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DECEMBER 2017 DINING

ART AND CULTURE

EDUCATION

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With a stunning new gift the center of California art has shifted to UCI page 6

The State of the District event shows how IUSD excels at education page 10

The bakery at Habana is a sweet new spot for a.m. treats

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CALL OF DUTY

Affordable apartment communities open in Irvine FAMILY-FRIENDLY AND AFFORDABLE HOUSING IS CELEBRATED AT GREAT PARK NEIGHBORHOODS

COMMUNITY SALUTES THE FLAG AND HONORS VETERANS AT THE SITE OF THE NEW CEMETERY IN IRVINE

FEATURE

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FEATURE

by Irvine City News staff

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by Irvine City News staff

hanks to two new affordable housing communities nestled within the Great Park Neighborhoods, Irvine’s newest residents include 166 families who otherwise might not be able to afford to live in the city. A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the affordable housing neighborhoods named Luminaira and Espaira was held on Oct. 27, drawing representatives of the coalition of housing advocates, developers, nonprofits, designers, and landowners that made the much-needed units possible. One of the speakers at the ceremony was a resident of the community, Wijdan Abbas,

ilitary veterans, civic leaders and distinguished guests stood at attention as an American flag was raised high to fly over pristine Irvine strawberry fields under a brilliant blue sky. It was the culmination of an emotional ceremony and celebration held on the land where the Southern California Veterans cemetery will be located, on part of the former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro near the junction of the 5 and 405 freeways. “These flags will wave in perpetuity to Orange County’s heroes,” said Bill Cook, chairman of the Orange County Veterans Memorial Foundation, who led the long campaign to have a CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 >>

CONTINUED ON PAGE 4 >> HONOR GUARD PRESENTS THE COLORS AT THE DEDICATION OF THE VETERANS CEMETERY SITE IN IRVINE


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“DUTY” FROM PAGE 1

Publisher’s Note

TIME FOR CHEER

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he holidays have taken me by surprise this year. As I write this Christmas decorations have already been up for a month or more. When did the end of October mark the start of the celebration? I blame the 1993 Tim Burton film “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” which conflated the two holidays in the minds of a generation of impressionable filmgoers, not to mention Disneyland fans, that have ridden the Jack Skellingtonthemed Haunted Mansion makeover since 2001. I don’t mind the early decorations, or the commerce that at least partially inspires it. I’ve even bought a few gifts already, which is ambitous for me. This year has been divisive, both nationally and in Irvine, and I’m ready for a break. So bring on the giving of thanks, the first candle of the festival of lights, the tidings of comfort and joy, and

the auld lang syne. I look forward to second helpings of turkey and a third glass of wine; to a bustling Spectrum Center filled with holiday shoppers on a Sunday afternoon; to Nutcracker performances; and to snow at City Hall for Winter Wonderland. We at ICN can’t wait for menorah lighting and hanging stockings with care. New Year’s Eve will find me snug in my bed well before midnight, ready for a long winter’s nap. Irvine citizens celebrate a variety of faiths and family traditions. Whatever you and yours celebrate, we hope you have a wonderful month. Chag Urim Sameach, Merry Christmas, Joyous Kwanzaa, Happy Holidays. We’ll be back in January with a look back at the year that was, and a look forward to 2018. n

veterans cemetery on the former MCAS base. “The veterans of Orange County chose to protect the nation and our freedoms— with some making the ultimate sacrifice for our country. With this Southern California Veterans Memorial Park, we can thank them by offering a final resting place right here in their own community and providing a daily reminder to all of us of the price of freedom.” Local, state and federal officials joined veteran’s groups and invited guests at the 125acre site to dedicate what will be Orange County’s first veterans cemetery. The Orange County Veterans Memorial Park Foundation, the city of Irvine and FivePoint’s partnership (Heritage Fields El Toro, LLC) hosted the flag-raising ceremony for the Southern California Veterans Cemetery on 125 acres near the Orange County Great Park. The ceremony opened as the 300 invited guests gazed into the sky to witness a fly-over featuring a squadron of World War II-era aircraft. The planes circled the former base where thousands of Marines flew off to fight for their country overseas, many never to return. The pilots

maneuvered their planes into the “missing man formation,” an aerial salute to the veterans gathered at the ceremony, to those many thousands who will be buried at the site, and to those who never returned from their service overseas. Irvine Mayor Donald Wagner led the event, which drew veterans and invited guests who at times saluted several speakers who came to thank the servicemen and servicewomen everywhere for their service. “This is a milestone for all Orange County residents and especially our veterans and their families, who have championed for this cemetery for years,” Mayor Wagner said. “The city of Irvine is grateful for their service and is committed to housing a memorial park that will honor their service and sacrifices.” Irvine City Councilmember Christina Shea recounted the history of the effort to locate a veterans cemetery on the MCAS El Toro base, an effort led by Vietnam veteran Bill Cook. Orange County veterans have long wanted a cemetery in Orange County; currently, the closest veterans cemeteries are in Riverside and San Diego counties. With the closure

“THIS IS A MILESTONE FOR ALL ORANGE COUNTY RESIDENTS AND ESPECIALLY OUR VETERANS AND THEIR FAMILIES, WHO HAVE CHAMPIONED FOR THIS CEMETERY FOR YEARS.” —Irvine Mayor Donald Wagner

of MCAS El Toro in 1999, the veterans worked tirelessly to have the cemetery located on the former base. Their mission moved closer to becoming a reality in September when the Irvine City Council approved a land-exchange proposal put forth by the Orange County Veterans Memorial Park Foundation and the FivePoint partnership. The city’s agreement with FivePoint to exchange a former site for the cemetery for the strawberry fields land accelerates the construction timeline to create the cemetery. State veterans officials at CONTINUED ON PAGE 3 >>

Jacob Levy

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AGRAN SUES OVER CEMETERY Despite unprecedented bi-partisan support among state and local officials as well as Veterans groups for locating the future Veterans Cemetery at the site called the “strawberry fields,” former Irvine Mayor Larry Agran continues to spend taxpayer dollars to overturn the city council’s decision to relocate the long-awaited cemetery to the 125-acre site. An Agran-backed effort to qualify a ballot measure that would essentially return the cemetery to its original site near schools and homes near Irvine Boulevard north of the Orange County Great Park is now in the hands of Orange County officials. Agran helped lead a signature-gathering drive to qualify the measure for next year’s general election ballot and the registrar of voters is now working to verify the group did indeed capture enough valid signatures. The city must pay the registrar of voters $3.40 per signature for verification. On a second front, Agran and two others have sued the city to overturn the council’s decision in favor of the cemetery land swap. Agran and the other plantiffs argue the agreement to swap parcels should be nullified because the council failed to take appropriate steps in reaching that decision on Sept. 26. Proponents of the cemetery and the strawberry fields site say that Agran’s actions could delay construction of the cemetery for years. Irvine Mayor Don Wagner sharply criticized Agran’s actions telling the Orange County Register, “They are just trying to slow (the cemetery) down...Larry’s just making up problems.” FivePoint CEO Emile Haddad told the paper, “It’s very unfortunate for Larry and others to be using the veterans as a political tool.” FivePoint was also named in Agran’s lawsuit. n

IRVINE MAYOR DON WAGNER SPEAKS AT THE VETERANS CEMETERY CEREMONY “DUTY” FROM PAGE 2

CalVet estimated it would have taken $77 million to demolish the many buildings and prepare the former site for a cemetery. Moving the site to the undeveloped strawberry fields will save OC and California taxpayers more than $50 million for the cemetery’s first phase. Construction at the site could begin as early as October 2018. “We’re honored to be part of this long-overdue dedication to the local men and women who served their country with valor and honor,” said Emile Haddad, FivePoint chairman and CEO. “Thanks to the vision and persistence of the Orange County Veterans Memorial Park Foundation, our service members and their families soon will

have a thoughtfully-planned local memorial site that forever conveys the community’s deepest gratitude.” Haddad, Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva and Irvine City Councilmember Melissa Fox, who spoke movingly of her father’s and family’s service in the Korean conflict, received the most enthusiastic reception from the veterans, with many standing to salute each as they spoke. There was much patriotism and limited politics at the event, with several speakers mentioning the bipartisan nature of the support for the veterans cemetery at all levels of government. Some speakers alluded to a faction in Irvine seeking to delay and damage the effort to establish the veterans cemetery by returning it

to the $77 million site. As the veterans, many elderly, rose to pledge allegiance to the American flag as it was raised over the site where they wish to be buried, the effort to deny and delay their dream of a veterans cemetery seemed even more demeaned and disingenuous. Others who spoke during the ceremony included Orange County Supervisors Michele Steel and Todd Spitzer; Quirk-Silva and Assemblyman Steven Choi; State Senator Janet Nguyen; and U.S. Representatives Lou Correa and Dana Rohrabacher. All expressed their gratitude to Orange County service members and congratulated the man who worked over decades to make the dream of an Orange County site

where the brave men and women of the U.S. military could find a final resting place. A 21-gun salute by a local American Legion color guard troop capped the series of moving speeches honoring America’s servicemen and servicewomen, including an estimated 132,000 veterans who live in Orange County. As the U.S. flag was raised, it flew above and beside the California state flag and flags representing each of the five branches of the United States Armed Forces. As a bagpiper played the hymns of the five service branches—Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Marine Corps— veterans stood and cheered, while many civilians looking on wiped away tears. n


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EXTERIORS OF THE AFFORDABLE HOUSING COMMUNITIES ARE DESIGNED TO NOT LOOK DIFFERENT THAN THE SURROUNDING HOUSING AT GREAT PARK NEIGHBORHOODS. “APARTMENT” FROM PAGE 1

who described the moment she was notified that she, her husband and four young sons would be moving into the family’s new Irvine apartment. “I was honestly happier to receive this congratulation call than I was for my college admission.” Abbas, a stay-at-home mother who came to the U.S. 13 years ago, told the audience that the community “was a dream come true” for she and her husband, Mehdi, a linguist working with the U.S. Marine Corps. “This meant my boys would continue to go to their schools, be with their

friends, and best of all receive the excellent education provided by the Irvine school district.” She explained that her family had lived in Irvine previously, enough time to “fall in love with the city, its people, schools, and organizations. However everything had its price and after seven years we were not able to continue living in this wonderful city without a miracle, affordable housing.” “I am proud to be part of your community,” she concluded, “and look forward to all the memories we will have in our spacious and beautiful new home.” Irvine Mayor Don Wagner

told the ribbon-cutting audience that, “This project allows for us to strengthen our community by bringing into it folks who might otherwise not have the opportunity to be here ... to build their lives, to build their families, put their kids through our wonderful school system, and help enrich the fabric of this community.” The two communities are developed by FivePoint, Related California and Riverside Charitable and sit on 5.35 acres within the Great Park Neighborhoods. The new affordable apartments join Solaira at Pavilion Park, a nearby affordable housing

community for adults 55 and older, also part of the Great Park Neighborhoods. The affordable developments are designed to not be separate from the market-rate housing next door, neither aesthetically, geographically or socially. “It’s high quality housing for families,” said Bill Witte, chairman and CEO of Related California. “It doesn’t read as affordable housing.” The communities include pools, playgrounds, a barbeque and picnic pavilion, and dog run. There’s a 4,000-square-foot leasing and social services center that

includes a kitchen, media room, computer center, mailroom and play area. On-site services will include after school programs and educational classes. The two- and three-bedroom apartments at the 82-unit Luminaira are all leased, while those at 84-unit Espaira will be occupied at the end of the year. Residents must earn less than 50 percent of the median income in Orange County to qualify for the units, the rents for which range from $657 to $1,029 per month. The need for affordable housing in Irvine is acute. The CONTINUED ON PAGE 5 >>


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“APARTMENT” FROM PAGE 4

median income in the area is $85,000, and affordable monthly rent at that income is $2,125 per month, according to a National Low Income Housing Coalition (nlihc.org) report. Individuals making 30 percent of the median income can only afford $638 monthly rent in Orange County. In Irvine, nearly half of the total households or 39,332 are renters. Of that, 3,000 units or 13 percent are affordable, according to city statistics. The children who live at Luminaira and Espaira attend Beacon Park School for grades K-8, and Portola High School, neighborhood schools that opened in 2016. “On the first day of school this year we provided backpacks for over a hundred children that are currently living here, as they walked across the street to go to school,” said Lynn Jochim, FivePoint executive vice president. “We’re going to watch them walk across the street and go to the great Sports Park that opened its first phase this summer and perhaps to walk across the street to their first job when we open our first retail center. And we’ll continue to watch

them become leaders and members of our community.” “That’s our job, once the families are settled, to work on the education component,” said Allen Baldwin, who served as executive director of the Orange County Community Housing Corp. for 35 years. “To make sure all the kids get to college and complete college, so they can stand at this microphone later on and talk about what they’ve built and what they’ve developed.” Other speakers at the event included Liane Takano, Related’s Senior VP in charge of the affordable housing projects; Ken Robertson of Riverside Charitable Corporation; and Craig Gillette, president of LifeSTEPS, the social services provider for the residents. The speakers described the dedication and vision of numerous individuals, nonprofits and businesses over almost two decades. “Yesterday, we celebrated the 40th anniversary of Orange County Community Housing Corp., a voice of affordable housing in Orange County,” Bill Witte said. “And 20 years ago, they and a consortium of nonprofits who are here today, had a vision when

the El Toro base was declared surplus to include affordable housing as part of a vibrant, mixed income community.” The coalition joined forces as El Toro Housing Initiative Collaboration (or ETHIC) Housing Trust. “We started in 1995, working with all the shelters and other nonprofits in Orange County to try to keep this as visible as possible, so the mission wouldn’t be lost, to have these 166 units,” Baldwin said. “And we’ve got ‘em, thanks to everybody involved.” The affordable communities will not be the last built at Great Park Neighborhoods. Plans for the master-planned, mixed-use community being built by FivePoint adjacent to the Orange County Great Park include a total of 1,056 affordable units. “We, the entirely community of Irvine, are thoroughly enriched by the efforts that you’ve made, the hard work and the investments that you’ve put in,” Mayor Wagner said to the audience at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “Sincerely, on behalf of the whole city, thank you so very much.” n

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Irvine to sue the county over massive development proposed for 108 acres adjacent to the Great Park FEATURE

by Irvine City News staff

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he Irvine City Council voted unanimously Tuesday, Nov. 14, to sue Orange County over its plan to develop 108 acres south of the Great Park. The project would create up to one million square feet of office space, 2,100 homes, 200,000 square feet of retail space, and a 242-room hotel. The Orange County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 on Nov. 14 to approve the project’s environmental impact report and authorize leasing the land for the development. Supervisor Todd Spitzer voted against approving the project’s EIR. The parcel where the county wants to build was designated to support institutional facilities. One of the issues in the lawsuit will be whether land developments have to be approved by Irvine, the city it’s in. The county claims it doesn’t need city permission to change the use of county land. City officials and others say the project will negatively impact plans for the Cultural Terrace at the Great Park, including the development of the permanent outdoor amphitheater, museum, a lake, a water park, and other potential projects, as well as impact traffic in the city. Councilmember Christina Shea told voiceofoc.com that “We’re going to do everything we can to defend our city, to defend

from the huge increase of traffic they’re going to bring to the city. All five of us are on board, all in agreement that this is not a good plan … if it takes us two to three years, we’re going to spend the money to do it.” Representatives from Second Harvest Food Bank, which neighbors the 108 acres, say it would make it more difficult to feed the hungry. Others in opposition to the project include the Orange County Food Access Coalition, the Orange County Transporta-

tion Authority; Caltrans; the city of Laguna Beach; Friends of Harbors, Beaches and Parks; and FivePoint Communities. More lawsuits against the project are anticipated. “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,” Irvine Mayor Don Wagner said after the closedsession vote to approve the litigation against the county. “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.” n


DECEMBER 2017 6

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ART AND CULTURE

UCI’S BIG GET IS GIFT OF FINE ART

THE BUCK COLLECTION COMBINED WITH RECENTLY DONATED IRVINE MUSEUM PAINTINGS MAKES IRVINE AN IMPORTANT CENTER OF CALIFORNIA ART

For years, tourists, wedding photographers and (more recently) social media mavens have stopped to take photographs in front of an ornate and aging wooden door on a building on busy Broadway St. in downtown Laguna Beach. Few if any knew what was inside the seemingly shuttered structure. If the owner happened to be out front, he told inquiring passersby that he was hired to sweep up, pull weeds and such. That man was in fact Gerald Buck, and inside the building he owned was part of his art collection, admired by insiders as one of greatest collections of California contemporary art in the world. That art will now find a new home in the city of Irvine, after it was announced that Buck, who died in 2013,

SPRINGTIME, BY MAURICE BRAUN

bequeathed his 3,200-piece collection to UCI. “The Buck Collection cements UCI’s mission to create one of the nation’s finest centers for the appreciation of California art,” said Chancellor Howard Gillman when the gift was announced in November. “For nearly three decades, these beautiful and important pieces have been kept mostly under wraps. We can’t wait to exhibit these

gems to the public.” The collection includes works by Richard Diebenkorn, Agnes Pelton, Henrietta Shore, Carlos Almaraz, Peter Alexander, Sam Francis, Ruth Asawa, Bruce Conner, Roger Kuntz, Nathan Oliviera, David Park, William Ritschel, Wayne Tiebaud, Paul Wonner, Helen Lundeberg, and many others. The Buck Collection, which esteemed L.A. Times art critic CONTINUED ON PAGE 7 >>

SELF-PORTRAIT, BY HELEN LUNDEBERG

CAR CRASH (WIPE-OUT ON PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY) BY CARLOS ALMARAZ. ALL IMAGES COURTESY THE BUCK COLLECTION AT THE UCI MUSEUM AND INSTITUTE FOR CALIFORNIA ART


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THRASHER, BY PETER ALEXANDER

ALBUQUERQUE, BY RICHARD DIEBENKORN

SANTA ANA ARROWS, BY ROGER KUNTZ “FINE ART” FROM PAGE 6

CHILDREN’S PLAYGROUND, BY BEN MESSICK

Christopher Knight described as “the finest holding of its kind in private hands,” will be displayed in a new building “in the exact place architect William Pereira foresaw a museum in his original campus designs,” Gillman said. UCI also announced an ambitious five-year plan to build a $150 million campus museum to house the Buck Collection, and

an academic center for their appreciation, to be called the UCI Museum and Institute for California Art, or MICA. It will also be home to the Irvine Museum collection, 1,200 works of California Impressionism valued at $17 million donated to UCI by Joan Irvine Smith. The new museum’s location is expected to be at or near the current site of Parking Lot 1, opposite the Irvine Barclay Theatre near the Ray Watson pedestrian bridge that extends across Campus Drive. “My dad always said that art was meant to be seen and enjoyed by people,” said Christina Buck. “UCI is the perfect match. It makes me so happy that the campus now has the works for students, faculty and, ultimately, people who just love art—like my father did.” n


DECEMBER 2017 8

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Opinion

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Veterans chose the best site for their cemetery. Honor it.

DINING

HABANA, PART I: PASTRIES IN A SOONTO-BE SIGNATURE PINK BOX THE LONG-AWAITED NEW SPECTRUM RESTAURANT INCLUDES AN AMAZING BAKERY SURE TO BE AN A.M. IRVINE MUST

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by Irvine City News Editorial Staff

t was a beautiful, clear day as hundreds of U.S. military veterans gathered at the strawberry fields near the 405 Freeway to celebrate a flag raising and dedication of the approved site for a new veterans cemetery. The veterans of several wars gathered. Some arrived by car and motorcoach, others roared in on Harley Davidson motorcycles. Some moved freely, others used wheelchairs and walkers. But those who could, stood and all saluted as the American flag was raised to fly next to those representing the branches of the military they had served in. Nearly every elected official that serves the city of Irvine was in attendance, from mayor and city council members to members of Congress. All gathered to honor the veterans and their quest to be buried on the hallowed ground of the former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro. As those gathered listened to the speeches and saw the tears in the eyes and excitement on the

faces of the veterans, they could be excused for thinking, at least for an hour or so, that the issue of establishing a veterans cemetery in Irvine had been put to rest, finally, allowing the honored veterans an assurance that within a few years they themselves would have a place to rest. They shall. But not until they and their allies in the city, state and the nation have fought a few more skirmishes alongside them, and on their behalf. Two of the politicians missing from the ceremony honoring veterans were Irvine Mayor Pro Tem Lynn Schott and Councilmember Jeffrey Lalloway. The duo voted against the land transfer which was approved and passed by the Irvine City Council, and which made the awe-inspiring afternoon in the strawberry fields possible. Also absent was former Irvine Mayor Larry Agran. As noted elsewhere in this issue, Agran is on the march. He’s filed a lawsuit against the veterans cemetery being located at the approved site. And he has turned

in petitions in support of a referendum regarding the site of the cemetery. Those out gathering signatures in support of the Agran referendum told shoppers and citizens that the effort was to “save” a Great Park cemetery. That was the height of cynicism and political foul play. There’s no doubt that the strawberry fields site is simply better for a veterans cemetery than the original ARDA site. As this publication has been writing for some time, all one has to do is visit the two sites and do a bit of reading to realize that. Or read the CalVet report that came out in June 2016 estimating that the first phase of creating a cemetery at the ARDA sit would cost $77.4 million because that land is contaminated and includes 77 structures that would need to be demolished. Should either the lawsuit or referendum advance, many say the cemetery will be stalled, perhaps indefinitely. And that would be the biggest loss of all for our veterans. n

In one of our early issues, May 2016 to be exact, we ran a feature called “The Summer Eat Sheet: Irvine’s Top 10 New Restaurants.” On it we listed then much-anticipated spots that included Puesto, Kona Grill, Angelina’s Pizzeria Napoletana, Adya and Meizhou Dongpo. All are open, though several took longer than expected. The last on that list to open is Habana. We said it would debut summer of 2016. OK, so we were a bit off on its opening date, which turned out to be November of this year. Finally! Well, the wait was worth it, though the owners who had to pay rent to everyone’s

favorite local landlord during the 16-month delay might wonder. Irvine City News will review the full-service, sit-down aspects of the stunningly designed and intricately detailed restaurant in a future issue, as will every other Orange County publication that covers restaurants. We need to take time to get to know the lunch and dinner menu and let the staff and kitchen get comfortable and work out any opening issues. Our first look instead is focused on the brand new bakery, a key part of Habana whole. Whether it’s a pre-office hours meeting, a quick bite and coffee or a more leisurely pace in the morning, many of us depend on and love a morning repast. Because where does one get breakfast at the Spectrum Center? There are the chains, of course, including Corner Bakery, the eBar outside Nordstrom, Ruby’s, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and a Starbucks. Nearby there’s not much more. We like S’wich Bistro across from Blizzard HQ, and Whole Foods grab-and-go breakfast has its place in our morning rituals. But there’s certainly nothing in Irvine that compares with the CONTINUED ON PAGE 9 >>


DECEMBER 2017

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MY DRY CLEANING WAS JUST DELIVERED!

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YOUR FIRST PICK UP & DELIVERY DRY CLEANING ORDER “HABANA” FROM PAGE 8

Habana experience. The bakery opens at 7 a.m., and that early hour is key. Starting weekday breakfast service at 8 or 9 a.m. is not enough. We hope Habana sticks to the early hours and allows its morning audience to grow, which We believe it will. For those who know the Spectrum to be a parking nightmare, especially with the construction ongoing, at this early hour it’s nirvana. The bakery has its own entrance on the 5 Freeway side of the center. Park anywhere, walk in and one is transported to an experience both classic and contemporary. The entrance patio and one just beyond the bakery are beautiful. Palm trees, tropical tile and vintage-looking furniture make the area an Instagram-appropriate setting. The bakery café itself has high ceilings and beautiful light streaming in through large windows and open doors. The space is stocked with a beautifully curated selection of goods more usually found in Miami, from Cuban chocolate, candies and snacks to Latin

ABOVE: THE HABANA BAKERY DOES DOUBLE DUTY AS A RESTAURANT AND WELL-CURATED SPECIALTY GROCER. BELOW: A SELECTION OF PASTRIES AND A CAFE CUBANO.

American sodas and bottles of Spanish wine. There are newspapers for sale, which of course we heartily endorse, and the design includes two vintage televisions showing loops of old-school sports stars and celebrities, including Roberto Clemente and Carmen Miranda. There’s selection of coffees, including café Cubano and café con leche, and an entire case filled with lovely house-made pastries, including some that I’m told are Cuban delicacies. The fruit tarts and passion fruit croissants are early favorites among the many sweet bites sampled do far. But when it comes to breakfast, we prefer more of a savory dish. Habana does not disappoint, with a selection of several rich and satisfying dishes, including a breakfast sandwich with roast pork called Medio Dia; a delicious version of the hipster dish du jour, avocado toast; and the Ropa Hash Bowl, which is made with Habana’s signature ropa vieja stewed

beef, along with an egg, red pepper Hollandaise and potato hash. This menu also includes a decadent French toast a la Habana: cornflake crusted brioche soaked in rum custard, served with guava jam and coconut syrup. We do wish they’d add a few veggie-friendly choices to the menu. The Cazuelita de Mi Abuela is delicious, but the rustic dish is a bit bread-heavy for those looking for something light. It’s fast-casual ordering, but the service was prompt, friendly and extremely knowledgeable. The hot dishes are eat-in only, with the exception of the breakfast sandwich, while the coffee and pastries can also be ordered to go. One of the smartest things the owners of Habana did was design a lovely to-go box for the pastries. It’s a gorgeous rose gold color, and has a Habana logo in metallic script prominently set upon it. We fully expect a box of goodies from the new morning star to be the new trend for what the stylish and savvy co-worker brings to share at office or the hostess gift to bring to the garden party. n

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The state of IUSD is strong, but funding challenges remain EDUCATION

by Irvine City News staff

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uperintendant Terry Walker presented the first-ever State of the District at Portola High School on Nov. 2, updating parents, teachers, students, business leaders and community members about the status of Irvine Unified School District. IUSD remains one of the fastest-growing and highestperforming school districts in the nation. “There should be no ceiling on what we and our students can achieve,” Walker told the crowd, noting that IUSD is preparing students for a world where “70 percent of the jobs [current students may have] have not been created yet.” He said that IUSD is

IUSD SUPERINTENDENT TERRY WALKER PRESENTS THE STATE OF THE DISTRICT IN THE PERFORMING ARTS CENTER AT PORTOLA HIGH SCHOOL. COURTESY IUSD

preparing students to be game changers and innovators who have the skills and abilities to be resilient, to see the interconnectedness between disciplines, be collaborative, embrace a growth mindset, be intellectual risk takers, critically evaluate content, and be effective communicators in our increasingly diverse world. Walker explained how IUSD

STUDENTS AND GUESTS AT STATE OF THE UNION IUSD EVENT. COURTESY IUSD

with all its accolades faces the challenge of being one of the lowest-funded districts in the U.S. IUSD’s per-pupil funding is $4,300 less than the national average and $1,600 per-student less than the state average. This funding gap costs the district an astonishing $150 million per year compared to comparable national unified school districts and $54

million per year compared to California unified school districts. Walker acknowledged the key contributions of IUSD partners in filling the funding gap and enhancing district programs, including the City of Irvine, Irvine Public Schools Foundation, PTA, FivePoint, and Irvine Company. He cited the performance of IUSD teachers, staff and administrators of meeting the funding challenges and excelling in support of students: “We are surrounded by committed, hardworking and bright people who take tremendous ownership and responsibility, which makes a difference in our student’s lives,” he said. Other topics in the multimedia presentation included a look at new schools in the district built in the past five years, as well as upgrades to older schools through Measure E funds. A priority of the Board of Education is to provide educational equity in the district to provide equal access to state-of-the-art amenities found in the newest

schools, including science, design and innovation labs, Internet connectivity, flexible seating to accommodate different ways of learning, music rooms, and other improvements. Technology improvements are key, also. Over the last five years, IUSD has increased the number of Chromebooks from 7,500 to more than 34,000, enabling many classrooms to have one Chromebook for each student. This 1:1 model gives students access to individualized curriculum, learning activities, and online resources, which are personalized to meet each student’s individual needs. Walker also discussed robotics, 3D printers and other tools that are helping teachers transform how students learn. In conclusion, Walker said “I have no doubt that students will continue to set the bar and pace for the nation and state, you will continue to be a huge part of our success, and IUSD will continue to fulfill its promise of educational excellence and to continue our unprecedented success.” n


DECEMBER 2017

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IrvineCityNews Park Neighborhoods has been strong. Pavilion Park is sold out, Beacon Park is 99% sold, and the 653-home Parasol Park project is 66% sold, according to FivePoint.

The future of the 405

Penthouse view

The best view in Irvine will be from the Hive & Honey, the rooftop bar on the 15th floor of the new Marriott Irvine Spectrum, the 271-room hotel opening Dec. 11. The open-air spot will include fire pits, lounge and bar seating on a larger space than expected (3,500 square feet). On clear nights, we expect to see the lights of downtown L.A., along with 360-degree views of Orange County, from the mountains to the Back Bay, and stunning sunsets. The hotel is being described as an incubator for new ideas about travel and hospitality, including corner suites with an open, loft-like design that includes full kitchens. The hotel includes Heirloom, a full-service restaurant and lounge off of the first floor lobby that will also include a Starbucks, and 13,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor event space.

Next neighborhoods

The view from the new Spectrum Marriott reveals the impressive expanse of the Orange County Great Park, including the next phases of the Sports Park, which are quickly advancing toward completion. Also coming up is the first retail and office space in the area. Called Base Camp, the mixed-use project will include restaurants, including reports of some innovative food hall-like touches, hotels, and other uses. Also coming is the next Great Park Neighborhood, Cadence Park. In our last issue, Irvine City News reported on the groundbreaking for the neighborhood’s K-8 school. FivePoint Holdings, LLC, has announced that construction of the model homes at Cadence Park is expected to begin in the next few months. The 103 acres of land will hold 1,007 homes. Demand for the homes in the Great

Most Irvine residents received a notice in the mail about the I-405 South Improvement Project, which is proposed for the approximately 8.5-mile long stretch of the 405 in Irvine. “I-405 has insufficient capacity to accommodate either the existing travel demands or the increased travel demands along the I-405 corridor that will occur by the year 2050,” is how the Environmental Impact Report for the project puts it. The improvements proposed include the possibility of either one or two more lanes in each direction extending from the 55 to the El Toro Y where the 405 and 5 freeways meet, as well as the addition of sound walls and other improvements. Alternative 2 would add a single general purpose (GP) lane in the northbound direction of I-405 between State Route 133 (SR-133) and Culver Drive and a single GP lane in the southbound direction between University Drive/Jeffrey Road and Irvine Center Drive. Alternative 3 would include the GP lanes described in Alternative 2 and an additional GP lane in the NB direction of I-405 between SR-133 and Jamboree Road and in the SB direction between Culver Drive and SR-133. The project would also add additional off-ramp lanes at Sand Canyon/Shady Canyon, MacArthur Boulevard and SR-133. The total estimated cost of the project is between $225 and $245 million, depending on which concept is approved. The I-405 South improvement project is part of OCTA’s Measure M freeway improvement program. Let’s not hold our collective breath, however: The project will be constructed between 2025 and 2029, with an opening year of 2030. Caltrans and OCTA are holding a public hearing on Dec. 5 at the University Community Park (1 Beech Tree Lane) from 5-8 p.m. to provide information. Public comments on the draft environmental report, which evaluates the project’s benefits and potential impacts on the environment, will be accepted through Dec. 15. n

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WHAT REALLY MATTERS


DECEMBER 2017 12

IrvineCityNews

Top Through 12.11 Holiday Toy Drive

Make Christmas a bit jollier for Irvine’s adopted Marine Battalion families by donating a new, unwrapped gift suitable for kids from infants through age 12. Drop off at Civic Center, Great Park Visitors Center and Irvine Police Dept. cityofirvine.org/militaryveterans/irvine-211-marineadoption-committee

Through 12.16 Gilbert Luján at UCI

UCI University Art Galleries features first survey of an iconic figure of the Chicano art movement, Gilbert “Magu” Luján (1940–2011), who helped define a Latino identity and culture as part of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. arts.uci.edu/events

irvinecitynews.com

Things To Do in December Through 1.16 Skating Under the Stars

The ice rink at Irvine Spectrum Center is open daily in the center’s Giant Wheel Court. Dress to the theme on Theme Thursdays Reindeer & Red Noses, Christmas Jammies, etc.) to save $5 per ticket! skatespectrum.com

Through 2.3 “Drawn from a Score” at UCI

Starting with early visual scores by John Cage, artists taught by him as well as contemporary works, the exhibit at Beall Center for Art + Technology includes traditional written scores, drawings, sculptures, performances, video projections and computer-generated forms of art. arts.uci.edu/event/drawn-score

SKATING UNDER THE STARS. COURTESY IRVINE SPECTRUM CENTER

Through 2.8 “Moods of California” at Irvine Museum

California painters exploring the unique ecological regions and picturesque landscapes of the state is the focus of this museum exhibit. irvinemuseumcollection.uci.edu/ event/moods-of-california

12.1-12.2 Men Alive: Santa and Son

MenAlive, Orange County Gay Men’s Chorus, takes audiences on a magical, musical journey through a Winter Wonderland of song and dance celebrating the meaning of love, family and home in three shows at the Irvine Barclay Theater. thebarclay.org

12.3 Winter Wonderland

It’s the city of Irvine’s annual holiday extravaganza, with a concert, visit from Santa, games, crafts, music, entertainment and food trucks. Plus, a tree-lighting ceremony, complete with snow! Or a reasonable facsimile of the cold stuff. cityofirvine.org/news-media/ calendar-of-events/event/winterwonderland-2017

12.3-2.11 Graphic Design at Great Park Gallery

Eureka: A California Design Story with The Hoods and Friends explores graphic design movements from the Gold Rush to the present. cityofirvine.org/orange-countygreat-park/palm-court-artscomplex

12.9-12.24 The Nutcracker at the Barclay Theater

Festival Ballet Theatre’s familyfriendly production of the Christmas classic features guest artists from world-renowned ABT, SF Ballet and New York Ballet, along with young local dancers and FBT’s professional company. thebarclay.org

12.10 Home for the Holidays Pet Adoption Fair

The City of Irvine Animal Care Center will host its 11th annual pet adoption fair where some 30 pet rescue groups and shelters will bring hundreds of homeless dogs, cats, rabbits and small animals for adoption. cityofirvine.org/irvine-animalcare-center/home-holidays

THE NUTCRACKER AT THE BARCLAY THEATER. COURTESY FESTIVAL BALLET THEATRE

Irvine City News 12.2017  
Irvine City News 12.2017  

The community newspaper for the city of Irvine