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Final Thoughts Before the Irvine Council Vote on Great Park Proposal as Lalloway Speaks Out

Posted by Former Blogger Chris Emami on November 24, 2013

Jeff LallowayThis is the third time I’ve written about the Irvine Council vote on the FivePoint proposal to develop the Great Park.  The Great Park is a major issue for this Orange County, considering its pivotal role in putting an end to the battle over the El Toro Airport that tour the County apart in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Additionally, after the gains Republicans had after the 2012 election, I feel this is still a critically important issue, which is why I’ve written three times on it before Tuesday’s meeting.  Until the 2012 election, Republicans had not had a majority on the Irvine City Council since 2000.  The reason Republicans won is Republicans ran promising to develop the Great Park.

Let me also address another issue.  I’ve heard a lot of rumors about me and Jeff Lalloway.  I will be crystal clear: Jeff has been a complete gentleman to me on this issue.  Our conversations on this topic have been absolutely cordial.  Any rumors that I have been threatened or intimidated by Jeff or anyone on this topic are patently false.  No one has been anything but professional to me on this topic.

One of the most impressive things about this proposal is that FivePoint is willing to give up 1,000,000 square feet of commercial space to build additional 4,600 homes.  Reducing the commercial space ensures that there is no increase in traffic from the additional homes.  Additionally, FivePoint proposes to develop most of the Great Park.  This proposal is an incredible deal for Irvine, and really a great deal for Orange County as a whole.  We will finally have the Great Park that the voters expected when Orange County residents voted to end the El Toro Airport in 2002.

I reached out to Jeff with a few questions but did not get a response by the time this article went up.  I did want to hear directly from him about his thoughts and concerns on the FivePoint proposal for the Great Park.  However, he published an excellent op-ed in the Register (it’s outside the paywall!) that outlined his thoughts on this deal.  Here are key excerpts:

I am excited to be able to vote in favor of this project. I look forward to casting that vote.

However, at the time that this complex proposal was brought before the council, it was clear from both the city staffs report and their presentations that they had time to conduct only a partial analysis of the impacts of this offer. In short, more work was required. In fact, the staff report highlights several areas that require “further discussion” and that their review is still a “work in progress.”

Areas requiring more analysis include such critical components as the design features, construction progress, and potential city liabilities. Separately, there are significant policy issues concerning public access to the park, as well as operating and maintaining the park amenities.

I don’t agree with Jeff renegotiating terms with FivePoint from the dais because the city staff had not had adequate time to vet the issues; he should have just let staff get their questions answered instead.  However, it’s clear from this op-ed that Jeff made the motion to delay two weeks, so that vote would allow staff to finish the last 10% of the agreement.  I think this amount of time should have been enough time to allow staff a chance to iron out the final 10%, and Jeff’s op-ed makes it clear he made the motion to allow them to do so.

Along with many other people in Orange County, I am looking forward to this issue being resolved promptly, and I hope that I will get the chance to write an article Tuesday evening that details the final result.

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