Irvine Tomorrow, a residents' slow-growth group that formed after a conservative majority was elected to the City Council in June, will attempt to derail the 3,700-home Westpark II project approved by the council this week by placing the issue before voters.
About 50 members of the group plan to begin circulating a petition in Irvine this weekend to collect about 5,800 signatures within the 30-day period required by state law. If enough signatures are collected, the City Council must rescind its approval of Westpark II or, as is more likely, call a special election and put the question before voters.
If the issue qualifies for the ballot and voters reject the housing plan, the Irvine Co. would be prohibited from going ahead with the Westpark II project for at least another year and would again need City Council approval.
Members of Irvine Tomorrow spoke against the project during several hearings, including Tuesday's, where the council gave the Irvine Co. final approval to build homes on a 350-acre agricultural field. The land is bordered by Culver Drive, Harvard Avenue, Valencia Avenue and Barranca Parkway, north of the current Westpark Village.
The petition drive is the biggest task the group has undertaken. Since the new council took office in July, Irvine Tomorrow members have regularly attended council meetings to criticize developments approved by the council.
Group chairman Christopher Mears said Wednesday that members want to stop Westpark II because of the increased traffic the homes would bring to downtown Irvine, possible health risks to residents from the electric transmission lines along Harvard Avenue, lack of sound insulation in some homes to protect against helicopter noise from the nearby Tustin Marine Corps Air Station, and other problems.
Because of electromagnetic radiation from the power lines, the city required the Irvine Co. to build homes far enough away from the lines so that the electric field level is no greater than what could be found in the average home nationwide. Although studies showed that helicopter noise in homes on the site would not violate city noise limits, the Irvine Co. would insulate homes south of Warner Avenue.