In addition to dealing with the latest surge in COVID pandemic cases, there are three important issues that the Irvine City Council should address in the first 100 days of the new year.
All American Asphalt Plant
Since taking office in December 2020, Irvine Mayor Farrah Khan and her Council majority — Tammy Kim, Anthony Kuo and Mike Carroll — have downplayed the more than 1,000 complaints lodged by north Irvine residents regarding toxic and noxious emissions from the nearby All American Asphalt (AAA) plant. The Mayor has claimed that the City lacks the jurisdiction and authority to effectively deal with the toxic emissions that spew from the asphalt plant every day.
Former Mayor and current Councilmember Larry Agran has disagreed with the Mayor’s claims, insisting that “the City has the authority and the responsibility to take action to help residents impacted by the asphalt plant emissions.” Agran has advocated legal action to shut down operations and relocate the plant to a safer, more remote area outside of Irvine.
Former UCI Law Professor and State Senator Dave Min sent the City a letter last fall, agreeing with Agran. Min wrote: “The City of Irvine, like all local agencies in California, has significant and far-reaching police powers that allow it to enjoin the AAA plant or any other actor that creates a public nuisance.” In his letter, Min detailed legal precedent in California explaining that the City of Irvine has a strong case to proceed with effective legal action against the AAA plant.
Veterans Memorial Park
Last spring, Councilmember Larry Agran proposed moving ahead with the voter-approved Veterans Memorial Park to be built on the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station at the 125-acre Great Park ARDA site. Agran’s plan calls for a vast park filled with trees, trails, and memorial gardens to honor Irvine’s rich military history and our local veterans.
Months later, Councilmember Tammy Kim proposed a 75-acre botanical garden to be built at the Great Park. Now, Kim has signaled that she wants the botanical garden to be built at the ARDA site.
At the January 25th Great Park Board meeting and the subsequent City Council meeting, Kim is scheduled to discuss her proposed botanical garden. Perhaps, at those meetings, Kim and Agran can discuss the possibility of incorporating the botanical garden as part of the larger Veterans Memorial Park. A beautiful Veterans Memorial Park that includes a botanical garden would not only be aesthetically-pleasing for nearby homeowners, it would also help to boost property values in north Irvine.
Orange County Power Authority (OCPA)
The Orange County Power Authority (OCPA) was established in 2020 — by the previous City Council — promising to deliver to residents and businesses in Irvine and other Orange County cities cleaner, less expensive electricity than what they currently purchase from Southern California Edison.
The previous Council agreed to fund the OCPA through 2022. So far, more than $7.75 million of Irvine taxpayer money has been advanced to the OCPA, with no oversight by the current City Council.
For the past year, Councilmember Larry Agran has repeatedly requested that representatives from the OCPA offer a full public presentation to the Council and answer questions about OCPA’s financial dealings. Those requests have gone unanswered.
Once OCPA launches — scheduled for later this year — Irvine businesses and residents will be transferred from their current provider of electricity, Southern California Edison, and automatically enrolled in the new OCPA plan. (OCPA has not publicly released the rates customers will pay.)
Irvine Community News & Views will continue to update our readers on any new information that is released by the OCPA.