Irvine Committee to Review Veterans Housing

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The Irvine committee that helped locate a possible veterans cemetery site at the Great Park will reconvene to look at affordable housing options for those who served in the military, the City Council decided at its regular meeting Tuesday night.

The ad hoc committee was appointed last April following the introduction of Assembly Bill 1453 by Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton.) The bill calls for a veterans cemetery to be developed in Orange County. It passed both legislative houses and is awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature.

On July 25, the Irvine City Council designated a 125-acre site at the Great Park as a potential location. The Great Park is being developed on the grounds of the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, which opened during World War II and remained an important base during the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

The cemetery issue wasn’t the only task the ad-hoc committee was given by the city council. Councilwoman Christina Shea had requested that the committee also look into possible affordable housing options for vets.

The ad hoc committee’s first priority was the cemetery and therefore it hasn’t yet reviewed housing for veterans, city leaders said. Shea suggested in a memo attached to the council agenda that the city’s planning commission take over the issue.

“I think it’s very important we don’t leave that off to the side for any length of time,” Shea said at Tuesday night’s meeting. “We read so much about our veterans coming home, and they have no place to live… it’s just disgusting.”

Councilman Jeffrey Lalloway, who sits on the subcommittee, suggested it reconvene to review housing options because it had “wide ranging success in dealing with the cemetery issue.”

Lalloway also thanked Shea for “kicking us in the butt” to keep the housing proposal alive.

In June, voters approved Proposition 41, which allocates $600 million in general obligation bond revenue toward developing housing for homeless and low-income veterans. However, City Manager Sean Joyce said it isn’t yet clear how the money will be divvied up.

Ronnie Guyer, a senior field representative for former Assemblyman Jim Silva (R-Huntington Beach) and a Vietnam War veteran, praised the council for pursuing veterans housing.

“Taking care of the living veteran speaks more volumes than anything else you could possibly do,” Guyer said.

The council also unanimously voted to have the current ad hoc committee reconfigured with new appointees. The current ad hoc committee members are:

• Steven Choi, Mayor

• Jeffrey Lalloway, Mayor Pro Tem

• Bill Cook, Chairperson, Orange County Veterans Memorial Park Committee

• Isabelle Krasney, Chairperson, Orange County Veterans Employment Committee

• Stephen Jorgensen, Assistant Deputy Secretary, Veterans Memorials & Cemeteries, California Department of Veterans Affairs

• Five Point Communities Management, Inc. Representative (yet to be named)

Clarification: A previous version of this article left the impression the existing ad hoc committee would review affordable housing options for veterans. The committee is to be reconfigured with new members.

Please contact Adam Elmahrek directly at aelmahrek@voiceofoc.org and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/adamelmahrek

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