At the July 10th Council meeting, Mayor Don Wagner, along with Councilmembers Melissa Fox and Christina Shea doubled-down on their decision to ignore the outcome of the June 5th election by rejecting Councilmember Lalloway’s motion directing City staff to immediately begin building our Great Park Veterans Cemetery.
Although the Council had received more than a hundred letters since the June 5th election urging them to support Lalloway’s motion and heard nearly three hours of testimony from Irvine residents at the packed Council chamber during the meeting, Wagner, Fox and Shea showed how truly out-of-touch they are with the citizens of Irvine by rejecting Lalloway’s motion.
Instead, Mayor Wagner introduced a substitute motion as a delaying tactic that will keep the Veterans Cemetery tied up in red tape for years. The substitute motion calls for numerous studies and reports that have already taken place. These “new” studies will be directed by the three City commissions (Finance, Planning and Transportation) that Wagner, Fox and Shea control. The substitute motion passed 3-2, with Councilmembers Lalloway and Schott opposing.
By the end of the Council meeting, many in the chamber were chanting “Recall!”
It’s not hard to understand why residents would want to recall members of the Council. The will of Irvine citizens has been clear since last year when Councilmembers Wagner, Fox and Shea entered into an outrageous land-swap scheme with multi-billion-dollar developer FivePoint Communities, relocating our long-planned Veterans Cemetery in the Great Park over to FivePoint’s freeway property at the El Toro “Y” and replacing it with almost a million square feet of commercial development.
In response to the land-swap scheme, an historic citizen-led grassroots campaign — Save the Veterans Cemetery in the Great Park — was launched last fall. The citywide campaign was able to gather an incredible 19,000 signatures from Irvine residents in less than 30 days, forcing the Council to put their land-swap scheme (Measure B) on the June 5th ballot.
Here at ICNV, we ran two community polls on this issue, with more than 2,500 responses, and the outcome was crystal clear. Irvine residents want the Veterans Cemetery in the Great Park and they strongly opposed the Council’s land-swap scheme with FivePoint.
On June 5th, Measure B was overwhelmingly defeated, with 28,638 (63%) voting NO on B.
Through direct democracy, the citizens of Irvine have made their voices heard. Last fall, they spoke by signing a Referendum Petition, and on June 5th they spoke with their NO on B vote. If Councilmembers refuse to listen, the next logical step may be another tool of direct democracy. This time a Recall.
ICNV has covered this story since it broke last summer and will continue to update our readers on this critical issue facing our City.