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Author: Roger Bloom

Vice Mayor Agran Hosts Information Session Regarding the State’s Proposed Utility Tax

Dozens of Irvine residents attended an information session organized by the office of Vice Mayor Larry Agran regarding a proposed change in how electricity is billed. The change would upend California’s decades-old commitment to encouraging clean energy and energy efficiency.

When implemented by the state’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC), the monthly bills of those who use little electricity — like apartment renters and residents in solarized homes — will go up while the bills of those who use large amounts of electricity will go down.

“A utility tax of $30 will increase bills for anyone who lives in an apartment, condo or small home, which is a problem,” said Cailey Underhill of the Solar Rights Alliance. Underhill pointed out that the new utility tax is not capped and could be raised at any time. Utility companies originally submitted a plan for a tax of up to $70 — about seven times the national average for a utility tax — and that $70 per month remains a target figure.

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Councilmember Tammy Kim & the Korean American Chamber of Commerce: Pay-to-Play Politics?

Last month, Councilmember Tammy Kim directed $5,000 of City funds to the Korean American Chamber of Commerce of Orange County (KACCOC) and sought another $50,000 in City funds for the organization, all after she received a maximum campaign donation from the Chamber’s president, who also hosted a fundraiser for Kim’s mayoral campaign.

The donation from KACCOC President Shang Il “Sean” Roh was received by Kim’s mayoral campaign in February, according to an official campaign financial report filed in July and signed by Councilmember Kim. In June, Roh hosted a fundraiser for Kim’s campaign that was attended by several current and former Korean American Chamber officials.

Three months later, Kim placed two items on the City Council agenda involving the Chamber. The first was a donation of $5,000 in Community Partnership Fund money to the KACCOC Foundation.

The second item Kim proposed was for the City to give $50,000 from federal COVID relief funds to the Chamber for a sponsorship at the World Korean Business Convention to be held in Anaheim and co-sponsored by the Chamber.

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Reducing Irvine’s Carbon Footprint with Solar Rooftops

While questions continue to be raised regarding whether the Orange County Power Authority (OCPA) is actually moving Irvine towards its goal of becoming carbon-neutral by 2030, residents are beginning to take matters into their own hands.

An important way to reduce Irvine’s carbon footprint and fight climate change is to transition the City’s reliance on residential electricity use from the state’s electrical grid — which is still more than 40% fossil fuel-generated — to rooftop solar. (The electricity delivered to OCPA customers also comes from the state’s electrical grid.)

To help, the City has been encouraging homeowners to transition to solar with its Solarize Irvine program, which in the past 18 months has ramped-up and facilitated 170 solar installations throughout Irvine. The program, a joint venture with OC Goes Solar, uses a citizen panel to vet solar installers to recommend, who then charge a discounted rate to homeowners.

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Irvine Residents Share Their Support for Measure D

With the state primary election coming up on March 5th, proponents of district elections for the Irvine City Council are wasting no time in taking their case to the voters.

Signs urging YES on D are already on lawns across Irvine and on major streets like Culver and Jamboree. Meanwhile, the “ground game” is seriously underway as volunteers begin distributing Yes on D doorhangers throughout Irvine neighborhoods.

If passed by a majority of Irvine voters in the March 5th election, Measure D will amend the City Charter to have Councilmembers elected from districts instead of citywide, which is the current system. Measure D would also expand the Council from the current five members to seven — six Councilmembers elected from districts (each with about 50,000 residents) plus the Mayor, who will continue to be elected citywide.

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Mayor & Vice Mayor Stay to Hear Every Public Comment … Councilmembers Carroll, Treseder and Kim Skip Out Early

And then there were two. At the January 9th Irvine City Council meeting, many dozens of residents turned out to air their anguish over the Israel-Hamas war and the mounting mass casualties. Many spoke of relatives or friends either dead, injured or endangered.

But most of the public commenters did not get to address the full Council, as one by one Councilmembers Mike Carroll, Kathleen Treseder and Tammy Kim left the meeting before residents who had signed up to speak had a chance to be heard.

The meeting was automatically ended due to a lack of a quorum of the five-member Council — even though about 20 people who had waited all evening to speak were still in the queue.

However, Mayor Farrah Khan and Vice Mayor Larry Agran volunteered to stay and hear out the remaining speakers. In the end, everyone got their say and the meeting concluded without incident about 45 minutes later.

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