Land Use Conflict Stalls County Development Plans

The County has two project sites in Irvine with development plans that were approved and received certified final Environmental Impact Reports (“EIR”), but a dispute over the project descriptions and proposed land uses have them tied up in complex litigation. OC Register | Graham and Voice of OC | Custodio & Gerda

The El Toro Development Plan and the West Alton Development Plan are located in the same planning area as the ARDA site, the OC Great Park, and the Great Park Neighborhoods residential village.

The cities of Irvine and Laguna Beach, the Laguna Greenbelt, Inc., and FivePoint, filed lawsuits against the County to block the two projects. The issues raised range from traffic circulation (given the scale of the projects), the impact to the Great Park and surrounding residential neighborhoods, protection of the wildlife corridor, and the city’s opinion that the County is not exempt from the city’s development review process.

The County’s objective for these for-profit development plans is to stimulate new sources of revenue for the County and stimulate economic commerce in the city. The lawsuits are pending in Superior Court in Sacramento. It could take sometime to untangle all the legal issues raised and see how this will impact the City.

The County is the lead agency and the Orange County Board of Supervisors is the decision making body for the projects. As part of the 2003 annexation of the former El Toro Marine Base, the project sites were conveyed to the County by the city, free of charge. Significant points raised during the pubic review process relate to the authority of the County and the intended purpose of land use as defined within the transfer agreement. The city maintains the property is for public-oriented land use and the County’s proposal is not consistent with the terms and vision of the agreement.

El Toro Development Plan

The 100 acre El Toro Development Plan is a commercial and residential project near the southwest edge of the OC Great Park, by the Irvine train station and Marine Way. The project proposes construction of a 242-room hotel, 1,998 residential units, 1,000,000 square feet of office space, and 200,000 square feet of retail space. This land is currently zoned for institutional use (educational and public facilities). 

West Alton Development Plan

The West Alton Development Plan is a residential project on 44 acres that includes a 12-acre wildlife corridor. It is located in the northeasterly edge of the OC Great Park site, northwest of the intersection of Irvine Blvd., and Alton Parkway. The proposal is for a maximum of 803 multi-family residences with up to 112 units committed to affordable housing. This land is currently zoned for agriculture use.