the quality of life in Irvine.

The Chamber’s message to Irvine’s businesses is that participation in the Irvine Green Business Certification Program makes financial as well as environmental sense, will build a more sustainable community, and will have the potential to increase market demand for local green products and services.

In the words of Irvine Chamber’s President and CEO Tallia Hart, the Green Certification Program “is designed to help our Irvine business members easily adopt simple, smart practices that can save you money immediately, improve your company bottom line over time and contribute to preserving and enhancing the quality of our business life now and into the future.”

Irvine will be the first city in Orange County to implement this innovative program.

The Irvine Green Business Certification Program is available at no cost for retail, wholesale, manufacturers, distributors, refineries, and legal and medical offices — in fact, any Irvine company is eligible.

Congratulations to the Irvine Chamber of Commerce for creating its new Green Business Certification Program, a very welcome addition to Irvine’s tradition of public and private environmental leadership!

Join Us on Our Next Irvine Food Tour Destination with Irvine Commissioner Melissa Fox and UCI Professor Catherine Liu!

Mokkoji

“Food, meals, rituals, and sociability are integral building blocks of civil society . . . tied to the civic virtues of thoughtfulness and generosity practiced in everyday life in foodwork and mealtime conversations.” Janet A. Flammang, The Taste for Civilization: Food, Politics, and Civil Society

As we said when we initiated our Irvine Food Tour, our wonderful cultural diversity in Irvine is expressed in many forms and it should come as no surprise that Irvine is home to scores of amazing restaurants featuring cuisines as diverse as Irvine’s population.

I would like to share my love of Irvine’s many cultures and cuisines with you.

Please join me as we continue our Irvine Food Tour with Commissioner Melissa Fox and UCI Professor Catherine Liu.

Our next tour stop is on Monday, November 11, 2013, at 6:00 PM for dinner at Irvine’s fantastic Mokkoji restaurant, featuring contemporary Japanese shabu-shabu cuisine.

Our very special host will be Mokkiji’s owner and chef Tommy Kim, who will guide us through an extraordinary dining experience!

There’s going to be great food and great conversation.

What: “Irvine Food Tour with Commissioner Melissa Fox and Professor Catherine Liu.”
When: Monday, November 11, 2013, at 6:00 PM
Where: Mokkoki Shabu Restaurant, 14041 Jeffrey Rd., Irvine, CA 92620

If you have any questions, please contact me at 949-683-8855 or melissa@melissafoxlaw.com.

See you there!

[Photo by The City Stroll and used with permission.]

Please note: The Irvine Food Tour is the creation of Melissa Fox and Dr. Catherine Liu, based on their love of Irvine’s many cultures and cuisines and their desire to share Irvine’s many wonderful cultures and cuisines with you, as well to support local businesses, and is not an official activity or event of the City of Irvine.

Irvine Food Tour with Commissioner Melissa Fox and Professor Catherine Liu — Join Us!

Geoff.carrots.01“You can judge the diversity of a community by the diversity of its restaurants.”

“Great communities have great restaurants.”

If these quotations aren’t real, they should be. One of the many blessings that have come to the City of Irvine as a result of its great cultural diversity is an extraordinary number of wonderful restaurants featuring cuisine from around the globe.

Food is an expression of culture and a central focus of family life. Here in Irvine, our cultural diversity is expressed in many forms, including restaurants. It should come as no surprise that Irvine is home to scores of amazing restaurants featuring cuisine as diverse as Irvine’s population.

I would like to share my love of Irvine’s many cultures and cuisines with you. That’s why I’ve launched “Irvine Food Tour with Commissioner Melissa Fox.”

It is also an opportunity to support our local Irvine businesses.

Our first Irvine Food Tour with Commissioner Melissa Fox is set for this coming Friday, October 11th at 12:00 Noon, and will be co-hosted by UCI Professor Catherine Liu.

Join us at Four Sea Restaurant, 15435 Jeffrey Rd. in Irvine, serving Northern Chinese delicacies brought to us through Taiwan. Professor Liu will make suggestions and answer questions while guiding you through traditional Taiwanese Cuisine. She explains: “This will be a great opportunity to try some Chinese breakfast that isn’t dim sum.”

Catherine Liu is Professor of Film & Media Studies and Director of the UCI Humanities Collective. She studied at Yale University and received her Ph.D. in French from the Graduate Center, CUNY. She also speaks Mandarin Chinese, German, Italian, and Spanish.

There’s going to be great food and great conversation.

Hope you will join us!

What: “Irvine Food Tour with Commissioner Melissa Fox and Professor Catherine Liu.”
When: Friday, October 11, 2013, at 12:00 Noon
Where: Four Sea Restaurant, 15435 Jeffrey Rd., Irvine 92618 (Jeffrey and Irvine Center Drive)

If you have any questions, please contact me at 949-683-8855 or melissa@melissafoxlaw.com.

See you there!

Please note: The Irvine Food Tour is the creation of Melissa Fox and Dr. Catherine Liu, based on their love of Irvine’s many cultures and cuisines and their desire to share Irvine’s many wonderful cultures and cuisines with you, as well to support local businesses, and is not an official activity or event of the City of Irvine.

Irvine Tops List of America’s “Thriving Cities”

3145058447_3e21b68641

The popular news and opinion website The Daily Beast recently set out to discover the cities that most exemplify America’s post-recession progress – America’s Top 20 “Thriving Cities.”

They discovered that Irvine is Number One.

According to the article, they “wanted to find the cities with growing populations, with more job prospects, and a better chance to climb the income ladder. Once we found where people were going, we looked at the environment they would find. These are cities with a thriving housing market and the intellectual capital to innovate and improve. Finally, we considered municipal bond ratings.”

To come with their list, they “looked at the 100 largest cities in the U.S. and compared them in categories of population growth (20 percent), employment and earnings (30 percent), market strength (20 percent), infrastructure (15 percent), and intellectual capital (15 percent) and weighted them accordingly. We used data from the U.S. Census, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Equality of Opportunity Project, Moody’s Credit Services, Zillow, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.”

The Top 20 “Thriving Cities” are:

1. Irvine, California
2. San Jose, California
3. Fremont, California
4. Austin, Texas
5. San Francisco, California
6. Seattle, Washington
7. Plano, Texas
8. Gilbert, Texas
9. Orlando, Florida
10. San Diego, California
11. Washington, D.C.
12. Chandler, Arizona
13. Denver, Colorado
14. Madison, Wisconsin
15. Scottsdale, Arizona
16. Boston, Massachusetts
17. Irving, Texas
18. Raleigh, North Carolina
19. Minneapolis, Minnesota
20. Lincoln, Nebraska

The article points out that while some economists and journalists – and, of course, politicians — have been acting like Chicken Littles telling us that the economic sky is falling, the evidence shows that “local economies are actually improving. In fact, it’s perhaps more illustrative of the state of the nation to find places that are thriving post-recession.”  This is certainly true in Irvine, where we have seen our property values increase and our population surge, our unemployment decline, and city revenues far exceed budget estimates.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines “thrive” as “grow or develop well or vigorously.”

Yes, Irvine is thriving — but is it Irvine developing too fast?  Has growth exceeded planning?  Is Irvine now in danger of too much growth, too fast, creating overcrowded schools, traffic congestion, and presenting a danger to our quality of life?

Moving forward, we can do even better for our schools, our parks, our neighborhoods, our seniors, and our local businesses.