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Category: Irvine

OCPA Provides Little Information to Ratepayers and City Officials

With the Orange County Power Authority (OCPA) preparing to begin residential electricity service on October 1st, required notices are being sent out to Irvine residents.

However, the notices contain no understandable rate information and include scant mention of the right of ratepayers to “opt-out” of the new OCPA plan.

OCPA was originally billed by proponents —  Irvine Mayor Farrah Khan and Councilmembers Mike Carroll and Anthony Kuo — as being a cleaner and cheaper alternative to Southern California Edison (SCE), the utility that supplies power to the region. However, a rate structure unveiled by OCPA in January showed its customers will pay more than SCE ratepayers for the same percentages of clean power.

All Irvine ratepayers are going to be automatically switched to OCPA’s highest-paying rate plan in October, unless they exercise their right to opt for cheaper plans or “out-out” of OCPA altogether and remain with SCE.

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Irvine Residents to Begin Receiving Notices About Being Transferred from SCE into the New OCPA Plan

Throughout the month of August, all Irvine residents are scheduled to receive a notice that on October 1st they will be transferred from their current provider of electricity — Southern California Edison (SCE) — and automatically enrolled in the new Orange County Power Authority (OCPA), at a higher monthly rate.

OCPA was originally promoted by Mayor Khan and Councilmembers Kuo and Carroll with the promise that OCPA would provide all Irvine businesses and households with electricity from “cleaner” renewable sources at a lower cost than SCE provides.

However, rate schedules released by OCPA show that Irvine customers will be paying more for electricity under the new OCPA plan. In fact, Irvine business customers that were switched to OCPA last spring are now paying 5% to 12% more for their electricity.

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Mayor Khan & Vice Mayor Kuo Push Through Projects Impacting Traffic Without Planning Commission Review or Community Input

Mayor Farrah Khan and Vice Mayor Anthony Kuo — joined by Councilmembers Tammy Kim & Mike Carroll — have taken a first step in adopting a Great Park “framework” development plan, despite numerous unanswered questions regarding cost, traffic, noise and other concerns associated with the proposed construction projects.

The new Great Park framework includes three troubling items: A massive 14,000-seat amphitheater; a $250 million aquatics & water polo facility for elite athletes; and a super-sized botanical garden.

The proposed amphitheater will seat 14,000, slightly smaller than the Hollywood Bowl. Given the fact that the amphitheater will no doubt affect so many neighborhoods here in Irvine, why wasn’t the City’s Planning Commission asked to conduct a thorough review of the project before the Council pushed it forward?

The $250 million water polo complex does not seem to offer much in the way of everyday use by our City’s residents. And, it’s still unclear who would be paying for this facility’s construction and upkeep.

The super-sized botanical garden is about the same size as Huntington Gardens in Pasadena that attracts 800,000 visitors annually. How will Irvine handle that kind of traffic every weekend? And, where are these out-of-town visitors going to park? Who is going to pay the hundreds of millions of dollars to build a botanical garden? And, who is going to pay the tens of millions of dollars in annual maintenance fees?

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Irvine City Councilmember Tammy Kim Refuses to Allow Irvine Voters to Decide on District Elections

Irvine’s current “at-large” election system often precludes local neighborhood representation because multiple elected Councilmembers can live in the same area of the City, leaving other areas of the City unrepresented.

District elections would divide the City into geographic districts, allowing voters in each district to elect their own City Councilmember, who must also live in that district.

Councilmember Larry Agran has been the only member of the Council to publicly support both expanding the Council from five to seven members and going to district elections. Agran stated that he believes strongly in local democracy and that Irvine voters should determine how Councilmembers are elected, not the five-member Council. (Under Agran’s proposal, the Mayor would continue to be elected by all Irvine voters while six Councilmembers would be elected by district.)

Councilmember Tammy Kim voiced her strong opposition to district elections and attempted to introduce a separate motion, having the Council publicly state that Irvine will not move to district elections and will not allow Irvine voters to make the decision themselves.

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Irvine City Councilmembers Carroll, Kim and Kuo Under Scrutiny for Pushing Through Multi-Million Dollar City Contract for Electric Charging Stations

A contract rushed to a vote — in a surprise move by a 3-2 majority of the Irvine City Council back in December — has now come under scrutiny for irregularities in the bidding process and promises by the contractor that have failed to pan out.

Casco Construction was awarded a multi-million dollar contract to install, maintain and operate vehicle charging stations in five large parking lots at the Great Park, despite the fact that two other firms had been recommended by City staff following a formal bid process.

“Out of the blue, a couple of Councilmembers said they were interested in another bidder that was farther down the list,” Councilmember Larry Agran recalled of the December meeting. That bidder was Casco and, said Agran, “on the spot they voted to give the deal — a big deal — to Casco.” (Councilmember Agran and Mayor Khan voted against the deal.

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Residents of the Travata Senior Community Take on OCTA

Residents of Travata — a beautiful senior housing community located at the northwest corner of the Great Park —have mobilized in recent months to fight a train maintenance yard. The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) is proposing to build a railroad maintenance yard less than 500 feet from their homes.

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Battle Lines Drawn at Latest Irvine City Council Meeting

For eight hours on July 26th, the Irvine City Council sparred over several critical issues that likely will dominate the November City elections. The battle lines were clearly drawn.

Councilmember Larry Agran championed aggressive City action on four key issues: the Veterans Memorial Park; the Orange County Power Authority (OCPA); the All American Asphalt plant; and letting Irvine voters decide on whether to transition to district elections for City Council.

Each agenda item gave rise to passionate public comments (the vast majority in favor of Agran’s positions), sharp exchanges on the dais, and some squirming by City staff members caught in the crossfire.

Agran is running for re-election in November, as is Councilmember Anthony Kuo, who sided with others at the dais to vote against each of Agran’s proposals.

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City Council to Discuss Councilmember Larry Agran’s Proposed Veterans Memorial Park on the “ARDA” Site at the Great Park

For nearly six decades, the ARDA site at the Great Park was an integral part of the iconic El Toro Marine Corps Air Station (El Toro MCAS).

Irvine voters have continuously voiced their support for building a Veterans Memorial Park & Cemetery on the ARDA site. In fact, there have been two citizen-led ballot measures regarding the ARDA site. In both cases, nearly 20,000 Irvine resident signatures were gathered to qualify the measures for the ballot. And, Irvine voters overwhelmingly defeated the previous Council’s scheme to hand the ARDA site over to FivePoint for massive development — 63% of Irvine voters said NO!

Councilmember Larry Agran has repeatedly asked his Council colleagues to support his proposal for a beautiful, environmentally-friendly Veterans Memorial Park — filled with trails, forests, memorial gardens, and an aviation museum.

Agran says that “a Veterans Memorial Park would not only honor our City’s rich military history but would also offer an aesthetically-pleasing amenity for residents in the area. And, it could be built quickly, without raising taxes or generating massive amounts of outside traffic.”

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Irvine Residents Sound Off on OCPA

Irvine Mayor Farrah Khan and Councilmember Mike Carroll led the effort to establish the Orange County Power Authority (OCPA) and to have Irvine taxpayers fund the Power Authority through 2022, with no City oversight.

On April 1st, all businesses operating in the City of Irvine were transferred out of their current electricity provider — Southern California Edison (SCE) — and automatically enrolled in OCPA, at a higher monthly rate.

In October, all Irvine households will be transferred from SCE and enrolled in OCPA, also at a higher rate.

Our latest Irvine Community Poll asks readers if you support Councilmember Larry Agran’s call for a forensic financial audit of OCPA.

Within a week of releasing the poll, hundreds and hundreds of Irvine residents weighed in, with 98% (yes, you read that right!) firmly behind Agran. And, scores of readers felt strongly enough about the matter to include a comment.

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