Irvine City Council Newsletter 
April 2019
Irvine Happiest City in California! Second Happiest City in the Nation!

Irvine named the 2019 Happiest City in California and the second Happiest City in the USA.


Congratulations to us!

Irvine has recently been named the 2019 Happiest City in California and the second Happiest City in the USA by the personal finance website  WalletHub!

According to their report, WalletHub "drew upon the various findings of positive-psychology research in order to determine which among more than 180 of the largest U.S. cities is home to the happiest people in America. We examined each city based on 31 key indicators of happiness, ranging from depression rate to income-growth rate to average leisure time spent per day."

The factors examined included depression rates, sleep rates, income growth, sports participation, and separation and divorce rates.

Married couples in Irvine will be happy to know that Irvine has the second lowest separation and divorce rate in the nation!

Read the WalletHub report online  here.

Does Irvine have problems?

Of course, we do!

But just for today, let's remind ourselves that, for the most part, we really love living here!

Irvine Releases Proposed 2019-2021 Budget

Tell us what you think!


I ran for City Council on a platform of using my skills as a business attorney to safeguard every public dollar, and I have kept that promise by making sure that Irvine is financially transparent and accountable, and doesn't spend more than it can afford.

Government transparency and fiscal responsibility should be neither a conservative nor a liberal idea, but appeal to both, as we strive to address increasing social needs with limited resources.

I am proud to have received the  Orange County Taxpayers Watchdog Award from Orange County Auditor-Controller Eric H. Woollery, along with Mayor Don Wagner and Councilmember Christina Shea.

I am proud that during my tenure on the Irvine City Council, Irvine has received  numerous awards for fiscal responsibility and transparency. These awards reflect the commitment that I and my colleagues on the Irvine City Council have made to the taxpayers and residents of Irvine, and to the principles of government transparency and fiscal responsibility.



I am also proud that during my term in office, Irvine has adopted the  Irvine Sunshine Ordinance that expands public notice to four times longer than California law requires, and has  approved a two-year budget cycle, along with a five-year financial planning program. These changes make planning more transparent, give residents more opportunity for input into budget and planning, and make city government more accountable.

The City of Irvine has now released its proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2019-2021.

Prior to proposing a budget for FY 2019-2021, the City hosted four Community Budget Meetings in March. These meetings were the City's first-ever attempt at both informing constituents about the state of its finances and seeking input on spending priorities before the budget proposal was finalized.

Strategic priorities addressed in the proposed budget include: maintaining high-quality essential City services, enhancing Citywide mobility through transportation improvements, promoting innovation through effective use of Information Technology solutions, and recruiting and retaining high-quality employees.

Next in the process, the budget will be presented to the  Finance Commissionin April 2019.  These meetings are open to the public and your continued input in the form of public comment is welcome.

My appointee to the Finance Commission is Roger Sievers. Roger is a long-time corporate CFO/VP/Controller with a master's degree in finance from Stanford University who cares deeply about ensuring both Irvine's financial health and our quality of life.  He would love to hear from you about the proposed FY 2019-2012 budget. He can be reached at  rsievers@cityofirvine.org.

Following Finance Commission input, the proposed two-year budget and five-year plan will be presented to the City Council for approval in May.
For more information about the budget process, and to access the Fiscal Year 2019-21 Proposed Budget, visit  cityofirvine.org/budget.

You can also contact the City of Irvine's Financial Management & Strategic Planning Department at 949-724-6255.


OC Soccer Club seeking another championship and more!


Irvine, CA -- Irvine City Councilmember Melissa Fox was on hand to welcome back both the team and the fans as the Orange County Soccer Club kicked off its new season on March 16 at the Championship Soccer Stadium in the Great Par k in Irvine.

Orange County Soccer Club is Orange County's only professional soccer team.  Orange County SC is a part of the United Soccer League (USL), the fastest growing Division II professional soccer league in the world comprised of 34+ teams across the United States. 

The team plays their home games at the Orange County Great Park's Championship Soccer Stadium located in Irvine, CA.  Nestled right in the heart of the Great Park, the Championship Soccer Stadium has a capacity of over 5,000 for Orange County SC matches.



The club completed the 2018 season in record breaking fashion, setting club records in wins, points, and attendance, culminating in a Western Conference Regular Season top seed advancing through to the Western Conference Championship game.

"It's wonderful to see so many people attending the games here in Irvine," Councilmember Fox said. "This is a tremendously exciting team that is committed to winning and to providing a great experience for its fans. The team also contributes to our community in numerous ways, including providing help and encouragement to local youth soccer programs.  Like many of the new amenities in the Great Park, I wish it was here when I was growing up in Orange County."

You can get tickets and more information at 949-647-GOAL or email tickets@orangecountysoccer.com.


5K Run/Walk at Mason Regional Park on April 13 benefits Crime Survivors 


Irvine, CA -- Irvine City Councilmember Melissa Fox joins with the Irvine Police Department, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer, the Orange County Sheriff's Department, and numerous other community organizations and private businesses in sponsoring the 5K Walk/Run to benefit  Crime Survivors.

The event takes place on Saturday, April 13, 2019, at Mason Region Park in Irvine. 


Crime Survivors'  vision is for victims of crime to recover from their experience mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially, by receiving the respect, support, and protection of law enforcement, the judicial system, and the community.

"I'm delighted to help sponsor this fun event that benefits Crime Survivors, which provides hope and healing to victims and survivors of crime through advocacy and the support of resources, information, and empowerment from the critical time after a crime occurs through the challenges and successes of surviving and thriving," Councilmember Melissa Fox said.

Additional race information can be found at  http://www.superherorunwalk.org/.


I'm proud of all we've done in Irvine, but I'm also dedicated to doing more.


T he City of Irvine has posted a new web page detailing the City's efforts to combat homelessness.

As a member of the Irvine City Council, I'm proud of what we've done.
I'm especially proud of our inclusionary housing requirement that 15 percent of all new residential development be affordable to lower-income households.

I'm also proud of the City of Irvine's establishment and funding of the  Irvine Community Land Trust, which I am honored to serve as Chair, dedicated to creating affordable housing.

In 2018, we opened  Parc Derian, which brings 80 new units of housing for working families, veterans, and special-needs residents of Irvine. Located in the Irvine Business Complex, Parc Derian is a beautiful multifamily community with a pool, tot lot, private parking, exercise center, computer lab, and onsite resident services.



Also in 2018, we began work on Salerno, a new 80-unit rental community. Like Parc Derian, Salerno will provide permanent affordable housing for working families, veterans, and special-needs residents of Irvine.

Significantly, in 2018 we began to develop our first homes for ownership with help from a new partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Orange County. This new Irvine community, called Chelsea on Native Spring, located north of Irvine Boulevard, will include 68 affordable home for sale to income-eligible veterans, working families, and young professionals.

Homes will be sold to first-time homebuyers who earn up to 120 percent of the area's medium income. In an area where the median home price is $727,000 and average annual income is around $80,000 for a family of four, many people are priced out of the market and face housing and financial uncertainties while trying to build a life in Irvine. The Chelsea on Native Spring project aims to keep those people in Irvine, especially military veterans, teachers, nurses, and young professionals.  It is expected to begin construction in 2019.

In addition to these new projects, we continued in 2018 to provide quality housing and services to 238 households living at Alegre Apartments and Doria Apartment Homes. 

Councilmember Melissa Fox with other Orange County leaders speaks with people experiencing homelessness.

In all, that's 466 households, and more than a thousand people, who can comfortably live, work and raise families in Irvine directly because of the work of the Irvine Community Land Trust.

In fact, over the past 30 years, Irvine has developed more affordable housing for families and individuals at risk of homelessness than any other city in Orange County.

Irvine has also provided over $6.7 million in grant funding to nonprofit organizations for homelessness prevention programs.

I am proud too of our Irvine Police Department's approach to homelessness, which employs a dedicated team of  Mental Health and Homeless Liaison Officers and is characterized by compassion and concern for those suffering from economic hardship, mental illness, and addiction.

The City has established a dedicated email address,  outreach@cityofirvine.org, to address homelessness in Irvine. If you know someone in need of services, or if you have a question related to homelessness in Irvine, please contact us.

Councilmember Melissa Fox and Irvine Community Services Commission Chair Lauren Johnson-Norris attend conference on strategies for alleviating  homelessness in San Antonio.

Irvine has also partnered with several non-profit community organizations - including  Families Forward, Second Harvest Food BankFOR FAMILIES, Human OptionsSecond Chance OC, South County Outreach and StandUp for Kids - to help people experiencing housing insecurity or homelessness.

Of course, more needs to be done to resolve the homelessness crisis and alleviate the human suffering we see around us throughout Orange County.

While I'm proud of all we've done in Irvine, I'm also dedicated to doing more.

I've traveled to Sacramento to convince our legislators to reform the tax code to make it easier to build affordable housing.

I've traveled to San Antonio, Texas, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to see possible solutions in action.

We need more affordable housing and more attainable housing.

We need more mental health services.

We need real regulation and supervision of so-called sober living homes that heartlessly dump untreated addicts into our communities when their money runs out.

Ellen Chang of Irvine gives Irvine PD Homeless Liaison Officer Kevin Von Luft a hug after he recently paid her a visit to see how she is doing. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge.

No area of the nation has been more adversely impacted by these unregulated and profiteering sober living homes than Orange County.

We need to work with responsible non-profit community and faith organizations to find real solutions to the growing crisis of drug and alcohol abuse.

Homelessness is a both humanitarian crisis and a public health crisis that we can not ignore or simply pretend to legislate out-of-existence. Helping our homeless population will require a concerned, regional, and state-funded approach that both provides safe temporary shelter and effective, humane solutions of the root causes of homelessness.

Let's working together to achieve these goals and truly resolve the homelessness crisis. 


Festival dates are Father's Day weekend, Saturday, June 15 and Sunday, June 16, 2019. 


Last year, I was named an  Irish Honoree by the City of Los Angeles.  The award came as a result of my help in bringing the annual  Irish Fair and Music Festival to the Great Park in Irvine.

I am tremendously honored to have been named an Irish Honoree.  Irish Americans have contributed enormously to our nation, and I am proud to help share and celebrate Irish culture.

This year, the Irish Fair and Music Festival will return to the Great Park in Irvine!

Festival dates are Father's Day weekend, Saturday, June 15 and Sunday, June 16, 2019. 

The Irish Fair and Music Festival is dedicated to preserving and promoting Irish and Irish-American culture in the Southern California area by presenting Irish music, dance, theater, language, sports and all other aspects of the Irish heritage.

Now in its 45th year, the Irish Fair has become a landmark for Irish and Irish American culture and family entertainment. Over 30,000 people attend the event annually. It has been described as the happiest and most fun filled event in all of Southern California!

Among the many artists appearing at the Festival at the Great Park this year are  The FeniansThe Humble HooligansCraic in the StoneSligo RagsYoung DublinersMarys Lane, and  The Ploughboys.

The Irish Fair also features Irish Step Dancing, historical reenactments, Irish and Scottish import shops and arts & craft vendors.

You can find more information, and tickets, online at the  Irish Fair and Music Festival.

See you there!

In the meantime, you can get your Irish on and celebrate St. Patrick's Day by enjoying this phenomenal musical performance of "Rocky Road to Dublin" from last year's Irish Festival at the Great Park:

Final Jam: Irish Fair at Orange County Great Park. June 10, 2018.



Due to my opposition and that of other City Council Members reductions to school funding will no longer be proposed for the upcoming City budget.


Recently, City of Irvine staff proposed that due to a projected budget shortfall, the City should consider cutting its support for Irvine's public schools and reduce its spending on public safety.

I strongly opposed these cuts.

While I am concerned about the City's fiscal health and our budget - a topic I will address soon in a future blog post - I do not believe that it is in the best interests of Irvine's residents to curtail our support for education and public safety.

Due to my opposition and that of other City Council Members, as well as conversations between myself and Irvine Unified School District Board Members, and IUSD and City staff, reductions to school funding will no longer be proposed for the upcoming City budget.

Here is the official announcement:

"A special message about the City of Irvine's $80 million in cash grants and program support for Irvine schools since 2008.

The City of Irvine has proudly provided cash grants to benefit Irvine schools and students for 13 years. The City uses vehicles such as the Educational Partnership Fund (EPF) program, established in 2006, and the Challenge Match Grant Program, created in 2008, to facilitate support.

From 2006 through June 2019, the City has provided $32 million in direct cash grants benefiting Irvine schools. The City is continuing to commit another $4 million annually for the next two fiscal years, for a total cash contribution of $40 million to benefit Irvine schools.


Beyond cash support, the City provides over $10 million annually in direct and indirect services to Irvine schools and students. The City of Irvine has provided over $80 million in direct and indirect support benefiting Irvine schools since 2008.

Indirect programs include school resource officers at middle and high schools; D.A.R.E. instruction so that elementary school students refrain from drug use and bullying and practice responsible internet use; crossing guards; middle school and high school youth action teams; and joint field and pool use. The two Partnership for Educational Excellence Programs grew from $1.5 million per year to $4 million per year in direct cash grants. The City Council established this funding because schools are a priority; voters affirmed it, and the Irvine City Council continued this unique funding tradition after the voter measures expired in 2016.

The City remains committed to supporting Irvine schools. The City is also committed to its long-term financial planning, transitioning to a two-year budget and a five-year financial plan. The City's financial condition shows a structural deficit. The executive management team values transparent discussions early in the budget planning cycle. This includes open dialogue at community meetings, in order to facilitate a proposed balanced budget that meets many needs. City executive management proposed a host of changes and reductions to address the shortfall, including a possible reduction to some of the $10 million in annual support to Irvine schools in order to ensure adequate City and Police services.

While reductions to school funding will no longer be proposed for the upcoming budget, we need to work together to find constructive approaches. The City faces leaner times. We want to ensure our support for Public Safety, which is a top priority for the Council and the community, is not jeopardized. Mutual cooperation and productive communication is critical for effective long-term financial planning that balances community priorities and the City's budget."

Thank you to the many Irvine residents and IUSD Board Members who reached out to me and other members of the City Council opposing these cuts.

Remembering the Anniversary of Black April and Honoring Those Who Fled to Freedom

This anniversary is also a time to recognize and celebrate the tremendous contributions that Vietnamese Americans have made to our nation and to our shared American way of life.


April 30th is the anniversary of the Fall of Saigon.  

It is a time to remember and honor our more than 58,000 fallen and missing soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines, our half a million Vietnam War veterans, and a million and a half South Vietnamese allies, as well as our allies from Australia, South Korea, Thailand, New Zealand and the Philippines, who fought and died in the pursuit of freedom and democracy.

We must never forget their sacrifice.

This anniversary is also a time to recognize and celebrate the tremendous contributions that Vietnamese Americans have made to our nation and to our shared American way of life.

We must also use this anniversary to renew our commitment to ensure that human rights and freedom are one day respected in Vietnam.


Like many people in Orange County, I have been moved to tears by the heartbreaking stories of the suffering of many of my Vietnamese friends and their families - stories of their tremendous struggles and their remarkable strength in coming to this country as refugees in one of the largest mass migrations in modern history.

We must never forget the incredible hardships they endured and never cease to admire their courageous determination to live in freedom. 

Irvine Community Land Trust Seeks Two New Volunteer Board Members to Help Us Create Affordable Housing!

The Land Trust is seeking two new volunteer board members who are passionate about helping us create affordable housing!  


As Chair of the  Irvine Community Land Trust (ICLT), I am pleased to announce that the Land Trust is seeking  two new volunteer board members who are passionate about helping us create affordable housing!

In order to expand and diversify the skillset of the Board, the ICLT is specifically looking for experts in either accounting and finance, fundraising, information technology or public relations and marketing. These traits are critical to the organization's future plans as it executes on its mission to bring 5,000 affordable homes to the City of Irvine.

A non-profit organization, the ICLT efficiently addresses a dire need in the city of Irvine with significantly less impact on taxpayers. Since 2006, the ICLT has created more than 325 permanently affordable homes, with an additional 80 apartments and 68 townhomes in the pipeline.


In addition to the Accounting, Fundraising, PR/marketing and/or IT backgrounds, the ideal candidate should:
  • Live and/or work in the City of Irvine.
  • Be available to meet once a month with the full board. Usually those meetings are the third Monday of each month from 4 to 6 p.m.
  • Be available to contribute additional time for subcommittee meetings several times a year.
Candidates will be interviewed by a subcommittee; finalists may be interviewed during an upcoming board meeting. Successful candidates elected to the board will serve a two-year term.

To request a New Board Member Application and a full description of the duties and responsibilities of the ICLT Board Members, email info@irvineclt.org.

Deadline to submit applications is April 15.

About the Irvine Community Land Trust

The Irvine Community Land Trust was created by the City of Irvine to provide secure, high-quality affordable housing through the operation of a non-profit community land trust, securing and retaining title to land on which permanently affordable rental, ownership and special needs housing will be constructed and maintained for the benefit of income-eligible families.

In 2017, the Land Trust became an independent agency, allowing greater operational efficiency while maintaining public involvement through its partnership with the City.

The vision of the ICLT is that by the year 2025, the ICLT will have created approximately 5,000 units of permanently affordable housing in the City of Irvine, contributing more than 50 percent of the City's 2025 goal of 9,700 affordable units. In addition, the ICLT will conduct a monitoring program and provide stewardship for these units, insuring high-quality construction, design, sustainability, maintenance and permanent affordability. ICLT will achieve self-sufficiency by ensuring that fees and other earned income are sufficient to support the organization's ongoing operating costs.

Here is a video that shows why we're so proud of the work of the Irvine Community Land Trust:

Melissa Fox, Chair of Irvine Community Land Trust, Speaks about mission.


Run or Walk a 5K and Support Animals in Need!

Irvine Animal Care Center is inviting all runners, walkers, and animal-lovers to take part in its 2019 Virtual 5K throughout the month of April to support animals in need.


The Irvine Animal Care Center is inviting all runners, walkers, and animal-lovers to take part in its 2019 Virtual 5K throughout the month of April to support animals in need.

Register for the  Irvine Animal Care Center Virtual 5K and receive your exclusive medal along with race completion certificate!

How does a Virtual 5K work?

The Irvine Animal Care Center Virtual 5K allows you to customize your fundraising experience and race at your own pace, in your own time. There is no set location for the Virtual 5K, which ensures that participants can participate from wherever they're located. 


Once you're registered, your race medal and completion certificate will be mailed directly to you. All that's left to do is complete your 5K (3.1 miles) between April 1 and April 30. It's that easy!

You can walk or run on any terrain you prefer - you can even include your four-legged family members for an additional fee, and they'll receive their very own medal for completing the race too.

Complete a 5K in April, and help provide care and shelter for adoptable animals at the center.

Register online  here.

For more information or questions, call 949-724-7740.

The mission of the  Irvine Animal Care Center is to provide a safe, clean, caring and enriching environment that meets the high standards of our community and provides the community a resource of trained and knowledgeable staff and volunteers; place all adoptable animals into permanent, loving, responsible pet homes and reunites owner-identified animals with their owners; and promote human responsibility for companion animals.


Join our Easter Basket Donation Drive!


The City of Irvine and the  Irvine Police Department are partnering with  Families Forward to make spring brighter for children in need.

Families Forward is an Irvine-based, non-profit organization that  helps families in need achieve and maintain self-sufficiency through housing, food, counseling, education, and other support services.

Items needed:
  • Baskets
  • Basket grass
  • Jelly beans
  • Plastic eggs
  • Candy
  • Crayons
  • Coloring books
  • Pre-packaged snacks
  • Small toys
  • Card games
  • Stickers
Donated items will be accepted through April 14 at these five locations across the City:
  • Irvine Police Department Lobby:
    • Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m.-8 p.m.
    • Saturday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • Irvine Civic Center Lobby:
    • Monday-Thursday, 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
    • Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Great Park Visitors Center:
    • Monday-Wednesday: 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
    • Thursday-Friday: 8:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
    • Saturday-Sunday: 9 a.m.-10 p.m.
  • Turtle Rock Community Park:
    • Monday-Friday: 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
    • Saturday: 9 a.m.-10 p.m.
    • Sunday: Noon-6 p.m.
  • Portola Springs Community Park:
    • Monday-Friday: 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
    • Saturday: 9 a.m.-10 p.m.
    • Sunday: Noon-6 p.m.
For more information, please call 949-724-7112. 

Upcoming Events

What's up in Irvine! 

4/1 - 4/10 - Pretend City Children's Museum -- Kidstock: Music and Art Family Festival

4/7 - Orange County Great Park at 9:00 a.m. -- Storytime in the Garden

4/11 - 4/13 - Segerstrom Concert Hall at 8:00 p.m. --  Pacific Symphony: A Space Odyssey

4/14 - Orange County Great Park at 6:00 p.m. --  Imagination Celebration Movie Night - D2: The Mighty Ducks



4/19 - Pretend City Children's Museum -- Let's Learn About Passover 

4/19 - 4/27 - Passover

4/20 - Pretend City Children's Museum --  Celebrate Easter

4/21 - Easter Sunday
 
4/22 - Earth Day
 

4/26 & 4/27 - Segerstrom Concert Hall at 8:00 p.m. -- Pacific Symphony: Music of Queen

4/27 - Orange County Great Park at 10:00 a.m. --  Garden Workshop: Successful Veggie Gardens in Containers


Melissa Fox
Irvine City Council
Staff and Commissioners

Allison Binder, Senior Council Executive Assistant
abinder@ci.irvine.ca.us

Daniel Robertson, Council Executive Assistant

Lauren Johnson Norris, Community Services Commissioner (Chair)

Dustin Nirschl,  Planning Commissioner (Chair)

Roger Sievers,  Finance Commissioner

Kenneth Montgomery, Transportation Commissioner 

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

Juneu Kim,  Senior Council

Richard Cody Prince,  Green Ribbon Environmental Committee 

Fred Judd, Investment Advisory Committee (Chair)