Irvine City Council Newsletter 
November 2019
Honor Our Nation's Troops at Irvine's Veterans Day Ceremony on Monday, November 11, 2019

Community is invited to ceremony at Colonel Bill Barber Marine Corps Park.


Veterans Day is a time to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and commitment to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

In honor of our veterans and in support of their families, the City of Irvine will host a special Veterans Day Ceremony on Monday, November 11th from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the formal garden area at the Colonel Bill Barber Marine Corps Memorial Park.

The ceremony will honor all our service members - past and present  Honor Guards from the Irvine Police Department and Irvine's own adopted 2/11 Marines will lead the opening and closing ceremonies.

As the daughter of a combat veteran, I know the tremendous value of veterans' service, their core principles of honor, courage, and commitment.

As a member of the Irvine City Council, I am proud that Irvine truly appreciates the commitment and sacrifice of our military veterans. It is always an honor to celebrate the service of our men and women of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard, and to thank them for what they've given to keep our nation free.

Please join me in honoring our veterans on this Veterans Day.

Colonel Bill Barber Marine Corps Memorial Park is located at 4 Civic Center, Irvine CA 92606

For more information, call 949-724-6606.


Congratulations to our outstanding Police Chief Mike Hamel and to all the dedicated professionals of the Irvine Police Department.


Recently, using data from the FBI, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the violent crimes rate in the 294 U.S. cities with populations of at least 100,000 - a population-adjusted measure of incidents of rape, robbery, homicide, and aggravated assault - to identify  America's safest cities. Irvine, California, was found to be the  safest city in the United States.

You can read  their report HERE.

"1. Irvine, California
> 2018 violent crime rate: 55.5 per 100,000 people
> 2018 homicides: 0
> Poverty rate: 13.2%
> 2018 unemployment rate: 2.8%

According to the most recent FBI data, there were zero murders, 40 rapes, 53 robberies, and 67 aggravated assaults reported in Irvine in 2018. Adjusted for population, there were just 56 violent crimes reported per 100,000 Irvine residents, by far the lowest rate of any U.S. city with a population of at least 100,000 and less than one-sixth the national violent crime rate.

The low prevalence of crime may have been a pull factor for the large influx of residents who moved to Irvine over the past decade. From 2009 to 2018, the population of Irvine grew by 33.6%, more than five times the 6.6% national growth rate."

Congratulations to our outstanding Police Chief Mike Hamel and to all the dedicated professionals of the Irvine Police Department.  

I know that Irvine continues to be recognized as America's safest city because the men and women of the Irvine Police Department perform their duties every day at the very highest levels of professionalism and integrity. 

Our community knows that our police officers are dedicated to ensuring the safety of our residents and treating everyone with fairness and respect.

Thank you, Irvine Police Department!





Below is an OCFA Press Release detailing deployment of FIRIS and increased staff during the current extreme Red Flag Warning period.

NEW FIRIS PROGRAM PROVIDING
CRITICAL WILDFIRE INTEL
And OCFA Supports Neighboring Fires While Maintain Increased Local Staffing

Irvine, CA - October 29, 2019 - Since being launched nearly two months ago, the new Fire Integrated Real-Time Intelligence System (FIRIS) pilot program aircraft has flown more than a dozen missions and provided enhanced situational awareness to numerous fire agencies. Knowing the fire perimeter and the direction a wind-driven fire is moving has helped decision-makers on the ground determine where to put resources and more importantly which communities to evacuate.

The FIRIS program is fast becoming one of the first air resources requested by Southern California fire agencies when a wildfire breaks out. The ability of the fixed-wing aircraft, equipped with cameras and infrared and radar sensors that can see through smoke, to provide real-time fire perimeter mapping and live high definition video has made a positive difference for incident commanders and decision-makers located in local Command Centers. Data sent from the twin-engine fixed-wing aircraft has also supported the UC San Diego WIFIRE Laboratory that uses its supercomputer to provide a fire spread progression model to be shared with the incident and command center staff.


In addition to the high tech tools being used by the FIRIS pilot program aircraft, Orange County Fire Authority has been supporting its neighbors in Los Angeles with boots on the ground. Currently, four OCFA strike teams are assisting with the Getty Fire. More than 80 firefighters assigned to ten Type 3 brush rigs, and ten Type 1 fire engines are helping to contain the blaze. In addition, the Southern California Edison (SCE) funded night-time hover-filling helitanker and reconnaissance helicopter are also providing support to the Getty Fire. Two of strike teams had previously been assigned to the Tick Fire with the additional two responding upon immediate request of Los Angeles Fire Department.

Neighboring Fires While Maintain Increased Local Staffing: More than a dozen firefighters of various levels, from Division Chief to firefighter, are also providing management and logistics support at the Tick and Kinkade fires.

"Nothing will replace the need for firefighters on the ground battling out of control wildfires. And I appreciate what our men and women do every day," said Orange County Fire Authority Fire Chief Brian Fennessy. "I am also thankful that through collaboration, the FIRIS technology is helping to make a difference in decision-making which ultimately leads to suppressing wildfires more quickly."


With critical fire weather predicted through the week, OCFA continues to have increased staffing in order to quickly respond to any wildfire that breaks out in our service territory. More than 100 additional firefighters are ready to respond in a moment's notice. 

They're staffing the following:
  • 10 - Type 1 Fire Engines
  • 5 - Type 3 Brush Rigs
  • 2 - Dozers
  • 3 - Helicopters
  • 2 - Hand Crews
  • 5 - Type 6 Patrols
The community is asked to remain diligent during this critical fire weather. If the wind is blowing, refrain from yard work with motorized equipment, never drive or park on dry grass, and throw cigarettes or other smoking materials properly in containers. For tips, please visit OCFA.org/rsg

California State Auditor Gives Irvine Highest Rating for Fiscal Health!



This designation indicates that a city has low risk of experiencing fiscal distress.

Among the indicators used to evaluate the cities' fiscal health were each city's cash position or liquidity, debt burden, financial reserves, revenue trends, and ability to pay for employee retirement benefits.

You can read the full California State Auditor's Report HERE.

UCI Named No. 1 College in U.S. for Sustainability.
 The City of Irvine Should Follow UCI's Example and Adopt the Community Choice Energy Program and Stand-Alone Climate Action Plan We've Been Promised

The City of Irvine has a lot to learn from UCI's accomplishments.


Congratulations to the University of California, Irvine (UCI), on being named the  No. 1 "Cool School" in the nation by the Sierra Club in its annual ranking of sustainability leaders among U.S. colleg es .

UCI is the only university to score in the top 10 for 10 consecutive years.

"As UCI is the only university to have ranked in the top 10 'Cool Schools' for an unprecedented 10 years and counting, we're continually impressed with its commitment to modeling, teaching and embodying excellent environmental stewardship in all areas,"  said Katie O'Reilly, Sierra Magazine's adventure and lifestyle editor. "The Anteaters are truly standouts in this increasingly important space."

Colleges were ranked according to which ones offer the best sustainability-focused courses and carbon-neutral land and energy policies, as well as the most opportunities to engage with the environmental movement. UCI was recognized for EV charging stations and converting its central-cooling plant to a system that conserves over 80 million gallons of potable water per year while cooling campus buildings -17 of which are certified LEED Platinum and seven of which are zero-waste facilities. UCI also was recognized for creating a new pilot project to provide free insulation retrofits and solar installations in nearby low-income communities.  In addition, UCI researchers were recognized for their work in  adapting medical and public health curricula to better prepare students to treat tropical diseases as they expand in range due to climate change.

The City of Irvine has a lot to learn from UCI's accomplishments.

Under Irvine Mayors Larry Agran, Beth Krom and Sukhee Kang, Irvine was indeed a world leader in environmental programs and innovation. One of the highlights of Irvine's environmental engagement was presence of  the U.S. Solar Decathlon at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine. The Solar Decathlon is an international competition held every two years that challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive. The houses are assembled at a central location for display, evaluation, and awards. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency. The Solar Decathlon was held at the Great Park in 2013 and 2015.

Another highlight of Irvine's environmental leadership was the creation of the  Green Ribbon Environmental Committee in 2012.  The Green Ribbon Committee was charged with the crucial task of developing and recommending environmental policy initiatives and programs, including sustainability policies related to energy, recycling and waste management, mobility, open space and water issues.


Unfortunately, when Steven Choi became mayor of Irvine in November 2014, both the Great Park Solar Decathlon and the Green Ribbon Committee became victims of Choi's climate change denial and hostility to environmental action.

As I've detailed in  How Orange County Lost the U.S. Solar Decathlon, Steven Choi was hostile to the very premises of the Solar Decathlon - the need for replacing burning fossil fuels with renewable sources of energy.  

In sharp contrast to the previous three Irvine mayors who championed environmental and climate concerns,  Choi "completely question[ed] the idea of global warming being caused by human intervention."  Rather than recognizing the importance of environmental action,  both as an opportunity for technological innovation and as an existential imperative, Choi saw all environmental concerns as anti-business and climate change as wholly unconnected to human activity. You can read the full story of the Solar Decathlon HERE.

Similarly, Choi sabotaged the Green Ribbon Environmental Committee. In fact, when I was elected to the Irvine City Council in November 2016, the Irvine Green Ribbon Environmental Committee had been inoperative for several years because Mayor Steven Choi and his allies on the Irvine City Council did not appoint sufficient members to constitute a quorum.  In fact, the Committee did not meet during all of 2014 and 2016, cancelling every scheduled meeting. The words "climate change" and "global warming" were not permitted to be used in official City of Irvine publications or staff reports.  Choi didn't even allow the City of Irvine to participate in the Annual National Mayor's Challenge for Water Conservation, sponsored by the Irvine-based Wyland Foundation.

Instead, the City Council needs to adopt a stand-alone Climate Action Plan that we've been promised and implement the Community Choice Energy program that we've shown to be a tremendous benefit to both the City and the planet. 
 

As a longtime environmental activist, I wasn't going to allow the City of Irvine to continue to ignore environmental issues and global warming. I convinced newly elected Mayor Donald P. Wagner, who replaced Steven Choi, to re-invigorate the Green Ribbon Environmental Committee and appoint me to the Committee as the City Council's representative.  I then appointed Krishna Hammond, a young progressive scientist, as my representative to the Committee and encouraged the other Councilmembers to make appointments.  At our first meeting, I was elected Chair of the Committee and Krishna was elected Vice Chair.  The Green Ribbon Environmental Committee was out of Choi-imposed exile and was off and running.


I am extremely proud of the work we've done and the things we've accomplished since then.


Now I am concerned that the work we've done on CCE is about to be undermined by the current City Council leadership.  I have learned that CCE advocates have been getting "push back" from the City and the City Manager.

The Green Ribbon Committee also  recommended swift adoption of a stand-alone Climate Action Plan, so that, in the words of climate activist Robin Raeder Ganahl, "Irvine residents know what the City's plan is to reduce emissions, meet state targets, and protect our quality of life." Again, I am now concerned that the current City Council leadership has no intention of adopting a stand-alone Climate Action Plan, and is simply sitting on the Green Ribbon Committee's recommendation with no intention to move forward.

We've made progress since the days when Steven Choi drove the U.S. Solar Decathlon out of town, shut down the Green Ribbon Environmental Committee, refused to participate in the Wyland Foundation's Water Challenge, and banned the words "climate change" and "global warning."

But there is still much to be done. In particular, the current Irvine City Council leadership needs to show that its professed concern for action on climate change and protecting the environment isn't just lip service and a public relations smokescreen.

Instead, the City Council needs to adopt a stand-alone Climate Action Plan that we've been promised and implement the Community Choice Energy program that we've shown to be a tremendous benefit to both the City and the planet. 

Irvine Police Department Holding Educational Community Meetings on Gun Violence Restraining Orders 

A recent study by the U.C. Davis School of Medicine found that California's red flag law has significantly reduced gun violence.  


I am very pleased to announce that the Irvine Police Department is holding educational community meetings on Gun Violence Restraining Orders.

Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO) prohibits a person who is a danger to themselves or others from owning, possessing, or receiving any firearms, ammunition, or magazines.

Gun Violence Restraining Order Can Save Lives: A recent  study by the  U.C. Davis School of Medicine found that California's red flag law has  significantly reduced gun violenceAccording to Laura Cutilletta, legal director of the Giffords Law Center, California's red flag law acts as a sort of timeout, so someone in psychological distress can get counseling while their fitness to possess a gun is evaluated.  "It's a way to allow for temporary removal of firearms in a situation just like this: where somebody has made threats, where they have been expelled from school because of those threats, they're in counseling, and parents or the school or whoever it is understands that this person poses a threat," she explained.

However, the effectiveness of Gun Violence Restraining Orders has been limited by the lack of awareness of the law on the part of both the public and the police.  Too often, neither the public nor the local police are aware of or encouraged to obtain Gun Violence Restraining Orders.

That's why it is so important that our police department has made these educational workshops on GVROs available to the public.

Learn more about Gun Violence Restraining Orders by attending a community meeting presented by members of the Irvine Police Department.

Thank you Chief Mike Hamel and the Irvine Police Department for holding these important educational community meetings.

We Had a Wonderful Time at the 2019 Global Village Festival at the Great Park! 

Help Us by Make the Global Village Festival Even Better by Taking Our Survey!


My family had a wonderful time the 2019 Global Village Festival at the Great Park! 

When many immigrant communities and religious and ethnic minorities are feeling themselves under attack, the message of the Global Village Festival - "Many Cultures, One World" - was especially welcome.  The Global Village Festival was truly a celebration of the thriving diversity that is now the real Orange County.

Last year was the first time that the Irvine Global Village Festival, formerly held at Col. Bill Barber Park next to Irvine City Hall, was held at the far more expansive grounds of the Orange County Great Park.  This year was the first time that the Festival was extended to two full days.

As in past years, my favorite parts of the Festival were visiting the many different national and ethnic organizations that hosted booths and listening to the great musical performances from many cultures.  I also enjoyed the shopping, the food, watching the children play in the newly expanded Kids Village, meeting old friends and making new ones.

The City of Irvine has created a brief  survey for people who attended the Festival.  By completing it, you'll be helping us make the Festival even better in the future.  You can find the survey  HERE.

Here are some of our pictures from our time at the Festival. 






















Melissa Fox
Irvine City Council
Staff and Commissioners

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

Jules Jech, Council Executive Assistant

Lauren Johnson Norris, Community Services Commissioner

Dustin Nirschl,  Planning Commissioner

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)