As Irvine leaders continue to explore how best to address persistent complaints about odors and emissions from the All American Asphalt plant, concerns by community members held court during a City Council meeting Tuesday that stretched late into the night.
Council members were expected to consider options during Tuesday’s meeting that could relocate the asphalt batch facility outside of Irvine, but they postponed several discussions on the night’s agenda because of the late hour.
Bumped to the next meeting in October are talks on whether the city should pursue the possibility of acquiring the land for public use through eminent domain proceedings.
City officials are also working on a settlement agreement with All American Asphalt to resolve a 2020 public nuisance lawsuit filed by the city. It could include a relocation plan for the plant. The discussion that was postponed Tuesday was expected to touch on whether “pursuing a settlement agreement process is the preferred course of action, or if staff should pause settlement conversations to pursue condemnation proceedings,” a staff report said.
Officials from the International Union of Operating Engineers in Southern California, which represents construction workers, urged City Council members against condemning the plant as a way to remove it from the area. David Sikorski, financial secretary for the union’s Local 12, asked Irvine leaders to consider “the good union middle class jobs which will be affected by the closure,” as well as potential environmental impacts of having to keep the asphalt hot over longer hauls if the plant is moved out of the city.
Thomas Drennan, a business representative for the union, said it would be “the responsible thing to do,” to continue settlement negotiations toward an agreement that would result in the plant eventually being moved.
“Nobody loses their job, and the people buying homes over there will just have to wait a little bit longer,” he told council members.
But some north Irvine residents argued that they’d waited long enough for a resolution.
Dennis Lo, an Orchard Hills resident, said many residents in north Irvine “were excited when the city announced settlement discussions back in February.”
“After seven months of waiting, we still don’t know what’s going to happen,” he told council members.
Lo and some others in the community said they worry emissions from the plant could be toxic and linked to health issues.
A recent health risk assessment approved by the South Coast Air Quality Management District determined that outputs from the plant do not exceed any of the agency’s thresholds for health risks in nearby neighborhoods. Some community members have questioned the data behind the assessment.
A discussion during the closed session portion of the City Council meeting on Tuesday focused on settlement terms negotiated so far with All American Asphalt. The document was expected to lay out a framework for how the plant could be closed and moved outside of city limits while odor and emission mitigation measures take place, City Manager Oliver Chi has said.
The agreement would resolve the public nuisance lawsuit filed by the city. It alleges All American Asphalt discharged contaminants and odors from the facility “causing detriment, nuisance, or annoyance to a considerable number of persons or to the public, or that have endangered the comfort and repose of such persons or the public.”
The suit also alleges All American Asphalt’s operation of the facility violates the city’s municipal code. The company has denied the claims, saying the outputs from the plant do violate any government or environmental regulations.
The 30-year-old asphalt plant predates the housing developments around it’s northeastern Irvine facility. Once tucked away in a relatively remote part of the city, neighborhoods are now within a half a mile.
Irvine council, Live Nation ink deal for permanent concert venue at Great Park
Los Alamitos City Council will appoint a new member
Lawyers for Mission Viejo City Council members appeal judge’s ruling to remove them
Ballot measures: San Clemente could soon appoint, rather than elect, clerk and treasurer
Laguna Beach to spend $6.1 million on new fire station location