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Publisher’s Perspective: 2024 Brings New Possibilities for Irvine

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As we head into 2024, I want to acknowledge and applaud all of the big things our City has already accomplished. Irvine is the largest and most successful planned community in the nation. Our parks system is ranked among the best in the United States, and for nearly two decades, we have been recognized as America’s “Safest Big City.” With the support of our residents, we were able to preserve more than 10,000 acres of natural open space for families to enjoy now … and forever.

Perhaps Irvine’s biggest achievement happened decades ago when our City leaders worked to make sure that we became the most diverse and thoroughly integrated community in the nation. In a time when hate seems to divide so many communities, Irvine serves as a wonderful example of what is possible when a city embraces and celebrates its rich diversity.

Last year, we accomplished three more big things:

  • The City’s largest industrial polluter — the All American Asphalt plant — was shut down. The land where the plant was located is now being restored to its natural state and will become part of a magnificent 700-acre “Gateway Preserve”
     
  • Construction began for the long-promised Veterans Memorial Park — a vast park within our Great Park that will be filled with trees, trails, memorial gardens and installations to honor our City’s rich military history
     
  • The City Council placed a measure on the March 5th ballot that, if approved by Irvine voters, will expand the Council from its current five members to seven members and transition Irvine to the more democratic system of “District Elections” so that every part of town will have a representative on the City Council
For the record, we here at Irvine Community News & Views strongly support district elections, which would utilize a community-drawn map that creates six Council districts. Voters within each district would elect their own Council representative. (The Mayor would continue to be elected by all Irvine voters.)
 

Click on the proposed district map to open it in a new window

Under the current system where Councilmembers are elected by all Irvine voters, grassroots candidates have a difficult time winning because they simply cannot raise enough money to run a viable campaign. Big developers and special interests know that, which is why they pour millions of dollars into our local Council races to ensure their pro-developer candidates win.

Under the current system, it took 50 years for the UCI community to have an elected representative on the Irvine City Council, and residents in the Great Park Neighborhoods — who pay extremely high taxes to the City — have had no representative on the Council. That’s unfair!

If Irvine voters pass Measure D in the March 5th election, the UCI community and the Great Park Neighborhoods — as well as all other parts of town — will be assured of their own elected representative. And, grassroots candidates will have a chance to compete fairly for a seat on the Council. That’s what local democracy is supposed to look like!

Franklin J. Lunding

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