Watch My Town Hall Meeting!

I held a public Town Hall Meeting at the Irvine Championship Stadium in the Great Park on Saturday, October 21, where we discussed traffic, childcare, the Southern California Veterans Cemetery, affordable housing, and other issues of interest to Irvine residents.

I was joined by several of my city commissioners, as well as by members of the Irvine Police Department, who were also there to answer questions.

Several dozen Irvine residents spoke and asked questions, and I thank everyone who attended.

Here are some photos from the event:

I really enjoyed the open, public dialogue with Irvine residents, and I intend to make these Town Hall Meetings a regular part of my work as an Irvine City Councilmember.

You can watch the complete October 21 Town Hall Meeting on my YouTube channel (Melissa Fox, Irvine City Council) here:

 

 

 

 

 

Join Us Tonight for the Ride of Silence

Join us tonight, Wednesday, May 17, for the Ride of Silence, as we meet once again at Irvine City Hall to remember and honor cyclists who have been killed or injured while cycling on public roadways.

We will begin gathering at 6:00 p.m., assemble at 6:30, and start the ride at 7:00 p.m.

We ride to promote sharing the road and provide awareness of the rights and safety of bicyclists.  Our silent ride also commemorates those who have been killed or injured doing what each of us has a right to do – a right that, far too often, motorists fail to recognize, sometimes with deadly consequences.

Irvine is a wonderful city for biking, whether for commuting, exercising, or just enjoying the outdoors. We have more than 300 miles of on-street bike lanes and more than 50 miles of off-street bikeways.  Our bicycle trails are some of the most beautiful, and peaceful, places in Irvine.

Yet in Irvine, as everywhere else, motorists must learn to better share the road safely with cyclists; that cyclists have the same rights to the road as motorists; and that cyclists are the most vulnerable users of the roadways.

A dozen people were killed in Orange County in 2016 while riding their bikes. This year so far, three cyclists have been killed.  The youngest victim, Brock McCann, was only eight years old.

These individuals were fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, friends, co-workers, as well as cyclists.

Irvine’s Ride of Silence is part of a larger, international movement to commemorate cyclists killed or injured while riding on public roads and to raise awareness among motorists of the dangers they pose to cyclists.

As a bicyclist myself, the mother of a bicyclist, an Irvine resident and an Irvine City Councilmember, and as an advocate for more active transportation as a way to cut pollution and our reliance on fossil fuels, I will ride in the Ride of Silence as a way to honor cyclists who have been killed or injured while cycling on public roadways and to urge the public (and local governments) to do more to protect bicyclists’ safety.

The Ride of Silence asks its cyclists to ride no faster than 12 mph, follow the rules of the road, and remain silent during the ride.  Helmets are mandatory. There are no sponsors and no registration fees. The ride aims to raise the awareness of motorists, police and city officials that cyclists have a legal right to the public roadways. The ride is also a chance to show respect for and honor the lives of those who have been killed or injured.

As the organizers of the Ride of Silence have said: “A pack of single file – silent riders – pacing out for 8 to 10 miles. We will share this hour with each other, and know that thousands across the planet will also have marked the hour in their own time zone; but also raise awareness among the many local motorists who will be witnesses of our sombre parade.”

We must remember that cyclists have legal rights to the road as do motorists and bicyclists are the most vulnerable users of the roadways.

We ride to show respect for and honor the lives of those who have been killed or injured.

We ride to promote public awareness of bicycling safety.

We ride so that no bicyclist is ever again killed or injured because of a motorist’s failure to share the road.

See you there.

Stop in the Name of Love: Irvine Motorists Must Obey Stop Signs and Respect Pedestrians’ Right-of-Way. Our Lives and the Lives of Our Children are at Stake!

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There has been a sharp uptick in complaints about motorists not obeying stop signs in Irvine.

The greatest concern has been expressed in Woodbury, but there have also been rising concerns in other parts of the city, including Cypress Village, Woodbridge, Stonegate, Northpark and Portola Springs.

A number of Irvine residents have posted videos on youtube showing just how dangerous our streets and roads have become.  You can see them here, here, and here.

I am very concerned — as are others — that we will soon see someone seriously injured or killed because a motorist in Irvine did not obey a stop sign or respect a pedestrian’s right of way.

It has happened before: Last year a nine-year-old boy was killed in Cypress Village when his bicycle was struck by a motorist.  The year before, I friend of mine was struck by a motorist and killed in Woodbridge as he crossed the street while Trick or Treating with his young son.

The statistics are chilling: California leads the nation in pedestrian traffic deaths.

Each year, more 700 pedestrians are killed by motor vehicles in California.

In California, 23% of all motor vehicle fatalities were pedestrians — well above the national average.

The primary responsibility for protecting pedestrians belongs to motorists; all motorists must watch out for pedestrians, especially children, and obey all stop signs.

If you see a motorist failing to obey a stop sign or endangering pedestrians, take down their license plate number and contact the Irvine Police Department at 949-724-7000.  You can also call the Irvine Traffic Research and Control (ITRAC) Center at 949-724-7324.

Irvine is world-famous as a safe place to live and raise our families.

But it won’t stay that way unless all Irvine’s motorists obey the stop signs and respect pedestrians’ right-of-way.

It’s not just our reputation as America’s safest city that is on the line.

Our lives, and the lives of our children, are at stake.

 

 

Stop Human Trafficking in Irvine: Look Beneath the Surface

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Irvine is among the safest cities in America.  Yet even here in Irvine, where crime statistics are extremely low, others are forced to labor against their will.  We need to be alert for those who live and work among us and are enslaved. To recognize and stop it, we will need to look beneath the surface.

Here are some disturbing facts about human trafficking:

  • Human trafficking is a term for a modern form of slavery.  It is a criminal human rights violation.
  • All trafficking victims share one essential experience: the loss of freedom.
  • There are more slaves today than at any time in human history.
  • 20.9 million people around the world are victims of human trafficking.
  • Human trafficking is one of the fastest growing crimes in the world, second only to drug trafficking.
  • The world-wide business of human trafficking brings in an estimated $150 billion a year.
  • According to the U.S. State Department, approximately two million women and children are victims of human trafficking every year.
  • Half of human trafficking victims are younger than 16 years old.

Human trafficking is taking place right before our eyes, in our own communities and places of business.  It occurs in our office buildings, malls, restaurants, and hotels, as well as in residential brothels and street-based commercial sex establishments.

In most cases, human trafficking is hidden in plain sight – disguised by being right out in the open, masquerading as a legitimate business, such as a nail salon or janitorial company.

Unless we know what to look for, we will probably not even see it.

slavery_look_beneath_surface_girlIn the area of sex-based slavery, businesses appear and disappear overnight. Customers seeking their services find them on internet chat rooms. Women held captive in these businesses are moved frequently between locations and cities.  Traffickers do not want the women to learn too much about their location or to have relationships with customers or others who could help them escape. Too often, victims of sex trafficking do not even know that we would consider them to be victims of a crime.

Labor traffickers use individuals to perform labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion. Labor trafficking includes situations of debt bondage, forced labor, and involuntary child labor. Often the victims of human trafficking owe large debts they are unable to pay it off, or were recruited through false promises concerning the nature and conditions of his/her work.  People are promised immigration, documentation, education, a career, and then are forced into slave labor or debt bondage and kept isolated and beaten, with no identification, and are told that they will be punished or imprisoned by legal authorities rather than helped.

Traffickers most often prey on the most vulnerable, the undocumented, and on non-English speakers.  But traffickers prey on all nationalities, including native-born American.

Victims and their captors are often from the same ethnic group and might even know each other’s families, so the threat of violence against relatives at home is used to control them.

We can stop human trafficking by knowing what to look for and then reporting our observations to local authorities or the National Hotline at 888-373-7888.

At the airport, look for travelers who are not dressed appropriately for the weather or who have few or no personal items, are less well dressed than their companions, or wearing clothes that are the wrong size; have a tattoo of a bar code, or the word “Daddy,” or man’s name; cannot provide details of their departure location, destination, or flight information.

Also look for travelers whose communication seems scripted, or who appear to be unable to move around freely, or appear to be controlled, closely watched or followed; who appear afraid to discuss themselves around others, deferring any attempts at conversation to someone who appears to be controlling them.

In regard to children, look for those who are dressed in a sexualized manner, or seem to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, are malnourished or show signs of physical or sexual abuse, such as bruises, scars, or cigarette burns.

In our communities and neighborhoods, look for those who appear not to be free to leave or to come and go as he/she wishes; are unpaid, paid very little, or paid only through tips.

Also look for those who work excessively long and/or unusual hours; are not allowed breaks or who suffer under unusual restrictions at work; whose work or living conditions involve high security measures, such as opaque windows, boarded up windows, bars on windows, barbed wire, or security cameras.

We should also be alert for persons living or working in our communities who avoid eye contact, or appear to be fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, nervous or paranoid; or who exhibit unusually fearful or anxious behavior regarding law enforcement.

We need to be on the alert for people living or working in our community who appear not to be in control of his/her own money, with no financial records or bank account; who are not in control of their own identification documents (ID or passport); are not allowed or able to speak for themselves; who cannot explain or state where they live; or who appear not to know basic facts about the city or community where they are living.

Poor physical health can also be an indication of human trafficking.  We should be alert for people living or working in our community who appear to lack medical care or appear to be malnourished or shows signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or exposure to harmful chemicals.

With two million victims every year and $150 billion in illicit profits, law enforcement cannot stop it alone.  Everyone one of us needs to be alert to human trafficking and ready to inform the proper authorities whenever they suspect that someone they know or see is a human trafficking victim.

Human trafficking is a global problem, but we can be a crucial part of a local solution.

Irvine is a community that cares and together we can make a difference.

Join Me on the Ride of Silence to Honor Cyclists Killed or Injured and Promote Sharing the Road

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Join us on Wednesday, May 18, as we meet once again at Irvine City Hall to remember and honor cyclists who have been killed or injured while cycling on public roadways.

We ride to promote sharing the road and provide awareness of the rights and safety of bicyclists.  Our silent ride also commemorates those who have been killed or injured doing what each of us has a right to do – a right that, far too often, motorists fail to recognize, sometimes with deadly consequences.

Ghost bike (2)Irvine is a wonderful city for biking, whether for commuting, exercising, or just enjoying the outdoors. We have more than 300 miles of on-street bike lanes and more than 50 miles of off-street bikeways.  Our bicycle trails are some of the most beautiful, and peaceful, places in Irvine.

Yet in Irvine, as everywhere else, motorists must learn to better share the road safely with cyclists; that cyclists have the same rights to the road as motorists; and that cyclists are the most vulnerable users of the roadways.

Since last year’s ride, 21 bicyclists have been killed in Orange County.  That is far, far too many. Among the victims was 9-year-old Kevin Jiang here in Irvine, who was struck and killed by a van while riding his bike home from school. These individuals were fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, friends, co-workers, as well as cyclists.  We have no idea of the impact they may have had in this world because their lives were taken by motorists.

Irvine’s Ride of Silence is part of a larger, international movement to commemorate cyclists killed or injured while riding on public roads and to raise awareness among motorists of the dangers they pose to cyclists.

As a bicyclist myself, as the mother of a bicyclist, as an Irvine resident and Community Services Commissioner, as an advocate for more active transportation as a way to cut pollution and our reliance on fossil fuels, I am honored to ride with you.

The Ride of Silence asks its cyclists to ride no faster than 12 mph, wear helmets, follow the rules of the road and remain silent during the ride. There are no sponsors and no registration fees. The ride aims to raise the awareness of motorists, police and city officials that cyclists have a legal right to the public roadways. The ride is also a chance to show respect for and honor the lives of those who have been killed or injured.

Participating in the Ride of Silence is a very emotional experience.  Here is how I described the Ride in a guest column in the Orange County Register in 2014:

“Participating in the Ride of Silence in Irvine last week was a deeply emotional experience.  Beginning at Irvine City Hall, we rode our bicycles in a 9.7-mile loop around Irvine in single file and in silence.  It was a powerful sight to see scores of silent riders forming a solemn line stretching more than a mile as the evening sky turned purple.  Founded in 2003 to honor cyclists who have been killed or injured while cycling on public roadways, promote sharing the road and provide awareness of bicycling safety, the Ride of Silence is an international event taking place in hundreds of cities across the globe. . .

As an Irvine Community Services Commissioner, I often tell people that Irvine is a wonderful city for biking. We 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. And Irvine has been recognized as a “Silver” Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists, making it the most bicycle-friendly city in Southern California. Yet in Irvine, as everywhere else, motorists must learn to share the road safely with cyclists [and more must be done to make our roads safer for bicyclists].

We must remember that cyclists have legal rights to the road as do motorists and bicyclists are the most vulnerable users of the roadways.

We ride to show respect for and honor the lives of those who have been killed or injured.

We ride to promote public awareness of bicycling safety.

We ride so that no bicyclist is ever again killed or injured because of a motorist’s failure to share the road.”

What: The Ride of Silence

When: Wednesday, May 18. Gather at 6 PM. Assemble at 6:30 PM. Ride at 7 PM.

Where: Irvine Civic Center, 1 Civic Center Plaza (near the flag poles in front of the Police Department).

The Irvine Police Department has been invited to participate and provide support in escorting again for the ride.

More information, click here for the Ride of Silence Orange County.

Join Me in the Ride of Silence, Tonight, Weds., May 20, to Honor Cyclists Killed or Injured and Promote Sharing the Road

Ghost-Bike

Join us tonight as we once again meet at Irvine City Hall to remember and honor cyclists who have been killed or injured while cycling on public roadways.

rideofsilence.01We ride tonight to promote sharing the road, and provide awareness of the rights and safety of bicyclists.  Our silent ride also commemorates those who have been killed or injured doing what each of us has a right to do – a right that, far too often, motorists fail to recognize, sometimes with deadly consequences.

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

Yet in Irvine, as everywhere else, motorists must learn to better share the road safely with cyclists; that cyclists have the same rights to the road as motorists; and that cyclists are the most vulnerable users of the roadways.

Since last year’s ride, 13 bicyclists have been killed in Orange County.  That is far too many. These individuals were fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, friends, co-workers, as well as cyclists.  We have no idea of the impact they may have had in this world because their lives was taken by a motorist.

Tonight’s Ride of Silence is part of a larger, international movement to commemorate cyclists killed or injured while riding on public roads and to raise awareness among motorists of the dangers they pose to cyclists.

As a bicyclist myself, as the mother of a bicyclist, as an Irvine resident and Community Services Commissioner, as an advocate for more active transportation as a way to cut pollution and our reliance on fossil fuels, I am honored to ride with you.

The Ride of Silence asks its cyclists to ride no faster than 12 mph, wear helmets, follow the rules of the road and remain silent during the ride. There are no sponsors and no registration fees. The ride aims to raise the awareness of motorists, police and city officials that cyclists have a legal right to the public roadways. The ride is also a chance to show respect for and honor the lives of those who have been killed or injured.

When: Wednesday, May 20. Gather at 6 PM. Assemble at 6:30 PM. Ride at 7 PM.

Where: Irvine Civic Center, 1 Civic Center Plaza (near the flag poles in front of the Police Department).

The Irvine Police Department has been invited to participate and provide support in escorting again for the ride.

More information, click here for the Orange County Bicycle Coalition or click here for Ride of Silence Orange County.

You can also learn more, and show your support, on the Ride of Silence – Irvine Facebook page and the Ride of Silence – National Facebook page.

In Memoriam  –  Bicyclists killed in Orange County since last year’s Ride of Silence:

Jordan Ames, 21 (May 30, 2014, Santa Ana)
John Colvin, 55 (June 17, Laguna Beach)
Rafael Correa, 19 (July 5, Fullerton)
Artemio Ortiz, 56 (August 1, Orange)
Michael Bastien, 55 (September 1, Huntington Beach)
William Rowland, 61 (September 5, Huntington Beach)
Shaun Eagleson, 30 ( October 19, Newport Coast)
Daniella Palacios, 44 (November 1, Anaheim)
Cesar Labastida, 74 (November 15, Laguna Woods)
Hassan Davoodiara, 69 (November 15, Santa Ana)
Vihn Tran, 36 (December 27, Fountain Valley)
Timothy Binau, 41 (April 1, 2015, Anaheim)
Robert Horton, 62 (May 4, 2015, Santa Ana)

Join the Irvine Police Department this Saturday, May 9, for “Push-Ups for Charity” to Benefit U.S. Military Veterans and their Families

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Join the men and women of the Irvine Police Department this Saturday, May 9, 2015, for the 5th Annual Irvine Police Department Push-Ups For Charity event!

Push-Ups for Charity is an annual event that raises awareness of the challenges military service members and veterans face, and raises money to support their unique needs.

IPD Patch New (Layered)Push-Ups for Charity participants can collect donations from friends and family with the promise to perform as many push-ups as possible in 90 seconds.

It doesn’t matter how many pushups you can do, everyone can do their part to support America’s heroes. Big and small, near and far, we need YOU to get involved.

Each pushup completed raises much-needed funds for the Boot Campaign, a national nonprofit that promotes patriotism, raises awareness and provides vital assistance for our nation’s heroes and their families.

push ups for charity.01Come out to support the competition this Saturday at 9;00 am between SWAT teams from police departments around Orange County, members of the Orange County Fire Authority, military veterans, high school students, and many others!

Do you want to compete? You can sign up as an individual or with a team here:

Anyone interested in participating but not competing can join the open session, which eliminates the pressures of competition. This fun event is open to everyone!

This year, we’ll open the event at 7:30 am with the 2nd annual 5K Fun Run/Walk. This is a great $35 alternative for those who want to get involved, but are not interested in the push up challenge!

Click here to register as a Host for $125 (includes training, marketing materials, and 10 official PUC 2015 t-shirts) or a Participant for $25 (includes an official PUC 2015 t-shirt. Choose your size upon checkout.).

What: Push-Ups for Charity (benefits United States military veterans.and their families).

Where: Irvine Civic Center Plaza, Irvine, CA 92606-5207.

When: Saturday, May 9, 2015. 7:30 am for the 5K Fun Run/Walk and 9:00 am for Push-Ups for Charity.

Help the Irvine Police Department make a difference in the lives of America’s veterans!

Get Fit, Have Fun and Make a Difference!