The Irvine City Council voted unanimously Tuesday, Nov. 14, to sue Orange County over its plan to develop 108 acres south of the Great Park into a large residential and commercial complex.
The city’s decision came only a few hours after the county voted to finalize its plan to build 1,998 housing units, 1 million square feet of office space, 200,000 square feet of commercial space and a 242-room hotel on land it kept when it annexed the Great Park to Irvine in 2003.
Plans for the development – which the county projects could earn it upwards of $4 billion over 75 years – have caused friction between the county and city over the past year and a half.
Irvine Mayor Don Wagner, Councilwoman Christina Shea and Councilman Jeff Lalloway all have said the project would hog road capacities and prevent the city from completing the final major piece of the Great Park, which could include an amphitheater, museums, a library, a lake and a water park.
Irvine officials also contend that the project violates the 2003 pre-annexation agreement, which set aside the 108 acres for the county to use. City officials say that agreement limited the county to government or institutional uses on the land.
“The city is very disappointed by the board’s decision to proceed with this ill-conceived project in the face of so much community opposition,” Wagner said. “We are prepared to take the steps necessary to protect the rights of Irvine residents and our quality of life which are threatened by the board’s action today.”
County officials refute the city’s allegations, saying that its development will leave enough road space for the Cultural Terrace and other private developments. And while county attorneys acknowledge that a large commercial and residential development wasn’t listed as a potential use in the pre-annexation agreement, they point out that the document clearly states they are not limited to such uses and that the plot can be developed as if it were…