FivePoint’s Great Park Home-Building Entitlements: The Doubling of FivePoint’s Great Park Homebuilding Number

In the previous post in this series on Great Park development and entitlement numbers, I wrote about a 2011 Irvine city council vote that change the direction of  development at the Great Park. In this article, we will see how FivePoint’s homebuilding entitlement numbers for the Great Park approximately doubled.

The November 2012 election brought a new city council majority to Irvine. The difference in philosophical bent could be seen in decisions that the new Irvine city council majority made in 2013. This is when FivePoint asked the City to approximately double its homebuilding entitlement numbers at the Great Park.

Following is how some of this played out at Irvine city council and planning commission meetings.

2013: FivePoint’s Great Park Home Building Entitlement Number Nearly Doubles

At the November 26, 2013 Irvine city council meeting, the city council majority—Steven Choi, Christina Shea, and Jeff Lalloway—voted to increase FivePoint’s home-building entitlement number from 4,894 to 9,500. In exchange, FivePoint committed to pay for certain features in the public portion of the Great Park.

Note: Steven Choi is a former Irvine mayor and city council member. Currently, Choi is the California 68th State Assembly district representative.

The FivePoint Proposal: The Features

Some of the features that FivePoint committed to provide in exchange for the right to build an additional 4,606 homes in the Great Park were as follows.

426 Paradigm Shift Stock Photos and Images - 123RF

  • Massive sports park
  • 18-hole golf course (this essentially eliminated the canyon feature that was in previous Great Park design plans)
  • Wildlife Corridor
  • Bosque and Upper Bee Canyon improvements
  • Potential  contingency allowance for certain additional features
  • Some funds for planning of the Cultural Terrace
  • Some facilities maintenance funds
  • Terra-forming and hydro-seeding the land that FivePoint referred to as the unimproved area of the Great Park

The FivePoint Proposal: A Paradigm Shift

With this plan, FivePoint committed to building out about 65% of the public portion of the Great Park, and FivePoint stated that it would complete it within five years of receiving approval permits. FivePoint valued this proposal at over $200M in public benefits.

However, City Manager Sean Joyce pointed out that the City of Irvine would be giving up more control over the development process than was standard for Irvine.

“FivePoint requests a paradigm shift for planning and design of the Great Park. This proposal represents a significant paradigm shift for city council members to wrestle with when balancing public benefit that comes from this proposal…. I don’t want to give short shrift to what here is clearly and, I would argue somewhat indisputably, a major paradigm shift in control of some of the design.“–City Manager Sean Joyce, Irvine City Council Meeting November 12, 2013

A Voice of OC article from November 27, 2013 provides additional information on what FivePoint proposed:

“Under the plan, private developer FivePoint Communities would pay for and build 688 acres of the park at an estimated value of $172 million. About $40 million of that amount would be paid through a special property tax, known as Mello-Roos, on the homeownersIn exchange, the city will allow FivePoint to build an extra 4,606 homes on land now zoned as commercial and industrial, taking the total to approximately 9,500. Those extra houses are expected to give a big boost to FivePoint’s profits. Some residents claim it’s worth more than $1 billion for the developer.

The 2013 Irvine City Council Vote

Photo: FivePoint s Emile Haddad reacts to Irvine city council’s 2013 vote to double FivePoint’s homebuilding numbers.

Mayor Choi and Councilmember Shea enthusiastically supported this FivePoint proposal. Councilmember Lalloway was mostly in favor of the proposal but had concerns that the the City of Irvine would be giving up too much. Lalloway asked for and got some concessions from FivePoint. However, Councilmembers Larry Agran and Beth Krom were convinced that the City would be giving away too much to  FivePoint even with the concessions given on Lalloway’s prompting. This FivePoint proposal that was voted on at the November 26, 2013 city council meeting was contentious and resulted in a packed city council meeting that lasted into the early hours of the next day.

Note:  This FivePoint proposal was discussed at the September 10, 2013November 12, 2012, and November 26, 2013 Irvine city council meetings. The City Council voted 3-2 to approve FivePoint’s proposal at the November 26, 2013 council meeting.

The 2013 Planning Commission Recommendation on FivePoint Homebuilding Entitlements

Planning Commission - City of Bonney LakeAnthony Kuo, who was the chair of the  Planning Commission, called a special meeting for the Planning Commission to discuss FivePoint’s proposal.  At this October 24, 2013 special meeting, the Irvine Planning Commissioners voted to recommend that the City Council approve FivePoint’s proposal. The vote was 3-2.

Planning Commissioners Anthony Kuo,  Greg Smith, and Lynn Schott voted to recommend approval of the FivePoint proposal. Planning Commissioners Mary Ann Gaido and Nancy Neudorf  were not available for the special meeting. Choi, Shea, and Lalloway appointed Kuo, Smith, and Schott to this Planning Commission. Agran and Krom appointed Gaido and Neudorf.

This is the sixth article in a series on Great Park development and FivePoint entitlement numbers. Up next is the seventh and last article in this series.  In this upcoming article , we will take a look at  a loop hole that gave FivePoint additional homebuilding entitlements.

Also, we will take a look back at the journey that we have been taking in this series. The purpose of this journey was to understand the progression of the Great Park development and entitlement numbers.

In addition, in this next and last article in this series, we will take a look forward to how Great Park development should proceed.