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Publisher’s Perspective: Comparing the Environmental Records of the Two Leading Candidates for Irvine Mayor

by

As we commemorate Earth Day on April 22nd, elected officials will no doubt talk about their bold leadership in addressing climate change. But what substantive actions have these elected officials actually taken?

Let’s look at the records of the two members of the current Irvine City Council who are now running for Mayor. (Both call themselves environmentalists.)

Vice Mayor Larry Agran has an impressive record of environmental accomplishments, dating back decades. As Mayor of Irvine in 1989, Agran partnered with scientists at UCI to have the City become the first in the nation to ban chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other ozone-depleting chemicals. The New York Times called the City ordinance “the most far-reaching measure” to control ozone-depleting chemicals. The Los Angeles Times declared it “the most comprehensive law in the nation against CFCs.” Bloomberg Magazine credited Irvine with “kickstarting the recovery” of the ozone layer. And, the UCI scientists won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for their efforts.

Ten years later, Agran led the successful fight to stop an environmental disaster proposed by County Supervisors to build a noisy, pollution-filled international airport in North Irvine. Agran’s leadership on that issue protected Irvine residents’ quality of life and our property values. As Mayor, Agran implemented the City’s curbside recycling program, and worked alongside his good friend and Council colleague, Mary Ann Gaido, to preserve more than 10,000 acres of hillsides, canyons, and wilderness areas for families to enjoy now … and forever.

After rejoining the Council in late 2020, Agran was the only member of the City Council to call for a dangerous asphalt plant — Irvine’s largest industrial polluter — to be shut down. (His Council colleagues blocked Agran’s efforts for nearly two years, saying the plant couldn’t be shut down.) Agran persevered and ultimately prevailed — working with hundreds of North Irvine residents to get the asphalt plant closed. In fact, the City is now clearing the site so that it can become part of a 700-acre “Gateway Preserve,” filled with hiking and biking trails for all Irvine citizens to enjoy. The closure of the plant has dramatically improved air quality throughout our entire City.

Vice Mayor Agran and his team are currently working on a remarkable forestation plan that will double the number of trees in Irvine. That project will help cool our City and clean our air. And, Agran is pushing for a ramped-up rooftop solarization project.

Agran’s opponent in the Mayoral race is Councilmember Tammy Kim. While Agran has been a vocal critic of the Orange County Power Authority (OCPA), Kim is a staunch supporter of the agency. In fact, Councilmember Kim includes her position on the OCPA board as her main environmental accomplishment in her campaign for Mayor — even though OCPA is not delivering greener or cheaper electricity; the agency has failed four audits, and under her watch, OCPA has been fined millions of dollars by the state for failing to purchase enough electricity to avoid blackouts.

OCPA customers in Irvine are now paying the highest monthly electricity rates in all of Orange County … for the same electricity that Southern California Edison (SCE) provides its customers. As noted by the OCPA itself, SCE delivers the electricity to all electricity ratepayers in Irvine, including all OCPA customers.

Publisher’s Note: As Publisher of Irvine Community News & Views, I personally wrote our publication’s endorsement of Vice Mayor Agran and Councilmember Kim back in 2020 when the two candidates were running for Council. While Agran has worked to deliver on the promises he made in 2020, Councilmember Kim has been a disappointment, working against the very issues she campaigned on — including closure of the asphalt plant and making sure that OCPA followed-through on the promises made to our City’s electricity ratepayers.

As we approach Earth Day, we must demand that our leaders do more than talk about safeguarding the environment. They must take action to deliver real results … and they must be called out when they are not truthful with us.

Franklin J. Lunding

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