As part of the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, the City of Irvine is receiving $56 million to be spent on civic improvements over the next three years.
The federal funds are intended to help cities “Build Back Better” by rebuilding and improving infrastructure, and strengthening and expanding direct human services that have been badly damaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.
City staff has drafted a plan for allocating the funds. The recommended plan divides the funds into five areas, and includes the following:
Quality of Life: $23 million
$5 million to upgrade public restrooms and air filtration systems
$7 million to upgrade playgrounds and other public spaces
$4 million to expand mental health and addiction services
$5 million investment in the “One Irvine” neighborhood improvement program
$650,000 to assess City programming for families, children and seniors
$850,000 to enhance multilingual and multicultural outreach efforts
Natural Environment: $9.3 million
$4.4 million to update turf & drainage systems at 18 athletic fields
$4 million for Great Park turf improvements (4 soccer fields & baseball stadium)
$650,000 for drought-tolerant planting and drip irrigation
$125,000 to plant 425 shade trees in City parks
Traffic & Mobility: $7.4 million
Improvements to City shuttle services, along with pedestrian and bike paths
Fiscal Strength: $14.5 million
Hire a consultant to study broadband enhancement solutions and set aside funding for future investments in temporary housing and/or affordable housing
Organizational Excellence: $2.3 million
Provide all City employees with a one-time bonus ($1,000 for part-time and $2,000 for full-time City workers).
The recommended plan will be presented to the City Council for discussion and action at the Council’s October 12th meeting.
Highly placed sources on the City’s management team say that the public reaction to the recommended plan has so far been generally favorable. However, residents have voiced concerns over some proposed expenditures — for example, $8.4 million is allocated to improvements to turf at athletic fields, which seems to have little connection to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. According to one City Hall source, “Funding for direct human services — like child care, public health, and senior services — seems to be short-changed.”
To review the City’s proposed spending plan for the $56 million, click here.