Irvine Company Seeks to Add More Medium-High Density Residential Units in Los Olivos and Cypress Village. Has the City and The Irvine Company Worked Out a Public Benefit Agreement?

Irvine Company is requesting a General Plan Amendment (GPA) to change the land use designation for the villages of Los Olivos and Cypress Village and add more Medium-High Density residential units. This request comes just two days after the previous City Council meeting where the Councilmembers made it clear they want public benefits in exchange for future entitlement proposals. Has the City and the Irvine Company worked out a public benefit agreement?

Los Olivos

The applicant is seeking to increase the existing residential unit cap for the Medium-High Density Residential General Plan Land Use category by 330 dwelling units from 3,700 to 4,030 units. The area is in Planning Area 39 and comprised of 396 gross acres bound by the San Diego (I-405) freeway, Irvine Center Drive, Bake Parkway, and Lake Forest Drive. This request pertains to the area highlighted in red on the map below:

Cypress Village

The applicant is proposing a change to the land use designation of a 20-acre vacant site located at the southwest corner of San Canyon Avenue and Trabuco Road/Great Park Boulevard, from a General Plan Land Use category of Community Commercial to Medium-High Density Residential.

This proposal is in Planning Area 40 and pertains to the area highlighted in red on the map below:

The City Council will meet on May 11, 2021 at 2:30PM to provide input and decide whether or not to authorize city staff to proceed with this General Plan Amendment application. This is a discretionary decision on the part of the City Council. The agenda and the full images above can be found here.

Submit an e-Comment here.

Will There Be a Public Benefit?

In response to the City Councilmembers’ April 27th request, the City Council could (or perhaps should) require a legal agreement by the Irvine Company to provide a public benefit of either extending the terms of their affordable units to “in perpetuity” or building RHNA (Regional Housing Needs Assessment) units from each of the affordability classifications.

Background: 

At the April 27th City Council meeting during discussion of agenda item 4.2 the City Council, in particular Councilmembers Tammy Kim, Larry Agran, and Anthony Kuo, made it clear they expect to work with the Irvine Company to secure public benefits with the next entitlement proposal in the northern sphere of Irvine. For background read [Opinion] Woodbury and Cypress Village’s Density Going to Portola Springs. Will There Be a Public Benefit in Exchange? – Irvine Watchdog

That entitlement request is already here. Are the City and the Irvine Company in negotiations to work out a public benefit agreement?

Councilmember Larry Agran stated,

“in conjunction with your [Irvine Company’s] next entitlement proposal in the northern sphere area, whenever that comes, and I trust it will be sooner rather than later, it seems to me imperative that we take care of this affordable housing expiration of units just as quickly as we can. I want you to absolutely know where I am on affordable housing units going forward and making sure we don’t lose ground in that housing stock.”

Councilmember Anthony Kuo added,

“we [the City] want to be good partners [with Irvine Company] and we hope that you in turn will continue this partnership that we’ve had and not just say no when we ask for certain things… in the coming days I expect the conversation will continue and we will come to some sort of agreement… by our doing right by you, you will do right by our community and its neighbors.”

Councilmember Tammy Kim started and ended Council discussion by asking for hundreds of affordable units to be secured in perpetuity:

“I realize fully that asking for all of these units in perpetuity, I realize it’s audacious. But I feel we need to be audacious right now and I’m justified in my audacity in asking for this. I am hoping and looking to the the Irvine Company as being a partner as we go through a lot of our development challenges, with our RHNA number, with what we need to do to increase our housing inventory for working families, but I really, really, really hope you’ll consider… and make real concrete efforts to make these 649 units affordable in perpetuity.”

To watch the robust Council discussion regarding April 27th meeting’s agenda item 4.2 click here.

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For Irvine Watchdog articles on RHNA:

Irvine Begins Housing Element Update Process – Irvine Watchdog

Irvine Assigned 22,803 Residential Units – How Should We Plan For It? – Irvine Watchdog

Irvine Is Appealing Its Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) – Irvine Watchdog