The Threat to our Local Democracy
Irvine’s local democracy is under attack by well-funded special interests. Irvine’s elected officials, whose campaigns were supported and funded by special interests, prioritize their funders’ interests over the concerns of Irvine residents once elected.
There is a place for special interest groups in our society—particularly when the actions of special interest groups are transparent in their advocacy and their funding activity is clearly reported. However, we have become accustomed to the disproportionate and undue influence of a handful of well-funded Political Action Committees operating under ambiguous or misleading names.
It is time we take back our city and put the power back into the hands of the community.
It has never been more important for Irvine voters to elect truly independent candidates. My priority is and always will be for my neighbors, you, the residents of this city.
All American Asphalt
- Asphalt factory emissions and odors have prevented residents in North Irvine from opening their windows, going on walks, and letting their kids play outside.
- Nearby residents and schools are affected by this contaminated air, resulting in complaints of headaches and other physical ailments.
- Despite multiple requests to address this public health concern, Mayor Khan refused to hold a public hearing on this issue for the first year and a half of becoming Mayor.
Solution: As Mayor, I will lead the effort to relocate the All American Asphalt plant and make sure the residents are included in the process of achieving a solution. Though the asphalt plant existed before the nearby homes were built, the current situation warrants the relocation of the plant to protect the health of our neighbors and families and to improve the quality of air.
- The ARDA site has been a highly contested battleground for a Veterans Memorial Park and Cemetery in our city for nearly a decade.
- In 2014, the Irvine City Council unanimously approved building a Veterans Memorial Park and Cemetery at the ARDA site.
- The old leadership at Fivepoint failed to inform their homebuyers about the city’s plans for a veterans cemetery at ARDA.
- Now, there are over 6,000 homes built in the Great Park Neighborhoods with thousands of residents driving past the desolate ARDA site daily.
- In 2020, Mayor Khan supported the Veterans Memorial Park and Cemetery in Irvine, and she even adopted an initiative that designated ARDA as the site location for it. However, soon after being elected, Mayor Khan voted to move the location to Anaheim Hills.
- This year, the state recognized the Gypsum Canyon as a possible alternative site for the veterans cemetery, resulting in a pending two year feasibility study by CalVet.
Solution: As Mayor, I would be dedicated to beautifying the ARDA land with a park including open space, tree-lined walking trails, botanical garden, and a forest. These elements will help balance the density of homes and encourage the nearby residents to connect with nature and recreate outdoors.
In addition, a Memorial Park for the veterans who served at El Toro MCAS would ensure that future generations would always be able to reflect on the significance and history of the site — a tribute to our veterans for their sacrifices.
Climate Action Plan
- In June of 2021, the Irvine City Council voted to spend $450,000 on a Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP).
- The $450,000 proposal was to be completed before June 2022.
- As of now, only 1 out of 7 items for the CAAP have been made public or completed.
- Other cities in our region have created CAAPs in a single year.
Solution: As Mayor, I will support moving steadily towards reducing carbon emissions to ensure that Irvine delivers on its climate promises. I will set deadlines for deliverables, ensure city staff have all the resources they need, and provide updates for the public along the way. By doing so, we act to protect families from the dangerous impacts of climate change and reduce the pollution that’s causing it.
- Irvine had a Cultural Arts Committee years ago.
- The Committee examined ways to encourage and enhance the arts in Irvine.
- Irvine has exceptional talent in every genre of the arts, especially from our student population.
Solution: As Mayor, I will bring back a focus and grow the arts here in Irvine, whether it be outdoor art exhibitions, community performance groups, art/music festivals. As a music performance major who got started here in our IUSD public schools, I hold a deep appreciation for the arts. The arts cross cultural boundaries and are the soul of a community.
- Among the 16 largest cities in California, Irvine is the only one still using at-large elections, meaning all Irvine voters elect all 5 city councilmembers citywide.
- The current system does not obligate any Councilmember to be answerable to any particular neighborhoods. For example, the residents in the neighborhoods of Orchard Hills, Eastwood, and Northwood were denied a public hearing regarding toxic emissions from the asphalt plant. Considering that no councilmember lives in any of those neighborhoods or is obligated to address the concerns of those neighborhoods, their requests went unheeded.
- The at-large system makes running a viable campaign cost-prohibitive for people who lack major funding from corporate donors, political action committees, or labor unions.
- While political ads funded by special interest groups have totaled over $1 million in Irvine elections, the average Irvine City Council candidate fundraised less than $40,000, according to the City of Irvine campaign finance disclosure portal.
Solution: As Mayor, I would favor district elections so that every candidate is afforded a fair and equal chance of serving Irvine. District elections would divide the city into geographic districts, allowing candidates to reach all voters within the district where they run without the need for a considerable amount of special interest money. I believe district elections and expanding the size of the City Council belong together and are both needed to increase representation. I support placing both issues on the November 2024 ballot, for the voters to decide.
Expanding City Council
- Irvine residents are the least represented in Orange County.
- Irvine residents are the least represented in the state among mid-sized cities.
- Residents in OC cities, on average, have one council member per 16,466 residents.
- Irvine has only one representative for every 62,050 residents.
- Irvine (316,000 residents) is the largest city in California represented by only five city council members.
- Smaller neighboring cities, such as Newport Beach (84,000 residents) and Costa Mesa (111,000 residents), have expanded their councils to seven members to increase democratic representation.
- Despite supporting Council expansion in 2020, Mayor Khan voted against giving Irvine voters the power to decide on expanding the size of the City Council.
Solution: As Mayor, I will support a ballot measure to increase the size of the City Council to better address all the needs of our rapidly growing city and increase representation for all our residents. I believe district elections and expanding the size of the City Council belong together. I support placing both issues on the November 2024 ballot, for the voters to decide..
Great Park Board
- The Great Park Board was established in 2003 consisting of five Councilmembers and four at-large members from the community.
- In 2013, the four at-large members were removed.
- Over 6,000 homes have now been built in the Great Park with new residents moving in each week.
- When running for office in 2020, Mayor Khan answered YES to the following:
- Will you support the formation of a Great Park Advisory Committee, consisting of Great Park residents and other community members, to provide input on future Great Park development projects?
- Should Great Park residents be part of the decision-making process on Great Park development projects?
Yet no official advisory committee has been created. The Great Park residents deserve representation for their Great Park CFD special taxation.
Solution: As Mayor, I will create a Great Park Advisory Committee, not a temporary Task Force, using an open application system to provide equal opportunities for all Great Park CFD taxpayers. Currently, members and commissioners are appointed, making them vulnerable to undue influence and politicization. Those who serve the city should be free to do what is in the best interest of our community, not the interests of those who appointed them.
In addition, I will advocate to give CFD special taxpayers voting rights on the Great Park Board.
Great Park Special Tax
- Great Park and Altair residents pay into the Great Park Special Tax.
- Despite multiple requests from the community for answers, Mayor Khan has failed to advocate for this issue and provide basic answers the taxpayers deserve.
- The taxpayers still do not know how much money is coming in, what the money is being spent on, or what these tax paying residents are getting out of these taxes.
Solution: As Mayor, I will investigate where the tax dollars are being deposited, who is overseeing it, how much money is being generated, what the money is being spent on, and share this information with the residents who are paying the taxes. I will partner with residents and city staff to ensure community members are involved in how their tax dollars are utilized. We need fiscal transparency.
- California is in a housing crisis and under state law, each city is required to build much needed affordable housing.
- In 2021, Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) required Irvine to plan for an additional 23,610 homes over the next 8 years.
- We need more housing to accommodate a robust workforce to ensure a thriving business community.
- Irvine is one of the nation’s fastest growing cities, but in recent years, the city has strayed from the responsible “Master Plan” concept behind the country’s most successful communities.
- The Great Park has no master plan and the piecemeal development has resulted in what will be a total of 10,556 homes in the Great Park Neighborhoods without any site for local retail.
Solution: We must return to the thoughtful and deliberate approach to land use decisions of the past to protect the quality of life Irvine is known for, especially given Irvine’s RHNA requirement of 23,610 homes. We need well-planned housing with the added density near transit hubs in the Irvine Business Complex and the Spectrum.
For existing neighborhoods, I am committed to maintaining the village concept.
- Irvine’s population has quadrupled since I was a child yet we still have the same number of libraries.
- Irvine has $28 million designated for library services and renovation set aside by the county. This money was saved from our property taxes over the years.
- Heritage Park Library has the highest circulation in the county and is outdated.
Solution: As Mayor, I will utilize the $28 million and partner with County and State officials to build a modern library in the Great Park and update the Heritage Park Library. Modern features such as study rooms with audio-visual capabilities, a culinary literacy space, conference rooms for group projects. Libraries are an important staple in our community.
This is an issue that candidates have campaigned on over the years and failed to deliver on. We need community-focused leadership to fulfill a need for gathering places, shared state-of-the-art technology, and opportunities for all ages and incomes to enhance learning.
Orange County Power Authority
- Irvine pioneered the OCPA to provide energy from renewable sources to participating cities.
- The OCPA was entirely subsidized by Irvine taxpayers alone.
- The Power Authority has been mismanaged since its inception.
- Mayor Khan sits on the Board as a representative of the city of Irvine and voted to hire an unqualified CEO who had no energy sector experience, no college degree, and a history of unethical conduct.
- Under this CEO’s watch, the Power Authority failed to meet key deadlines for purchasing power, resulting in millions of dollars in fines, and caused the sudden resignation of the Chief Operating Officer, the only qualified executive at the time.
Solution: As Mayor, I will champion a revision to the Joint Powers Agreement to change the terms of representatives on the Board. As it stands right now, an individual can remain on the Board for a four year term regardless if they are in elected office. We need to replace the two Irvine representatives on the OCPA Board. It is also imperative that the Board hire a qualified CEO so that we can put the community back in our community choice energy program.
- Irvine is known for its beautiful parks but only 50% of play equipment is shaded, not including sandboxes, leaving them under-utilized during midday hours due to hot playground equipment and exposure to harmful UV rays.
- Our sports fields also need more shade coverage for spectators.
Solution: As Mayor, I will champion the installation of additional shade structures at each of Irvine’s community parks through our capital improvement budget, allowing children and families to enjoy our wonderful parks safely at all hours of the day.
- Irvine has been ranked as one of safest cities in America for 15 consecutive years thanks to the efforts of the public safety department. This has made Irvine one of the most desirable places to live in the country.
- Maintaining our sense of security has become more challenging as our city continues to build out.
- Our officer-to-resident ratio is already below the national average and will continue to diminish as our population grows.
Solutions: As Mayor, I will work with the Police Chief to provide regular public safety briefings and address resident concerns and crime trends in the city. Only through an active civic partnership can we uphold and build on Irvine’s reputation as one of the “Safest Cities in America.”
I strongly support the IPD’s emphasis on community-based policing and will partner with them to reinforce techniques of de-escalation and crisis intervention to promote safe encounters between our loved ones and law enforcement. I am also committed to ensuring that the IPD and first responders have the resources they need to carry out crime prevention strategies while strengthening the public’s trust.
A grassroots way to increase safety is through Irvine’s Neighborhood Watch Program. It’s a great way to get to know your neighbors and stay in communication with each other to help keep watch of your street/neighborhood. The city will then install a sign for you. I worked to get one installed for my neighborhood in Cypress Village!
Traffic / Active Transportation
- Irvine’s trademark villages were designed so families could walk and bike to places where they live, work and play. This is good for climate, health, and clean air.
- Traffic along Sand Canyon, Jamboree and Irvine Blvd have become increasingly worse. Adding to concerns about congestion is the anticipated growth in the Irvine Business Complex and the Spectrum areas.
- Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Irvine, but by ensuring Irvine builds housing close to schools, jobs, retail, and parks, all Irvine residents can have easy, healthy access to life’s essentials nearby, limiting driving with options to walk or bike.
Solution: We must return to the smart and responsible approach to land use decisions to protect our quality of life and protect our environment as we continue to build out. To encourage use of active transportation, we must build and plan for more protected bike lanes. Irvine’s population is now over 310,000, which means that roads, walkways, protected bicycle lanes and bus frequency must increase to accommodate safe and efficient traffic flow and alleviate traffic and parking issues.
The use of advanced technology will allow for efficient and safe pedestrian, bicycle, and motor vehicle transportation. Funding traffic mitigation measures will be increasingly important as we plan and anticipate our city’s growth.