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New Irvine Housing Development That Offered Affordable/Low Income Options in IBC Scuttled for Strader-Backed Project

Parks in IBC?

Irvine Community Services Commissioner Lauren Johnson Norris, who is also Councilmember Melissa Fox’s endorsed candidate for Irvine City Council, has a campaign website that champions her position to call for more parks, affordable housing, green policies and reducing traffic.  Yet a recent vote of hers in regards to a development project that provided all of these assets, she instead favored a project from FivePoint consultant Patrick Strader that offered none of these features.

The non-Strader project was the first one submitted for that site by a smaller developer and it included two five-story apartments buildings with 326 residential units operating as a rental community included the following:

  • Bike shop/cafe, a public neighborhood park and a private neighborhood park, a rooftop terrace with full amenities and a dog park.  The applicant even offered to open roof top terrace open to the public for general community use.
  • 1.5 acres of On-site recreation features included a tot lot, wading pool, community rooms.
  • Ample Parking – follows the stringent zoning rules. Applicant was not asking for reduced parking ratios.  No off-site parking is needed to accommodate the residents (The Strader-backed project’s parking was a lengthy walk from the units – try carrying a few bags of groceries greater than the length of a football field including both endzones in August; hope that ice cream doesn’t melt).
  • The project’s Affordable Housing Plan was generous and something every progressive Democrat could get behind — 39 units or 12 percent of the total units on site. Nothing in the IBC offers this many very low income units: 27 units to very low income households plus 12 moderate income households 39 affordable housing units.  More than half of Irvine’s residents are renters with kids here for the city’s excellent school system; this project offered families a real opportunity to benefit without going broke.
  • This project received a number of letters of support, including from Families Forward who praised the developer’s commitment to reserve 75 percent of very low income housing for Irvine based Families Forward clients. Families Forward is a non-profit housing program that’s critical to the housing crisis in Orange County. It re-houses families into permanent housing they can afford.  The developer also included a progressively-friendly plan to help Families Forward provide some “wrap around” services for this under-served  population and this plan really offered a great role model for the rest of the city’s and the county’s housing developer community.
  • People for Housing OC also wrote on behalf of the project citing work/life balance benefits this project offered.
  • Two letters from local cycling groups were submitted in support for this project’s “unique bicycle orientation.”

The Irvine City Staff had OK’d the project. It fits with Irvine on a number of levels. But on a 5-0 vote, the Community Services Commission decided to continue its review of the Park Plan to January of 2018. The continuance by Norris’ committee, in essence, allows the remaining IBC units to go to the Strader / Starpointe project (which has 22 number OR 49 percent of the projects in the IBC), thus eliminating the initial project from consideration.

The Community Services Commission held the applicants park plan “hostage” by issuing a continuance. The project would have been continued without her vote, but by voting for the Strader project instead of the initial one, it’s clear that Parks in the IBC are not her priority.

As this post was being prepared for publication, I received word the original developer was appealing this decision to the city council. For Democrats AND progressives who believe in affordable housing, let’s watch how Melissa Fox votes. Does she side with the affordable housing project or with Patrick Strader?


  1. 4th District Resident 4th District Resident January 4, 2018


  2. Fox is a sell out Fox is a sell out January 5, 2018

    You really have to ask that question? WagnerSheaFox vote with Strader. Period.

  3. Dan Wears Tin Foil Hats Dan Wears Tin Foil Hats January 7, 2018

    This one is a stretch, even for you Dan.

    The Sapetto-backed Gillette project was continued at Community Services Commission, then no recommendation at Transportation Commission, then continued at Planning Commission. You remember Pam Sapetto, the lobbyist who was investigated by the City for assuring her clients that Larry, Beth, and Gaido wouldn’t actually oppose development, but that they should give them money for their campaigns anyway. You left out the fact that the Gillette Team lied about the record at the hearing.

    The 15 Degrees project was unanimously recommended at each Commission, and it also has affordable housing units, so there is no difference there.

    But those facts wouldn’t fit your narrative, so carry on with the fake news!

    • Is this Strader Is this Strader January 7, 2018

      Is this commenter actually Patrick Strader?

      The Commissioners are controlled by their respective Councilmember. Strader controls the 3 Councilmembers.

      It’s obvious that the commissions were in the pocket when they didn’t vote no on the non-Strader project but just continued it—no project has ever been continued by different commissions. Ever.

      Dan is spot on in his post. The only fake news is that the Councilmembers and their commissioners are objective and unbiased.

    • Dan Chmielewski Dan Chmielewski Post author | January 8, 2018

      If you could only recount the lies I’ve been told off the record by those close to FivePoint, you’d sing a much different tune. And if I recall, that election was 2014 and I think you left Melissa Fox off that ticket with Agran and Gaido; Krom was not on the ballot in 2014, but that messes with your narrative.

  4. Senior Senior January 7, 2018

    According to the the Strader’s plan they only proposed 9 very low income units vs 27 from the Gillette project, plus the Strader plan states that they want to create for sale condos. They also requested a liquor licence for a “Speakeasy Bar”. Are they trying to create a Party Zone? The people are fed up with greedy bullies. Perhaps, the people will start a #metoo for those who are fed up with backdoor dealers that hold council members and staff hostage through smear campaigns, threats of losing jobs and other slimy tactics.

  5. Kenneth Stahl Kenneth Stahl January 9, 2018

    Our group People for Housing OC supported the Gillette Trails project because it was consistent with our goal of boosting the supply of housing in Irvine and throughout OC. California is facing a housing crisis, with a deficit of between 50,000 to 62,000 homes needed just to meet existing demand. The insufficient supply is causing rents and home prices to skyrocket and young people to flee the county. For that reason, we supported both the Gillette Trails project and the 15 Degrees South project. It is unfortunate that the city had to choose between the two projects due to a cap on residential development in the IBC. The IBC is an ideal location for additional multi-family housing. In the future, we hope to work toward lifting that cap and ensuring that future development is linked with infrastructure.

    • Senior Senior January 10, 2018

      High $$ For Sale Condos a la Strader will NOT help the affordability crisis in the OC. The Gillette project (rentals) was FAR superior in this regard and offered more housing overall. But since Johnson is bought an sold along with Fox, the People of OC will NEVER get the kind of housing or access to transit options that make a dent in the crisis. Unless the People of OC get a voice in the game, the end result will always smell like Strader. One only need watch the abomination of our democratic process on the Council TV last night to confirm the depth of the influence. Over 90% of IRVINE RESIDENTS spoke out and were not heard. It’s shameful. But, I understand that Fox and Johnson-Norris have bolstered their political resumes with the People of OC group involvement so there you have it….no one is immune to the virus anymore.

      P.S. If you haven’t watched yet, the Michael Fox completely embarrassing outburst is classic Fox…unbalanced and paranoid to the Max….

  6. Barbara Barbara January 18, 2018

    The Irvine for Responsible Growth initiative would place some checks and balances against our developer-backed city council majority by giving all Irvine voters a voice. Sign the petition!

  7. Proponent for Affordable Housing or the Developers? Proponent for Affordable Housing or the Developers? January 22, 2018

    Mr. Stahl,

    Why does it seem like you are giving Lauren Johnson-Noris a free pass here?

    She had an easy choice to make (66 affordable housing units verses 9. Nine!) but went with the big developer FivePoint instead. And all you can say is that it was “unfortunate” without even mentioning her name.

    Meanwhile, you have no problem attacking IRG over its potential effect on affordable projects NOT required by state or federal law. How many of those do we have in Irvine again? It certainly doesn’t seem like the big developers care to work on adding many of those. Not in this case at least.

    So why exactly did LJN vote for the FivePoint project rather than the project with more affordable housing options? And why are you siding with LJN and Melissa Fox in attacking IRG?

    You have clear ties to Fox and LJN and it makes it very hard not to question your true motives.

    • Correction: 39 v. 9 affordable housing units Correction: 39 v. 9 affordable housing units January 22, 2018

      Correction: 39 affordable housing units, not 66.

    • Dan Chmielewski Dan Chmielewski Post author | January 24, 2018

      Lauren will do whatever Melissa Fox tells her. Her vote does not represent progressive thought at all. Most of Melissa’s don’t either. Pro-Strader. Legions of Irvine Democrats wonder why

Comments are closed.