2/12/19 – City Council Meeting Highlights

City Hall

Present were: Mayor Wagner and Council Members Farrah Khan, Anthony Kuo, Christina Shea and Melissa Fox.

Barclay Theatre to enlarge program to make room for community and UCI shows and performances

Irvine Barclay Theatre, a non-profit that receives city funding, presented a report for the purpose of transparency

Report by Jerry Mandel, Barclay Theatre President: Barclay Theatre is a fiscally sound performing arts center. The theater’s business plan for 2019-2020 is to increase its relationship with the city of Irvine. The theater has contracted with well-known performers, it has created an arts outreach to Irvine students and Irvine teachers, and it has made the theater available to the Irvine Community for group performances. In 2019, the theater will have 72 performances, but the goal is to have 100 professional shows, 100 community shows, and 100 UCI shows per year.

Barclay Theatre’s problems: remediating the power and air conditioning system, the lighting system, the sound system and the seating system.  The building is 30 years old and needs to be upgraded.  The theater has recently been hooked up to UCI power which is cost savings to the theater. The goal is to keep the costs of remediation down to keep the ticket prices at an affordable rate.  Irvine has provided $925,000 funding, but the theater will be receiving special funding from Irvine of $397,5000 in the budget year of 2020-2021.

Fox:  The Theater is a city building.  Irvine should have money set aside for maintenance and infrastructure needs.  We (the city of Irvine) should update the lighting system.

California Gas Co. encourages using gas over going all electric

Presentation by Southern California Gas Co.: Report by Renae regarding California’s balanced energy strategy. The goal is for California to have affordable renewable clean energy.  There are challenges with regards to all electric electrification goals.  There is a problem with having sufficient electric storage.  Voters oppose eliminating gas because electricity costs more than gas.  Methane gas waste can be captured and put back into the gas pipeline.

Irvine has instituted the text 911 system

Police Detective Hammel reported people can text 911 for emergency response, but the text must state location and the emergency need.

There was a water main break on Barranca which the Irvine Ranch Water District responded to quickly in the rain

Irvine to institute Community Budget Neighborhood meetings

It was announced that community meetings to discuss Irvine’s city budget will take place on March 5, 6, 13 and 20.  The locations and times to be announced on the City of Irvine Website.

Mayor Wagner to give his State of the City Address on February 25th at 6:00 PM, and there will be a reception at 5:00 PM

Public Comment regarding approval of Great Park Tract Maps

Commenter said  no plans should be made for the Great Park land until legal action over the County Land bordering the Great Park is resolved.  Commenter said the county plans to build high density housing, commercial district and a hotel, and therefore Irvine has no idea what the effect these projects will have on Great Park Traffic circulation.

Irvine Senior Services programs have increased substantially, and due to the increase in the senior population, more service needs have been identified through Community Forums

Irvine Senior Services Plan Update for 2018-2023 was presented. The service needs of Irvine Seniors that were identified by community forums are: inform the community about the senior services available; expand health and recreation services; provide assistance to seniors to help them meet their housing needs; promote wellness, independence, and inclusion for vulnerable seniors; provide transportation; need for more program space. The Senior Citizens Council will review the Senior Services program and their service plan 2 times per year.

Non-profits that receive city property and/or substantial city funding will not be required to comply with the Provisions of Irvine’s Sunshine Ordinance. According to Mariana Marisheva, Assistant City Manager, there are other ways to achieve non-profit transparency

The plan is for identified non-profit organizations to provide annual written and/or oral reports.  The written reports will be placed on the City of Irvine’s Transparency Portal. It was also reported the city approves the budget for most non-profits in Irvine, and the city is represented on several non-profit boards. Public Comment: Commenter stated the Irvine Community Land Trust should have to comply with Irvine’s Sunshine Ordinance as the city gives them land and money to provide affordable housing in perpetuity. ICLT’s financial records and reports are no longer accessible by the public.

City Council voted to endorse the “Reducing Crime and Keeping California Safe Act” which is a ballot initiative that will appear on the November 2020 Ballot, but the vote was 3 to 2 with Fox and Khan opposing.

Kuo presented the initiative and argued in favor of the city council endorsing the measure. This ballot initiative will, if passed, raise a number of crimes to the category of “violent crimes” including sex trafficking, rape of an unconscious or disabled person and Domestic Violence. People convicted of violent crimes do not qualify for early release. The measure would also require DNA sample collection for persons convicted of violent crimes.

Public Comments:  Member of the League of Women Voters presented analysis of the measure including the measure’s fiscal cost will be tens of millions of dollars and the opposition arguing the emphasis should not be on increasing incarceration but on providing services that serve to reduce the crime rate.  A number of “victims” of violent crimes argued in favor of the City Council Endorsement, and a number of commenters argued against the endorsement and in favor of increased community services to prevent and reduce crime. A commenter said passing this initiative would roll back years of prison reforms which were being instituted because California has the country’s highest incarceration rate.  It was reported California spends more on prisons than on higher education and spends more on prisons than all the other 49 states put together.

Khan: California needs rehabilitation funding. Khan also stated there is room for improvement regarding classification of violent crimes. Khan further reported the initiative refers to an increase in crime in California, but in actuality, California’s crime rate is down. Khan stated that services need to be provided in prison. The goal should be to rehabilitate prisons, and not to increase prison rates. When asked about crime rates in Irvine, Police Chief Hammel said that there has been an increase in property crimes, not crimes of violence.

Fox reported that problems with over incarceration and mandatory sentencing are complex and therefore City Council meetings are not the appropriate place for making a decision on these issues.

Shall Irvine increase the size of the city council to 7 members?

General Public Comment: Commenter reported that Irvine has quadrupled in size since the city was established and as nearly every California city the size of Irvine has a minimum of 7 city council members, Irvine’s city council needs to be increased to 7 members. Commenter said the members of the city council have too many responsibilities to have the time to meet with their constituents to ascertain what their issues and concerns are and thus to inspire citizen participation in city business which, in turn, would inspire greater voter turnout. A successful Representative Democracy requires citizen participation.