February News and Notes
The high rankings keep on coming, as Irvine’s national profile and reputation for excellence in a myriad of areas continues to grow (see stories in this issue about our stellar fiscal ranking and Irvine’s healthy lifestyle). Other recent recognition includes Sunset magazine adding Irvine to its list of “20 Western Dream Towns,” along with places like Boise, Provo and Scottsdale. GoodCall.com named Irvine the 9th safest big city in which to raise a family out of the 80 largest cities in the U.S. The data-driven site’s analysts looked at four metrics: crime rate, vehicle safety, air quality and educational attainment. Irvine ranked No. 1 for both high school- and college-education rates and No. 1 for lowest crime rate, while vehicle safety rate was 9th. Irvine likely would have been No. 1 overall on the list but for less-than-stellar air quality: Irvine’s ranking was a sort-of-scary #72. (goodcall.com/data-center/safest-cities-raise-family-2017) Locally, the editor of the OC Weekly included “The Idea of Irvine as Dull” in his story about “people, businesses, stereotypes and ideas that held us down for too long, influenced us negatively and are now going the way of Sears, letting Orange County become a better place.” The amusing blurb about Irvine cited the city’s diverse population, shopping and dining choices, while ending with this line: “A friend who has been away from OC for about 15 years put it best when he recently returned to UC Irvine: ‘What the hell happened to Irvine? THANK GOD.’”
Irvine’s new mayor, Donald Wagner, will give his opinion about Irvine’s status in his State of the City Address at the Irvine Civic Center on Feb. 14. The Valentine’s Day date should be apropos, as there’s a lot to love about living in Irvine. If his first few city council sessions are an example, we expect Wagner’s speech to be informative, engaging and probably funny at times, while still laying out the many challenges facing the city (maybe we need to take a look at those air quality numbers, for one). The event begins with a reception at 5 p.m., followed by the mayor’s address at 6 p.m. The event is open to the public. Call 949.724.6077 for more information.
Borrowing from Brea
We don’t get up to Brea a lot. Though we do enjoy the revitalized downtown in the city, when TAPS Fish House and Brewery opened in Irvine a year and a half ago there was one less reason to make the trek up the 57 Freeway. With the recent news that Cha Cha’s Latin Kitchen will join TAPS at the Irvine Marketplace near Irvine Ave., replacing IHOP, we’ll have another of Brea’s best restaurants in our city. Cha Cha’s features Mexican and Latin American cooking in a contemporary style (don’t miss the Guajillo Braised Short Rib Enchiladas served open-faced with Pasilla chiles), and is well known for its happening Happy Hour, including well-made Margaritas featuring fresh juices and house-made infusions. Now if we could only get Lillie’s Q (the gourmet barbecue restaurant that’s currently closed due to construction) to move to Irvine, we’d truly have the best of Brea.