As an Irvine Community Services Commissioner for the past year and 10 months, my number one priority has been making sure that our children and families experience the highest quality recreation. With over 90 unique parks, Irvine has won awards for being one of the best places to live and raise a family. As a Commissioner, I am proud of the work I have done making sure that our parks live up to Irvine’s high standards.
That is why I am so proud to have voted to begin improvements to Bommer Canyon’s Cattle Camp. Bommer Canyon has been surveyed to be Irvine’s most loved and used community park space for excellent reasons. Bommer Canyon is a quintessential example of Irvine’s successful weaving of open space with world-class recreation. What was once an active cattle camp only 30 years ago is now a cherished, rustic hiking area. However, the structures have been out of code and out of ADA compliance for many years. Termites and rodents have made these structures home and there is no real restroom in this community park. I am excited to have been able to vote to approve the begging of a rehabilitation that will make this space safer, and ADA compliant, without sacrificing its rustic feel and aesthetic. I am also happy to share that I fought to make sure that the final design plans and materials will come back for approval in front of the Community Services Commission before they go to the City Council. All of the Commissioners want to make sure that we preserve the unique character of the cattle camp for residents to enjoy a true piece of Irvine’s history.
I love how Irvine’s parks are as diverse as the members of our community. During my term as a Commissioner, I have fought for park space in the Irvine Business Complex and approved several parks that met residents’ high standard in this uniquely urban-feeling space. Unfortunately, not all parks that come before the Commission have lived up to Irvine’s high standards, but rarely does the Commission vote down a park. Just this year, all five Commissioners voted not to approve a proposed park that would have been on the roof of a building, with a swimming pool and tot lot, that the public would have had to access by taking the building’s elevators. In reality, this was not a feasible park plan and putting park space on the roof is not consistent with the character of any Irvine neighborhood. It was a unanimous decision and one that the Community Services Commission made with the best interest of Irvine residents in mind.
It has been a privilege to work to make sure Irvine’s parks and recreation are of the highest quality and live up to our residents’ standards. Careful planning and sound decision-making is critical to preserve and protect Irvine’s excellent quality of life and I am proud of my work to contribute in this way.
One of my priorities when I am elected to the Irvine City Council is to make sure that Irvine residents have adequate fire services in our new villages. Recently I had the honor to join Orange County Firefighters and local residents for the Grand Opening of the Orange County Fire Authority’s Fire Station 20. The family friendly event included a ribbon cutting ceremony to kickoff the dedication held on July 19th. Guests enjoyed touring the facilities and kids got to sit inside firetrucks and meet with firefighters and paramedics.
One of the highlights of the opening event was the ceremony’s Guest of Honor, World War II Veteran Bob Blankman, 96, who was stationed at the El Toro Marine Base when it first opened in 1943. Blankman was given the opportunity of cutting the ribbon along with myself, local dignitaries, and the new Chief of OCFA, Brian Fennessy.
The location of Fire Station 20 goes way back in terms of Irvine’s military history. The 1.25 acres that make up the new facility resides where the old air station’s Officer’s Club was located and is a nod to the El Toro Marine Base. The base was built for aircraft squadron formation and trainings before going into overseas combat. The Officer’s Club was the place to be seen for social events and activities where every Friday afternoon Officers were expected to attend the club.
The base officially closed July 2nd, 1999, almost 20 years before last week’s dedication to the new station. Some of the airplanes that were home to the base and utilized in World War II can now be seen at the Great Park’s historical Hangar 244.
The new fire station is the latest addition to the Orange County Great Park in Irvine and replaces the temporary one located for years on Trabuco Road. The state-of-the-art facility is a huge welcome to the area and will help aid firefighters by providing faster response times to the growing neighborhoods and facilities surrounding the community. The station includes a 4 person truck company (Truck 20) and a battalion chief (Battalion 10) as well as a OCFA Hazardous Materials Response Team.
Fire Station 20 is OCFA’s 73rd Fire Station which services 23 cities, including the unincorporated areas of Orange County and over 1.6 million residents in its region. It’s one of four stations located at Irvine’s public parks; the other three being at Colonel Bill Barber Marine Corps Park next to Irvine City Hall, Heritage Community Park adjacent to Irvine High School and the Woollett Aquatics Center, and Windrow Community Park on Jeffrey and Barranca.
The OCFA’s customer service motto is to provide “superior services that result in no lives or property lost” which they reach “through exceptional teamwork and strong partnerships in our community.” We are proud to have them as part of the Irvine Community and serving our residents.
The station is located at 7050 Corsair in Irvine on the north side of the Great Park near the Orange County Soccer Club’s Championship Soccer Stadium. For more information on the Orange County Fire Authority visit www.ocfa.org.
The 4th of July might be Americans' favorite holiday, as we celebrate our cherished independence from the British in 1776, watch parades on Main Street, wave American flags, and enjoy firework displays. For immigrants families and communities, celebrating the 4th of July is about celebrating the promise of America, including getting a fair shot at realizing the American dream. From the foundation of this great nation, immigrants have contributed to the rich social fabric that makes this country a city on a hill and a beacon for those who seek freedom.
Each night, I hold my daughters close, grateful that this country opened its doors to my great-grandparents facing anti-semitism in Poland and pogroms in Russia and my great-great-grandparents who escaped dire poverty in Germany and Wales. Each of my relatives came to America for a better life and their bravery enabled me to raise my children safely and in prosperity in this country.
Today I reflect on my role as an American, to lend a hand to my neighbor in need, to stand up for what's right, and to make positive change in my community. We marched for detained children and families last weekend because due process is the American way. I wish you and your family a safe 4th of July. May it be a time to reflect on all that we have and to ask what we can do to help others through service in our community.
As the Co-Chair of the Irvine Children, Youth, and Families Advisory Committee, I’ve had the great pleasure to learn about the good work of an organization called the Irvine Prevention Coalition (“IPC”). IPC was founded in 1995 with a mission to support a safe and caring community through prevention strategies and services designed to encourage healthy choices.
IPC is a coalition of more than 92 civic, business, school, faith, parent, school, youth and community-based agencies who work together to support children, youth and families in Irvine. They meet regularly to coordinate school and community-based prevention and early intervention efforts. Their work focuses on alcohol, tobacco and other drug and violence prevention.
According to Wendy Bokota, IPC’s Executive Director, “The mission of the Irvine Prevention Coalition is to bring community partners together to create a safe, healthy environment for the youth of our city. And every year at our Outstanding Supporters of Prevention awards ceremony we honor individuals and groups who go above and beyond in their daily lives helping children and families in Irvine. They help us serve our mission.”
This year, IPC honored many deserving community partners at this awards ceremony. I was honored to receive their acknowledgement and look forward to supporting the wonderful work they do in our community.