When Parisa Yazdani and several of her neighbors at the Great Park Neighborhoods in Irvine came across signs posted around their homes in late January, notifying them of a street demolition scheduled for a couple of days later, they were surprised.
The street in question is Terrapin, which runs from Great Park Boulevard to Cadence. A 300-foot section of the street, situated between Great Park Boulevard and Carmine in the Parasol Park neighborhood, was set to be removed starting Jan. 26 as part of developer FivePoint’s plan to add over 700 new residential units to the Great Park Neighborhood.
The Parasol Park neighbors, as well as residents in other nearby neighborhoods, took to social media to ask questions, pose concerns and alert other neighbors, Yazadani said. Eventually, enough people came together to draw a sizable backlash against the demolition, she said.
“I wasn’t very sure the level of concern initially, and then we started talking to more residents, and that was when it became very clear that people were not happy,” said Yazdani, who co-leads a residents’ club within the homeowners’ association.
The street demolition had been “buried inside” a 464-page traffic evaluation from last year, she said, which riled up a lot of residents who felt that there hadn’t been direct, adequate outreach by Irvine or FivePoint notifying them of the planned removal of parts of Terrapin.
Yazdani and several other residents contacted city staff, the mayor and several councilmembers — a day before demolition was scheduled to begin.
The city agreed to have FivePoint delay the demolition, Yazdani said, and a townhall with city officials and residents was convened at the Parasol Park clubhouse.
“There was almost 100 people there roughly,” she said. “There were people outside that couldn’t get in, in fact.”
Residents and city staff came together for a second town hall last week, on Feb. 5, and the city agreed to keep Terrapin open.
The southern end of Terrapin was planned as a walking paseo, city manager Oliver Chi said, but after residents spoke up, it will remain mostly as it is. It will change to a “right in, right out” roadway, meaning drivers can only make right turns at Great Park Boulevard.
Residents’ chief concern was around the impacts the demolition would have on Parasol Park.
As part of FivePoint’s plan, Parasol Park, about 1 mile away from Great Park Ice, would see approximately another 100 residential units once development is complete. Residents said removing that 300-foot section of Terrapin would exacerbate congestion for their high-density neighborhood that already has 653 homes.
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FivePoint, which did not send a representative to the community town halls, did not respond to requests for comment.
To add to residents’ concerns, Yazdani said, Terrapin had served as an evacuation route for Parasol Park residents in 2020 when the Silverado Fire forced more than 90,000 Irvine residents to evacuate.
“So then when we heard they’re closing down Terrapin and adding more homes,” she said, “we all immediately thought, ‘What if there’s another fire?’”
Jennifer Chan, who moved into the Great Park Neighborhoods in 2020, said the idea of closing Terrapin felt “very unsafe.”
“We need all roads available and accessible to get out of here when there’s a fire,” said Chan, who lives approximately 1 mile away from the 300-foot section of Terrapin.
Vincent Chow, another Parasol Park resident, said Terrapin is the street he frequents the most to get in and out of the community. The “right in, right out” system will be a change since he makes a left turn off Great Park Boulevard to get home, but it’s “a compromise,” Chow said.
“This is a great reminder that just because you have a right to do something, it doesn’t always mean that it’s the right thing to do,” he said. “I’m glad the city recognized that.”
Chi said the housing development won’t be affected by keeping Terrapin open.
“It’s actually a really minor modification to the overall plan,” he said, adding, “If you ask any of the city planning and transportation planning staff, they actually think the original plan, from a general planning and traffic management perspective, made more sense.”
A signalized intersection will be added on Beacon, just a couple hundred feet away from Terrapin, Chi said, and it made sense to shut down Terrapin. But he’s focused on “thinking about existing residents,” he said.
“How do you limit impacts to them as a neighborhood? It’s a good lesson for everyone as we get into the next phase of development when there’s infill happening and you’re building next to existing homes,” Chi said. “I think a big takeaway is, as we’re doing these types of developments, making sure we’re trying to communicate more. That’s definitely something we’ll try to do a better job of moving ahead.”
“Residents are paying attention,” Yazdani said. “Thankfully, the city presented a good solution.”