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DPOC Meeting Recap: Resolution on Community Land Trusts Goes Back for a Rewrite

A proposed resolution from the Democratic Party of Orange County’s West Vice Chair Diana Carey and the Republican County Board of Supervisors was pulled from the agenda last night to be revised by the Resolutions Committee because it failed to address core Democratic values of public access to Community Land Trust meetings, transparency and eliminating possible conflicts of interests in the make up of these quasi-public groups that rely on public money to fully function.

The timing of the resolution — submitted in early August — seems odd given that longtime Irvine Community Land Trust member Mary Anne Gaido was ousted just last week and the party tends to throw shade at things Irvine Council member Melissa Fox advocates.  It makes you wonder if Gaido’s goose was cooked weeks ago.

Here’s the draft resolution:


WHEREAS a Community Land Trust (CLT) is an independent non-profit corporation that is chartered to develop and steward housing for low and moderate income people, and to redevelop blighted neighborhoods, through the acquisition of  multiple parcels with the intention of permanently maintaining ownership of land which is then purchased or leased by qualifying participants, and

WHEREAS, a CLT, through its Board of Directors, stakeholders and residents, has a responsibility to occupants; and to ensure structural maintenance, through the ability to force repairs, cure defaults and maintain resident security, and

WHEREAS, CLTs are not focused on a single projects on a single land parcel, but are committed to active acquisitions and development aimed at expanding holdings to increase the supply of affordable housing and long-term sustainable community development,

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Democratic Party of Orange County is in support of County and local jurisdictions pursuing the use of Community Land Trusts to facilitate the development of affordable housing in Orange County.       

Submitted by Diana Lee Carey

Orange County Board of Supervisors


Now there’s a lot to like in this draft, but it’s incomplete.  Community Land Trusts use public money.  I’m told the County Board of Supervisors’ plans for using a Community Land Trust in Santa Ana will actually displace a number of residents.  Writer Gustavo Arellano spoke about this at a recent Laguna Woods Democratic Club meeting, so if someone wants to provide details of his talk, please do so in the comments.  I’m told if you’re a fan of gentrification, you ought to vote for the Party’s resolution.

In Irvine, the Community Land Trust recently separated from the city and changed its bylaws.  The public can no longer attend this meetings and board members are not subject to the Brown Act.  One source tells TheLiberalOC the moves were made because Patrick Strader, a ICLT board member and a consultant to FivePoint, no longer wanted to submit financial disclosure forms annually (a form 700).  Objections to ICLT also comes in the form of obvious conflict of interest issues; Strader has business before the city council and has contributed financially the campaign coffers of board president Melissa Fox and board Treasurer Christina Shea — both Irvine City Council members.  No Brown Act requirements, no public access, a deep-pocketed developer’s consultant all deciding issues of affordable housing and low income housing…..what could possibly go wrong?

So adding a couple of paragraphs that deal with transparency, public access and openness would make this resolution a lot easier to swallow.  Adding language that encourages strong public transportation options near new affordable/low income housing projects also makes sense.

The vote was 26-15 with one abstention.  And South Vice Chair and Irvine City Council candidate Farrah Khan voted with the majority and was almost immediately criticized for her vote by another member who said “why don’t you support affordable housing?”  That’s one of the biggest turkeys of an argument I’ve heard at these meetings.  Khan has been a tireless advocate for helping the city of Irvine find housing solutions for the homeless and fully supports affordable housing options for city residents.  It’s the wrong narrative for anyone who believes in affordable housing.

To a member, the majority of the DPOC Central Committee supports affordable housing options throughout the county.  But where public money is involved, the party should support core values of openness, transparency, and public input/access.  We should condemn practices that encourage conflict of interest.  So the vast majority of Democratic voters does supports the work of what a community land trust does, but perhaps not how they conduct themselves or run their affairs.  How hard is it to open a door and let the public in?

The Resolutions Committee has 60 days to present a revised resolution.  I have one already drafted that’s being edited now