Irvine officials threaten lawsuits over County plans for 100 acres
Lalloway told the Orange County Register that he hopes “the county comes to its senses so we don’t have to spend a lot of money on lawyers fighting this out for years.”
At issue is a prime parcel the county received as a result of the 2003 agreement that gave the Great Park to the city of Irvine, following the closure of the former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro in 1999. A decade ago, the county said it might build government buildings on the 100 acres.
The county is on the verge of releasing documents outlining a vastly different vision for the property, including 1.9 million square feet of office space; 2,103 high density housing units; 220,000 feet of commercial space and a 242-room hotel—all of which will add considerably more daily vehicle trips to the area just east of the Irvine transit center.
The added trips are the root of the brewing feud between the city and the county and potentially Irvine’s two biggest land developers, FivePoint and the Irvine Company, both of whom own or plan to build major projects adjacent to the county property.
In September, the county announced its plans to release its development in the form of an environmental impact report.
“We have not reviewed the county’s draft EIR and until we do we won’t be able to comment specifically about the merits of their proposal,” FivePoint spokesman Steve Churm told the Register. “However, the Irvine Company, the city of Irvine and FivePoint have worked together through the city’s world-class planning process to insure that the master plan for Irvine is respected and maintained.”
County officials contend the 2003 agreement does not limit development on the 100 acres to only government buildings. Moreover, they contend language in the deal allows them to build whatever they want. By one estimate, the county stands to earn more than $4 billion over 75 years from the plan put forth in their forthcoming EIR.
But Lalloway and County Supervisor Todd Spitzer have sharply criticized the county for going beyond the spirit of the agreement and potentially harming the existing plans for the area. In a statement to the Register, Spitzer called the county’s project “selfish...to the determent of others.”
Lalloway went further in his remarks to the paper, saying “no one ever contemplated residential or commercial” uses for the property. He even warned that the proposed project will prevent the city from developing the Great Park and its planned cultural terrace, the park’s centerpiece with a possible library, lake, museums, an amphitheater and outdoor festival space.