Council Voted Against Protections from Warehouses Expanding Citywide: What Will This Do To the Landscape of Irvine?

Are residential homes compatible with warehouses/logistics facilities? At its November 17, 2022 meeting, the Planning Commission recommended City Council approval of a Logistics Facility and Warehouse Ordinance amendment by a 4-1 vote. The two land uses, residential and warehouses, were not deemed compatible by the majority of the Planning Commissioners. However, when the vote came before the City Council, the Council voted “no”.

What will this do to the landscape of Irvine, especially in the densest neighborhoods planned for mixed-use in the Spectrum and Irvine Business Complex (IBC)?

At the April 25, 2023 City Council meeting, city staff recommended a Zoning Ordinance Amendment for Logistics Facilities and Warehoues Uses. Staff was proposing an amendment to clarify definitions, review procedures, and parking requirements to address the increased interest in warehouse uses citywide.

The staff report states:

Over the past approximate 18 months, staff has noticed many more inquiries about these types of uses than at any time in the past 10 to 15 years. Warehousing and distribution facilities have long been associated with business activities in Irvine, particularly in the Irvine Business Complex (IBC) and Spectrum areas. However, recent shifts in supply chain management due to changes in consumer behavior is placing a higher demand for these types of facilities being located in the City.”

The buildings are taller and larger on average and can accommodate more and larger trucks. Because of their nature, these developments may create land use incompatibilities that would need to be evaluated and resolved on a case-by-case basis. As a result, it is appropriate for the City to update its Zoning Ordinance to address how warehouse and logistics facilities are evaluated in response to these new market conditions.”

A Logistics Facility and Warehouse Ordinance would have been able to:

  • Make sure warehouses would not expand into new areas throughout Irvine.
  • Give the City more discretion based on business activity, square footage, and location.
  • Review for land use compatibility, and address health, safety, and welfare concerns.

However, the City Council voted against this ordinance 2-3 with Mayor Khan, and Councilmembers Tammy Kim and Mike Carroll voting against the Ordianance.

Councilmember Larry Agran expressed his concerns during the discussion stating, “This is a serious problem now… I just want us to get stronger and stronger planning hold on all of this, because if we don’t, we’re simply not going to be able to create these mixed-use communities work, particularly the IBC area which can evolve into something quite wonderful. But if it’s overwhelmed with truck traffic twenty-four hours a day, light pollution, noise pollution…”

However, Vice Mayor Tammy Kim stated, “We have certain areas that were intended to be mixed-use. As such, when we have things such as the changing nature of retail, I just feel that this is part of that mixed-use environment. Part of going from suburban to urban, to higher-density and more of everything. And I think that’s part of the vibrancy of what a mixed-use area is all about… Until we really understand the economic impacts of this, I’m less inclined to support this ordinance until we learn a little bit more.”

The city is required to plan for 23,554 more homes by 2029 due to the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA). These units are being planned in the Spectrum and Irvine Business Complex, which pose concerns over the safety, walkability, and bikeability of these future mixed-use neighborhoods if semi trucks and 500k+ square feet of warehouses are placed next to residential homes with families and children.