Irvine City Council Newsletter 
February 2018
Irvine Ranked #1 in the Nation in Financial Health

Irvine leads all U.S. cities in fiscal soundness and transparency

Melissa Fox's Finance Commissioner, Roger Sievers, talks about Irvine's standing as the #1 financially strong city in the nation, and what we need to do to keep Irvine financially strong well into the future.

(Irvine, CA) -- Irvine is the #1 city in the nation in regard to fiscal health, according to a recent report by Truth in Accounting, an organization that promotes clarity in public financial records.

The report ranked the nation's 75 most populous cities, with Irvine coming out on the very top.  

According to the report, "Irvine has a Taxpayer Surplus that stands at $5,200. There are very few U.S. cities that are free of bonded debt, and Irvine is one of them. The city now recognizes about $111 million in unfunded pension debt on its balance sheet and has enough assets outside of its pension system to pay for promised benefits."

Irvine City Councilmember Melissa Fox stated, "I'm extremely proud of Irvine's number one financial rating.  I'm having received the Orange County Taxpayers Watchdog Award for 'demonstrating dedication to the protection of taxpayer funds and for the advocacy of government transparency and fiscal responsibility'.  I ran for City Council on a platform of using my skills as a business attorney to safeguard every public dollar, and I intend to keep that promise by making sure Irvine doesn't spend more than it can afford." 

Bicycling in Irvine - Great Trail System, But Where to Lock-Up?

Irvine needs better infrastructure for bicycles, and more community involvement with the Irvine Transportation Commission

Guest Post by Ken Montgomery
Chair, Irvine Transportation Commission

Irvine Councilmember Melissa Fox appointed me to the City's new  Irvine Transportation Commission in May 2017.  One of the missions of the Transportation Commission is to the advise the Planning Commission and the City Council on the traffic impacts of new development applications.

Ken Mongomery
Chair, Irvine Transportation Commission
Another task for the Commission is to work with City staff on ways to improve traffic flow in Irvine.

One way to reduce single occupant vehicle trips in Irvine is to increase the amount of people who will use a bicycle for their short trips around town when it is practical.

Irvine has the  best bicycle trail system of anywhere in Orange County - it's not even close.

Most of Irvine's streets have bicycle lanes. Most of Irvine's traffic signals have video detection cameras mounted on the mast arms. These cameras detect when there is a bicycle waiting at the red light. You don't even have to push the bicycle push button anymore if you don't want to. In Irvine you can legally ride on sidewalks, but you must yield to pedestrians. Thus, on the few streets where there are no bike lanes, you can ride on the sidewalks legally.
I ride all over Irvine everyday on my electric bike and I can get to every place in Irvine conveniently.

I know there are a few streets that have no bike lanes with narrow sidewalks like MacArthur near the airport, but for the most part I can ride a bike to any shopping center, professional office building, or recreational center or park in town.

The problem comes when you try to lock up your bike at one of these destinations!

Many private properties with big parking lots for cars have no bike racks. I frequently have to lock up to a handicap parking sign pole or a trash can with openings big enough for my cable bike lock. Sometimes a destination will have a bike rack somewhere out of view, where no one can see the bike thief with the bolt cutters. This lack of bicycle parking often defeats the purpose of riding a bike if you can't secure it properly.

The City requires new developments to have bike racks, but these racks often disappear after a few years or are relocated to an out of the way location. I feel that if I ride a bike, I should be able to lock up close to the building's entry, not 500' away.

The City is making efforts to get businesses to voluntarily provide bike racks near their building entries, but with over 25,000 businesses in Irvine, progress will be slow.  I encourage bike riders to let the business that you visit on your bike know that well placed bike racks is the "right thing to do" on many levels (customer service, environment, health).

The Transportation Commission meets the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month in the City Council Chambers at 5:30 pm.  

I strongly encourage Irvine residents to bring any traffic concerns, ideas or comments to the Commission meeting.  

You will be welcomed to speak at the beginning of the meeting.  The full City traffic engineering staff attends these meetings and they will hear your ideas and can respond to your questions.  Check  here for Transportation Commission agendas. The public is welcome to speak on all agenda items as well as non agenda related comments.

If you can't wait for the next meeting, feel free to email me your questions, comments and ideas about transportation and traffic in Irvine at I will forward your comments to the appropriate City staff member.

Our current traffic problems were many years -- even decades -- in the making. Let's work together to improve Irvine's traffic and make Irvine an even better place to ride our bikes! 

Thank you for the privilege of serving the residents of Irvine.

Ken Montgomery
Chair, Irvine Transportation Commission

Melissa Fox Joins Leaders of Veterans Organizations to Support Strawberry Fields Location for Veterans Cemetery

Veteran Groups visit Strawberry Field on old El Toro Marine Base, designated site of the Southern California Veterans Cemetery.

Irvine, CA -- On January 14, the leaders of numerous veteran groups visited Strawberry Field on old MCAS El Toro, designated site of the Southern California Veterans Cemetery. 

Welcoming them were Irvine City Councilmember Melissa Fox and Christina Shea, Irvine City Commissioners Lauren Johnson-Norris and Anthony Kuo, and Army veterans Chick Adams, Field Rep for Senator Josh Newman (D) and Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva (D). 

Among the veterans organizations represented were the American Legion, the American G.I. Forum, American Legion Auxiliary, Veterans of Foreign Wars, The 40 & 8, Marine Corps League, and the Vietnam Veterans of America. 

Each of these organizations and officials support the Strawberry Fields site of the Veterans Cemetery, and urge voters to vote YES on Tuesday, June 5, 2018, on Ordinance No. 17-08, approving a zone text amendment so as to facilitate the development of the Southern California Veterans Cemetery.

"Celebrate Diversity Play Date" Brings Irvine Together 

Irvine mom Kourtney McGowan turned a negative incident into a positive  experience for our whole community

Guest post by
Lauren Johnson-Norris, Irvine Community Services Commissioner

It was my pleasure to co-host Irvine's first "Celebrate Diversity Play Date," a gathering of children and families created by Irvine mom Kourtney McGowan, who moved to Irvine this past year.

Lauren Johnson-Norris and Kourtney McGowan
Kourtney's young son was teased at school because of the color of skin.

Understandably hurt and upset, Kouryney reached out on social media to other Irvine moms.

The response she received was 100% positive.

Kourtney then decided to create a "diversity play date" at an Irvine park to share - and celebrate - our diversity.

Here is how Kourtney described what happened:

"It all started with Johnathan sharing his experiences at school with me.  He told me that children were calling him names because of his skin color. As a mom of course I tried to make him feel better about being black by purchasing books, watching certain movies and talking to him about it. I even reached out to the school leadership. But his peers quickly diminished what confidence he had just gained.  I then decided to vent to my Irvine moms group on Facebook and share my concern and frustration. I even went as far as saying 'please teach your children to accept other children that look different than they do, it starts at home.' I wasn't sure how the response would be. But, to my surprise, the post went viral. I had many moms express how sorry they were, private message me for play dates and share their own similar experiences with the same thing! I felt like this was an opportunity to make a difference so I went for it!"

Kourtney took this opportunity to turn her child's experience into a teachable moment and created a play date for children and families of all walks of life to celebrate their cultures. The play date was a tremendous success!

Close to 100 people with young children showed up, sharing food, games and activities with each other.

I was pleased to be able to congratulate Kourtney on creating successful event that brought many people together in the spirit of what truly makes Irvine strong: our diversity!

Councilmember Melissa Fox Visits California Fire Museum Exhbit 

Exhibit showcases Orange County firefighter history with fire engines, artifacts, and tools of the trade

Irvine City Councilmember Melissa Fox and Community Services Commissioner atop a
1902 horse-drawn steam engine.

Irvine, CA -- Irvine City Councilmember Melissa Fox and Irvine Community Services Commissioner paid a visit to the California Fire Museum's new exhibition of firefighting equipment and artifacts in Santa Ana.  

The exhibit -- entitled "Firefighting: Artifacts and Tools of the Trade" --
 runs from February 3 to March 3, 2018, at the SAC Arts Gallery at the Santora Building, 207 North Broadway, Santa Ana, CA 92701.

Councilmember Melissa Fox, who is also a Board Member of the Orange County Fire Authority and the mother of a firefighter, said "This is a wonderful exhibit. The success of this exhibit re-enforces my commitment to convince the Irvine City Council to agree to the Fire Museum's request for help in preserving their collection from damage from vandalism and the elements by preserving the heritage of our California firefighters at the Great Park.

"I urge everyone interested in preserving our California firefighter heritage to contact Irvine's Mayor and the members of the City Council to tell them to provide the California Fire Museum space for the public display and storage of their irreplaceable collection."

Councilmember Melissa Fox Visits Haven for Hope to Find Solutions to Homelessness Crisis

Successful San Antonio program offers model for helping homeless in Orange County

Irvine, CA -- In January, Irvine City Councilmember Melissa Fox and her Community Services Commissioner Lauren Johnson-Norris joined other Orange County leaders and elected officials in a one-day trip to San Antonio, Texas, to learn about the success that Haven for Hope has had in offering programs to help homeless people.

Irvine City Councilmember Melissa Fox and Community Services Commissioner at Haven for Hope.

Haven for Hope is a place of hope and new beginnings for people experiencing homelessness. It is made up of two major programs: the Courtyard and the Transformational Campus. Both are on the Haven for Hope property and require a visit to the Intake Department to get started. The Courtyard is a low-barrier safe sleeping program that offers shelter and basic needs. The Transformational Campus is a center that offers services and shelter with an emphasis toward addressing the root causes of homelessness.

"I am deeply concerned about the homelessness crisis in Orange Country, " Councilmember Melissa Fox said. "It is a humanitarian crisis as well as a public health crisis that we can not ignore or simply pretend to legislate out-of-existence. The whole county needs to work together. Helping our homeless population will require a concerned, county-wide approach that, like Haven for Hope, both provides safe temporary shelter and effective, humane solutions of the root causes of homelessness."

Wilderness Access Day: Bommer Canyon 

Rich innature's wonders, Irvine's Bommer Canyon beckons walkers, hikers, and all  outdoor enthusiasts.

On Saturday, February 17, enjoy self-guided access in the southern portion of Irvine's Open Space Preserve. 

The entire southern Open Space Preserve trail network will be open for self-guided hiking and biking on February 17 from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm. This includes the single-tracks in Shady Canyon and Bommer Canyon that are reserved for guided activities only. 

Registration is not required for this event, though it is shown on the website.  If you need driving directions, please use the online registration to receive a map and instructions for getting to Bommer. The Bommer Canyon Cattle Camp will be available for parking, but please take note that your vehicle must be removed from the Cattle Camp area by 2 pm.

Bommer Canyon Wilderness Access Day Participation policies:

  • Dogs are not permitted in the Irvine Open Space Preserve.
  • Ages 17 and under must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
  • All mountain bicyclists must wear a helmet at all times while on Irvine Open Space trails.
  • You may choose to enter the trail system from other surrounding locations, Quail Hill, Laguna Coast, El Moro, but you must be off of the Irvine "scheduled program only" trails by 2 pm.
  • Gates will be closed and you will be subject to citation if you are found to be on the Irvine "scheduled program only" trails before 8 am or after 2 pm.
  • Failure to remove your vehicle from the Cattle Camp by 2 pm will subject you to citation.
  • The availability for self-guided trail access is limited to the date and hours of this event only.
  • Parking, updated maps and information will be available at the Cattle Camp in Bommer Canyon during open hours.

Multi-use trail etiquette: Please Remember that bikers yield to hikers and that bikers and hikers yield to equestrians. Click here for more trail tips.
Please adhere to the stated description above to ensure the continuation of Access Day events in Irvine. Please call 714-508-4764 with questions and for more information.

Join Us at Kaleidoscope 2018 at the Irvine Fine Arts Center

Join us for a day of creative activities for the whole family, including puppet and kaleidoscope making, and a very special performance by the Bob Baker Marionette Theater.

Join the Irvine Fine Arts Center on February 17 from 10 a.m. to Noon for a day of creative activities for the whole family, including puppet and kaleidoscope making, and a very special performance by the Bob Baker Marionette Theater. Light refreshments will be available.

Admission: $2; Ages 3 and younger: Free. 

Invite your friends to the event on  Facebook!
Irvine Fine Arts Center
14321 Yale Ave.
IrvineCA  92604

Free 2017 Tax-Preparation Services Available in Irvine

The City of Irvine in partnership with United Way will be offering free tax preparation services through April 12, 2018 to those who qualify.

Irvine, CA -- The City of Irvine, in partnership with Orange County United Way, is offering free tax-preparation services to taxpayers who earned less than $60,000 in 2017. Qualifying taxpayers who live, work or attend school in Irvine can receive help filing their taxes from IRS-trained and certified volunteers, who will also assist eligible taxpayers in applying for tax credits, including the state and federal Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC). 

Free tax-preparation services are available at Cypress Community Park, 255 Visions in Irvine, from Jan. 30 to April 12, 2018. An appointment is required; no walk-ins will be accepted. Call Orange County United Way at 888-434-8248 for more information on EITC eligibility, and to schedule an appointment. 

Taxpayers with Internet access can chose to file their own federal and state tax returns online for free at . Individuals must have less than $66,000 in 2017 household income to utilize this free online service. 

For more information, visit

Upcoming Events

What's up in Irvine!

Melissa Fox
Irvine City Council
Staff and Commissioners

Allison Binder, Lead Council Executive Assistant

Daniel Robertson, Council Executive Assistant

Eliana Liss, Council Executive Assistant

Lauren Johnson Norris, Community Services Commissioner

Dustin Nirschl,  Planning Commissioner

Roger Sievers,  Finance Commissioner

Kenneth Montgomery, Transportation 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 (Chair)