Somebody Must Like Irvine

Jerry Sullivan in Irvine, By Design points out that Irvine is not that different from what the hipster gentrifiers of places like Echo Park would do if they had full control!

I need to correct an error. Don Bren does not deserve all the praise, or blame, for what Irvine is. He became sole owner of the Irvine Company, feudal lord of the city and of large portions of Tustin and Newport Beach, in 1983, long after the shape and culture of Irvine was set. The original plans were drawn up by William Pereira in the early 60s and envisioned a university-based community. Most of the city exemplifies suburbia, but on a much higher level than the older ‘midopolis’ [Joel Kotkin’s word for the suburbia built between 1940 and 1970], and has set a pattern emulated nationwide for suburbia built since 1970. Most of the city is automobile-dependent, though there is more accommodation for bicycles than in traditional cities; in many areas cul-de-sacs are there for cars but not for pedestrians; and two areas, the area across the street from UCI and the area called Woodbridge, actually have a few New Urbanist features. In Woodbridge in particular, the shopping area is in the middle instead of on the edge as in most villages, and a diversity of different housing types, single family, condo, apartment, and single-story triplex, huddle closely together. All of this dates before 1983. The biggest and best achievement of the Don Bren era is the rebuilding of the Fashion Island mall to make it a more fun place for people, and this happened in the late 80s. Also, Newport Coast is not the most exemplary place in the world, but it could have been so much worse! The houses are mostly boring Tuscan mansions, but the common area landscaping uses local materials and less water than traditional landscaping. Most of the area makai of Coast Highway was saved, and Crystal Cove has become a little oasis of nostalgia where one can forget that the last 50 years happened. And it does not look like anything the Irvine Company ever possibly conceived of!

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