City Council Agenda Highlights for April 11, 2023

City Hall

City HallTuesday Tripleheader: City Council Takes up All-American Asphalt Acquisition and District Election Mapping; Great Park Board Considers Delaying Development of Heart of the Park Amenities to Fast Track Water Polo Facility.

A potentially momentous afternoon and evening at City Hall will begin at 1:00 Tuesday with a special meeting of the City Council to consider approval agreements to for the shutdown of the All American Asphalt (AAA) plant, with the City purchasing the property for the development of the proposed Gateway Preserve. The regular meeting of the Great Park Board is scheduled for 2:00, with the main agenda item being a staff proposal to implement the Board’s March 14 vote to incorporate a water polo facility into Phase 1 of park development by delaying the development of certain Heart of the Park amenities. Following this, the regular meeting of the City Council is scheduled for 4:00, highlighted by a presentation of the City’s audit of the Orange County Power Authority and the first public hearing on proposed maps for Council districts to be placed on the March 2024 primary ballot.

City Council Special Meeting

The 1:00 special meeting of the Council will begin with a closed session for a conference with legal counsel regarding the City’s existing lawsuit against AAA. The only item of Council business on the agenda for open session is 2.1, titled “Creation of the Gateway Preserve, Acquisition of the All American Asphalt Plant, and Approval of Associated Transactional Documents.”

As detailed in the staff memo, the City would purchase the asphalt plant for $285 million, with escrow to close on or before February 1, 2024.  AAA would be required to cease all asphalt production by November 15, 2023. According to staff:

“Following all necessary environmental review, the 11-acre asphalt plant site is anticipated to be incorporated into the Gateway Preserve as a park, interpretive area, and staging ground for hikes into the open space. The AAA plant closure provides a final solution to the long-standing concerns of north Irvine residents regarding the pollution and potentially harmful impacts of the AAA plant on nearby neighborhoods.

“In addition to the AAA site, the Gateway Preserve includes approximately 375 acres of property that will be preserved in perpetuity as open space, once transferred from The Irvine Company to the City. That new property will combine with nearly 300 acres of existing City-owned open space to create the Gateway Preserve.”

The staff memo discloses certain environmental and financial risks the City would assume in undertaking the project: “Because there is no environmental due diligence on the Property … the city may be exposed to substantial environmental remediation costs (size and scope of obligation unknown.” Voice of OC has reported additional details regarding the proposal here.

Great Park Board Meeting

Following the Council’s special meeting, members will switch hats for the regular meeting of the Great Park Board. The main item on the agenda is 2.1, titled “Consideration of Updated Great Park Framework Phasing and Implementation Plan.” This item is a consequence of the Board’s 3-2 vote on March 14, 2023, to include a water polo facility in Phase 1 despite staff’s advice that there would not be sufficient funds to pay for it. As explained in the staff Request for Board Action:

“Further, staff was directed to ensure that the USA Water Polo aquatics facility be delivered prior to the 2028 Olympics, without changing the timing or funding for the veterans memorial park and gardens, botanic garden, ARDA perimeter park, Cultural Terrace West, Great Promenade, amphitheater, maintenance building, and food / beverage option.”

Staff proposes the following measures in response to the Board’s directive:

  1. Extend the timeline for Phase 1 through 2031/32, which allows time for future development in the Great Park Neighborhoods, which in turn creates the ability to raise additional funds via future CFD bond issuances
  2. Identifying a new aquatics facility location in the Great Park Sports Complex, to allow for a delay in moving the Farm & Food Lab and staff office space
  3. Value engineering the aquatics facility to deliver a complex that can be built for around $80 million
  4. Shifting the implementation timeline for certain Heart of the Park elements, to allow cash flows to catch up to the rearranged development program
  5. Scaling down design features for key bridge structures in the Great Park to reduce costs

The Heart of the Park amenities that would be delayed under this proposal include the Great Meadow, forestation efforts, the lake, and the Full Circle Farm.

Also on the agenda is Item 2.2, a request by Chairman Mike Carroll to extend the Great Park Residential Task Force “through 2023”—presumably meaning the end of the year.

City Council Regular Meeting

The regular meeting of the City Council is scheduled to begin at 4:00 with another closed session at the top of the agenda. After returning to open session, the Council will hear a presentation on the results of the audit of Orange County Power Authority operations it commissioned.

Scheduled for 6:00 is Item 5.1, titled “Public Hearing Requesting Input Regarding the Composition of Potential Council Election Districts.” According to the staff memo, the hearing is likely to begin with a presentation by the National Demographics Corporation (NDC), the consulting firm retained by the City to facilitate the districting process: “The presentation will introduce the topic, inform attendees of the project schedule and mapping criteria, share demographic information about the City, and introduce the public mapping tools.” The Council will then take  public comments regarding Irvine neighborhoods, communities of interest, and the composition of the potential Council election districts.

Under Council Business is Item 6.1, Consideration of a Request by Councilmembers Agran and Treseder to bring a Ciclovia Event to the City. Agran and Treseder explain in their memo, many Southern California cities have orgainized “ciclovia” events, where certain streets are temporarily closed to motor vehicles and open to cyclists and pedestrians: “This festive community gathering creates an enjoyable and safe environment to promote health and wellness.”

The final item on the agenda, item 6.2, is a request by Carroll to prepare a letter for the mayor’s signature opposing State Senate Bill 423. According to the bill analysis prepared for the Senate Housing Committee, SB 423 would eliminate the sunset provision on SB 35, making its provisions permanent, with certain changes.  SB 35 is an affordable housing law enacted in 2017 that “[a]llows a development proponent to submit an application for a development that is subject to the streamlined, ministerial approval process, and not subject to a conditional use permit … if the development contains two or more residential units and satisfies all of the [specified] objective planning standards.” On March 17, 2023, the Senate Housing Committee approved SB 423 by a vote of 9-1, with one member not voting.

How to Participate

As always, members of the public may comment on these and all other agenda items via email, ecomment, and/or live public comment in person or via Zoom. Instructions for public comments are here.

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