For five decades, beginning with the first Irvine City Council meeting in 1971, individual members of the City Council have been able to place items of municipal concern on City Council meeting agendas for Councilmembers and the entire Irvine community to discuss.
However, over the past two years, the Council has adopted a “Rule of Two,” which requires a second member of the Council (or the Mayor) to sign-on to an item before it can be placed on the agenda.
This year, the Rule of Two has been used to keep four critical community issues — put forth by Councilman Larry Agran on behalf of Irvine residents — off the Council’s agenda.
From a political standpoint, the Rule of Two has been an effective maneuver to silence Agran. But, in doing so, tens of thousands of Irvine residents have also been silenced.
These four issues deserve public discussion:
All American Asphalt Plant. For the past two years, the daily lives of thousands of residents in north Irvine have been negatively impacted by the toxic chemicals and noxious odors associated with the operations of the All American Asphalt plant. On behalf of those homeowners, Agran has repeatedly requested that the Mayor schedule a special City Council meeting to hear from residents and discuss ways the City can help to remedy the problem.
Great Park Residents Advisory Committee. Residents of the Great Park Neighborhoods believe that they should have a say on what is built at the Great Park since they are paying special assessments that fund the multi-million-dollar amenities at the Great Park. Agran has asked the Council to publicly discuss the establishment of a Great Park Residents Advisory Committee, which would allow residents to have a voice at Great Park Board meetings.
Veterans Memorial Park & Cemetery. 19,790 Irvine residents signed an initiative petition last year that was adopted by the Council, making the 125-acre ARDA site at the Great Park the only legally available location for a Veterans Memorial Park. Since January, Agran has requested the Mayor allow a public discussion of his resolution to begin clearing the ARDA site and building a perimeter park with trees, trails, and memorial gardens.
District Elections. According to the City Attorney, Irvine has already hired a huge law firm in anticipation of a costly legal battle regarding district elections. (The law firm will be paid with Irvine taxpayer money.) Agran has requested that the City Council — with public participation — discuss transitioning from our current system of at-large City Council elections to district elections.
These are four important issues that impact thousands of our City’s residents. These items should be openly discussed by the Council with broad public participation. Isn’t that how our local democracy is supposed to work?
On May 25th, just before the City Council meeting, three separate citizen-led organizations (one opposing the All American Asphalt plant, one supporting the Great Park Residents Advisory Committee, and one supporting the Veterans Memorial Park at the ARDA site) joined an “Irvine Residents Demand Action!” rally outside City Hall.