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Author: Roger Bloom

Council Votes Down Proposal by Vice Mayor Kim to Support Anaheim Event with $50,000 from Irvine’s COVID Federal Funds

The City Council shot down a request by Vice Mayor Tammy Kim to have the City of Irvine contribute $50,000 for an event that will be held in Anaheim next month.

Kim’s request to contribute the money in return for booth space at the World Korean Business Convention was considered at the Council’s September 26th meeting.

The convention is being hosted by the Overseas Koreans Foundation (an affiliate of the Korean Foreign Ministry); Overseas Koreans Economic Organizations; and the Korean American Chamber of Commerce of Orange County.

Kim’s request was criticized by public commenters as subsidizing an event outside of Irvine and with no strong connection to the City.

Mayor Farrah Khan, along with Councilmembers Larry Agran and Mike Carroll echoed the public’s concerns while also questioning the propriety of using Irvine Recovery Fund money for the event. That fund consists of federal dollars that the City received to help it recover from the COVID pandemic.

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Tanaka Farms: Feeding Today’s & Tomorrow’s Generations While Remembering the Lessons of the Past

The Tanaka family — led by Glenn Tanaka and his son, Ken — farms three sites in Orange County, but the hub of their enterprise is the high-profile, 30-acre site at University Drive and Michelson Drive, adjacent to Strawberry Farms Golf Club.

There, the Tanakas run one of biggest farm stands in the county, complete with its own gift shop. This is where they host some 120,000 children, parents and teachers each year who come to learn about the farm and agriculture. Visitors enjoy the petting zoo, the corn maze, the wagon rides and, this month, a pick-your-own pumpkin patch. The Tanaka Grill provides hot sandwiches, sides and snacks to the public Wednesday through Sunday.

There’s also a U-Pick Vegetable Patch where visitors can get their hands dirty harvesting their own carrots, radishes, green onions and cilantro. “The carrots are the kids’ favorites,” says Ken. “There’s this green plant and they start to wiggle it around and lift it and a whole carrot comes out!”

It all makes for a fun and educational day for kids and adults alike. And, it is the culmination of a lot of work and creative adaptation by the Tanaka family.

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The Bus is Rolling in Quail Hill & Los Olivos

A new pilot program rolled out, literally, on August 24th, the first day of school. That’s when a school bus — partially funded by the City of Irvine — began ferrying students between University High School and the Quail Hill and Los Olivos neighborhoods.

The new service, which families sign up and pay a fee for, appeared to be an immediate hit. IUSD spokesperson, Annie Brown, reported that the 50-seat bus is fully subscribed, with a 30-name waiting list.

The bus service had long been sought by Quail Hill families, with the school district offering to start bus service if the parents could raise $75,000 to underwrite its cost. The parents asked the Irvine City Council to fund $50,000 of that, with affected families chipping in to raise the rest.

At the request of Mayor Farrah Khan and Councilmember Larry Agran, the Council took up the matter at its August 8th meeting, and voted 5-0 in support of the funding. As a result, the bus for Uni High students in Quail Hill and Los Olivos was ready to roll as the new school year began.

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Council Approves Landmark Deal for City to Acquire Asphalt Plant & Restore the Site to Its Original State

On Tuesday (April 11th), the Irvine City Council gave final approval of a massive land deal for the City to acquire and remove the All American Asphalt (AAA) plant in north Irvine. The 12-acre asphalt plant and hundreds of acres surrounding it will become part of a 700-acre open space preserve that has been dubbed the “Gateway Preserve.”

The asphalt plant has been the subject of swirling controversy for years as its noxious odors and chemical emissions affected nearby residents, who organized and demanded City action. Under the agreement, the City will acquire the plant for $285 million and close it down later this year.

The key to the deal is the Irvine Company’s dedication to the City of 475 acres of land surrounding the plant. The dedication includes 80 acres that the City will entitle for residential use consistent with the City’s Master Plan. The proceeds from the sale of the 80 acres to residential developers — estimated to generate around $300 million — will cover the cost of acquiring and dismantling the asphalt plant, as well as the establishment of the Gateway Preserve. Accordingly, the deal will not cost Irvine taxpayers anything.

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