Planning Commission Meeting Notes – 16 August – RSJ Golf Course & Woodbridge Medical Building


Regular Meeting Plus Special Meeting

By Susan Sayre


  1. Over 2 hours discussing the aesthetics of 2 cell tower poles disguised as Mono-Pine Trees in undeveloped area of Orchard Hills…Even if it is just 2 Mono-Pine trees in the middle of the field, just bring me better cell reception!
  2. The Planning Commission is on a mission to save Irvine Village Neighborhood life style and voted to turn down Sterling Dental Plaza on Osborn Project and voted to reaffirm zoning designation of the Rancho San Joaquin golf course property as a golf course only thus vowing not to approve UCI student apartment development on the golf course property.
    1. Alert! The RSJ golf course issue is not over: could become a future issue of concern involving UCI. See notes at bottom regarding my follow up meeting with Tim Gehrich, Deputy Director of Community development.
    2. Wow!…Hundreds of people attended inside and out of the chambers on both issues. Large numbers spoke and even more were waiting outside. After listening to RSJ residents for hours with more wanting to speak, Greg Smith at close to 10 pm announced that he and other commissioners have made their decision to reaffirm current zoning designation and asked other speakers if they still wanted to speak. After their vote to reaffirm the zoning designation, huge numbers of people stood up and gave the commission a standing ovation and the commission members grinned from ear to ear, stood up, thanked the audience, and gave the audience a standing ovation. What exuberance! The energy was powerful and brought tears to people’s eyes.  Commission members stated that they have never had such a reaction from their audience before.  After all these years giving public comment, I finally felt listened to and appreciated for my efforts!!! I’m hooked!


Regular Meeting

Present were: Greg Smith (Shae), Dustin Nirschl (Fox), John Duong (Lalloway), Anthony Kuo (Wagner) and Patty Bartlett (Schott)

Agenda item 1:  Approval of minutes: Approved 5-0

Agenda item 2: Milani Residential Project in Irvine Business Complex:

The matter was continued to 9/6/18 Planning Commission Meeting.

Kuo: Kuo reported that the original approval of the project plan has expired and Kuo wants an explanation of the reason for the delay and does not want to grant an extension unless there is a good reason for the delay in starting the development project.

Continuing the agenda item to 9/6/18 was approved 5-0

Agenda Item 3: Conditional use permit for 2 class 4 wireless communiation poles disguised as Mono-Pine Trees:

Staff report: The 2 Mono-Pine tree communication poles are the first with more coming in the future.  They are to be located on land leased from the Irvine Company in Orchard Hills.  They will be located across Jeffrey Road from a future park above Portola Hills Road. They will be located next to a future residential development. Staff said that the tree poles had to be in the open or the cellular equipment would not work well and the tree poles cannot be closer to the SCE substation because the substation would create reception interference. Staff stated that Jeffrey would eventually connect to the 241 Toll Road.

All commissioners were concerned about the aesthetics of the “tree poles”. The discussion of the aesthetics issues went on for over 2 hours.

Duong and Kuo: Insisted on landscaping and ongoing maintenance of the landscaping around the tree poles and he wanted the landscaping at full growth to conceal the tree poles.

Smith: Smith asked people to judge based on what the area will look like in 10 years after the park is in place and the residential community is built out

Motion to approve conditional use was 3-2 (Duong and Kuo opposed).

Agenda Item  4: Geneal Plan Amendment, zone change and Master Plan for 2 Oborn in Woodbridge:

Staff report: Staff reported that the project is a departure from Woodbridge Village character; it would have an adverse visual impact as it is the largest building in the area; it is counter to the vision that the city has for Woodbridge; there would be a conflict between pedestrians and vehicular traffic; the traffic study was not approved by the transportation commission there being a split vote; and the project is inconsistent with Irvine’s General Plan. Staff reported receiving correspondence from over 600 people opposing the project.  Staff recommended denial of the requested amendments, and zoning change.

Applicant’s presentationApplicant contradicted the items mentioned in the staff report and further alleged that there was a need for more medical offices in the area.

Smith: Smith reported that even if the Osborn project is denied by the planning commission the item will go to the City Council.  Smith further reported that if the City Council denies the proposed project, the applicant can amend his proposed project and re-submit it.

Public Comments (many)

Concerns were: Does not fit in with Woodbridge Village neighborhood plans; once make zoning changes, changes will not stop; Woodbridge Village Association is opposed to the project; the Sterling Dental Plaza project is designed for people in Orange County and beyond and not limited to Woodbridge residents; Woodbridge has medical/dental suites that are unoccupied; the project would be better located on Sand Canyon where other medical arts buildings are located; traffic is a big problem now in the area and the project would make it worse; and traffic is so great during peak hours that emergency vehicles cannot get through the traffic.

Kuo: Kuo reported that he met with the applicant and told the applicant that residents were strongly opposed to the project and that he had recommended that the applicant reach out to the residents.  According to Kuo, the applicant never reached out to residents.  Kuo stated that the village is done now and that he cannot support more development.

Bartlett:  Bartlett said that the building was a bad investment for the applicant and the EIR  indicated  that the project would have a slim chance of getting approval.  Bartlett said that she could not support the project.

Duong: Duong said that he also told the applicant that he needed to reach out to the residents. He also said that the community’s demand for medical arts buildings is not there in Woodbridge, but it is a nice project but the project is not in the right place; it should be located on Sand Canyon.

Nirschl: Woodbridge Village is more than a place or location; it has a special character which is that of meeting the needs of Woodbridge residents.  He stated that the proposed project is inconsistent with the general plan for Woodbridge and therefore cannot support it.

Smith:  Smith stated that the density cap has been met and there is no compelling reason for exceeding the cap and thus he will not support the project.  Smith said that he moved to deny the plan and send a strong recommendation to the City Council that they deny the Osborne general plan amendment and zone change.

The motion was approved 5-0.

Special Meeting:

Agenda item 1: Rancho San Joaquin Golf course

Staff report: The golf course is zoned as a golf course.  The zoning would allow 47 units to be built next to the club house. The golf course has been sold for $65,000 and is in escrow. Much of the land is over landfill and there are methane gas collection sites. The golf course is open space and a wildlife corridor.

Kuo: Kuo stated that there is a need to preserve the character and feeling of the Rancho San Joaquin Village.  Kuo said that he asks that the City Council state that there is no plan to change the use designation of the Rancho San Joaquin Golf Course.

Public Comment (many)… Public Comment was cut off with a huge number of people signed up to speak by Smith who promised that the commissioners would vote to maintain the golf course.  Public commenters agreed not to speak and allow the vote as it was nearing 10 PM.

Concerns were: The golf course is the center of community activity, the golf course is a major wildlife corridor, people moved to RSJ to live near the golf course, the city could buy the golf course and run it as a municipal golf course; the buyer is buying the golf course for more than it is worth; the golf course will not bring in enough money to support it; there is concern about what the motives of the buyer is.

Proposed buyer representative: Representative stated that the proposed buyer would maintain the golf course but wants to build UCI student apartments. The buyer wants to build multi-story apartment building at Harvard and University for university students.

Smith: Smith reported the Irvine’s relationship with UCI has been strained at times.  The University does not want to build more student housing and thus wants Irvine to take on the project of building the housing and taking on the resulting traffic problems.  Smith said that “we will not degrade Irvine’s lifestyle to meet UCI’s goals”.  Smith further stated that if UCI buys the land from the seller or from the potential buyer, then UCI can build whatever they want as the university is not subject to Irvine’s regulations, zoning ordinances and General Plan.

It was decided that’s at another time the Planning Commission would have an agenda item to discuss requesting that UCI fulfill their requirements on their own land.

Kuo: Kuo presented motion to recommend to the City Council that the City Council re-affirm the current zoning designation applicable to the RSJ golf course. Motion passed 5-0.

After meeting discussion with RSJ HOA Board Member:

I was shown a letter stating that Janet Napolitano, Chancellor of the University of California, has ordered all UC campuses not to provide any more student housing and that the cities where the universities are located must arrange with developers to build the necessary student housing;


Friday 8/17/18 meeting with Tim Gehrich, Deputy Director of Community Development

Tim confirmed that Irvine could be “between a rock and a hard space”.  He also stated that UCI has not indicated that they have any interest in buying the land or that they have any connection with the current sale or purchase of the golf course.

I asked: If Irvine refuses to approve building apartments on the golf course, and UCI buys the property, what options does Irvine have to fight UCI building apartments on the golf course property.  Tim stated that he has presented that question to the City Attorney who is now researching Irvine’s options.