The Irvine Community Land Trust Land Continues Construction Progress on Salerno, Our Newest Affordable Housing Community

I was elected to serve as Chair of the Irvine Community Land Trust (ICLT) in 2018, guiding its mission of providing secure, high-quality affordable housing for the benefit of income-eligible families.  Like all Irvine Community Land Trust Board Members, I serve as a volunteer, without compensation. 

We build high-quality affordable rental, ownership and special needs housing for the benefit of income-eligible families. Located in the heart of Southern California’s one of the most expensive real estate markets, there is a tremendous need for affordable housing.

Both as a member of the Irvine City Council and as Chair of the Irvine Community Land Trust, I have made it a priority to create more affordable housing, especially for working families, verterans, and people with disabilities. I have worked with legislators in Sacramento to cut taxes on affordable housing construction, and I have made for easier to more working people to become homeowners.

As we fight the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, secure and affordable housing has never been more important.

Through a series of special protocols, the Irvine Community Land Trust is  continuing construction on our new community, Salerno, even during the pandemic. Out of concern for our construction workers, we’ve undertaen extraordinary measures to ensure they stay safe and healthy while on the job.

I recently received some photos of the progress that we’ve made at Salerno, which will bring 80 affordable homes to the city.  Still on schedule to be completed in the Fall of 2020, Salerno will offer affordable rents as low as $550 for a one-bedroom, $625 for a two-bedroom and $695 for a three-bedroom.

Thirty-five of the homes will be reserved for those earning less than 30 percent of the area median income: 15 for veterans; 10 for individuals with developmental disabilities; and 10 for families at risk of homelessness.

When completed in the fall, Salerno will join Parc Derian, Alegre Apartments and Doria Apartment Homes as places where income eligible residents will proudly call Irvine “home.” As the Orange County Register observed, these affordable communities offer “a new beginning for veterans, developmentally disabled people and families at risk of homelessness.”

The interest list for Salerno is currently closed.  However, you can get your name on our interest list for future projects and available homes HERE.

We will notify you when a project becomes available.

Here are some photos of our progress at Salerno:

Salerno.07

Our next project, Native Spring, is especially exciting For the first time, the Irvine Community Land Trust will build for-sale homes that hard-working residents making less than $100,000 can actually afford to buy.

The Native Spring homeownership project will serve moderate-income families with a 68-house development in Portola Springs that will have all the features of any market rate for-sale project in the city. A young couple earning $76,000 to $94,000 annually will be able to purchase a home for about $370,000.

Additionally, these homebuyers will “pay it forward” by agreeing to resale provisions that keep these homes permanently affordable. This development, which will break ground in 2020, is tremendously exciting for the ICLT as it stands to make the American dream a reality for many first time home buyers.

The ICLT continues to look for corporate donors who can provide grant opportunities, donate materials and items to help build, furnish and landscape new communities. Contact us to learn how to contribute!

You can learn more about the Irvine Community Land Trust at our website HERE.

In May 2019, the Irvine Community Land Trust was awarded the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar, the world’s most respected source of information on nonprofit organizations.  You can read about it HERE.

Take the City of Irvine’s Jamboree Bridge Feasibility Study Survey!

The City of Irvine is famous for its committment to planning.  A crucial part of good planning is public input.  You can help us with an important planning decision by giving us your input on a significant project in the Irvine Business Complex (IBC).

The Irvine Business Complex has transformed into an area with diverse land uses, providing the opportunity to live, work, and shop locally. This transformation has created a need for additional connections and new facilities for walking, bicycling, and recreation.

The objective of the Jamboree Pedestrian Bridge Feasibility study is to determine the possibility of constructing a
pedestrian bridge that will cross over Jamboree Road.

The study will identify and evaluate potential locations along Jamboree
Road in between I-405 Freeway and Barranca Parkway.

The bridge will provide a direct crossing for pedestrians over the roadway, separated from vehicular traffic.

A convenient pedestrain/bicycle bridge would also serve to encourage walking and biking and reduce traffic congestion in the area.

The City is looking at the best precise location for the pedestrian bridge.  You can help us make this important decision by taking a short survey here

You can learn more about the project by watching the video of the public informational meeting held on September 10, 2020:

Please share the survey link with your friends and neighbors who may be interested in the project.

Thanks!

Are You Ready for Wildfire? Low-Cost Retrofits to Your Home that Can Save Property and Lives!

Being Ready for Wildfire starts with maintaining an adequate defensible space and by hardening your home by using fire resistant building materials. 

In a recent blog post, I presented my firefighter son’s Family Emergency Plan information.  Here are several low-cost ways to harden your home to maximize its ability to withstand a wildfire and to keep your family safe when you can’t evacuate.

Nearly all of the 68th Assembly District is considered “Wildland Urban Interface (WUI),” where human made structures and infrastructure (e.g., cell towers, schools, water supply facilities, etc.) are in or adjacent to areas prone to the danger of wildfire.  Newer developmnents are pressing ever closer to wildland, increasing the danger of WUI wildfires and the need to be prepared.

Taking the right actions now to prepare your family and home for the next California wildfire can save your property and your family members’ lives.

Roof:
The roof is the most vulnerable part of your home. Homes with wood or shingle roofs are at high risk of being destroyed during a wildfire. Build your roof or re-roof with materials such as composition, metal or tile. Block any spaces between roof decking and covering to prevent embers from catching.

Vents:
Vents on homes create openings for flying embers. Cover all vent openings with 1/16-inch to 1/8-inch metal mesh. Do not use fiberglass or plastic mesh because they can melt and burn.
Protect vents in eaves or cornices with baffles to block embers (mesh is not enough).

Eaves and Soffits:
Eaves and soffits should be protected with ignition-resistant or non-combustible materials.

Windows:
Heat from a wildfire can cause windows to break even before the home is on fire. This allows burning embers to enter and start fires inside. Single-paned and large windows are particularly vulnerable. Install dual-paned windows with one pane of tempered glass to reduce the chance of breakage in a fire. Consider limiting the size and number of windows that face large areas of vegetation.

Walls:
Wood products, such as boards, panels or shingles, are common siding materials. However, they are flammable and not good choices for fire-prone areas. Build or remodel your walls with ignition resistant* building materials, such as stucco, fiber cement wall siding, fire retardant, treated wood, or other approved materials. Be sure to extend materials from the foundation to the roof.

Decks:
Surfaces within 10 feet of the building should be built with ignition-resistant*, non-combustible, or other approved materials. Ensure that all combustible items are removed from underneath your deck.

Rain Gutters:
Keep rain gutters clear or enclose rain gutters to prevent accumulation of plant debris.

Patio Cover:
Use the same ignition-resistant* materials for patio coverings as a roof.

Chimney:
Cover your chimney and stovepipe outlets with a non-flammable screen. Use metal screen material with openings no smaller than 3/8-inch and no larger than 1/2-inch to prevent embers from escaping and igniting a fire.

Garage: 
Have a fire extinguisher and tools such as a shovel, rake, bucket, and hose available for fire emergencies.  Install weather stripping around and under the garage door to prevent embers from blowing in. Store all combustible and flammable liquids away from ignition sources.

Fences:
Consider using ignition-resistant* or non-combustible fence materials to protect your home during a wildfire.

Driveways and Access Roads:
Driveways should be built and maintained in accordance with state and local codes to allow fire and emergency vehicles to reach your home. Consider maintaining access roads with a minimum of 10 feet of clearance on either side, allowing for two-way traffic.  Ensure that all gates open inward and are wide enough to accommodate emergency equipment.
Trim trees and shrubs overhanging the road to allow emergency vehicles to pass.

Clearly Marked Address:
Make sure your address is clearly visible from the road.

Water Supply:
Consider having multiple garden hoses that are long enough to reach all areas of your home and other structures on your property. If you have a pool or well, consider getting a pump.

Watch CalFire’s video on harding your home to protect from wildfire:

Useful Links:

Wildfire is Coming: Are You Ready?

Fire Information Engine—Preparing Your Home

University of California—Fire Resources and Information

Orange County County Authority — Ready, Set, Go!

Orange County County Authority — Wildland Fire Danger Rating

Note: Ignition-resistant building materials are those that resist ignition or sustained burning when exposed to embers and small flames from wildfires. Examples of ignition-resistant materials include “non-combustible materials” that don’t burn, exterior grade fire-retardant-treated wood lumber, fire-retardant-treated wood shakes and shingles listed by the State Fire Marshal (SFM) and any material that has been tested in accordance with SFM Standard 12-7A-5.

Join Melissa Fox, Sharon Quirk-Silva, Cottie Petrie-Norris and Dave Min on September 29, 2020, for a Conversation on Early Child Care and the Education Crisis in Orange County!

Please join me, Sharon Quirk-Silva, Cottie Petrie-Norris, and Dave Min for on Tues., September 29, 2020, at 4:00 p.m. for conversation on early child care the education crisis in Orange County!

The conversation is hosted by Early Childhood OC, Orange County Association for the Education of Young Children (OCAEYC), Pretend City Children’s Museum, and Child360.

This online event is free. The link is: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81915074314.

What: Conversation on early child care the education crisis in Orange County.
When: Tues., September 29, 2020, at 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Where: Online. Link is https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81915074314.

Early Childhood OC is a community collaborative that was formed to develop Orange County’s Early Childhood Policy Framework in order to ensure that young children reach their developmental potential and are ready to succeed in school and life. The Framework ensures adults are knowledgeable, nurturing, responsive and interact effectively with other adults, children and the family unit and environments that impact children are safe supportive, stable and healthy. Through implementation of the Framework, Orange County will attain economic and social benefits.

Pretend City Children’s Museum is “the world in a nut-shell”, designed for children to learn how the real world works while engaging their curiosities and imaginations. The museum is a child-size interconnected city built to balance rich educational intention with boundless fun, where children can assume various real-world roles and let their creativity rule.  Through interactive exhibits and activities facilitated by our trained professional staff, children learn foundational math, reading and science skills while fostering curiosity, creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork. They see how academic concepts have real-life application by learning in our unique, hands-on environment. Located at 29 Hubble Irvine, CA 92618. For more information, call 949-428-3900.

Child360 is a leading nonprofit working toward a future where every child has the educational opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Our name reflects our 360 degree approach to improve and expand the vital early learning opportunities our young children need, by working alongside educators, families, partner organizations, policy makers and our communities.

To learn more about my priorities regarding education, please see http://votemelissafox.com/priorities.

Stop the Dangerous Santiago Creek Development: Vote No on City of Orange Measure AA!

I urge my friends in the City of Orange to stop the dangerous Santiago Creek development. Vote No on Measure AA.

The proposed development — which would squeeze 128 expensive homes on 40.9 acres just south of Santiago Creek, near the already excessively congested intersection of Santiago Canyon Road and Cannon Street — is too dangerous to be approved.

Just about everything about this proposed Santiago Creek Development is wrong:

  • The area of the proposed development is prone to wildfire and has few evacuation routes. Those few evacuation routes are already excessively congested.  During the recent 2017 Canyon II Fire, cars were backed up for miles with people trying to flee.  This proposed development will create even more congestion, which could prove fatal in the next wildfire.
  • The area of the proposed development is subject to serious flooding danger. The area is in a flood plain and has a history of dangerous flooding.  Major floods in Orange County have occurred in 1810, 1815, 1825, 1884, 1891, 1916, 1927, 1938, 1969, 1983, 1993 and 1997.  In February 1969, heavy rains led to catastophic flooding of Santiago Creek that washed out bridges and roads, destroyed homes and cars, and caused hundreds to be evacuated. The danger of flooding in the area remains unabated.
  • The proposed development is on a known fault line and subject to liquefaction in an earthquake. In addition, two earthen dams upstream of the proposed development are also on a fault line and subject to liquefaction, increasing the danger of catastophic flooding.
  • There are active methane vents next to the site. The homes built on the proposed site will require methane gas detectors to monitor dangerous levels of methane.  The release of methane into the air can cause debilitating health problems, ranging from rashes, nosebleeds and wheezing to headaches, nausea, vomiting, brain injury and death.
  • The development project is also an affront to democracy. Residents of the area have opposed the development for years, yet the developers and the Orange City Council has ignored their concerns.  Despite the people’s opposition, the Orange City Council pushed ahead with approving this project, putting the financial interests of the developers ahead of the wishes and the safety of the people. When this most recent development plan came before the Orange City Council, more than 80% of the Orange residents who spoke at the public hearing opposed the project.  The Orange City Council approved it anyway, forcing the residents to overturn their decision through the referendum process.  Residents then collected more than 13,000 signitures — nearly double the number needed — in less than 30 days to put Measure AA on the ballot.  The people do not want this project!

I believe that California’s housing and homelessness crises must be addressed with effective, meaningful action.  I have worked hard to create more affordable housing.  As Chair of the Irvine Community Land Trust, I’ve helped reduce homelessness and create affordable housing for families, veterans, and people with disabilities, and I’ve gone to Sacramento to fight for tax reductions for investments in affordable housing I am a strong advocate for action on the local and state level addressing the housing and homelessness crises, but not at the cost of lives lost due to development plans that fail to properly account for the high danger of flood, wildfire, and other natural disasters. Plus, more multi million-dollar homes are not what the City of Orange, Orange County, or California need right now.

Vote No on Measure AA to stop this dangerous development!

Watch a video on the Santiago Creek development here:

Learn more at https://keeporangesafe.org.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-2020): Time to Carry on the Fight

I was having dinner with my family to celebrate the Jewish New Year when I learned that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died.  As my friend Lauren Johnson Norris posted on Facebook, “According to Jewish tradition, a person who dies on Rosh Hashanah, which began tonight, is a tzaddik, a person of great righteousness. We found that very comforting. So strange to be eating these apples and honey with this sadness.”

We have lost a woman of valor and righteousness. We have lost our warrior and champion.

Salt water next to our apples and honey.

Mixed with our sadness is the acute realization that the tragic loss of Justice Ginsburg means that a woman’s right to control her own body, already under extreme siege, is more in danger now than at any time since Roe v. Wade was decided nearly 50 years ago.

Now, more than ever, we must ensure that our representatives, at every level of government, are fully committed to protecting our fundamental reproductive rights.

I want to share with you the statement released today by my friend and Irvine Community Services Commissioner Lauren Johnson-Norris.  It eloquently puts into words what I and many other women are thinking and feeling at this difficult and pivotal moment in our history:

“Justice Ginsburg is an icon for many women, especially women lawyers, because she dedicated her professional life to a singular focus in moving the law toward equality for women. She entered spaces where women were not welcomed and won time and again, not just because of her brilliant mind and persuasive advocacy, but because she stood on the side of equality. As a jurist, she sought to build consensus but, when that was not possible, she provided an essential voice of dissent that spoke truth to power.

The loss of Justice Ginsburg on the United States Supreme Court is devastating at a time when women’s fundamental rights to reproductive health care is under attack. The right of a woman to make autonomous decisions about her own body is the core of her fundamental right to equality and privacy. As a lawyer, mother, and advocate for women, I know that in order to drive equality, we must commit fully and actively to reproductive rights and healthcare for all.”

RBG gave us all she could. She brought us this far. Now it’s our time to carry on the fight, in her name and in her memory, for ourselves, our mothers, our sisters, and our daughters.

There’s lots of work to do.

Let’s get busy.

 

“A Republic, If You Can Keep It” — Happy Constitution Day!

The United States Constitution was signed and adopted as the fundamental law of the United States of America by the delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia 233 years ago today on September 17, 1787.  In so doing, our nation came into being.

Congress has called on each state legislature to send delegates to a convention “for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation in ways that, when approved by Congress and the states, would render the federal constitution adequate to the  exigencies of government and the preservation of the Union.”

To amend the Articles into a workable government, 74 delegates from the twelve states were named by their state legislatures; 55 delegates showed up, and 39 delegates eventually signed.

James McHenry, a Maryland delegate to the Constitutional Convention, wrote in his dairy that after the meeting on that day, a woman asked Pennsylvania delegate Benjamin Franklin “What have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” to which Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

In fact, the Preamble of this history-changing document makes clear that this was to be a government of the people: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

As United States Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court, explained, “What makes the Constitution worthy of our commitment? First and foremost, the answer is our freedom. It is, quite simply, the most powerful vision of freedom ever expressed. It’s also the world’s shortest and oldest national constitution, neither so rigid as to be stifling, nor so malleable as to be devoid of meaning. Our Constitution has been an inspiration that changed the trajectory of world history for the perpetual benefit of mankind. In 1787, no country in the world had ever allowed its citizens to select their own form of government, much less to select a democratic government. What was revolutionary when it was written, and what continues to inspire the world today, is that the Constitution put governance in the hands of the people.”

It is of the nature of constitutions that their meaning evolves over time and in newly encountered situtions.  As founding UCI Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky wrote in the University of Chicago Law Review, “[t]he Constitution inevitably must be interpreted. There are countless issues — such as whether the president can fire cabinet officials or rescind treaties or assert executive privilege — where the document is silent, but a constitutional answer is necessary.  So much of the Constitution is written in broad language that must be given meaning and applied to specific situations. . .”

It is my hope that one day soon the Supreme Court will recognize that in order to ensure and protect our democracy, we must get unlimited and unaccountable money out of politics, and that there must be limits on the amount of money that individuals, corporations, or other organizations can spend to support or attack political candidates or to influence government policies.

It is my hope, too, that one day soon the Equal Rights Amendment will be adopted so that women will at long last be accorded full and equal rights in the United States.

In fact, our Constitution provides the means to make these changes and improvements in our government and our political process.

Our Constitution remains our best hope of “We the People” forming an even “more perfect Union.”

Wildfire, Earthquake, and COVID-19: Max Fox’s Family Emergency Plan

(Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

My son, Max Fox, is an EMT and HazMat specialist.  He had been studying firefighting and emergency management at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, until he came home for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.  With wildfires raging across the state, I asked him about what he would advise local families that want to prepare for emergencies.  Here is what he wrote:

“As Californians, there are certain emergencies that we should all be prepared for: earthquakes, fire, and flood.  We should have Family Emergency Plans for these all too common occurrences.

Family Emergency Plans should include (1) an emergency family communication plan in case of separation, (2) consideration of the special needs of each member of your household (such as medications or medical equipment), and (3) plans for your most important documents (such as identification and insurance).

Documents you should consider including as part of your Family Emergency Plan are:

  • A copy of each family member’s driver’s license and passport
  • Each family member’s Social Security card or number
  • A copy of each family member’s birth certificate
  • A copy of everyone’s medical records and list of vaccinations, including your pet’s
  • Authorization for treatment
  • Property titles for your car and home
  • All of your bank, credit card and investment account numbers and corresponding customer service telephone numbers
  • Health insurance and life insurance account information
  • Photographs or videos of all of your property to make potential insurance claims easier
  • Wills, as well as living wills and a power of attorney
  • Your latest tax return
  • Your marriage certificate
  • Adoption and citizenship papers
  • Military records
  • Medications and eyeglass prescriptions
  • Important files backed up on an external hard-drive
  • Copies of your favorite family photographs

A Family Emergency Plan for the current COVID-19 pandemic should incorporate many of the same features.

For families with young children, plans should also include lists of other trusted adults who are able to look after your children should a parent become sick and/or hospitalized.

People with children — or people taking care of seniors — should also make a list that has everything the caregiver should know about the children and/or seniors, their allergies, any medical documentation that may be needed, as well as written authorizations for treatment.

Plans should also include provisions for care of your pets, if you are not able to leave them home or continue to care for them.

In an emergency, it is very easy to forget something, so an important part of making your plan should also include making a pre-prepared “go-bag” (a bag of stuff needed in an emergency that is already pack with everything you need). An emergency go-bag might include:

  • At least three days of water for every member of the family
  • Non-perishable food options, like nuts, canned goods and granola bars
  • Changes of clothing and footwear for each member of the family
  • Sleeping bags or rolled blankets
  • First-aid kit supplies
  • Emergency supplies, such as a battery-operated radio, a flashlight with extra batteries, duct tape, plastic bags, water purification tablets, local maps and a compass, aluminum foil, matches and a can opener
  • Basic tools, like pliers, a wrench, an axe and a utility knife
  • Personal care items such as toilet paper, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, feminine products, extra eyeglasses and contact lens solution
  • Money, including a few personal checks.

I hope no one will have to use their plan, but it is always better to have a plan and go-bag and not need it, then it is to need a plan and go-bag but not have them.

Please stay safe.  Whether in case of fire, earthquake or other emergency, please remember that COVID-19 is still a killer, so be sure to wear a mask, wash your hands, and maintain social distancing.”

Democracy in Action: Public Outrage Leads Irvine City Council to Call on U.S. Postal Service to End and Rescind Actions that Impede Prompt Delivery of the Mail!

Following reports of postal boxes disappearing across Orange County, coupled with recent news stories that the Postmaster General of the United States was removing thousands of postal boxes and mail-sorting machines, eliminating overtime for mail carriers, and reducing post office hours, I joined with Irvine City Councilmember Farrah Khan in calling for the Irvine City Council to speak up on behalf of our residents to urge the Postmaster General to immediately end and rescind these changes.

Thanks to tremendous public support, we succeeded!

At the Irvine City Council meeting on September 8, 2020, the Council unanimously agreed to send an official letter to the U.S. Postmaster, on behalf of our residents, to cease and rescind any actions that undermine prompt delivery of the mail, including “expeditious action to re-store mail sorting equipment and remedy the recent changes to USPS polices and procedures that would result in reduced or delayed mail service levels.”

Here is the full text of the official letter sent to the U.S. Postmaster General:

Thank you to everyone who wrote to the Irvine City Council in support of the U.S. Postal Service! This letter is truly the result of democracy in action.

Now, we must keep the pressure on the federal government to ensure that the USPS “to provide prompt, reliable, and efficient services to patrons in all areas and render postal services to all communities, without interruption.”

Video: Councilmember Melissa Fox Discusses COVID-19 with Renowned Pediatrician Dr. Charles L. Schleien

I recently had a discussion on COVID-19 with renowned pediatrician Dr. Charles L. Schleien, the Philip Lanzkowsky Professor of Pediatrics and Pediatrician-in-Chief at Northwell Health, a nonprofit integrated healthcare network and New York State’s largest healthcare provider.

Our discussion covered several extremely important and timely topics, including the potential impact of COVID-19 on children, new diseases of children that have appeared with COVID-19, the effectiveness of face masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) for both adults and children, the tremendous strain that COVID-19 has caused on our entire healthcare system, and Dr. Schleien’s own personal story of being hospitalized for, and recovering from, COVID-19 in early March.

Dr. Charles Schleien is a long-time family friend. He received an M.D. from Mount Sinai School of Medicine and a Master of Business Administration from Columbia University. He completed a pediatric residency at Baylor Texas Children’s Hospital; an anesthesia residency at The Johns Hopkins Hospital; and a fellowship in pediatric critical care medicine at The Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Prior to joining Northwell Health, Dr. Schleien was executive vice chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and professor of pediatrics and anesthesiology at Columbia University/New York Presbyterian Hospital. He is past director of the Division of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine, which he founded upon his arrival at Columbia in 1999, and served as medical director of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of Columbia University. Dr. Schleien previously served as director of pediatric critical care medicine in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center, and professor of pediatrics and anesthesiology at the University of Miami School of Medicine.

Dr. Schleien has not only dealt with the coronavirus as a pediatrician during the height of the pandemic in New York City, he is also a recovered COVID-19 patient. He became extremely ill with the coronavirus and was hospitalized in early March, an experience he recounted in an article in the New York Times.

Watch our discussion here:

Join Me for a COVID-19 Town Hall with Renowned Pediatrician Dr. Charles L. Schleien

Join me on Thurs., September 10 at 5:00 p.m. for a Town Hall on COVID-19 with renowned pediatrician Dr. Charles L. Schleien, the Philip Lanzkowsky Professor of Pediatrics and pediatrician-in-chief at Northwell Health, a nonprofit integrated healthcare network and New York State’s largest healthcare provider.

Dr. Schleien received an M.D. from Mount Sinai School of Medicine and a Master of Business Administration from Columbia University. He completed a pediatric residency at Baylor Texas Children’s Hospital; an anesthesia residency at The Johns Hopkins Hospital; and a fellowship in pediatric critical care medicine at The Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Prior to joining Northwell Health, Dr. Schleien was executive vice chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and professor of pediatrics and anesthesiology at Columbia University/New York Presbyterian Hospital. He is past director of the Division of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine, which he founded upon his arrival at Columbia in 1999, and served as medical director of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of Columbia University. Dr. Schleien previously served as director of pediatric critical care medicine in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center, and professor of pediatrics and anesthesiology at the University of Miami School of Medicine.

Dr. Schleien has not only dealt with the coronavirus as a pediatrician during the height of the pandemic in New York City, he is also a recovered COVID-19 patient. He became extremely ill with the coronavirus and was hospitalized in early March, an experience he recounted in an article in the New York Times.

RSVP to Alli@votemelissafox.com

ZOOM link provided on RSVP

We hope you can join us for this important and timely discussion!

Learn more about Melissa Fox for California Assembly at http://votemelissafox.com

See the Facebook page for this event HERE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We’re all in this together!

 

 

UPDATED! Tell the Irvine City Council to Oppose the Slow Down of the U.S. Postal Service!

I have received numerous reports of postal boxes suddenly disappearing across Orange County, including Irvine.  These reports are consistent with recent changes in policy by the Postmaster General of the United States Postal Service, which have included removing thousands of postal boxes and mail-sorting machines, eliminating overtime for mail carriers, and reducing post office hours.

These changes in U.S. Postal Service policy have been faulted for slowing mail delivery — including the delivery of medicine and medical supplies veterans benefits, Social Security checks, census forms, and rent checks — and for making it more difficult for our residents to vote safely and with confidence that their ballots will be timely received during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For these reasons, Councilmember Farrah Khan and I will be asking our colleagues on the Irvine City Council to speak up on behalf of our residents and our businesses to urge the Postmaster General to immediately end and rescind these changes.

Here is the proposed Resolution:

RESOLUTION URGING THE U.S. POSTMASTER GENERAL TO CEASE AND RESCIND ALL ACTIONS THAT SLOW DOWN OR UNDERMINE THE PROMPT DELIVERY OF THE U.S. MAIL, ESPECIALLY DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC AND THE U.S. PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.

WHEREAS, The United States Postal Service is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution “to bind the country together through the correspondence of the people”; and

WHEREAS, The Postal Service guarantees universal delivery to everyone, ensuring affordable and equitable communication and delivery as a basic right; and is indispensable, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, to the American people, especially veterans, seniors, and small businesses, delivering medications, stimulus checks, social security checks, census forms, rent checks, medical supplies, and election ballots;

WHEREAS, The Postal Service is one of the most important employers in the United States, providing family sustaining jobs, especially to veterans;

WHEREAS, By failing to seek regulatory approval on policy changes that have a nationwide impact, the United States Postmaster General has unilaterally implemented a series of revisions to the postal service’s protocols and procedures that threaten to undermine the timely delivery of mail across the country, including Irvine. These unilateral changes have included:

  • Removing mailbox locations around the country, including in Irvine and other cities in Orange County;
  • Decommissioning mail-sorting machines, with severe reductions in sorting capacity and the speed of delivery;
  • Severely limiting employees from working overtime, despite reported increases in demand and the need to compensate for employees who are out sick or at home quarantining; and
  • Instructing letter carriers to leave mail behind if it delays routes, running counter to the training postal workers traditionally receive to ensure prompt delivery of the mail;

WHEREAS, The USPS’s actions align with the President’s own recent assertion that he will prevent the postal service from being able to handle the expected surge in demand for voting by mail, and the USPS has warned several states, including California, that it could no longer guarantee timely compliance with all state election deadlines and delivery of all ballots cast by mail for the presidential election.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, THAT THE CITY OF IRVINE URGES THE UNITED STATES POSTMASTER GENERAL TO IMMEDIATELY CEASE AND RESCIND ALL ACTIONS, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO REMOVAL OF POST BOXES, DECOMMISSIONING OF MAIL SORTING EQUIPMENT,  AND RESTRICTING MAIL CARRIER OVERTIME, THAT SLOW DOWN OR UNDERMINE THE PROMPT DELIVERY OF THE U.S. MAIL, ESPECIALLY DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC AND THE U.S. PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.

PASSED AND ADOPTED by the City Council of Irvine at the meeting held on the 8th day of September 2020.

Please join us in urging the Irvine City Council to adopt this Resolution.

You can contact the other three members of the Irvine City Council to tell them to urge the Postmaster General to immediately cease and rescind that slow down or undermine the prompt delivery of the U.S. mail here:

Mayor Christina Shea:
christinashea@cityofirvine.org

Councilmember Anthony Kuo:
anthonykuo@cityofirvine.org

Councilmember Michael Carroll:
michaelcarroll@cityofirvine.org

You can also SIGN OUR PETITION here.

Thanks!

UPDATE: On August 27, 2020, the California Assembly voted 50-0 in favor of a Resolution that “urges the federal administration and the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate to cease and desist from all efforts to reduce the ability of voters to cast their ballots by mail or diminish public confidence in the vote by mail program as it relates to the November 3, 2020, general election” and that United States Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to immediately restore all mailboxes and mail sorters back to the communities from which they were removed in order to guarantee the timely and efficient delivery of vote by mail ballots in the November 3, 2020, general election.”

Of course, I would have voted in favor of this Resolution. Our current representative to Sacramento for the 68th AD, Steven Choi, again failed to show up to vote. In fact, Choi has one of the highest no-show rates in the CA legislature.  It’s time for us in AD68 to have a representative in Sacramento who cares about the people’s business and shows up to do the job he was elected to do.

UPDATE: Thank you to everyone who wrote to the Irvine City Council in support of the Postal Service. As the result of your efforts, the Council at its meeting on September 8. 2020, unanimously agreed to send an official letter to the U.S. Postmaster, on behalf of our residents, to cease amd rescind any actions that undermine prompt delivery of the mail.

Watch Our “OC Education Forum on COVID-19 Safety and Our Schools” with School Board Trustees Gina Clayton-Tarvin, Kris Erickson, Keri Kropke and Jamison Power!

On Wednesday, August 12, I hosted an OC Education Forum on COVID-19 Safety and Our Schools, discussing when and how to re-open our classrooms with four leading members of Orange County school boards currently dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.

For many of us, there is no bigger question right now than whether our children will be attending in-person classes this fall.

President Trump seems desperate to have schools re-open regardless of the danger to students, teachers, and staff, even threatening to cut federal aid to school districts that decide that the risk of COVID-19 infection is too great to return to in-person classes.

Yet the federal government has provided no real guidance for determining when it is safe to re-open schools, or the proper procedures for school to follow to limit the spread of COVID-19 if they do re-open.

As USA Today put it, “Abandoned by any semblance of national leadership during a raging pandemic, students, teachers and staff are being told to jump into the deep end and return to school buildings.”

In the absence of federal leadership, these decisions and procedures have been left to governors and, crucially, local school districts.

Here in Orange County, our Board of Education made national headlines when it voted 4-1 (with the sole Democrat dissenting) to re-open this fall, without requiring the use of face masks or social distancing.

For many, there was tremendous relief when California Governor Gavin Newsom stepped in to mandate that any schools in counties on the state COVID-19 watch list, which includes Orange County, could not have students in classrooms. The Republicans on the OC Board of Education then responded by suing the Governor over his decision to prevent schools from opening in-person.

I asked four outstanding, progressive school board members in Orange County to join me in a discussion of this critical situation for parents, students, teachers, and school staff:

Keri Kropke of the Brea Olinda School Board. Keri earned a B.A. in political economy from U.C. Berkeley, an M.A. from Cal State Fullerton in History, a post baccalaureate from Chapman University in Communication Disorders, and a M.A. from Cal State Fullerton in Communication Sciences.  She is an elementary public educator with a California Clear Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and has recently become a speech language pathologist specializing in language, early intervention and autism spectrum disorder.

Gina Clayton-Tarvin of the Ocean View School Board. Gina is a long-time educator, and was first elected to the OVSD Board of Trustees in 2012. She was recently voted President of the Board, after serving as Clerk, Vice President, and three terms as President of the Board. Gina holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in Anthropology and a California Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential, as well as a California Secondary Single Subject Credential in Biology. She holds an English Learner (EL) Authorization and Cross-cultural, Language, and Academic Development (CLAD) Certificate and is authorized to provide instruction to English learners. She has also worked for Special Education as a home school teacher. She successfully completed the California School Board Association Masters of Governance program and received her certification in 2014.

Kris Erickson of Orange Unified School Board. Kris is the founding attorney at the Law Office of Kristin A. Erickson. She has held board positions on PTA, put on fundraisers for student events, mentored at-risk kids, coached mock trial, and planned our annual staff appreciations to honor hard-working teachers. She also started a grassroots organization, CARE, with several other parents to bring long-needed improvements to our high school campuses. Kris attended Western State University School of Law.

Jamison Power of the Westminster School Board. Jamison was first elected to the Westminster School Board in 2012 and was re-elected in 2016.  He received his B.A. from UC Irvine and his J.D. from UCLA.  In his professional life, Jamison serves as in-house counsel for Hyundai Motor America.  He also provides free legal assistance to low income families, and has received multiple awards for his work.  He previously served as a member of the Vietnamese-American Education Advisory Council, and he worked closely with the Superintendent and the Board to ensure that WSD became the first district in California to implement a Vietnamese-English dual immersion program.

I think you’ll find our discussion very timely and informative.  Watch it here:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch the City Council meeting live online HERE.

 

Join Our OC Education Forum on COVID -19 Safety and Our Schools! Wednesday, August 12, 2020 at 5 PM!

Join me on Wednesday, August 12, 2020 at 5 PM for an Orange County Education Forum on COVID-19 Safety and Our Schools.

For many of us, there is no bigger question right now than whether our children will be attending in-person classes this fall.

President Trump seems desperate to have schools re-open regardless of the danger to students, teachers, and staff, even threatening to cut federal aid to school districts that decide that the risk of COVID-19 infection is too great to return to in-person classes.

Yet the federal government has provided no real guidance for determining when it is safe to re-open schools, or the proper procedures for school to follow to limit the spread of COVID-19 if they do re-open.

In the absence of federal leadership, these decisions and procedures have been left to governors and, crucially, local school districts. As USA Today put it, “Abandoned by any semblance of national leadership during a raging pandemic, students, teachers and staff are being told to jump into the deep end and return to school buildings.”

Here in Orange County, our Board of Education made national headlines when it voted 4-1 (with the sole Democrat dissenting) to re-open this fall, without requiring the use of face masks or social distancing.

For many, there was tremendous relief when California Governor Gavin Newsom stepped in to mandate that any schools in counties on the state COVID-19 watch list, which includes Orange County, could not have students in classrooms. The Republicans on the OC Board of Education then responded by suing the Governor over his decision to prevent schools from opening in-person.

We will be discussing this lawsuit, as well as the larger questions when and how to re-open our classrooms, with three leading members of Orange County school boards currently dealing with the COVID-19 crisis: 

Kerie Kropke of the Brea Olinda School Board. Kerie earned a B.A. in political economy from U.C. Berkeley, an M.A. from Cal State Fullerton in History, a post baccalaureate from Chapman University in Communication Disorders, and a M.A. from Cal State Fullerton in Communication Sciences.  She is an elementary public educator with a California Clear Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and has recently become a speech language pathologist specializing in language, early intervention and autism spectrum disorder.

Gina Clayton-Tarvin of the Ocean View School Board. Gina is a long-time educator, and was first elected to the OVSD Board of Trustees in 2012. She was recently voted President of the Board, after serving as Clerk, Vice President, and three terms as President of the Board. Gina holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in Anthropology and a California Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential, as well as a California Secondary Single Subject Credential in Biology. She holds an English Learner (EL) Authorization and Cross-cultural, Language, and Academic Development (CLAD) Certificate and is authorized to provide instruction to English learners. She has also worked for Special Education as a home school teacher. She successfully completed the California School Board Association Masters of Governance program and received her certification in 2014.

Kris Erickson of Orange Unified School Board. Kris is the founding attorney at the Law Office of Kristin A. Erickson. She has held board positions on PTA, put on fundraisers for student events, mentored at-risk kids, coached mock trial, and planned our annual staff appreciations to honor hard-working teachers. She also started a grassroots organization, CARE, with several other parents to bring long-needed improvements to our high school campuses. Kris attended Western State University School of Law.

Jamison Power of the Westminster School Board. Jamison was first elected to the Westminster School Board in 2012 and was re-elected in 2016.  He received his B.A. from UC Irvine and his J.D. from UCLA.  In his professional life, Jamison serves as in-house counsel for Hyundai Motor America.  He also provides free legal assistance to low income families, and has received multiple awards for his work.  He previously served as a member of the Vietnamese-American Education Advisory Council, and he worked closely with the Superintendent and the Board to ensure that WSD became the first district in California to implement a Vietnamese-English dual immersion program.

RSVP to Alli@votemelissafox.com

ZOOM info provided on RSVP

See our Facebook Event Page Here.

Learn more about Melissa Fox for California Assembly at http://votemelissafox.com

 

 

 

Irvine Community Land Trust to Distribute Free Face Masks

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

I want to thank FivePoint for its generous contribution.

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

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

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

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

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

We’re all in this together!

Irvine Again Extends COVID-19 Testing at the Great Park

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be safe and wear a mask!

Schedule a COVID-19 Test Appointment HERE.

 

Irvine Adds Additional COVID-19 Testing Appointments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be safe and wear a mask!

Schedule a COVID-19 Test Appointment HERE.

 

Tell the Irvine City Council to Implement Community Choice Energy (CCE) Now!

At our Irvine City Council meeting on July 14, 2020, we will be discussing Irvine’s next steps regarding implementation of a Community Choice Energy Plan.

Community Choice Energy (CCE) is a way for cities, counties or regions in California to look out for their own energy interests, a hybrid between regulated and deregulated electricity supply. CCE programs seek to provide energy that is cheaper and cleaner than energy provided by for-profit utility companies.

Nearly two years ago, on September 25, 2018, before a standing-room crowd, as Chair of Irvine’s Green Ribbon Committee, I joined with my colleagues on the Irvine City Council to vote to commission a feasibility study to determine the pros and cons of implementing a Community Choice Energy program in Irvine, including potential economic benefits for the community.

At the direction of the Irvine City Council, EES Consulting completed a comprehensive analysis of the feasibility (including costs and benefits) of a Community Choice Energy program in Irvine.  For this work, the taxpayers of the City of Irvine paid EES Consulting over $180,000.  We received the EES Consulting Feasibility Study in June 2019.

Among the study’s crucial conclusions was the projection that a CCE in Irvine would result in savings of $7.7 million per year in citywide electricity cost savings for Irvine residents and businesses, and a $112,000 per year savings for the City itself in municipal energy costs, as well as driving additional local economic development benefits, such as new jobs and $10 million in annual economic output.

Despite the extremely positive results of the feasibility study (or perhaps precisely because of these very positive results), the Republicans on the Irvine City Council insisted that we undertake a second study to evaluate the results of the first study.

I believed at the time that this second study was unnecessary and feared that it was really a scheme to delay and ultimately derail implementation of CCE in Irvine.

These fears have been born out.

In this second study (a so-called “third-party peer review”), MRW & Associates reviewed the EES Consulting Feasibility Study and found that, while there were some quibbles about the EES Consulting Feasibility Study’s assumptions and analysis, (1) the analytical approach of the EES Consulting Feasibility Study was sound; (2) the rate savings projected by the EES Consulting Feasibility Study is consistent with what current CCE programs are offering, and (3) a CCE program in Irvine could be financially viable.

In addition, MRW & Associates found that (4) the EES Consulting Feasibility Study adequately addressed the four CCE governance options available to the City, and (5) agreed with EES Consulting Feasibility Study that the two most reasonable options are forming an Irvine-only CCE or developing a Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) with other Orange County cities.

Nevertheless, according to the staff report, “Given the uncertainty of some variable inputs, MRW recommends that if the City pursues formation of a CCE, a more extensive and detailed pro forma analysis be required prior to implementation.”

In other words, despite overall agreement with the analytical approach and the positive conclusions of the EES Consulting Feasibility Study, the MSW report recommends that Irvine undertake (and pay for and wait for) yet another study, and of course, more paralysis by analysis.

Instead, the City Council should immediately implement the Community Choice Energy program that studies we have twice paid for show to be a tremendous benefit to both the City and the planet.

We also need to adopt and implement the stand-alone Climate Action Plan that the Irvine City Council unanimously voted to develop, with lots of public fanfare and self-congratulations, in July 2019.   Like the Community Choice Energy plan, I am concerned that the Republican majority on the Irvine City Council has no intention of adopting a stand-alone Climate Action Plan and is delaying implementation with no intention to move forward.

For all of these reasons, I call on all Irvine residents to sign the petition to “Tell Irvine’s City Council to Implement Community Choice Energy (CCE) Now.”

I also ask you to submit an e-comment to the Irvine City Council in support of implementing a CCE now, without further and unnecessary delay.

The Climate Action Campaign has created an engaging 10 minute video explaining the issue.

Watch it here:

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be safe and wear a mask!

Schedule a COVID-19 Test Appointment HERE.

California Needs a Racial Bias Strike Team Against Anti-Asian COVID-19 Racism

Asian Americans in California have self-reported 832 incidents of discrimination and harassment in the last three months, including 81 incidents of assault and 64 potential civil rights violations, according to Stop AAPI Hate, a reporting center and the leading aggregator of incidents against Asian Americans during the pandemic, founded by the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council (A3PCON) and San Francisco State University Asian American Studies Department.

As California Assemblymember David Chiu, Chair of the Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, told the Los Angeles Times, “There’s not just a pandemic of health — there’s a pandemic of hate.”

Discrimination and harassment of Asian Americans in California has drawn national attention recently after a series of videos in Torrance, California, featured a woman using graphic racist language against Asian Americans. The videos have received millions of views, and reflect just a handful of the incidents reported to Stop AAPI Hate in California. The new report shows that incidents of racism and discrimination are not isolated to any particular area but are a statewide problem — Asian Americans have reported incidents in 34 counties so far. Incidents are reportedly taking place in California in retail stores, in the workplace, and online.

Anti-Asian American harassment has been further stoked by President Trump’s repeated use of the term “Kung Flu” in recent rallies and comments on Twitter scapegoating China for the United States’ devastating failure to control the coronavirus. 

I am appalled by these acts of hatred and by President Trump’s continued stoking of anti-Chinese and anti-Asian bigotry.

I first raised the issue of the COVID-19 outbreak and incidents of discrimination, harassment, and bullying of people thought to be Chinese at the Irvine City Council meeting on more than a month ago, on March 10.  I stated that we needed to do more to educate the public about how racism and xenophobia will hurt us in this crisis, and that we are all in this together.

I continue to be concerned, especially as reports increased of a surge in racially charged attacks unfairly directing blame for the pandemic on Asians and Asian Americans, while President Trump insists on using the phrase “Chinese virus” or “Kong Flu” when speaking of COVID-19.

In May, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that “the pandemic continues to unleash a tsunami of hate and xenophobia, scapegoating and scare-mongering” and urged governments to “act now to strengthen the immunity of our societies against the virus of hate.”

In response to these attacks, Stop AAPI Hate has now called on California Governor Gavin Newsom to establish a Racial Bias Strike Team comprised of key state agencies and departments that have jurisdiction over public education, implementing state and federal civil rights laws, overseeing workplace and employment discrimination, providing mental health services to vulnerable communities, and offering support to local Asian American-serving community-based organizations.

As Dr. Russell Jeung, Chair and Professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University, explains, “Without government accountability, we risk COVID-related racism against Asian Americans becoming deeply entrenched, ultimately impacting the lives of millions of people in California and around the country.”

I join with Stop AAPI Hate in calling on California Governor Gavin Newsom to establish a Racial Bias Strike Team against anti-Asian COVID-19 racism.

I further call on all my colleagues in elected office in Orange County, both Democratic and Republican, to join me in loudly and unequivocally condemning these acts of hatred, as well as President Trump’s continued stoking of anti-Chinese and anti-Asian hatred and bigotry by using the terms “Chinese virus” and “Kung Flu” in reference to COVID-19.

No one, especially not the president, should use racial or racist terms in describing COVID-19.

Sadly, no Orange County Republican elected official has explicitly condemned Trump’s racist, anti-Asian “Chinese virus” and “Kung Flu” language regarding COVID-19. Their cowardice and complicity leaves an indelible stain on their party and themselves.

All who have witnessed or experienced anti-Asian attacks are encouraged to file a report HERE.

Reports may be made in English, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Hindi, Japanese, Hmong, Tagalog, Khmer, Thai and Punjabi.

If you have experienced anti-Asian bullying, harassment, hate speech, or violence in Irvine, please also contact the Irvine Police Department at 949-724-7000.  In an emergency, call 911.  Neither the Irvine Police Department nor the Irvine City Council will tolerate any such anti-Asian attacks or discrimination in Irvine.

Please also let me know at melissafox@cityofirvine.org.

We’re in this together.  Don’t hate, stay safe, and wear a mask!

July 4th: We Hold These Truths . . .

We hold these Truths to be self-evident,

that all Men are created equal,

that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights

that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

— That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men,

deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed,

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, that these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, Free and Independent States, that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political Connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

    —  The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776.

Tell the Irvine City Council To Repeal Its Unconstitutional Anti-LGBTQ Law!

“If the broad light of day could be let in upon men’s actions, it would purify them as the sun disinfects.” — Louis Brandeis, Justice of the United States Supreme Court

Please join us on July 14, 2020, when the Irvine City Council decides whether to approve the motion from Councilmembers Melissa Fox and Farrah N. Khan to repeal and remove a cruel and unconstitutional anti-LGBTQ ordinance that has been part of Irvine’s Municipal Code as Sec. 3-5-501 through 503 since 1989.

[UPDATE: Sign our Petition to Repeal and Remove Irvine’s Ant-LGBTQ Ordinance].

Most residents of Irvine do not know that our diverse and forward-thinking city has an ordinance on the books that specifically and explicitly denies anti-discrimination protection to people based on their sexual orientation.

In fact, most residents are shocked when they learn that the Irvine Municipal Code includes the following:

“Sec. 3-5-503. – City Council parameters.

Except as provided in section 3-5-502, the City Council shall not enact any City policy, law or ordinance that:

A.  Defines sexual orientation as a fundamental human right.

B.  Uses sexual orientation, in whole or in part, as the basis for determining an unlawful discriminatory practice and/or establishes a penalty or civil remedy for such practice.

C.  Provides preferential treatment or affirmative action for any person on the basis of their sexual orientation.”

We believe it is outrageous that this cruel and unconstitutional law is still on the books in Irvine! It’s long past time for it to be repealed and removed!

These provisions were added by Ord. No. 89-1, which was adopted as Measure N by 53% of the voters as an initiative on Nov. 7, 1989, overturning an Irvine Human Rights Ordinance enacted by the Council in July 1988 that prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The main proponent of the Measure N ballot initiative and the subsequent anti-LGBTQ ordinance was a group calling itself the “Irvine Values Coalition,” led by carwash-developer Michael Shea and his then-wife (and later Irvine mayor) Christina Shea.

According to Christina Shea, the initiative was needed because the earlier Human Rights ordinance gave “special legislative protection to the homosexual, bisexual and lesbian communities” and “homosexuality is characterized by a wide range of sexual perversions, varying degrees of promiscuity and a disproportionate percentage of sexually transmitted diseases.”

Irvine’s anti-LGBTQ ordinance violates both the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution and California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act.

In Romer v. Evans, 517 U.S. 620 (1996), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution prohibits a state from banning LGBTQ people from seeking “specific legal protection from injuries caused by discrimination.”

The facts of Romer v. Evans are as follows: after various cities and counties in Colorado enacted laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, the State of Colorado, through a ballot initiative, amended its state constitution to “prohibit[] all legislative, executive or judicial action at any level of state or local government designed to protect . . . homosexual persons or gays and lesbians.”  As the Supreme Court explained, under the amendment, “Homosexuals, by state decree, are put in a solitary class with respect to transactions and relations in both the private and governmental spheres. The amendment withdraws from homosexuals, but no others, specific legal protection from the injuries caused by discrimination, and it forbids reinstatement of these laws and policies.”

The Supreme Court declared that the Colorado constitutional amendment was based upon animosity toward homosexual people and lacked a rational relation to any legitimate governmental purpose.  Accordingly, the Court determined that Colorado’s constitutional amendment violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, applicable to the states through the 14th Amendment.

Like the Colorado constitutional amendment that the Supreme Court invalidated in Romer v. Evans, Irvine’s anti-LGBTQ ordinance attempts to prohibit local government action “designed to protect . . . homosexual persons or gays and lesbians” [i.e., protects people based on “sexual orientation.”] and like the Colorado constitutional amendment invalidated in Romer v. Evans, Irvine’s anti-LGBTQ ordinance “withdraws from homosexuals, but no others, specific legal protection from the injuries caused by discrimination.” Accordingly, Romer v. Evans renders Irvine’s anti-LGBTQ ordinance unconstitutional.

Moreover, not only is Irvine’s anti-LGBTQ ordinance unconstitutional, it also clearly contradicts and is superseded by California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act, which explicitly prohibits discrimination against people based on “sexual orientation.”

Because state law supersedes any city law or local ordinance, the Unruh Civil Rights Act’s prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation anywhere in California means that Irvine lacks the power to declare that “the City Council shall not enact any City policy, law or ordinance that: Uses sexual orientation, in whole or in part, as the basis for determining an unlawful discriminatory practice and/or establishes a penalty or civil remedy for such practice.”

We would like the see the eyes of the world on Irvine. 

We believe that the three others on the Irvine City Council — Mayor Christina Shea and Councilmembers Anthony Kuo and Mike Carroll — are far more likely to vote to repeal and remove this cruel and unconstitutional ordinance from the Municipal Code if they know that PEOPLE ARE WATCHING!

You can read more about the origins of this anti-LGBTQ ordinance — how it was promoted by (now Mayor) Christina Shea and her then-husband Michael Shea out of animosity and fear toward LBGTQ people and as a launching pad for their right-wing political careers — at Melissa Fox’s blog post HERE.

The Irvine City Attorney, who is an ally of Mayor Christina Shea, has stated that because this anti-LGBTQ ordinance was made law by a ballot initiative, it can only be repealed and removed by another ballot initiative. Our argument against this assertion is that this ordinance is clearly unconstitutional under many United States Supreme Court cases, as well as in violation of federal and state law; for this reason, it’s repeal and removal does not change the law in a way that requires another ballot measure.

In fact, the California Legislature dealt with this very issue in its repeal of the unconstitutional sections of Prop 187 by Senate Bill 396 (2014) by a majority vote of the Legislature without a vote of the entire electorate.  As the Judicial Committee of the California Senate noted, “Under existing law, California’s Constitution only authorizes the Legislature to amend or repeal initiative statutes by way of another statute that becomes effective only when approved by the electors –unless the initiative statute permits amendment or repeal without their approval. (Cal. Const., art. II, Sec. 10, subd. (c).) This bill [SB 396] seeks to repeal several state statutes implemented upon voter approval of Proposition 187, which generally prohibited the provision of various benefits to undocumented aliens. That proposition did not authorize the Legislature to amend or repeal its provisions without voter approval.”

Nevertheless, the Judicial Committee found that the Legislature had authority to repeal the unconstitutional sections of Prop 187 without a vote of the entire electorate. It reasoned that because the bill did not modify or repeal any provisions of Prop 187 except those that are unconstitutional and therefore unenforceable, it did not make any change in existing law. Accordingly, “SB 396 would not impermissibly repeal or amend the initiative; rather, it would merely update California statutes to accurately reflect current law.” The bill passed the Assembly and the Senate with only a single No vote.

The same circumstances exist here. Keeping this discriminatory language on the books, “causes confusion and harmful outcomes . . . [Therefore], it is fitting that [we] expressly acknowledge the detrimental impact of the discriminatory [language] by removing its stain from the state’s statutes.”  That is precisely what our City Council needs to do now, and what the precedent of SB 396 gives us clear authority to do: “expressly acknowledge the detrimental impact of the discriminatory [language of Sec. 3-5.501-503] by removing its stain from the [City’s Code.]”

In addition to being unconstitutional and in violation of superseding state laws, Irvine’s anti-LGBTQ ordinance is a cruel and embarrassing relic of a more prejudiced time.

Does Irvine want to remain on record as being one of the very few cities in America, and  indeed the world, that still officially discriminates against people based on their sexual orientation?  We hope not!

Please watch the Irvine City Council Meeting online on July 14.

Please ask your friends and family to watch.

And, crucially, LET THE IRVINE CITY COUNCIL KNOW THAT YOU’RE WATCHING THEM!

You can WATCH the meeting live on ICTV, Cox Communications local access channel 30, and AT&T U-verse channel 99, and livestreamed online at cityofirvine.org/ictv.

You can CONTACT the other three members of the Irvine City Council to tell them to REPEAL AND REMOVE IRVINE’S ANTI-LGBTQ ORDINANCE here:

Mayor Christina Shea:
christinashea@cityofirvine.org

Councilmember Anthony Kuo:
anthonykuo@cityofirvine.org

Councilmember Michael Carroll:
michaelcarroll@cityofirvine.org

You can SIGN OUR PETITION to Repeal and Remove Irvine’s Ant-LGBTQ Ordinance.

Please see our Facebook event page, hosted by Melissa Fox, Farrah N. Khan, Tammy Kim, and Lauren Johnson-Norris.

Orange County Needs to Provide Us With More Information and Transparency — and More Leadership — on COVID-19!

The Irvine City Council has repeatedly demanded MORE information and transparency on the effects of COVID-19 from the County, now they are providing even less!

Where are there outbreaks?

Which communities are hardest hit?

Where are the most deaths occurring?

Where should we be increasing testing?

When there is an outbreak in an Orange County nursing home, that goes unrecorded because patients will have an official residence elsewhere, and the nurses who became ill are also unrecorded for the same reason. The same issue is present with OCTA drivers, restaurant workers, grocery clerks, and janitors. If they live elsewhere, when they get sick from COVID-19 while working in Orange County, their illness or death will not be attributed to Orange County.

Anaheim officials were told by Orange County officials to keep secret COVID-19 data that shows how badly it has hit parts of that city. Have they done the same in Irvine? Orange? Tustin? Lake Forest?  In your city?

Orange County residents and city officials need this information!

There were 26 deaths reported from COVID-19 in Orange County just yesterday.

The brute fact is that this pandemic is not on the decline in Orange County, but is on the rise.

Despite this fact, It remains unclear how or even if the statewide coronavirus mask mandate will be enforced in Orange County, after County Supervisors on Tuesday declined to address any enforcement approach, ignoring the scientific consensus that face covering is the best weapon we now have against this virus, Ignoring the numerous residents advocating for it, and ignoring the fact that our infections and deaths from COVID-19 are steadily increasing.

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

As a result of the Board of Supervisors’ failure to follow state-mandated guidelines for stopping the spread of COVID-19, including enforcement of the state’s mask wearing order, Orange County is in grave danger of losing out on our share of a proposed $2.5 billion state bailout package.

Orange County residents and businesses desperately need this financial relief!

The infuriating truth is that the catastrophic failure of leadership in Orange County regarding COVID-19 has mirrored — and is the best direct result of — the catastrophic failure of leadership in the White House.

Like the White House, Orange County needs to stop ignoring science, and stop playing games with the numbers, the facts, and our lives!

 

 

Let Us Remember and Honor Those Who Fought for Korea’s Freedom

The Korean War started on this day — June 25 — seventy years ago, when when North Korea invaded South Korea.  By early July, the United States had sent troops into battle against the North Koreans, who were aided by their fellow Communist ally, China.

My father. Stan Kay, in Korea.

More than 36,000 Americans, 170,000 South Korean soldiers, 400,000 North Korean soldiers, 200,000 Chinese soldiers, and 2-3 million Korean civilians would die before the intense three-year conflict came to an end in an uneasy truce that has lasted to the present.

My family was deeply affected by the Korean War.  My father, his brothers, and all of his male first cousins served in combat.  My father’s cousin PFC Irwin Handler, USMC, was 20 years old when he killed in action on December 5, 1950, at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir.  My father served in the U.S. Air Force, flying combat missions as the bombardier on a B-26 Invader.  He lost most of his hearing.

Photo taken by my father during a bombing mission.

Long called “The Forgotten War,” news of the Korean War was censored at the time, and decades later its memory is far overshadowed in public consciousness by World War II and the Vietnam War.

It was not until July 1995, 42 years after the end of the war, that a memorial was finally dedicated in Washington, D.C., to those who served.

But my father and his family have never forgotten those who suffered and died fighting for Korea’s freedom, nor have the millions of Koreans and Korean-Americans whose lives and families were shaped, in part, by those three very bloody years of war.

Let us remember and honor their bravery and sacrifice today and always, as we continue to pray for a Korea that is united and free.

Rally for Flying the Pride Flag in Irvine! Tues., June 23, 2020 Time: 3:30 pm at Irvine City Hall Plaza!

June is Pride Month, when the State of California, and nations and cities around the world, stand with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community as they declare their pride in who they are and who they love.

Show your support for flying the Pride Flag in Irvine by joining Irvine City Councilmembers Melissa Fox and Farrah N. Khan at a Rally at City Hall before Tuesday’s Irvine City Council Meeting! 

What: Rally for Flying the Pride Flag in Irvine
Where: Irvine City Hall, 1 Civic Center Plaza
Date: Tues., June 23, 2020
Time: 3:30 p.m. 

Click here to see the Facebook event page for the Rally.

Remember face coverings and social distancing is legally required in Irvine! Let’s keep each other safe while we make the world a better place!

Please also show your support for flying the Pride Flag in Irvine by contacting Mayor Christina Shea and the Irvine City Council to let them know. We need only one more vote! Contact the Irvine City Council: https://www.cityofirvine.org/city-council/contact-council

Note: At the following meeting on July 14th, we will be urging the Irvine City to repeal and remove its unconstitutional and cruel anti-LGBTQ ordinance!
https://melissafoxblog.com/2020/06/14/irvine-should-repeal-its-anti-lgbtq-ordinance-now/

Irvine Should Repeal Its Anti-LGBTQ Ordinance Now!

At the Tues., July 14, 2020, Irvine City Council meeting, I will move to repeal Irvine’s anti-LGBTQ ordinance [Sec. 3-5-501 through 503] as unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution and in violation of California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act, which explicitly prohibits discrimination against people based on “sexual orientation.”

Councilmember Farrah Khan has agreed to join me in putting this item on the July 14 Council agenda and in supporting this motion.

Most residents of Irvine do not know that our diverse and forward-thinking city has an ordinance on the books that specifically and explicitly denies anti-discrimination protection to people based on their sexual orientation.

In fact, most residents are shocked when they learn that the Irvine Municipal Code includes the following:

“Sec. 3-5-503. – City Council parameters.

Except as provided in section 3-5-502, the City Council shall not enact any City policy, law or ordinance that:

A.  Defines sexual orientation as a fundamental human right.

B.  Uses sexual orientation, in whole or in part, as the basis for determining an unlawful discriminatory practice and/or establishes a penalty or civil remedy for such practice.

C.  Provides preferential treatment or affirmative action for any person on the basis of their sexual orientation.”

These provisions were added by Ord. No. 89-1, which was adopted as Measure N by 53% of the voters as an initiative on Nov. 7, 1989, overturning an Irvine Human Rights Ordinance enacted by the Council in July 1988 that prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The main proponent of the Measure N ballot initiative and the subsequent anti-LGBTQ ordinance was a group calling itself the “Irvine Values Coalition,” led by carwash-developer Michael Shea and his then-wife (and later Irvine mayor) Christina Shea.

According to Christina Shea, the initiative was needed because the earlier Human Rights ordinance gave “special legislative protection to the homosexual, bisexual and lesbian communities” and “homosexuality is characterized by a wide range of sexual perversions, varying degrees of promiscuity and a disproportionate percentage of sexually transmitted diseases.”

This anti-LGBTQ ordinance violates both the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution and California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act.

In Romer v. Evans, 517 U.S. 620 (1996), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution prohibits a state from banning LGBTQ people from seeking “specific legal protection from injuries caused by discrimination.”

The facts of Romer v. Evans are as follows: after various cities and counties in Colorado enacted laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, the State of Colorado, through a ballot initiative, amended its state constitution to “prohibit[] all legislative, executive or judicial action at any level of state or local government designed to protect . . . homosexual persons or gays and lesbians.”  As the Supreme Court explained, under the amendment, “Homosexuals, by state decree, are put in a solitary class with respect to transactions and relations in both the private and governmental spheres. The amendment withdraws from homosexuals, but no others, specific legal protection from the injuries caused by discrimination, and it forbids reinstatement of these laws and policies.”

The Supreme Court declared that the Colorado constitutional amendment was based upon animosity toward homosexual people and lacked a rational relation to any legitimate governmental purpose.  Accordingly, the Court determined that Colorado’s constitutional amendment violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, applicable to the states through the 14th Amendment.

Like the Colorado constitutional amendment that the Supreme Court invalidated in Romer v. Evans, Irvine’s anti-LGBTQ ordinance attempts to prohibit local government action “designed to protect . . . homosexual persons or gays and lesbians” [i.e., protects people based on “sexual orientation.”] and like the Colorado constitutional amendment invalidated in Romer v. Evans, Irvine’s anti-LGBTQ ordinance “withdraws from homosexuals, but no others, specific legal protection from the injuries caused by discrimination.”

Accordingly, Romer v. Evans renders Irvine’s anti-LGBTQ ordinance unconstitutional.

Moreover, not only is Irvine’s anti-LGBTQ ordinance unconstitutional, it also clearly contradicts and is superseded by California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act, which explicitly prohibits discrimination against people based on “sexual orientation.”

Because state law supersedes any city law or local ordinance, the Unruh Civil Rights Act’s prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation anywhere in California means that Irvine lacks the power to declare that “the City Council shall not enact any City policy, law or ordinance that: Uses sexual orientation, in whole or in part, as the basis for determining an unlawful discriminatory practice and/or establishes a penalty or civil remedy for such practice.”

Irvine anti-LBGTQ initiative was one of several ballot measures across the nation in the late 1980s and early 1990s not only to seek to repeal existing anti-discrimination ordinances, but to proactively prohibit any local unit of government from ever passing such ordinances in the future.

Hence, the Irvine anti-LGBTQ ordinance includes provisions that purport to make it extremely difficult for a future Irvine City Council  to repeal it.  According to the ordinance, “Any law or ordinance pertaining to Section 3-5-503 may only be enacted by obtaining the approval of a majority of the voters of the City of Irvine voting on the measure at a regular or special election. Such a measure may only be placed on the ballot by citizen’s initiative or a two-thirds majority vote by the City Council.” [Sec. 3-5-502.].

The Supreme Court in Romer v. Evans made clear that it is an unconstitutional violation of the Equal Protection Clause to single out LGBTQ people for special burdens. including burdening them with special difficulties in enacting anti-discriminatory laws.  According, it is clear that the procedural provisions of Irvine’s anti-LGBTQ ordinance — requiring a 2/3 vote of the Council and then a ballot initiative for repeal — is again a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 5th and 14th Amendments because it is designed to make passage of protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation especially burdensome and difficult.

The California Legislature dealt with this very issue in its repeal of the unconstitutional sections of Prop 187 by Senate Bill 396 (2014) by a majority vote of the Legislature without a vote of the entire electorate.

As the Judicial Committee of the California Senate noted, “Under existing law, California’s Constitution only authorizes the Legislature to amend or repeal initiative statutes by way of another statute that becomes effective only when approved by the electors –unless the initiative statute permits amendment or repeal without their approval. (Cal. Const., art. II, Sec. 10, subd. (c).) This bill [SB 396] seeks to repeal several state statutes implemented upon voter approval of Proposition 187, which generally prohibited the provision of various benefits to undocumented aliens. That proposition did not authorize the Legislature to amend or repeal its provisions without voter approval.”

Nevertheless, the Judicial Committee found that the Legislature had authority to repeal the unconstitutional sections of Prop 187 without a vote of the entire electorate. It reasoned that because the bill did not modify or repeal any provisions of Prop 187 except those that are unconstitutional and therefore unenforceable, it did not make any change in existing law. Accordingly, “SB 396 would not impermissibly repeal or amend the initiative; rather, it would merely update California statutes to accurately reflect current law.” The bill passed the Assembly and the Senate with only a single No vote.

The same circumstances exist here.

Like the parts of Prop 187 repealed by a simple majority vote of the Legislature in 2014, the anti-LGBTQ ordinance is unconstitutional and enforceable. Like the unconstitutional parts of Prop 187, although Irvine’s anti-LGBTQ ordinance is unconstitutional and unenforceable, its language remains on the books. Keeping this discriminatory language on the books, “causes confusion and harmful outcomes . . . [Therefore], it is fitting that [we] expressly acknowledge the detrimental impact of the discriminatory [language] by removing its stain from the state’s statutes.”

That is what our City Council needs to do now, and what the precedent of SB 396 gives us clear authority to do: “expressly acknowledge the detrimental impact of the discriminatory [language of Sec. 3-5.501-503] by removing its stain from the [City’s Code.]”

In addition to being unconstitutional and in violation of superseding state laws, Irvine’s anti-LGBTQ ordinance is a cruel and embarrassing relic of a more prejudiced time.

Does Irvine want to remain on record as being one of the very few cities in America, and  indeed the world, that still officially discriminates against people based on their sexual orientation?  I hope not.

For all of these reasons, I will move to repeal Irvine’s anti-LGBTQ ordinance.  

As noted above, Councilmember Farrah Khan has agreed to join me in putting this item on the next Council agenda for Tues., July 14, 2020, and in supporting this motion.

If you agree with us, please tell Mayor Christina Shea and the rest of the Irvine City Council that Irvine’s anti-LGBTQ ordinance [Sec. 3-5-501 through 503] needs to be repealed NOW.

Contact the Mayor and the Irvine City Council by email here.

Help Celebrate the 100th Birthday of WW2 Army Air Force Veteran Captain Frank Wendzel!

Join the Irvine 2/11 Marine Adoption Committee in celebrating and brightening the 100th birthday of a distinguished Orange County veteran of World War Two and the Cold War.

Captain Frank Wendzel, a Lake Forest resident (and formerly an Irvine resident) who has been in quarantine in assisted living for over 90 days, will be celebrating his 100th birthday on Flag Day, June 14.

Born in Wyoming on June 14, 1920, Captain Wendzel flew B-17s with the United States Army Air Force in World War Two, participated in the nuclear weapon tests of Operation Crossroads, and then worked as an engineer on the Mercury, Atlas, Apollo, space missions.  He moved to Orange County in 1957.

Due to the pandemic, his big party was canceled and he has only had window visits for the last few months.

His mailing address is:
Captain Frank Wendzel
Freedom Village Health Care Center
23442 El Toro Road
Building 2
Room 111-B
Lake Forest, CA 92630

Please join us in thanking Frank for his military service and wishing him a Very Happy 100th Birthday!

Here is a video on the life of Captain Frank Wendzel, USAAF, ret.:

“Breaking Bread”: Councilmember Melissa Fox Joins Dr. Ebony Jade Hilton, Goodstock Consulting, and Others in an Important Discussion on Race in America

GOODSTOCK Consulting, LLC presents a discussion between its directors — Black women Dr. Ebony Jade Hilton, Kellye A. McKenzie, Kimberly Butler Willis and Jocelyn Rogers — and three white women — Betsy Neely Sikma (corporate executive), Janet Robinson Alterman (women’s rights activist) and Melissa Fox (City Council Councilmember and California State Assembly candidate) — in the wake of the murder of Black man George Floyd by Minneapolis police and the racist threats made to Black man Christian Cooper by a white woman in New York’s Central Park.

Irvine City Councilmember Melissa Fox was asked to participate by Dr. Ebony Jade Hilton, following their recent ZOOM Town Hall on “Exposing Inequalities During COVID-19.”

Watch here:

Dr. Ebony Jade Hilton is Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Virginia and a nationally recognized expert on how institutional racism has led to more severe impacts for communities of color from diseases such as COVID-19.

Melissa Fox is an Irvine City Councilmember and a candidate to represent the 68th Assembly District in the California State Assembly.

Visit Melissa’s assembly campaign website at http://votemelissafox.com

“Like” Melissa’s campaign Facebook page at
https://www.facebook.com/melissafoxforcalifornia/

Click here to watch Melissa Fox’s conversation with Dr. Ebony Jade Hilton, “Exposing Inequalities During COVID-19.”

“Breaking Bread: Dear White Women”: Join Dr. Ebony Jade Hilton and Goodstock Consulting in an Important Discussion on Race in America

Join GOODSTOCK Consulting, LLC for a discussion between its directors — Black women Dr. Ebony Jade Hilton, Kellye A. McKenzie, Kimberly Butler Willis and Jocelyn Rogers — and three white women — Betsy Neely Sikma (corporate executive), Janet Robinson Alterman (women’s rights activist) and Melissa Fox (City Council Councilmember and California State Assembly candidate) — in the wake of the murder of Black man George Floyd by Minneapolis police and the racist threats made to Black man Christian Cooper by a white woman in New York’s Central Park.

GOODSTOCK Consulting, LLC. From L to R: Kimberly Butler Willis, MPH, CHES, CDP; Ebony Jade Hilton, MD; Kellye A. McKenzie, MPA; Jocelyn Rogers, MPH

We’ll talk about the collective responsibility of white women to do the right thing in the 400 year fight for the freedom of Black and Brown people in America. Join the conversation.  Join the work.  Join us!

Watch “Breaking Bread: Dear White Women”

Date: Weds. June 10, 2020

Time: 3:00 pm Pacific (6:00 pm Eastern) — 4:30 pm (7:30 pm Eastern)

Live on the GOODSTOCK Consulting YouTube Channel
www.youtube.com/channel/UCebSLSY2vh2H5pnkk74kDUQ

This is an important discussion that our hosts have said “will not be an easy conversation.”

Irvine City Councilmember Melissa Fox was asked to participate by Dr. Ebony Jade Hilton, following their recent ZOOM Town Hall on “Exposing Inequalities During COVID-19.”

Dr. Ebony Jade Hilton is Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Virginia and a nationally recognized expert on how institutional racism has led to more severe impacts for communities of color from diseases such as COVID-19.

Melissa Fox is an Irvine City Councilmember and a candidate to represent the 68th Assembly District in the California State Assembly.

Visit Melissa’s assembly campaign website at http://votemelissafox.com

“Like” Melissa’s campaign Facebook page at
https://www.facebook.com/melissafoxforcalifornia/

For more information, please contact Allison at alli@votemelissafox.com

Visit the Facebook page for this event: https://www.facebook.com/events/188795332408895/

Click here to watch Melissa Fox’s conversation with Dr. Ebony Jade Hilton, “Exposing Inequalities During COVID-19.”

June is Pride Month: Support Flying the Pride Flag at Irvine City Hall!

June is Pride Month, when the State of California, and nations and cities around the world, stand with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community as they declare their pride in who they are and who they love.

June holds historic significance for the LGBT community.  In 1969, the Stonewall Riots occurred in the New York City as a protest against the police department’s unfair targeting of the LGBT community. The Stonewall Riots led to political organizing that is considered to be the beginning of the modern LGBT civil rights movement. The following year, the first LGBT Pride Parade was held in New York City on the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. Today, California has the largest LGBT population in the nation and is home to over forty LGBT Pride celebrations. 

As Governor Newsom stated recently in his Pride Month Proclamation, “The LGBTQ community has worked tirelessly for respect, equality and their very right to exist. Their battles have been fought in the courts, from marriage equality to demanding equal protection under the law.  While there has been remarkable progress towards acceptance and equality in recent years, members of the LGBTQ community in the United States and around the world still face an unacceptable level of discrimination and violence. This includes LGBTQ people who aren’t safe at home and those who do not have a home in which to stay.  We must push back against those who threaten the safety of LGBTQ Californians and challenge our progress. And we must continue to make the case that all human beings share something fundamental in common – all of us want to be loved, and all of us want to love. We cannot march in a parade this June, but we can and will stand with our LGBTQ family, friends and neighbors. Pride celebrations may look different this year, but in California, no matter the circumstances, we are proud to support our LGBTQ community’s right to live their lives out loud. As we celebrate Pride across the state, we must continue to demand equal rights for all to create a California for all.”

Last year, I asked the Irvine City Council to fly the Pride Flag from our Civic Center. In doing so, we would be joining many other cities, including Anaheim, Costa Mesa, Laguna Beach, and Fullerton, as well as the Orange County Fairgrounds, in flying the Pride Flag to recognize Pride Month by making it clear to all that our community is a place where LGBT people are visible, accepted, and welcome.

Unfortunately, although dozens of residents spoke at the meeting in support of flying the Pride Flag, the Council defeated the proposal and I was the only Councilmember to speak in favor of it. Councilmember Mike Carroll even called the Pride Flag “a spectacle of divisiveness.” 

In fact, in direct response to my motion to fly the Pride Flag, the Irvine City Council took the unprecedented step of voting to prohibit a council member from placing an item on the agenda without two other council members’ approval.  As the Orange County Register correctly stated in a powerful editorial opposing the Council’s action, “the transparent goal [was] to shut down the views of the political minority.”

Following the City Council’s rejection of my Pride Flag motion, I joined with numerous other Irvine residents in our own Pride Flag event in front of City Hall, celebrating LGBTQ Pride and diversity in Irvine.  I also placed a Pride Flag in front of my office at City Hall.

I said at the time that I had no intention of being silent.  Therefore, I will again bring a motion to the Irvine City Council to fly the Pride Flag from our Civic Center as a visible and prominent expression of our City’s commitment to equal rights for all and to ensure that our LGBTQ community can live their lives out loud.

Under the new rules imposed by the City Council majority in response to my Pride Flag motion last year, I asked Councilmember Farrah Khan to join me in placing this motion on the City Council agenda.  She told me she was working with other, Republican, councilmembers on a Pride-related agenda item.  When I asked her specifically whether the item included flying the Pride Flag, she did not respond.

I have now seen the agenda item, a proclamation, and it does not call for flying the Pride Flag from the Civic Center as a clear symbol of Irvine’s commitment. 

Accordingly, this year I will again bring a motion to fly the Pride Flag from our Irvine Civic Center.

Please show your support for flying the Pride Flag in Irvine by contacting Mayor Christina Shea and the Irvine City Council to let them know.  Click here for their email addresses.

Click here for a link to e-comment of the agenda item. Your comment is supposed to be read aloud by the clerk during the City Council meeting.

As Harvey Milk told us, “Hope will never be silent.”

UPDATE: Tues., June 9, 2020

I am deeply disappointed that no other member of the Council supported my motion to fly the Pride flag in Irvine during Pride. Not Mayor Christina Shea. Not Councilmembers Farrah Khan, Anthony Kuo, or Mike Carroll. What an embarrassment for our City. 

 

Let’s Help Celebrate Woodbridge High School Seniors Graduation on Thurs., June 4!

Help the Woodbridge Warriors celebrate 🎉 on the Loop at 2 this Thursday!

This Thursday, June 4, at 2:00 pm our Woodbridge High School Seniors will be driving around the loop (East Yale to West Yale) as a mark of celebration for graduation 🎓.

Red and Yellow Ribbons have been placed around the trees for them in the center of the loop, but it would be great to show up for them too!

This Thursday walk up to the loop where it’s all happening and show your support for our wonderful seniors, who missed out on not only their graduation but the second half of their senior year. (Think about your own senior year for a minute and imagine not having any of those memories, moments to reflect on for your life).

Please wear a facial covering and maintain social distance!

I’d also like to add my personal enthusiastic congratulations to all our City of Irvine 2020 graduates!  You are now the leaders that you’ve been waiting for to make the changes we need to make our nation stronger, fairer, and more just for all of us!

 

 

Watch Melissa Fox’s Town Hall with Dr. Ebony Jade Hilton — “Exposing Inequalities During COVID-19”

Black and brown communities in the United States are being hit much harder by the COVID-19 pandemic than white communities. 

On May 28, 2020, Irvine City Councilmember Melissa Fox held a virtual Town Hall Meeting with special guest Dr. Ebony Jade Hilton on “Exposing Inequalities During COVID-19.” Irvine City Council Member Melissa Fox and Dr. Hilton discuss why people of color have a much higher risk of being infected and dying from COVID-19, what the pandemic reveals about the underlying racial and economic disparities in our society, and what we can — and must — do about it.

Dr. Ebony Jade Hilton is Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Virginia Medical School, medical director of Goodstock Consulting, and a nationally recognized expert on how institutional racism has led to more severe impacts for communities of color from diseases such as COVID-19.

Dr. Ebony Jade Hilton received her M.D. from the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in 2008. She remained at MUSC for completion of her Residency in Anesthesia, followed by a Fellowship in Critical Care Medicine. In 2013 Dr. Hilton made history as she was hired as the 1st African American Female anesthesiologist since the hospital’s opening in 1824.

Throughout her tenure at MUSC Dr. Hilton’s passions have centered on exploring the issue of health disparities, particularly as it pertains to race, and bridging the gap between physicians and the communities they serve. Her works have led to her integration in the medical school curriculum, serving as a clinical instructor for fourth year medical students in Intern 101 and has taken her across the globe as a participant in numerous medical mission trips via Project Madaktari at Bugando Medical Center in Mwanza, Tanzania.

Now as a practicing physician at the University of Virginia – Charlottesville, Dr. Hilton has continued advocating for underserved and marginalized populations.

Her efforts have been recognized by the National Medical Association as well as the National Minority Quality Forum as one of the top 40 under 40 Leaders in Health Care award recipients.

She is also the author of the children’s book “We’re Going to be O.K.,” a book about staying safe, healthy, and optimistic during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Watch the full Town Hall on “Exposing Inequalities During COVID-19” here:

Exposing Inequalities During COVID-19

Part One

Part Two

Irvine Creates Local Business Support Program From $5 Million in Federal CARES Act Funds to Help Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19

(Irvine, CA) — At a special meeting on May 29, the Irvine City Council voted to establish a Local Business Support Program to provide financial support to small businesses impacted by COVID-19.

Irvine has received close to $5 million for COVID-19 related grants for the City’s small business community from the federal CARES Act, distributed to Irvine by the County of Orange.

“Thank you to our outstanding Orange County Congressional delegation — Katie Porter CA-45, Harley Rouda CA-48, Lou Correa CA-46, Mike Levin CD-49, Gil Cisneros CA-39, Alan Lowenthal CA-37, and Linda Sanchez CA-38 — for your hard work in bringing these crucial federal dollars back to Orange County.” Irvine City Councilmember Melissa Fox said.

“We are very happy to be able to use these federal funds to help our small businesses begin to recover from the economic shock of COVID-19.”

The program will allow Irvine-based small businesses that meet the following criteria to apply for one-time grants of $10,000.

To qualify, businesses must:

  • Have 25 or fewer employees
  • Have an active Irvine business license at the minimum of one year
  • Demonstrate a financial impact due to COVID-19, and
  • Have reopened or are ready to reopen, meeting guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control, the State and Orange County.

An estimated 500 businesses will be able to receive relief funds. Sixty percent ($3 million) of the $5 million City allocation will be directed to businesses that generate taxable retail sales. The other forty percent ($2 million) will be available to other small businesses with 25 or fewer employees.

Applications will be accepted for 30 days beginning next week, with grant funding awarded quickly on a first-come, first-served basis. Funds could be used to meet eligible businesses’ working capital needs such as payroll or operating expenses.

Businesses will be asked to provide a budget reflecting the proposed use of grant funds, and will be required to submit a post-expense report detailing how the funding was actually utilized.

“I’m glad we’ll be able to provide some basic recovery to our small businesses, which employ so many people who have been hit hard by the economic consequences of the quarantine, including many people who are self-employed” Councilmember Fox said. “I wish it could be more.”

“Now we need to get the U.S. Senate to pass and the President to sign the federal Heroes Act, already passed by the House of Representatives, which would give $2.7 billion in federal recovery funds to Orange County, so that our first responders, front-line health care workers, teachers, and working families will get the economic help they need and deserve.” Fox added.

More information and a grant application will be available at cityofirvine.org this week.

Exposing Inequalities During COVID-19: Join Melissa Fox’s ZOOM Town Hall with Dr. Ebony Jade Hilton!

Join us on Thurs., May 28 at 6:00 pm PDT for a ZOOM Town Hall Meeting with Irvine City Councilmember Melissa Fox and special guest Dr. Ebony Jade Hilton on “Exposing Inequalities During COVID-19.” 

Black and brown communities in the United States are being hit much harder by the COVID-19 pandemic than white communities. 

Join Melissa and Dr. Hilton as they discuss why people of color have a much higher risk of being infected and dying from COVID-19, what the pandemic reveals about the underlying racial and economic disparities in our society, and what we can — and must — do about it.

Dr. Ebony Jade Hilton is Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Virginia Medical School, medical director of Goodstock Consulting, and a nationally recognized expert on how institutional racism has led to more severe impacts for communities of color from diseases such as COVID-19. 

Dr. Ebony Jade Hilton received her M.D. from the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in 2008. She remained at MUSC for completion of her Residency in Anesthesia, followed by a Fellowship in Critical Care Medicine. In 2013 Dr. Hilton made history as she was hired as the 1st African American Female anesthesiologist since the hospital’s opening in 1824.

Throughout her tenure at MUSC Dr. Hilton’s passions have centered on exploring the issue of health disparities, particularly as it pertains to race, and bridging the gap between physicians and the communities they serve. Her works have led to her integration in the medical school curriculum, serving as a clinical instructor for fourth year medical students in Intern 101 and has taken her across the globe as a participant in numerous medical mission trips via Project Madaktari at Bugando Medical Center in Mwanza, Tanzania.

Now as a practicing physician at the University of Virginia – Charlottesville, Dr. Hilton has continued advocating for underserved and marginalized populations.

Her efforts have been recognized by the National Medical Association as well as the National Minority Quality Forum as one of the top 40 under 40 Leaders in Health Care award recipients.

She is also the author of the children’s book “We’re Going to be O.K.,” a book about staying safe, healthy, and optimistic during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What: “Exposing Inequalities During COVID-19” : A Virtual Town Hall with Irvine City Councilmember Melissa Fox and Dr. Ebony Jade Hilton

When: Thurs., May 28, 2020 at 6:00 p.m. PDT

Where: ZOOM Meeting ID 951-321-0807

See the Facebook page for this event HERE.

Melissa Fox is an Irvine City Councilmember and a candidate to represent AD 68 in the California State Assembly.

Visit Melissa’s assembly campaign website at http://votemelissafox.com.

Please “like” Melissa Fox for California Assembly!

For more information, please contact Allison at alli@votemelissafox.com

UPDATE: Watch the video of “Exposing Inequalities During COVID-19” : A Virtual Town Hall with Irvine City Councilmember Melissa Fox and Dr. Ebony Jade Hilton HERE

Roadmap to Recovery: Irvine Issues New Rules and Guidelines for Stage 2 Re-Opening!

As Orange County moves into the next part, Stage 2, of Gov. Newsom’s Resiliency Roadmap, the City of Irvine has prepared a guide for residents and visitors regarding what is now open in Irvine and what is required and recommended to maintain our safety during the on-going COVID-19 pandemic. 

 In Stage Two, the County of Orange will be allowed to have the following businesses re-open with adaptations:

🥙 In-person dining reservations.

🛍 Retail shopping with social distancing and curbside pickup.

🔗 Manufacturing.

🏢 Offices (when telework not possible).

🏯 Outdoor Museums.

▶️ Limited Services.

🚫 What is NOT allowed in Stage 2 🚫:

– Personal services such as nail salons, tattoo parlors, gyms and fitness studios.

– Indoor museums, kids museums and gallery spaces, zoos and libraries.

– Community centers, including public pools, playgrounds, and picnic areas.

– Limited-capacity religious services and cultural ceremonies.

– Nightclubs.

– Concert venues.

– Live audience sports.

– Festivals.

– Theme parks.

– Hotels/lodging for leisure and tourism – non-essential travel.

– Higher Education.

Please be mindful that the pandemic is not over.  COVID-19 is still among us.  It is still highly contagious and potentially deadly.

Face masks are still required by customers and employees in retail businesses and are strongly recommended for everyone whenever going out in public. Social distancing and hand washing remain our most important lines of defense against the spread of COVID-19.

As we re-enter the social world, we need to take care of ourselves and be careful not to harm others.

We are getting through this together.

For more information visit, cityofirvine.org/reopenirvine

For links to resources and information, please see my COVID-19 Resources and information page.

 

Congratulations to Irvine on Earning Top Parks Rating in California and 7th in the Nation!

The City of Irvine park system has been ranked 7th in the nation by the Trust for Public Land annual ParkScore Index, effectively making Irvine the top-ranked city in California.

This is the third consecutive year the City’s parks have ranked in the top 10 nationally.

The Trust for Public Land’s ParkScore rankings assess the nation’s 100 largest cities on factors such as park access, acreage, investment, and amenities.

Irvine earned a perfect sore in park spending per resident, and is second in the nation for basketball hoops per 10,000 residents.

Among the factors considered in the evaluation is the fact that 82 percent of Irvine’s residents live within a 10 minute walk of a park (compared to a national average of 54 percent) and that 27 percent of Irvine’s city land is used for parks and recreation (compared to a national average of 15 percent).

Of special note, the ParkScore Index did not find any significant difference regarding closeness to parks in Irvine based on the race, nationality, age, or income level of Irvine residents.

The Trust for Public Land works to protect the places people care about and to create close-to-home parks — particularly in and near cities, where 80 percent of Americans live. It’s goal is to “ensure that every child has easy access to a safe place to play in nature. We also conserve working farms, ranches, and forests; lands of historical and cultural importance; rivers, streams, coasts, and watersheds; and other special places where people can experience nature close at hand.”

Congratulations to my City Council colleagues, our City Manager and City staff, and our Community Services Commissioners, especially my appointee to the Irvine Community Services Commission, Lauren Johnson-Norris, who has worked so hard to improve the experiences of our residents in our parks and open spaces.

Honor Our Fallen Heroes on Memorial Day

Orange County has a long and proud military tradition.  From 1942 to 1999, Irvine was home to Marine Air Station El Toro, the largest Marine Corps Air Station on the West Coast. During World War II, the Korean Conflict, and the Vietnam War, thousands of United States Marines, as well as airmen, sailors and soldiers, departed for war from MCAS El Toro.  Many never returned.

As the daughter of a combat veteran, as the cousin of a Marine who was killed in action, and as an Irvine City Council Member, I am proud of Irvine’s commitment to honoring our veterans, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

For many, many years, my family and I have attended Irvine’s two beautiful Memorial Day ceremonies — a community-led candle-lighting ceremony at the Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial and the official City of Irvine Memorial Day Ceremony at Col. Bill Barber Marine Corps. Memorial Park next to the Civic Center.

Sadly, this year both ceremonies have been cancelled due to the need to limit non-essential gatherings to combat the spread of COVID-19 in our community.

This year, the official City of Irvine Memorial Day Ceremony will be presented online beginning May 25, 2020, for the community to view at their convenience.  The presentation will include words from our mayor, remarks from officers from the City’s adopted 2/11 Marine Battalion, and musical performances from past ceremonies.  For more information, call 949-724-6606.

The Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial, dedicated in 2010, located at 4531 Bryan Avenue, Irvine CA 92620, is the nation’s first and only memorial dedicated exclusively to listing the names of all the fallen American service members in Afghanistan and Iraq. The names of every service member who has died in Afghanistan and Iraq are engraved in granite in a permanent memorial, to ensure that generations of Americans will remember and honor them with gratitude as we do today. Regarding the Northwood Honor and Gratitude Memorial Ceremony, the following notice has been posted on their Facebook page:  

“To all our SoCal friends, it is with great sadness that we announce the City of Irvine, in keeping with the stay at home order, has CANCELED the Memorial Day Ceremony at the Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial.

The City will be generously donating a beautiful wreath of remembrance.  American flags will be placed around the perimeter of the memorial and candles for lighting for those who would like to visit during the Memorial Day weekend.

There will be staff at the community center if anyone needs help finding the name of a loved one or needs name rubbing materials.

We encourage everyone to please take a few minutes of your time to stop by and pay your respects during the holiday weekend.

To our beloved Gold Star families . . . please know that even though there is no ceremony we will never forget the sacrifices your heroes made for our freedom. Thankfully this beautiful memorial is a daily reminder that our community has not forgotten those who bravely put on our Nation’s cloth and gave the ultimate sacrifice.”

As in past years, I will thinking especially of my cousin, PFC Irwin Handler, USMC, who was killed at the Battle of Chosen Reservoir during the Korean War, and of the son of family friends, Lance Corporal Donald J. Hogan, USMC, Navy Cross, who was killed in Afghanistan.

 

I will also be remembering Irvine’s own fallen heroes:

Petty Officer Regan Young

Second Lieutenant Mark J. Daily

Lance Corporal Sean Horn

Chief Warrant Officer Steven Michael Larrabee

Major Michael David Martino

Specialist Justin W Pollard

Lance Corporal Michael S. Probst

Major Charles R. Soltes Jr.

Lieutenant Commander Keith E. Taylor

Although we are not able to gather together physically this Memorial Day, we will be gathered together in our hearts

As stated so beautifully and appropriately by the Veterans of Foreign Wars:

“Pausing to remember and honor America’s fallen service members is a practice dating back more than 100 years. Since the days of the Civil War, humble Americans have gathered together on Memorial Day to remember and pay tribute to all who have fought and selflessly surrendered the precious gift of life, so that other could live free.

Again we gather this Memorial Day, as a nation solemnly united in remembrance of the fallen defenders of our great nation. Freedom is not free. It has come at great cost, paid for with the lives of our sons and daughters, husbands and wives, sisters and brothers, friends and comrades.

Every American owes a great debt to the courageous men and women who have selflessly given their all to defend and protect our way of life. And while giving back to the extent they deserve is impossible, celebrating their memory and honoring their most selfless deeds offers a start.

This Memorial Day, pause to reflect on the absolute selflessness of the 1.3 million members of our nation’s military who paid the price needed to ensure our way of life endures, and let us not forget the families whose pain will never go away, but may lessen with our thanks and prayers.”

God Bless our fallen, their families, and our men and women in uniform all over the world.

The OC Board of Supervisors Should Increase COVID-19 Testing, Work with OC Cities to Distribute Federal CARES Act Funds, and Follow the Governor’s Guidelines to Re-Start Our Economy

As of Monday, May 18, 2020, there have been 4,434 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Orange County, with 88 deaths.  Over the past week, Orange County has averaged 125 new cases and 1.7 new deaths per day

Recently, California Governor Gavin Newsom has issued new, less retrictive guidelines for moving further into the four stages toward reopening our economy. 

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government passed the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act,” or CARES Act, which created a $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund to be used to help state, local, and tribal governments navigate the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.

These federal funds were mean to help American cities remain fiscally responsible while organizing essential emergency actions such as food delivery to seniors, support for small businesses, personal protective equipment, and rental assistance to tenants.

Orange County received $554 million in CARES Act funding from the federal government, earmarked for local jurisdictions, in order to pay for services such as police and fire protection, as well as social services.  But none of these funds have been released to Orange County cities.

Orange County COVID-19 Tracker for Mon., May 18, 2020. Source: OC Register

In fact, although 31 out of Orange County’s 34 mayors recently requested that the county distribute the $554 million in CARES Act funding it received from the federal government, the Board of Supervisors has been silent on when, how or whether it intends to fulfill its obligation under the CARES Act to distribute this much needed funding so that our cities remain able to function..

In addition, while the Board of Supervisors has indicated that it plans soon to “re-open” Orange County, the County has not provided the COVID-19 testing and contact tracing needed to improve public confidence and sustain our economic recovery.

Therefore, I have joined with Sunny Park, Buena Park City Councilmember, and 19 other local Orange County elected leaders in writing a letter to the Board of Supervisors calling on them to increase testing, work with local cities to distribute federal CARES Act funds, and follow the Governor’s guidelines to keep OC residents safe from COVID-19 as we re-start our economy.

Here is the full text of our letter to the Board of Supervisors, as printed in the Voice of OC:

“Everyone wishes we could just go back to our old normal life of hugs, handshakes, restaurants and ball games. But we know we’re not going to achieve our “new normal” without a thoughtfully planned process that increases our understanding of the virus, reduces risk of exposure, and includes all responders in coordinated action.

A successful and sustained economic recovery requires that we avoid COVID-19 outbreaks. This is especially true for Orange County, because we depend on tourism, retail, restaurants and entertainment to fuel a significant portion of our economy. If customers do not feel safe in our county’s businesses, recovery will be much more difficult, if not impossible.

Orange County has been operating under a shelter-in-place order since March 19. Governor Newsom acted quickly and, in large part, the residents and businesses of Orange County have complied. As of May 13, there were 3,749 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Orange County, 80 deaths, and 248 were currently hospitalized. While those numbers represent immense human suffering, they certainly would have been much worse without the profound, selfless sacrifices made by our entire community to comply with the stay-at-home order.

New COVID-19 Cases in Orange County by Date Reported. Source: OC Health Care Agency.

We are moving toward carefully reopening the county. Governor Newsom is set to move into Phase 2 of his plan by reopening certain retail businesses in a matter of days, again with appropriate precautions. We support a thoughtful, incremental reopening that avoids the risk of an outbreak that would set back the substantial progress we have made at great cost.

More testing and contact tracing can improve public health and accelerate our economic recovery. More information could allow restrictions to be more narrowly tailored to those who are infected or at-risk.

We need the right kinds of tests to know who is currently infected with COVID-19, and who may have already recovered from it. This is why, as fellow elected officials committed to safely and effectively reopening Orange County, we respectfully requested that the Board of Supervisors aggressively increase antibody and antigen testing in each city that has a qualified testing facility.

Not only do we need the right kinds of tests, we need to consider who receives them. While the Board of Supervisors has taken new steps to allow teachers, essential workers, and senior citizens to receive tests whether they have symptoms or not, it won’t be enough to rebound our economy. We have encouraged the Board of Supervisors to expand this eligibility pool, allowing anyone who requests a test to receive one, regardless of symptoms.

Each city in Orange County has taken local emergency actions on COVID-19, but these actions have significant costs. The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, set aside funds to help cities remain fiscally responsible while organizing essential emergency actions such as food delivery to seniors, support for small businesses, personal protective equipment, and rental assistance to tenants.

Thirty-one out of Orange County’s 34 mayors recently requested that the county distribute the $554 million in CARES Act funding it received from the federal government, which is earmarked for local jurisdictions. Unless the county begins to distribute these funds soon, our cities will be crippled, which could impact services such as police, fire, or social services.

Each of us can do our part to reduce COVID-19 by practicing social distancing and wearing protective face masks. In addition, we urge public support for more testing in Orange County, and the collaborative distribution of CARES Act funding to our local communities, each of which desperately needs it.”

The letter was signed by the following Orange County elected officials:

  • Sunny Park, Councilmember, City of Buena Park
  • Jordan Brandman, Councilmember, City of Anaheim
  • Jose Moreno, Councilmember, City of Anaheim
  • Glenn Parker, Councilmember, City of Brea
  • Art Brown, Councilmember, City of Buena Park
  • Katrina Foley, Mayor, City of Costa Mesa
  • John Stephens, Councilmember, City of Costa Mesa
  • Andrea Marr, Councilmember, City of Costa Mesa
  • Manuel Chavez, Councilmember, City of Costa Mesa
  • Jan Florey, Mayor, City of Fullerton
  • Diedre Thu-Ha Nguyen, Councilmember, City of Garden Grove
  • Kim Carr, Councilmember, City of Huntington Beach
  • Melissa Fox, Councilmember, City of Irvine
  • Sergio Contreras, Councilmember, City of Westminster
  • Kerie Kropke, Board Clerk, Brea Orlina Unified School District
  • Ian J. Mcdonald, Boardmember, Centailia Elementary School District
  • Joanne Fawley, Boardmember, Fullerton Joint Union High School District
  • Cynthia Aguirre, La Habra Unified School District
  • John Polacio, Santa Ana Unified School District
  • Chris Brown, Board Vice President, Savanna Unified School District
  • Lorainne Prinsky, Board Vice President, Coast Community College District

If you agree with us that OC Board of Supervisors should increase COVID-19 testing and tracing, work with OC cities to distribute federal CARES Act funds, and follow the Governor’s guidelines to re-start our economy, please let the Orange County Board of Supervisors know by contacting them at (714) 834-3100 or sending them an email.

Thank you.

For more information and resources regarding COVID-19, please click here.

 

 

 

Watch Melissa Fox’s ZOOM Town Hall with Irvine Ranch Conservancy Director Mike O’Connell!

I’ve always been an outdoors person, and I love going hiking and exploring in Southern California’s beautiful wild lands, mountains, and deserts.  Long before I entered politics, I served as a volunteer Ranger with the Orange County Park Ranger Reserve.  This past week, I had the pleasure of talking with Irvine Ranch Conservancy Executive Director Michael O’Connell last week during a ZOOM meeting Town Hall.  

The Irvine Ranch Conservancy is a non-profit, non-advocacy organization, committed to the highest possible standards of long-term land stewardship. Based in Orange County, California, the mission of the IRC is to ensure the protection, restoration and enhancement of the natural resources of the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks forever and to provide diverse opportunities for public participation by conducting and supporting scientific, recreational and educational initiatives and programs.

Michael O’Connell, Irvine Ranch Conservancy President and Executive Director, oversees all aspects of stewardship, public programs and business operations for the Irvine Ranch Conservancy. He has 25 years experience in land protection and conservation science including senior positions with The Nature Conservancy and World Wildlife Fund. He has served on the Board of Governors of the Society for Conservation Biology, and the Advisory Board of the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at UC Santa Barbara. He is currently on the Dean’s Leadership Council for the School of Biological Sciences at UC Irvine. Michael has co-authored two books on conservation and a number of scientific and popular articles. He has a bachelor’s degree in Geology from Carleton College and a Master’s in Conservation Biology from Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

After we talk about the history and the special character of this incredible land, Mike leads us on a tour of this incredible natural resource in our backyard.

 Watch our Town Hall on the Irvine Ranch Conservancy here: