Harmful Irvine population growth

UNDER+CONSTRUCTION%3A+Rising+population+growth+in+Irvine+poses+challenges+to+resident+satisfaction+in+the+future.

Matthew Dimaandal

UNDER CONSTRUCTION: Rising population growth in Irvine poses challenges to resident satisfaction in the future.

Rachel Yokota, Staff Writer

Public comments begin at 5:50.

For half a century, Irvine has taken pride in sustaining its master-planned city structure and providing excellent services for its citizens. The city’s clean and safe reputation gave rise to a burst in population growth, and within 10 years, Irvine grew by 45% and gained about 100,000 new citizens. To city officials’ delight, this has landed Irvine a spot among the top 10 fastest growing cities in the United States. City officials continue to welcome this growth, yet overlook the fact that Irvine cannot deliver full satisfaction to these new residents.
As it stands, Irvine’s infrastructure can handle the population growth. In fact, Irvine was originally built with the intent of housing 430,000 citizens by 2001, as reported by the Irvine Standard. Since Irvine has just around 307,000 citizens as of late 2021, it is safe to say that Irvine is equipped for this growth.
“Irvine aspires to be the safest, smartest, greenest city in America,” said Larry Agran, a City Council member and former mayor, to the LA Times. “It creates an amazing platform that attracts people here.”
However, Irvine seems to consistently struggle to address the individual concerns of residents as the city has a history of inefficient and slow communication between its officials and citizens. For instance, the OC Register reports that the city council has allowed over 700 complaints about fumes surrounding an asphalt plant to pile up since 2019 and only began considering taking action last month. Irvine also implemented special property taxes for residents in the Great Park area to pay for the construction of the Great Park for years. This was done without considering input from the people, which sparked immense public disapproval. Irvine continues to put effort into projects aimed toward enticing potential new residents, such as the new Orchard Hills community or the Great Park. But when the city plans for the future like this, they completely miss the issues at their roots. If Irvine is barely satisfying its current residents, how can the city expect to accommodate the needs of new residents?
These mistakes are catching up with the city. On Oct. 21, the Irvine City Council led a meeting meant to approve the development of a new neighborhood near the asphalt plant, in the area of Portola Parkway and Jeffrey. However, this decision was postponed due to displeased Irvine residents holding down the meeting with over 4 hours of public comments in a remarkable turnout.
These public comments included videos, photos and detailed presentations created by residents to present to the council. The Irvine City Planning Commission ultimately voted 3-2 to delay the decision to Nov. 4.
While not all council members are listening to the overwhelming voice of residents, fortunately, Irvine is still planning to address other resident issues. Community tax disclosures in the Great Park area are scheduled to be reevaluated and the city is asking for resident input on a revised blueprint for the Great Park. Additionally, Irvine has existing programs which allow city officials to hear feedback from students and residents such as the Green Ribbon Environmental Committee; however, this does not excuse the fact that it took Irvine years to address these issues. None of these amendments matter if Irvine cannot ensure that consistent attention is given to residents’ perspectives in future decisions.
Undeniably, Irvine will be forced to confront their lack of consideration towards residents in the near future. Citizens are growing restless and are demanding change from the city. Whether or not Irvine can adapt to meet these resident expectations is completely up to city officials, but the fate of future residents rests upon this decision.