After a nearly two-year long legal battle, Irvine City Council members announced they decided to seek a settlement with an asphalt factory on the north edge of the city Tuesday night, with the goal of moving it out of the city.
The All American Asphalt factory, which began operating in the early 90s and was annexed by the city shortly after the turn of the century, has been a political football over the last year as residents have claimed its emissions are poisoning their neighborhoods and making the air unbreathable.
Residents have campaigned nonstop over the past year asking local officials to shutdown and relocate the factory, hosting multiple protests on the steps of city hall saying they weren’t told about the factory’s existence before moving in and deserve relief.
Until now, most of the discussion has been focused on public officials not acting or encouraging others to step up.
Following a discussion behind closed doors on Tuesday night, Mayor Farrah Khan announced the city would begin looking into a settlement with All American Asphalt, reading a short statement prepared by city attorney Jeff Melching.
“The settlement will require the relocation of All American Asphalt to a different site outside of Irvine,” Khan said. “The settlement should require All American Asphalt implement and follow a series of mitigation measures.”
However, details on the exact terms are still up in the air.
In a phone call after Tuesday’s council meeting, City Manager Oliver Chi said while no formal settlement has been negotiated, the staff are slated to begin pushing for two main goals: the relocation of the plant and efforts to mitigate the effects on residents until the factory closes.
Chi declined to comment on how long the transition would take, saying it was too early in the process, but that within the next month he hoped to return to the council with a settlement agreement.
“The city staff have had discussions with leadership at All American Asphalt and we have been discussing the framework of what a possible settlement could look like,” Chi said. “I do believe there’s reason to be optimistic that we are able to negotiate a deal that would hopefully effectuate the council’s desired outcome.”
Kim Konte, one of the organizers of resident group Nontoxic Neighborhoods and a frequent critic of the city council’s work on the factory, called on the city to push for an immediate end to production instead of just mitigation.
“The exposure to these toxins is cumulative and irreversible so again anything short of an emergency injunction is not enough,” Konte said in a Wednesday morning text message.
Konte also added that while the city moves forward with its plan, residents are partnering with Argos Scientific, a Washington state based air monitoring company, to inspect the air surrounding their homes in the coming months.
Noah Biesiada is a Voice of OC Reporting Fellow. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NBiesiada.
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