RUNNING FROM HIS RECORD
Posted: October 20, 2014
A Message from Councilmember Beth Krom:
It’s election time. Our roadways are littered with campaign signs. City Council meetings are turned into political bully pulpits. The developer-funded smear campaign to help shore up Mayor Steven Choi’s majority is in overdrive.
All of this tends to distract voters from the important issues facing our community. While Mayor Choi enjoys pointing his finger at others, he would clearly prefer you not ask yourself whether Irvine is better off since he became Mayor.
That’s because the answer is “no.”
Before Mayor Choi took office, Irvine had a long-standing reputation as a well planned community that focused on preserving and enhancing quality of life for Irvine residents. No more. That’s why the impacts of runaway growth are being felt so keenly now.
It’s not like we never grew before. But before Mayor Choi took office, developers were subject to land use planning that ensured that infrastructure was in place to handle the growth. Never before has a Mayor been so misguided in believing that developers know everything — and should be given whatever they want.
Developers have never had it so good. Mayor Choi and Councilmembers Shea and Lalloway have handed them all the opportunity they want. It’s no surprise to see them exploit every opportunity.
Is it any wonder that local developers are sending out mailers supporting Mayor Choi and Councilman Lalloway and attacking candidates who might actually hold their feet to the fire? If they did it openly, it would be bad enough, but they are trying to bamboozle Irvine voters by setting up a sham committee like the “Greater Irvine Education Guide” as a front.
If they can successfully confuse voters into voting against their own interests, developers will strengthen their hand at the expense of our quality of life. There’s big money in development. Literally BILLIONS of dollars at stake. But it is the citizens of Irvine who will have to deal with the impacts, the traffic, the overcrowding in local schools and the degradation of our community.
Sadly, what we are seeing is how quickly the “gold standard” in master-planning can be tarnished by a lack of vision, a lack of leadership and a lack of respect for the public interest.
Good planning balances the developer interests with the public interest. Most people still don’t know that developers gave the Irvine Unified School District a site for Irvine’s fifth High School that is adjacent to a capped toxic landfill and just 1000 yards from the ever-expanding Musick Jail. Mayor Choi didn’t have a problem with that. Neither did Councilmembers Lalloway and Shea.
Incredibly, even the Irvine Unified School Board signed off on the site. It makes you wonder what happened. We need to put the health and welfare of Irvine residents — especially the young people in our community — as our highest priority.
Mayor Choi thinks a High School next to a capped toxic landfill and down the road from a jail is fine. Is that the new Irvine planning standard?
We used to have a City defined by respect for our citizens. Balancing development with preservation of open space, investments in infrastructure and community amenities made us the envy of Orange County.
Now it’s like the Wild West with developers vying to build anything they can wherever they can. Even the once inspired vision for the Great Park has become a developer give-away. If it feels like the City we live in is changing dramatically, it’s because it is.
The only question that remains is whether we will continue down this “mega-growth” track supported by Mayor Choi, or restore intelligence to our planning model — and on our City Council.