Irvine leaders on Tuesday, Sept. 27, will pick back up on talks over how the city could best move forward to resolve concerns with All American Asphalt’s plant on Jeffrey Road, which for the last few years has spurred complaints from residents about odors and other emissions.
City leaders are looking at two potential options, eminent domain or a relocation settlement and could chose a course of action on Tuesday.
Once tucked away in a relatively remote part of the city, development now means the 30-year-old asphalt plant rests a half a mile from some neighborhoods.
In 2020, the city filed a lawsuit against the plant’s operator. In a closed session Tuesday, council members will take a first look at the terms of a proposed settlement that is expected to include a framework for how the plant could be closed down and relocated outside of Irvine, as well as odor and emission mitigation measures that could take place in the meantime, City Manager Oliver Chi said.
He said representatives with All American Asphalt have been “exceedingly accommodating” during the settlement talks, and “they’ve demonstrated a real commitment to resolve the concerns,” though they contend emissions from the plant do not violate any local or other environmental regulations.
Nearby residents have been steady in their complaints about odors and concern they may be toxic to surrounding communities; a health risk assessment recently approved by the South Coast Air Quality Management District – the agency that oversees emissions regulations for the plant – said the facility’s outputs do not exceed any of the agency’s thresholds for health risks in nearby neighborhoods.
Some residents in northern Irvine, as well as Councilman Larry Agran, have questioned the data used to perform the assessment. The AQMD is hosting a community meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 28, to go over with the public the health risk assessment and an annual emissions report from All American Asphalt.
The council will also be presented Tuesday with an option to explore condemnation of the site and how the city could obtain the land through eminent domain, a process by which a government can take a private property for public use in exchange for “just compensation.”
That process would require the city to come up with a public project and prove that the site is needed to complete it. An appraisal would be performed, and the city would have to pay the owner for the property, factoring in “any compensation needed for lost business goodwill for any business operation being run on the property in question,” a staff report said.
Agran has posed turning the site into a conference and training center where educational programs could be held as well as classes for the community on open space preservation and wildfire control and prevention.
While the condemnation option would likely be the quicker one to removing the plant, the cost of taking the land through eminent domain would be “imminently more expensive” than a normal fair market transaction, Chi has said.
The City Council will be asked “if pursuing a settlement agreement process is the preferred course of action, or if staff should pause settlement to pursue condemnation proceedings,” a staff report said.
The meeting starts at 4 p.m. and can be attended in person at Irvine’s Civic Center or virtually through a live video stream.
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