8/28/18 – Irvine City Council Meeting Notes

Highlights

  1. The City Council meeting was a mini candidate forum: City Council Candidate Anthony Kuo (Planning Commissioner) made two public comments, City Council Candidate Carrie O’Mally (Transportation Commissioner) made one public comment, and Mayoral Candidate, Ed Pope, made one public comment supporting concerns of Irvine residents.
  2. City Council supports employee rights: Lalloway asked that he wants to see the City Clerk salary be upgraded to that of Department Heads as City Clerk has the same level of responsibility.
  3. U.S.A Water Polo Olympic Training Center and Los Angeles Olympic event Facility for the Great Park is under negotiation between Irvine and U.S.A Water Polo, a non-profit organization.
  4. City Council unanimously voted to reaffirm zoning, nature and character of Irvine villages and preservation of village neighborhoods and thus the Rancho San Joaquin golf course will remain a golf course until such time as the Rancho San Joaquin community wants to change the use designation of the property.
  5. City Council declares that the General Plan Amendment Survey is not statistically valid and wants staff to reach out to a more accurate cross section of the Irvine Community.
  6. Note: Watchdog Public Comments make a difference. See agenda items 3.7 and 8.7.

Present were: Mayor Wagner, and council members Fox, Lalloway, Shea and Schott.

Agenda Item 1: Closed session regarding legal actions: The City Attorney did not make any public statements.

Agenda Item 2: Announcements by City Manager, John Russo:

Lalloway announced that August 28 is the 55th anniversary of the March on Washington during which Martin Luther King gave his “I have a dream” speech.

Wagner Announced that on September 16th there will be a baseball event at the Great Park Baseball Stadium starting at 6:30 AM

There will be a Senior Fitness expo on August 31 at the Rancho Senior Center.

Comedy unleashed at the Irvine Improve will provide dinner and comedy show at 5:30 PM for $35 with half the proceeds going to the Irvine Animal Shelter.

The Irvine Global Village event will take place at the Great Park on September 22 from 10 AM to 6 PM.

An award presentation was made to the local King Sejong Institute which provides Korean Cultural Awareness and Education, including Korean Language classes, to the Irvine Community.

Russo announced that the Irvine Police Department had a national night out where the police department representatives met with members of the Community.

Community Services announced that they presented 2 swimming meets at the Woollett Aquatic Center during which U.S. and World records were met.

It was also announced that there is an art exhibition at the Irvine Fine Arts Center.

Bill Sandler, a retired Marine, gave Irvine a plaque thanking Irvine for its donation to the 5th Marine Vietnam Memorial located at Camp Pendleton.

Agenda item 3, 4, 5,6,7: Consent Calendars.

Issues discussed and approved:

Salary Grade Amendments: Lalloway stated that since the City Clerk has the same level of responsibility as department heads, he would like to see the salary grade amendment be further updated to give the City Clerk the same salary as department heads. Staff was asked to create another amendment to address this change. Staff was asked to research the required budget adjustments that would have to be made to support this adjustment and report back to the city council.

Salary Grade Amendment approved with plans for future amendment: 5-0

Issues discussed and not approved: Agenda Item 3.7

Ridge Valley Parkway (near the Great Park) improvements: Public comment (Irvine Watchdog, Jane Olinger) asked if the project would reflect the circulation needs traffic from the County’s proposed high density project on nearby county land. Lalloway requested report back from Transportation regarding this issue for the next City Council Meeting.

Agenda item 6.1: U.S.A Water Polo Facility at the Great Park: Mayor Wagner presented his request for the City Council to enter into agreement negotiations with U.S.A Water Polo, a nonprofit Olympic training and event organization, to build an Olympic training facility and Olympic event facility for the Los Angeles Olympics in 2028. The facility would host the 2020 Olympic qualifying events as well. The U.S.A Water Polo representative stated that 1/3 of the use of the facility would be used by U.S.A Water Polo for Olympic training and 2/3 the use could be leased for swimming lessons or local swimming events. U.S.A Water Polo said that they would fund, manage and operate the facility. The location in the Great Park is yet to be determined.

Public Comments: Commenters asked for a location in the Great Park for a Natural History Museum, Paleontology Museum, Cultural History Museum, Botanical Garden and a Native American History Museum, preferably located at the Great Park Cultural Center. Chamber of commerce representative stated that Irvine would make lots of income from hotels and businesses as a result of the facility becoming a world class sports destination. A number of Olympic water polo athletes and aspiring Olympic water polo athletes asked Irvine to authorize the facility because there is a shortage of facilities in the area that are available for water polo training. They also said that the center would attract water polo Olympians who would be role models and trainers for children wanting to excel in the sport. City Council members liked the proposal. It was moved and seconded that Irvine enter into negotiations for an agreement with U.S.A Water Polo with agreement being completed in 90 days and allowance for 60 day extension. Approved 5-0.

Agenda item 7.1: Resolution approve Community Services Facility reservation fees and permit category update:

Staff reported that facility use fees are much less than other cities. Staff recommends increasing fees but having reduced fee schedules by category with smallest fees for non-profits and residents and student activities and the highest fees for commercial. Staff has recommended streamlining the reservation system so that sites can be reserved on line: Shea and Fox: Both want to keep rates as low as possible just so long as the fees pay the cost. Approved 4-0 with Schott being out of the room.

Agenda item 8.1: Bond approval for Great Park Area 8: Staff reported that the bond costs will be paid for by taxes levied on properties in the district. Approved4-0 with Schott being out of the room.

Agenda item 8.2: Alternate improvement options for improving and/or widening the Jamboree and Main intersection: Staff offered a number of different suggestions to improve traffic and pedestrian circulation including: putting in more lanes that enter the 405 freeway, making the right lane on Jamboree and Main going towards Main being right turn only during peak hours with lit right turn only traffic signal to make it easier for traffic to turn right on Main to get to the airport, building a bridge to make it safer and easier for pedestrians to cross streets, particularly at intersections where the lanes merge onto the 405 freeway. Staff reported that the pedestrian traffic was monitored and only 30 pedestrians crossed in peak hours. Staff further reported that the cost of the bridge would be about $17 million. According to staff, Cal Trans would have to be involved for options that included adding lanes to freeway: Lalloway and Wagner appeared to be concerned that the cost of the bridge would not worth it due to the lack of pedestrian traffic. Fox and Shea: Both advocated for the bridge as low pedestrian traffic is due to the difficulty of the intersection which is a safety risk to pedestrians. New high density apartment projects are in the works and will have lots of residents who can benefit from the bridge. If all the employees and residents used the bridge, it would reduce traffic. Both Fox and Shea wanted the IBC area to have more walkways and to be more community friendly in order to build more connections with people. Shea:$17 million is much too expensive and staff thus needs to re-negotiate the cost and design of the bridge. Fox: said that the bridge should be made to look inviting to pedestrian traffic. Shea: moved that the staff research and submit studies to all options including the bridge: Approved 3-2 with opposing votes from Lalloway and Wagner.

Agenda item 8.3: Irvine’s Response to Grand Jury report on Orange County Homeless in which Irvine was recognized as not doing their part to house the homeless due to Nimbyism: Wagner reported that Irvine’s response will include the following statements. Irvine is working with multiple organizations and non-profits to develop a solution to homelessness, but at the same time Irvine must protect public safety and home owners. Irvine has given $2 million to the Irvine Community Land Trust to be used for permanent affordable housing. Irvine is providing attractive affordable housing which includes housing for the very low income families. The Irvine Police Department has a homeless liaison to provide mental health and other services to homeless families and individuals.

Lalloway: The Grand Jury is wrong in that Nimbyism was not the issue. People did not want the homeless camp because it did not provide affordable housing and it was not amenable to providing adequate services.

Fox: The tent city alternative would not provide school, medical or dental services. The Irvine Land Trust would provide permanent low income housing with supportive services.

Schott: Irvine is working to prevent homelessness. School district and non-profits are teaching living skills and job skills to the disabled community and helping the disabled find jobs.

Shea: Irvine is a master plan community that requires 10% affordable housing including housing for the disabled and 10% low income housing including housing for veterans.

Wagner: Wagner to include the council members comments in Irvine’s response to the Grand Jury.

Response Letter with amendments approved 5-0.

Agenda item 8.4: Irvine’s response to Grand Jury report regarding Irvine not renewing it’s contract with the Orange County Fire authority. Grand Jury voiced concern that the Orange County Fire Authority would be harmed if Irvine left. Grand Jury held that Irvine’s required contribution is not fair to Irvine and thus Irvine and the Orange County Fire Authority should enter into negotiations to revise the contract and submit the revised agreement to the Superior Court of Orange County by September 20, 2018: Mayor Wagner said that Irvine pays $23 million a year to the Orange County Fire Authority, which is much more than the other cities contribute. Wagner said that negotiations with the Fire Authority are now in process. Wagner said that he would give the Grand Jury notice that the negotiations are in progress.

Response letter approved 5-0.

Agenda item 8.6: Discussion of Rancho San Joaquin Golf Course: Wagner proposed a City Council resolution reaffirming the zoning, nature and character of Irvine Villages, and neighborhood preservation. Wagner said that this resolution would apply to retaining the designated use of the golf course in Rancho San Joaquin.

Lots of Public Comments: Planning Commission Kuo asked that the character of the village of Rancho San Joaquin be protected by retaining the designated use of the Golf Course. Transportation Commission Carrie O’Mally stated that we must maintain the essence of the masterplan communities. Community and neighborhood life extends to residences, communities, parks and open space. Carrie asked that we do not chip away the amenities of our Masterplan communities. Other public comments included: request that Irvine purchase the golf course and make it a municipal golf course; request that the city not allow building of residences on the golf course and ensure that the golf course remains a well maintained golf course which is very inexpensive and affordable; and that the golf course remain a wildlife preserve.

Public Comments by proposed buyer, Mo Honiker, an apartment developer and his golf course designer: Mo and his collaborator said that they plan to put in a top quality international quality 18 hole golf course with a club house and bar and grill that has a better design and which will be better maintained than the current golf course. He said that he also plans to put in 45 student housing units on the golf course. Mo stated that he will not shift the apartments to Harvard and Michelson because that would not be a feasible location.

Wagner proposed motion: Motion that Irvine maintain and reaffirm general plan zoning and the nature and character of Rancho San Joaquin village and golf course and that no project will be done in the village unless the Rancho San Joaquin community “buys into it”.

Shea: If a buyer purchases the property, they do so at their risk because the City Council will not change the entitlements.

Schott: Schott said that she was concerned that if the golf course did not sell, the golf course would fall into receivership.

It was reported that the owner of the golf course, according to the zoning codes, enforced by code enforcement, must maintain the golf course landscape and irrigation systems in a “healthy condition”. Violations would be considered a public nuisance, and could result in fines and even place the land in receivership.

Motion passed 5-0: Wagner asked the city attorney to write up the motion and bring the resolution to the City Council meeting in 2 weeks.

Agenda Item 8.7: Comprehensive General Plan update, public outreach results and preliminary planning framework presentation.

Staff reported the long range objectives, policies and goals for future Irvine development. It was reported that the principle concerns of the community was neighborhood preservation and enhancement, traffic and transportation, and density in IBC being accessible. Staff reported that the general plan goals, principles and policies were developed by means of public surveys. The survey population was 1% of Irvine’s population, and 78% homeowners.

Public Comment: Commenter (Irvine watchdog, Susan Sayre) described the survey population and stated that it was not an accurate representation of a cross section of the Irvine Community, and thus basing the general plan amendment on a statistically invalid survey adversely affects the validity of the General Plan amendment. Planning Commissioner Kuo stated that he agreed with Susan Sayre’s comment. Other public comments were: the survey population should be big enough to represent the size of Irvine’s population; the general plan amendment should include a climate action plan as the state requires a community choice energy plan; and the general plan amendment should address affordable housing.

Shea: Shea stated that the city cannot defend against community concern without a statistically valid survey. Shae asked staff what they can do to get a statistically valid survey. Staff stated that the survey was not intended to be statistically valid but is a “verification survey”.

Lalloway: Lalloway said that he would like to see survey questions address public safety because it is an important issue of concern to Irvine residents.

Shea and Wagner:both Shea and Wagner stated that they want a statistically valid survey and want a “demographic” community outreach process.

Pete Carmichael, city manager: Mr. Carmichael will look into how to get a more statistically valid survey.