FivePoint’s Great Park Home-Building Entitlements: Irvine City Council Votes on the FivePoint New Plan and Good Faith

In the previous article in this series on Great Park development, I wrote about the FivePoint’s 2011 new plan for the Great Park and FivePoint’s call for good faith. In this article, we will see how each of the 2011 council members voted on FivePoint’s “new plan.” In addition, we look at some of the concerns the council members expressed regarding the new plan.

The Irvine City Council Vote: A First Reading on FivePoint’s New Plan

Irvine council members and FivePoint CEO hold a press conference to discuss Great Park plans. From left to right—Jeff Lalloway, Steven Choi, Beth Krom, Sukhee Kang, Emile Haddad, Larry Agran—Courtesy OCR, January 11, 2011

At the August 30, 2011 city council meeting, the Irvine city council voted 3-2 to have a first reading to approve FivePoint’s proposed new plan. Mayor Suhkee Kang made the motion.

If the Irvine staff and FivePoint could work out the details in FivePoint’s new plan in a way that was agreeable to the Irvine city council, the second reading was planned for the September 13, 2011 council meeting. Mayor Kang, Councilmember Choi, and Councilmember Lalloway voted Yes on this first reading. Councilmembers Krom and Agran noted No. Krom and Agran thought that more details should be worked out before the first reading occurred.

Note: To be valid, a first reading of the agreement must occur at one city council meeting, then a second reading must occur at a proceeding city council meeting.

The Irvine City Council Vote: A Second Reading on FivePoint’s New Plan

At the September 13, 2011 city council meeting, the Irvine city council approved FivePoint’s new plan. The vote was 4-1. Kang, Choi, Krom, Lalloway voted Yes. Agran voted No. Therefore, the second reading of the new agreement with FivePoint occurred.

Agran’s Dissenting Vote

Agran agreed with many of the details in this new plan for the Great Park. However, he did have some concerns. Lack of concrete language written into the agreement regarding two items was Agran’s main criticism.

Trabuco Road/Great Park Boulevard as a Grand Entrance

One issue was regarding Trabuco Road/Great Park Boulevard as a grand entrance to the Great Park. Both the developer and the City had stated that Trabuco Road should be a grand entrance to the Great Park. Agran wanted concrete language in the agreement document ensuring that this would occur.

Providing Sports Facilities at the Great Park High School

Another issue was regarding providing sports facilities for the then-unbuilt Great Park high school. These sports facilities might include the sports fields as well as joint-use sports facilities. Joint-use facilities include items such as a stadium, gymnasium/field house, aquatics complex, tennis courts, and baseball fields.

FivePoint had negotiated a deal with the Irvine Unified School District to build a high school near Irvine Boulevard (its current location). Due to details in California’s SB50, building the school at this location gave FivePoint $60M in California state money. If the high school had been built near the Great Park sports complex, the City would have received the $60M.

Agran stated that building the high school near the Great Park sports complex site would allow for the high school to use facilities at the Great Park sports complex. If the location near the Great Park sports complex was not chosen as the location of the high school, Agran said that FivePoint should ensure that these high school sports facilities are provided for. Agran wanted written language in the agreement document that would guarantee this. Agran also stated that it would be difficult for Irvine or the Irvine school district to provide these sports facilities to the high school. Therefore, some such arrangement was necessary.

City Council Majority Accepts FivePoint’s Good Faith Guarantee

At the September 13, 2011 city council meeting, FivePoint representatives Emile Haddad and Patrick Strader stated that FivePoint would act in good faith. Haddad and Strader further stated that FivePoint was committed to establishing Trabuco Road/Great Park Boulevard as a grand entrance to the Great Park. In addition, they stated at that time that sports facilities associated with the high school were also of interest to FivePoint.

Haddad and Strader also stated that the City and FivePoint had worked cooperatively up to that point and that including additional language in the written agreement would slow down the process. Therefore, they stated that the Irvine city council should vote to approve the agreement without concrete language on these points in the written agreement. Instead, they stated that the Irvine city council should accept FivePoint’s good faith.

To varying degrees, four of the Irvine council members (Kang, Choi, Lalloway, Krom) decided to accepted FivePoint’s good faith words and voted Yes on the FivePoint proposal. However, Agran wanted more concrete language written in the agreement. Therefore, Agran voted No.

Significant Change, but Homebuilding Entitlement Numbers Remain Constant

This approval changed where and what  FivePoint would build in the Great Park. However, it did not change FivePoint’s homebuilding entitlement number. This vote was a significant change in how the Great Park would develop. However, FivePoint’s homebuilding entitlement number remained at 4,894.

Good Faith Justified?

At the time, Mayor Kang stated that this new plan marked the beginning of a “new chapter” in Great Park development. Looking back now, what would you say? Did this turn out to be mostly a good, bad , or mixed chapter? And was the Irvine city council majority vote on this wise?

Also, looking back at FivePoint’s 2011 new plan,* what did FivePont deliver on and what did it not? For example, how well did FivePoint live up to its words on Trabuco Road/Great Park Boulevard as a grand entrance? And how well did FivePoint live up to its words regarding sports facilities for the Great Park high school?

It has been ten years since FivePoint and the City made this agreement. Considering that, what do you say? Was the good faith in FivePoint justified? Please include your thoughts in the comments.

*See the previous post in this series on Great Park development for more details on what was included in FivePoint’s 2011 new plan.

This is the fifth article in a series on Great Park development and entitlement numbers. Up next is “FivePoint’s Great Park Home-Building Entitlements: The 2012 Irvine City Council Majority Shift and A Doubling of the Homebuilding Numbers.”