Local government is best when the local community is heard, responded to, and engaged. As the Chair of the Great Park, I introduced the GP Transparency Portal which included current maps of the GP, documents related to developments, and financial reports. As a Councilmember, I have continued to have our City’s website updated to include information relevant to our community members. I am also the only Councilmember that has gone on record to state that I will initiate a GP Resident Advisory Committee.
Good leadership requires transparency and engagement. We may not always agree on things, but you will always have access to me and you will always know where I stand and why.
HOUSING FOR ALL
We must do more around our existing housing programs. Now, more than ever, people are hurting and are precariously housed. We must safeguard our Master Plan and develop housing based on the community’s needs. I look forward to working on our inclusionary housing ordinance and continuing my work with the Irvine Community Land Trust. As a Board member on the Irvine Community Land Trust, I will continue to work towards reducing the red tape that hinders the development of housing projects for our seniors, veterans, persons with disabilities, and those experiencing homelessness.
I was proud to introduce the resolution to ban evictions in Irvine prior to the statewide executive order signed by Governor Newsom. Our resolution expected all residential and commercial landlords, and all utility providers in the City of Irvine to abide by any provisions of the Governor's Executive Order which authorized local governments to halt evictions and to specifically refrain from evictions, foreclosures, rent increases, or service and utility.
ECONOMIC REVITALIZATION COMMITTEE
When the pandemic first began, I brought together our business experts, health experts, education experts, and developers to discuss what our next steps would be. Together, we were able to make sure there was input and support from all parties as we navigated through the pandemic. And now, more than ever, we need leadership that is stable and ready to lead us out of the pandemic and economic crisis.
That’s why I am ready to initiate the Economic Revitalization Committee. This committee will be comprised of our experts and community partners. This committee will work towards making sure that residents who have been impacted by this pandemic have the health care and financial support they need. We will make sure that our small businesses have the necessary resources to not only revive but thrive. And we will work closely with our schools to make sure parents and families are equipped with the necessary tools and support to help our children succeed. We will continue to support our workers in the city to make sure that their jobs are secure and they are provided with safe working conditions.
This is what stable leadership does and I’m already on top of it.
My stance on the Veteran's Cemetery has not waivered. It's always been about respecting the will of the people. This means all people. When the discussion of the Veteran's Cemetery was brought up in 2019, my first motion was to hold a discussion to convert the ARDA site from 125 acres to 100 acres and provide 25 acres as a buffer between the residents and the cemetery, respecting the cultural requirements of our residents. This motion was not seconded by any of my colleagues.
In order to move the progress of the Veteran's Cemetery forward, I then voted to allow the state, the city and the developer to contribute to the funding of the cemetery at the former Golf Course site.
However, after that decision, an initiative was produced and enough signatures gathered to support the ARDA site. At that time, to avoid any further political battle, I made the motion to adopt the initiative as an ordinance. Which was voted on 4-1 (with Mayor Shea opposing). I did this, knowing that I would still advocate for a Veteran's Cemetery at 100 acres, not the 125 acres, again providing a buffer for our residents with either a botanical garden or other forms of parks/trails.
Right now, the State is evaluating the feasibility of both sites (ARDA and former Golf Course) because the language in the initiative did not restrict use for governmental agencies only private entities. The schedule of next steps are as follow, these were discussed at our 9/22/2020 Great Park Board Meeting:
May 2021 - site review will conclude
June 2021 - State to pick a site and submit grant application to the Federal government. The State's criteria for picking a site will be dependent on its environmental conditions, hazardous waste conditions, and most importantly, cost. The feasibility study will include a 10-phase, 100 year build out plan. The $24.5 million associated with the State bill will not be used until a decision is made by the State.
Oct 2021 - the Federal government provides grant rankings
During the years of 2013-2015, our city was at the forefront of new technology in housing and energy. We hosted the Solar Decathalon during those years which brought ingenuity from around the world exploring ways to make building and technology provide the best in housing opportunities.
As Mayor, I will invite back the Solar Decathalon which was turned away by our current leadership. I want us to be the leaders in technological advancement and a destination for the world to come to and participate. The Solar Decathalon provided our public schools an opportunity to tour the projects, speak with the designers, engineers, and builders. It provided an opportunity for our community to engage in best practices to conserve energy, water, and resources. Opportunities for improvement are endless, we just need leadership that is ready to take us there.
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The next Mayor of Irvine will be tasked with a large job of leading our city out of the Economic Depression caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Locally, Irvine is expected to face a $22 million dollar deficit in the next two years, even with a strong reserve fund, we have to look at ways to restructure our budget to prioritize community services and not lay off any of our employees.
One of the first things I did when we initially shut down was to bring together our developers, business, and health representatives to discuss the pandemic’s impact on our city. I have continued to hold Town Halls with industry experts for small businesses, renters, parents with school children, and health experts. These discussions will continue as we recover and become economically sustainable.
Our city conducted a traffic study which resulted in recommended actions to be taken in order to relieve some of our traffic issues. However, in 2019, our Transportation Director was removed and transportation services were taken under Public Works. I'm currently asking staff to review the recommended actions and make sure we are taking the necessary steps to alleviate our traffic congestion.
I'm also the one that has consistently worked towards increasing our iShuttle program. And as of 2019, I worked with our city staff to get a grant for a pilot program for community shuttles.
POLICING & SOCIAL JUSTICE REFORM
There is a lot of focus on the Police and their policies. And although this is a sensitive topic for many, it is important to understand that our Irvine Police Department (IPD) provides one of the nation’s best day to day policing, however, that does not mean there isn’t room for improvement.
One of the first things the Council did during the BLM protests was to ask for an overview of our IPD’s policies and procedures. The presentation, shares information on officer demographics, hiring procedures, and data on policies and procedures. We were all made aware of the “8 Can’t Wait” campaign to update police policies for better community policing and eliminating opportunities for injustice. Of the 8 policies, our IPD met 7.5. In addition, we have not had an officer-involved shooting since 2013. Our IPD is one of the very few in CA that still teaches the DARE program at our elementary schools. And some of our officers hold PhDs in mental health services.
However, when I heard valid concerns from our community members, I took action. I initiated a Round Table Discussion for our Irvine Black/African American community members to hear their concerns in our city. The first discussion included our police chief and assistant chief and resulted in several action items the community and the chief agreed to. One was the implementation of body cams for the officers and the other was initiating a Speaker Series for the officers with help from the UCI African American Studies program. During the following 2 meetings, the group discussed opportunities to include diversity in hiring for not only our city staff but also for our contractors and vendors. In addition, the group will be reviewing policies based on housing inequity.
It's easy to say “we don’t have any race-related issues in Irvine” or equate community members’ concerns as “agitators”. What’s not easy is finding ways to build bridges where there are none or are broken. It takes time to bring people together, hear their concerns, and take the necessary action to improve ourselves and our city. This is an ongoing process and will take time, but we will get there, together.
A HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT
In July 2019, the City Council passed my motion to initiate a stand-alone & legally binding Climate Action Plan (CAP) linked with Irvine's General Plan. A CAP is a comprehensive roadmap that outlines the specific activities that an agency will undertake to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Climate action plans build upon the information gathered by greenhouse gas inventories and generally focus on those activities that can achieve the greatest emission reductions in the most cost-effective manner. This will be critical in the coming years to ensure we are meeting our reduction goals.
As the Chair of the Irvine Green Ribbon Environmental Committee, I initiated the Community Choice Energy program conversations. In order for this program to be a success, we will need leadership that understands new technology and has strong relationships with other Mayors and Councilmembers throughout OC.
In my first few months in office, I initiated and passed the ban on smoking in public spaces and initiated stringent rules on vaping.
Our city has residents from around the world. More than 50% of our population speaks over 70 different languages. That’s what makes Irvine such a beautifully diverse city to live in. No matter where you are from or what’s happening in or around your country of origin, know that your safety and quality of life here is a priority for me.
Heading a local municipality means treating all people with respect and dignity while running a city that provides safety, economic and environmental sustainability, opportunity, and quality programs and services for all. While there are many issues being faced by countries around the globe, you, as a resident, worker, student, or visitor of Irvine are a valued individual that is an integral part of the fabric that is Irvine.
As I stated in 2018, I repeat again today, my job is to serve all 280,000 people in our city and that’s exactly what I intend to do.
HEALTH AND WELLNESS ELEMENT
One of the things this pandemic has highlighted is our need for a health and wellness element in our General Plan. I am working with our city staff now to include this element to review if we have enough health care facilities and providers for all levels of service including Medicare/ Medical. This review will include food and nutritional services and programs. With this review, we will see if gaps exist and work with our community partners to fill them.
Never again, will our community be left with unknowns when it comes to health and wellness. We must prepare now to avoid any setbacks in the future.