UPDATE: Irvine’s City Council voted 3-2 in favor of moving forward with FivePoint Communities’ proposal to build 688 acres of the Great Park and to approve the developer’s environmental impact report relative to 4,606 homes it wants to build east of the park, as well as a general plan amendment and zone change. Mayor Steven Choi, Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Lalloway and Councilwoman Christina Shea voted in favor. Councilmembers Beth Krom and Larry Agran voted no.
The vote FivePoint’s Great Park plans came with last-minute additions sought by Lalloway which includes the city, not FivePoint, controlling operations and maintenance of the park starting in 2016 when features are expected to be finished. FivePoint agreed to give the city $10 million for that, plus $10 million more for improvements to the park’s entrance Marine Way.
IRVINE - A vote that would determine the future of the Orange County Great Park got a second try Tuesday.
But after six hours of discussion, two weeks spent ironing out details of an offer worth about $200 million to Irvine and an eight-hour meeting two weeks prior, Irvine was no closer to making a decision.
FivePoint Communities, the private developer that owns the land surrounding the park, had proposed spending $172 million to fill more than half of the park with an 18-hole golf course, sports fields, trails, a wildlife corridor and more in exchange for the right to build 4,606 houses east of the park on the company’s land.
Many, if not all, eyes were watching Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Lalloway as to how he may vote. Lalloway, also the chairman of the Orange County Great Park and one of three Republicans on the council, proposed a postponement two weeks ago, surprising many who expected him to push the plan forward.
In his first comments during Tuesday’s meeting, Lalloway said he would do what was best for the citizens of Irvine, “and I will not bow to political pressure, period.”
Even Emile Haddad, CEO of FivePoint Communities, said during a moment outside the meeting that he couldn’t read where Lalloway might stand.
The proposal has sharply divided the council and public. There are those wanting to see the park built sooner rather than later and those that want to stick to a master plan approved in 2007 that has so far resulted in 76 developed acres, a helium balloon ride, carousel and four soccer fields, among other features.
In addition, the location of a future fifth high school in Irvine has brought the most passionate responses from members of the public wanting a new location chosen farther from the James A. Musick Jail and a capped military landfill before FivePoint’s plan moves forward. It’s ultimately up to the Irvine Unified School District to choose the site. FivePoint has offered to buy a 40-acre parcel from the city for $60 million for an alternate if that site is ultimately chosen. Site A sits on land the developer owns.
With the 300-seat council chambers filled to capacity, a tense crowd on occasion interrupted speakers and responded to statements with a mix of applause and boos. Before the meeting started, the empty courtyard outside was a sharp contrast to the party atmosphere of the meeting two weeks ago.
Outside the meeting chambers, the atmosphere was subdued. No food truck, soccer balls or outdoor movie screen as for the overflow crowd at the last meeting some whom stayed for the duration of the eight-hour meeting, until the council voted 3-2 to delay a vote until the city’s staff was able to answer lingering questions it had about the plan.
“I have a good feeling,” Haddad said before Tuesday’s meeting of his plan’s chances at being approved. Two weeks ago, Haddad said his proposal to the city would expire Nov. 26 without a vote.
Check online for the full story at OCRegister.com.
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