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Irvine City Council put the squeeze on UCI students in desperate need of affordable housing

Irvine City Council put the squeeze on UCI students in desperate need of affordable housing
According to UC Irvine, 13,968 students are housed on campus and an additional 2,400 live in the adjacent University Town Center. (File Photo / AP)

On March 12, the Irvine City Council voted 4-1 to effectively criminalize the living arrangements of thousands students and other Irvine residents by making many shared-space living arrangements subject to being designated by city ordinance to be a “boarding house.”

If those living under the same roof are not the “functional equivalent of a family,” the living arrangement requires the non-trivial process of getting a conditional use permit, even if they are on the same lease. And what happens to roommates and others in similar situations who do not get this permit? They are breaking the law, can be fined and subject to eviction.

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This new ordinance would not only apply to the thousands of roommate situations that UC Irvine students and others have to arrange in order to afford living in Irvine, but also to many others, including retired homeowners who have to rent a room in order to help defray expenses, as well as university faculty who may rent a room to a visiting scholar.

The council heard from about 40 students and others who this would directly affect. However, four council members continued to see no issue and did not move to amend the ordinance to protect these thousands of residents.

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City staff and the council has heard from many homeowners who see parking limitations and infractions and other disturbances from homes with many residents. However, this needs to be addressed by enforcing other ordinances that protect the neighborhood, as correctly addressed by the single dissenting council member on the ordinance as it is written, Melissa Fox.

This ordinance is still not passed, as this was the first of two votes it requires, therefore I urge you to contact your council members to amend the ordinance to not criminalize our students and retired seniors. They must work more closely with our campus administrators, faculty and Associated Students to not pass such a drastic ordinance.

Another California city with a large UC campus regulates boarding houses differently: Berkeley defines a boarding house to be that where both “lodging and meals” are provided to “five or more persons” for compensation. That seems much more reasonable and that reasonableness we should demand from our elected city council members and mayor.

Kev Abazajian

Professor of Physics & Astronomy, UC Irvine

Irvine

Response to death was atypical

Re “Source of great county stories has one of her own,” (Feb. 4): Many people respond to the loss of loved ones by sealing off their memories, as Jill Lloyd’s father evidently did. I’d simply like to add this isn’t a Christian Scientist’s normal response to grief.

One’s first response, as a Christian Scientist once wrote, may be “to feel the very heavens should open and weep ...” But that doesn’t close the story, as the article itself shows. God’s love and grace heal the heart in surprising ways. Those we’ve loved are cherished all the more for what they have given, not forgotten or their lives denied.

For Christian Scientists, the humanity expressed by Jesus is the model for living. Rather than glossing over death or the new life seen in his resurrection, it is the practical following of his teachings — loving others, humility, and gentleness opens the door for true healing here and now.

Anne Cooling

Christian Science Committee on Publication for Southern California

Aliso Viejo

Foundation shows next generation’s promise

Our future is bright. Kudos to the Newport Beach Foundation and the young men and women it believes will be the next generation of leaders (“The Crowd: Newport Beach Foundation prepares the next generation to lead,” March 11). I am so glad the tradition of encouraging new talent is alive and well.

Back in 1983, when I was a development consultant to the then-Newport Harbor Art Museum, I urged the trustees to create the Contemporary Club, a new support group of thirtysomething Baby Boomers. At first the trustees balked, but eventually embraced the idea of welcoming new blood, new ideas and new money. Not too long afterwards, one of the club members was invited to join the museum's leadership team.

Two years later, as the Performing Arts Center was coming out of the ground in Costa Mesa, I was asked to help create another group of young professionals. A few of the museum’s newest donors joined Center 500, but most of its members were unknowns at the time. By my count, at least six members of Center 500 went on to become board members of the Arts Center and its affiliated venues.

South County is full of interesting, dynamic and successful young professionals. Individually, their backgrounds and experiences are noteworthy; collectively, they are unstoppable. Thanks to the Newport Beach Foundation, this seventysomething father of three knows our future is bright.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

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Dick Dale, Greg Topper will be missed

Greg Topper, an Orange County entertainer, sadly passed away recently. Topper appeared at numerous venues throughout the O.C. over the years, providing his brand of rock ‘n’ roll, sometimes surprising his audiences with famous guest entertainers. One night at the old Airporter Inn across from John Wayne Airport, Topper was doing his thing and all of a sudden announced he had a surprise guest, who turned out to be Dick Dale, which caught the crowd off-guard and resulted in cheers, applause and musical mayhem beyond comprehension. The two obviously loved to entertain and did so for many years. Sadly both passed away within a week of each other. Their presence and talent will be missed by their fans, friends and family.

Bill Spitalnick

Newport Beach

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Water district should adhere to ruling and pay its bills

As current and past water board members, mayors and city council members, we have served the South Orange County community for decades. Today, we are writing to implore the Moulton Niguel Water District to pay its bills and put South Orange County residents first (“Water district is obligated to pay its share of costs for Laguna wastewater treatment plant until 2030, judge says,” Feb. 28).

This is now imperative following a Superior Court judge’s Feb. 26 ruling that the water district is “legally obligated” to pay its bills for a wastewater plant located in Laguna Niguel. The ruling came after the three other contractual partners at the facility were forced to sue Moulton Niguel to recover more than $2 million of past-due invoices dating back to 2016.

We believe that there is no more sacred duty in government than fulfilling contractual obligations. In fact, we cannot recall ever seeing a local municipality refuse to pay its bills.

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For its part, Moulton Niguel has said it wants to save money. But it has likely spent millions of ratepayer dollars in legal fees fighting its past-due bills. If it appeals or prolongs the legal proceedings, it will spend significantly more. It’s also likely to be on the hook to pay the legal bills of the plaintiffs.

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In short, Moulton Niguel is throwing good ratepayer money after bad. Moulton Niguel has taken this issue far enough. In the end, continuing this effort will only cost South County residents more money. It has divided the local community and compromised operations at a key public health and environmental protection infrastructure facility.

The courts have ruled decisively that Moulton Niguel must uphold its legal obligations. There is no ambiguity about this matter. A contract is a contract. It is time for Moulton Niguel to pay its bills.

Megan Yoo-Schneider

Board member, Municipal Water District of Orange County, District 7

Frank Ury

Former mayor, Mission Viejo

Phil Tsunoda

Former mayor, Aliso Viejo

Joel Bishop

Former mayor, Dana Point

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