While Mary Ann Gaido stands alone among the five Mayoral candidates in calling for a “time-out” to halt overdevelopment, she clearly is tapping into widespread voter resentment. The plain fact is that Irvine residents are simply fed up with horrible traffic, overcrowded schools, and the stress that comes from what Gaido calls “out-of-control” growth and development.
Her remedy? Gaido says, “If I am elected Mayor, I pledge that at the first City Council meeting, I will introduce a Comprehensive Growth and Traffic Control Ordinance — to take a ‘time-out’ from overdevelopment by strictly limiting the number of new residential building permits issued by the City, and by requiring voter approval before any major new residential project can move forward.”
When challenged by other candidates, Gaido calmly points out that from time to time the City has deliberately slowed down growth and development, or even halted it altogether. In 1972, the very first Irvine City Council ordered a 90-day “freeze” on development so that the newly established Council could begin to formulate plans and strategies to grow the City of Irvine, but at a reasonable pace, providing for adequate roads and infrastructure first.
And in the 1980s, the City Council imposed an informal moratorium on development — saying NO to developers — until a comprehensive Open Space Preservation Plan could be worked out with the Irvine Company, which finally happened in 1988; voters approved a detailed ballot measure setting aside nearly 16,000 acres of open space and wilderness areas for permanent preservation.
Speaking to the traffic issue, Gaido said she has a detailed traffic control plan that relies heavily on developing our own internal transit system — dramatically expanding our fleet of iShuttle buses. But, she noted: “Those are longer-range plans. The truth of the matter is that traffic control begins with growth control. And, we’ll need a new Mayor and new City Council to immediately adopt certain growth-control measures.”
City Council candidate Melissa Fox, who ran as part of a team with Gaido in 2014, is running an allied campaign once again. The two share views on the need for a new Mayor and Council majority to get to work on growth and traffic control. “But,” says Fox, “first things first — Mary Ann and I have to get elected on November 8th!”