Irvine City Council Newsletter 
July 2017

Celebrate Irvine on July 1st with Our Orange County Soccer Club!

Join our Orange County Soccer Club as they host "Celebrate Irvine Day" and play the Portland Timbers 2.

  *  City of Irvine employees can show their ID at the box office to receive 50% off any individual ticket (any location).

  *  Residents of Irvine may show their Driver's Licence or ID at the box office to receive 50% off any individual ticket (any location).

  *  Special welcome by City of Irvine Councilmember Melissa Fox

       *  City of Irvine employees will have the opportunity to be upgraded to our VIP section where they will receive a special post-game meet and greet with Orange County SC players.

Date: Sat., July 1, 2017
Time: 5:00 p.m.
Location: Orange County Great Park, Field Four, 6950 Marine Way, Irvine, CA 92618
For more information: visit 
or call  (949) 647-GOAL.

Melissa Fox receives award for saving $80 million for state and local taxpayers

Irvine, CA - On June 8, 2017, Irvine City Councilmember Melissa Fox received the Orange County Taxpayers Watchdog Award from Orange County Auditor-Controller Eric H. Wollwery.

The Orange County Taxpayers Watchdog Award was for "demonstrating dedication to the protection of taxpayer funds and for the advocacy of government transparency and fiscal responsibility."

Irvine City Councilmember Fox received the Award, along with Irvine Mayor Donald P, Wagner and Councilmember Christina Shea, for their successful efforts to designate agricultural land near the 5 and 405 freeways that was once part of the former Marine Air Station El Toro as a new Orange County Veterans Cemetery and Memorial in a land exchange with FivePoint Communities.

The land exchange with FivePoint Communities will ensure that the Veterans Cemetery is built faster and with approximately $80 million in savings for state and local taxpayers.

"I am honored to receive this award," Councilmember Fox said.  "I ran on a platform of using my skills as a business attorney to safeguard every public dollar.  I also ran on the promise to build the Veterans Cemetery in Irvine at the old El Toro Marine base, and to build it as quickly as possible. I'm extremely happy that this land exchange has allowed me to fulfill both of these campaign promises."

New Designation will serve goal of getting Veterans Cemetery established as expeditiously as possible.

The Irvine City Council voted on June 6, 2017, to designate the Strawberry Fields Site as the new location of the Orange County Veterans Cemetery.

The vote was 3-2 with Mayor Donald Wagner, Councilmember Christina Shea and myself voting in favor. Councilmembers Jeffrey Lalloway and Lynn Schott voting against.

Celebrating victory with Orange County Veterans Memorial Park Leader Bill Cook (USMC, ret.).
I believe that designating the Strawberry Fields Site will get the Veterans Cemetery built faster and with significant less cost. In fact, it will save Irvine taxpayers upwards of $40 million - money that we can use to create more and better amenities at the Great Park, including museums, a library, and a world-class botanical garden.

I want to thank those elected officials who have stood with me throughout this process.

I want to thank  Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva for originating this process in the state legislature and seeing that it received the support of Governor Jerry Brown.  She made it clear that she would be pleased with the Strawberry Fields Site and that she "wholeheartedly back[ed] the decision of the Irvine City Council."

I want to thank  Congressman Lou Correa, who sent a letter to the Irvine City Council expressing his "support for the Orange County Veterans Cemetery to be built on the "Strawberry Field" site at the old MCAS El Toro  . . . This is the site preferred by the Orange County Veterans Memorial Foundation and the consensus of most Veterans, family, and friends."

I also want to thank State Senator Josh Newman,  Chair of the California Senate Veterans Committee and proud U.S. Army veteran, for writing to the City Council stating that in his view "the recently presented alternative site [i.e., the Strawberry Fields Site] represents the best prospect for a feasible location and plan [for the Veterans Cemetery]."

For those wanting to know more about my reasons for this decision, please see my blog post The Strawberry Fields Site is the Best Location for the Veterans Cemetery. Now Let's Get it Done!

I am proud to have been on the forefront of Irvine residents calling for an Orange County veterans cemetery located in Irvine.  Long before I was elected to the Irvine City Council, I worked closely with the members of the Orange County Veterans Memorial Park coalition to create a veterans cemetery on land that was once the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station.

We've come a long way, but the process isn't over yet. 

I will continue to work hard to make sure that our veterans have a final resting place close to their families and loved ones.

Councilmember Fox Insists on truth in budgeting and cautions about decline in future revenue

Councilmember Melissa Fox with her Commissioners and Committee Members. 
Finance Commissioner Roger Sievers is second from the left.

Guest article by Roger Sievers, Irvine Finance Commissioner.

Historically, the City of Irvine has had revenue in excess of expenses and only minimal attention has been needed to prioritizing spending and balancing expenses with revenue.

This spring, the Irvine Finance Commission met with each City department to review and discuss the proposed budget for their department for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.   

As a result of that work, it was learned that the City is expecting slower growth of sales tax revenue in the near future, while operating costs are continuing to increase faster than receipts.   
Councilmember Melissa Fox held a meeting with several members of the Finance Commission to fully understand these issues and to formulate her plan to address them. She learned that several special funds were being drained to fund the general or operating fund, and that the City was budgeting to spend more money than it anticipated receiving.

Councilmember Fox realized that the Financial Commission had discovered that the rainy day fund contribution was simply moving savings from a less visible fund to the publicized Contingency Reserve Fund. In fact, the City was budgeting to spend more money than it was receiving.

Rodger and Leslie Sievers
More specifically, t
he city is expecting to take in $184 million from traditional revenue streams this upcoming budget cycle, but is also transferring more than $7 million from various special funds to meet the planned $191.7 million in spending for 2017-2018.   A sizeable chunk of that transfer -- $4.2 million -- is coming from the city's rehabilitation fund.

Councilmember Fox warned of relying on one-time funds. "We're making up our difference with one time funds," Fox said. "We do know that we have a very volatile revenue base ... this year is a good year. But what happens in a bad year?," Fox cautioned.

Further discussion by the Council determined that City staff needs to keep Councilmembers better informed about the realities of the City budget, and that it will be important for the City to be more transparent regarding actual revenues and expenses.  The Council has requested budget study sessions to review expenditures and get them more in line with anticipated revenues.

While the City is still financially strong, Councilmember Fox and I want to ensure that our budgeting process is open and honest, and that Irvine stays financially strong in future years. 

As an Irvine Finance Commissioner, I am honored to able to help Councilmember Fox and the City achieve these goals.

Seeking information about waiting periods for preschool and childcare in Irvine.

Guest article by Lauren Johnson, Irvine Community Services Commissioner

Hello Irvine Moms and Dads! 

What kind of waiting periods are you facing right now for childcare and preschool in Irvine?

What kinds of improvements do you want to see in the availability of childcare and preschool in Irvine?

As a Community Services Commissioner and Co-Chair of the Irvine Children, Youth and Families Committee, Lauren Johnson Norris has spoken with numerous parents who are experiencing significant waiting lists to access childcare. 

Parents are being advised to apply for childcare and get on waiting lists while they are expecting a child and still report waiting several months to a year to secure a spot for their child. Infant care has been identified as the most challenging childcare to secure, especially considering the important low provider-to-child ratio mandated by state law. Some Irvine parents report putting their families on lists and simply never hearing of an opening. 

Irvine Community Services Commissioner Lauren Johnson
The consequence of the Irvine childcare gap is that families are forced to make unanticipated career and financial decisions. Parents report having to make the sometimes difficult decision to have one parent stay home, even where the families was previously a dual-income family.

Statistically, it is increasingly difficult to return to the workforce the longer a worker is away. 

In addition, the result is not only lost income while the child is infancy, but potentially for years to come. For a single parent, the situation is even worse -- and may be untenable if family care or care outside the city is unavailable. 

A critical part of any thriving community is safe, professional, reliable, and affordable preschool and child care. Preschool has been shown to positively affect children's social skills and prepare them for the rigors of K-12. Children who miss the opportunity for preschool because of inadequate childcare in a community start kindergarten at a disadvantage. Ultimately, the negative effects unavailable or inadequate preschool or childcare extend beyond individual children and families to the community as a whole. 

It is time to address the shortage of childcare for families in Irvine. Increased childcare through designated private sites as part of an overall city development plan, access to childcare in houses of worship, and the option of city early childhood education must be part of this plan. Too many families are waiting for these solutions. 

What kind of waiting periods are you facing right now for childcare and preschool in Irvine?

What kinds of improvements do you want to see in the availability of childcare and preschool in Irvine?

Send your information to Lauren at

Drowning is a preventable tragedy. Following a few simple rules will save lives.

Three fatal adult drownings in the last three weeks in Orange County brings our fatality drowning total to 17 deaths just six months into the year.  

In addition to the adult fatalities - another child just four years or younger drowned in the same three-week time-frame, yet with a non-fatal outcome, bringing that age group's non-fatal drowning total in Orange County for 2017 to five, according to official County statistics. 

Total 2017 drowning incidents (fatal and non-fatal) for Orange County so far are at 29 - with 60% of the 17 fatalities being adults age 50 and older.

"Orange County has a problem," according to Captain Steve Concialdi, a spokesman with the Orange County Fire Authority. "We're one of the leading counties in the nation for drowning incidents."

Drowning is the leading cause of accidental injury and death in children under the age of five and the second leading cause of death in children under the age of 14.

More than 80 percent of these drownings occur in residential backyard pools or spas, but drownings can occur anywhere there is water.

Drowning can happen quickly, without warning, without a splash and without a cry for help.  These deaths are preventable!

"Most drowning deaths are preventable," said Orange County Fire Authority Captain Public Information Officer Larry Kurtz. "When you look at all of the different drowning calls - from small children to the elderly, the circumstances for each one is a little different. What they all have in common though are a series of small events or omissions that occur that add up to become a crisis or a tragedy."

"If we can educate people to take out one domino in the series - we can hopefully prevent that tragedy from occurring," Kurtz said. "Like being a 'Water Watcher' or someone teaching their child how to swim. Learning CPR or not combining drugs and alcohol with swimming or water. Drowning crosses age and socioeconomic lines and it does not discriminate.  It is up to people to take responsibility for themselves, family and people they care about to prevent drowning."

Swimming is fun and healthy, and we're blessed here in Irvine with terrific weather for swimming much of the year.  Now let's do everything we can to protect our children and enjoy our swimming pools safely.

Taking a few simple steps will save lives!

Here are the  ABCs of Water Safety:

Active supervision: make sure to actively watch children in water. Adults should also make sure that someone is watching them or swimming with them.  Regardless of your age or swimming ability - don't swim alone!

Barriers: make sure pools have a tall-enough fence to keep children from wandering in.

Classes: learn to swim, and learn first aid and CPR.

In addition, following these simple rules for pool safety will help prevent drownings:
  • Swim with a buddy in a supervised area. Regardless of your age or swimming ability, never swim alone.
  • Avoid entrapment: suction from pool and spa drains can trap a swimmer under water.
  • Do not use a pool or spa if there are broken or missing drain covers.
  • Do not let children sit or play on pool drains.
  • Keep toys away from the pool, when not in use, to prevent young children from falling in after a toy.
  • Keep a telephone outside the pool area. Post the 9-1-1 emergency number on the telephone.
Everyone should know how to swim! 

The City of Irvine's  Learn-To-Swim Program offers lessons for all ages and swimming abilities. Classes are available for infants through adults.

Click here for details about The City of Irvine's Learn-To-Swim Program.
Let's make Irvine America's Safe Swimming Capitol!

Upcoming Events

What's up in Irvine!

Melissa Fox
Irvine City Council
Staff and Commissioners

Allison Binder, Council Executive Assistant

Daniel Robertson, Council Events Coordinador

Lauren Johnson Norris, Community Services Commissioner

Dustin Nirschl,  Planning Commissioner

Roger Sievers,  Finance Commissioner

Kenneth Montgomery, Traffic Commissioner (Chair)

Zhihai Li, Children, Youth and Families Committee
Dawn Antis,  Childcare Committee

Juneu Kim,  Senior Council

Krishna Hammond,  Green Ribbon Environmental Committee (Vice Chair)

Fred Judd, Investment Advisory Committee