It looks like the residents of The Meadows mobile home park are going to have to wait for the “appreciation dinner” the city of Irvine had planned to give them for putting up with the inconvenience caused by a nearby construction project.
The dinner, which has become the subject of the Irvine City Council’s latest political spat, has been postponed indefinitely, according to an email from Public Information Officer Craig Reem.
“The Appreciation Event will be rescheduled to a more convenient time,” the email read. The email did not say why the originally scheduled date — Oct. 14 — was inconvenient, nor did it set another date.
The event became controversial among Irvine council members when Councilwoman Christina Shea questioned whether the city should undertake such an expense during tough budget times. It became public when an email from Councilwoman Beth Krom — in which she ordered City Manager Sean Joyce not to acquiesce to Shea’s wishes to put the dinner-party issue on the council meeting agenda — was obtained by Voice of OC.
I dropped by The Meadows this week to chat with some of the residents about the project and the dinner. The consensus among the residents was clear — the project turned their lives upside down, and the dinner wouldn’t have done much to temper their frustration.
The headaches have been many. Residents complained of constant construction dust in their houses, and the Orange County Register reported last year that a ruptured gas line caused the evacuation of some of the residents.
Bob Gudka, a 10-year park resident, and Doris Rhodes, a 20-year park resident, said they believed the dinner was an obvious political ploy to drum up support for the incumbents going into the November election.
“My first thought was it’s political,” Gudka said. “I thought it was a political move from the word go,” added Rhodes, who said she was without gas for two days when the gas line broke.
Gudka and Rhodes didn’t know the dinner had been rescheduled, albeit indefinitely, but Gudka said that given that the dinner was being held less than three weeks before Election Day — and included council members as guests — he thought the council members should be the ones footing the bill.
“I don’t think that’s [having the city pay for the dinner] right,” Gudka said.
— ADAM ELMAHREK