Irvine Community Land Trust Updates Including Affordable Housing in Portola Springs and Cypress Village
The Irvine Community Land Trust (Land Trust) is a non-profit affordable housing company. While it is not a city commission, it is 100% funded with taxpayer dollars, and the City of Irvine invests approximately $10 million in the organization annually. The Irvine Watchdog regularly monitors and reports on the Land Trust’s activities to ensure transparency, accountability, and honesty.
The Land Trust will spend significant time and effort in 2021 on the build-out of their Sage Park (formerly named Native Spring) project, which will serve moderate-income families with a 68 for-sale townhomes. Set north of Irvine Boulevard in Portola Springs, this project will be the first affordable homeownership project in the Land Trust portfolio. The project will feature 16 two-bedroom homes, 36 three-bedroom homes and 16 four-bedroom homes, with sales prices estimated at about four-hundred thousand dollars.
The Land Trust will soon complete the Salerno project in Cypress Village at Nightmist and Sand Canyon Avenue. Salerno offers 80 affordable rental units at 80 percent, and as low as 30 percent of area median income. Salerno includes 15 units for veterans, 10 for individuals with developmental disabilities and 10 for extremely low-income families. Public interest in this project was so high that 6,818 people signed the project interest list. This project was initially expected to open in December, but delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have pushed Salerno’s opening to the spring of 2021.
In 2020 the Land Trust discussed several possible projects outside of Irvine’s city. These included a Santa Ana project and a potential opportunity in Costa Mesa. Some volunteers at the Irvine Watchdog expressed concern over the possible use of Irvine taxpayer money for projects outside the city and requested that if projects outside the city were pursued that all funds related to those activities be from non-Irvine sources and financial accounts and reports be segregated and made available for review.
The Land Trust has discussed creating several Limited Liability Company’s (LLC’s) as one way to manage different projects and project activities. Still, of this date, no public action has been taken by the Board on LLC’s or to move forward on projects outside of Irvine.
The city of Irvine effectively controls the Land Trust as it provides significant taxpayer funding for their activities. One source of this funding is from settlement funds.” The city of Irvine had agreed in a settlement, after the dissolution of the Redevelopment Agency, to provide “settlement funds” to the Land Trust to build permanent affordable housing. In January, the city transferred an estimated $3.6 million to the Land Trust.
As a result of the recent elections, the Land Trust may have changes to the board’s composition soon. While nothing has been formally announced, we can expect at least one new member and perhaps a change in one or more officer positions.
Other Recent Land Trust activities:
- The Land Trust has actively managed its investment portfolio of approximately $2.7 million to limit potential investment risk and ensure adequate liquidity to fund projects as needed.
- The organization has moved its office to a new location and is in the process of purchasing office equipment and putting the finishing touches on the new office.
- The organization has engaged in some contingency planning and created a formal job description for the Executive Director position. They have also discussed salary ranges and are looking to hire an Assistant Executive Director in the future.
The Irvine Community, Land Trust meetings are open to the public and available via Zoon during the pandemic. To attend, go here and click on the Zoom link found at the top of the agenda.