Northern Sphere Project
Project Description
Project location
Proposed Zoning
Public Process
Project Schedule
Project Description

In July 2000, the Irvine City Council authorized the City to enter into an agreement with The Irvine Company entitled "Implementing Protocol for the 1984 MOU" (the "Protocol"). This agreement addresses the planning and phased annexation of the Northern Sphere areas. The Protocol covers Planning Areas 3, 6, 9, and portions of Planning Areas 5 and 8. Pursuant to the Protocol Agreement, the City of Irvine is processing a pre-zone, General Plan Amendment and Zone Change for the eventual annexation of development and new open space areas covered by the Protocol.

The City of Irvine and The Irvine Company have initiated a process to design a land use plan for a portion of the Northern Sphere of Influence. The area is approximately 3,500 acres bounded by Portola Parkway, the Foothill Transportation Corridor (SR-241), the former El Toro Corp Air Station (MCAS), Trabuco Road, and Jeffrey Road.

The proposed project includes the development of approximately 12,350 dwelling units, 730,000 square feet of retail uses, 6,566,000 square feet of Research and Industrial facilities, and approximately 4,650 acres of open space (proposed land use table). In conjunction with development of the Northern Sphere Areas, phased dedication of open space lands will occur in accordance with the Irvine Open Space Initiative, MOU between the City of Irvine and TIC, and the NCCP Implementation Agreement. Through the proposed project, undeveloped residential intensity currently authorized in other Planning Areas will be allocated to the project area. The maximum number of dwelling units planned city-wide will remain unchanged. Non-residential intensity proposed will be in addition to currently planned development.

An Environmental Impact Report (EIR) will be prepared to consider the potential environmental effects of the project. The EIR will disclose the potential impacts of the project, suggest methods to minimize those impacts, and discuss project alternatives so that decision-makers will have full information upon which to base their decision.

The Notice of Preparation for the EIR is currently available for review through June 1, 2001. The Initial Study for the EIR is also currently avalable for review and comments.

Project Location
The project site located between the Lomas de Santiago Hills and the Santa Ana (I-5) Freeway at the northern edge of the City of Irvine, and is surrounded by a variety of urban land uses, and undeveloped open space. Permanent open space is located north of the project site. The residential communities of Northwood (Planning Area 8) and Northwood Point (Planning Area 5) lie west of the site. Planning Area 40 and the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) are located south of the site, as shown on the Regional Location and Vicinity Maps.

Proposed Zoning
These lands were designated agricultural lands due to the existence of the adjacent MCAS El Toro. With the closure of the base, The Irvine Company, as the landowner, approached the City about development of the property. The land is currently under the jurisdiction of the County of Orange. The City is interested in annexing the land into Irvine. If annexed into Irvine, as anticipated in our General Plan, the land will be developed to City of Irvine's standards.

What's in a Land Use Plan? A land use plan shows the various kinds of land uses (such as residential or commercial) that will be located in very general blocks of land in the area and also shows other elements supporting those land uses (such as roads, schools, and parks).

Public Process
What's the Process? The City Council has directed City staff to begin a technical and public review of a draft land use plan for this area. This land use plan is a starting point for review and analysis. No final land use decisions have been made. The land use plan will be analyzed for its affects on the community (including traffic, air quality, noise, and the balance of jobs and housing). The analysis will be reported in an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) which will be available for public review and comment.

The City Council also wants community input to begin very early in the planning process. Extensive public comments will be continually sought on the plan. After considering public input, reviewing the technical analysis within the Environmental Impact Report, conducting public meetings and public hearings before the various Commissions and City Council, the City Council will make the decision on the land use plan. This entire process will take approximately 9 -10 months.

Details such as building architecture, the exact density of housing in specific areas, and park amenities are not available at this time. This level of detail is appropriate to consider after review of the land use plan by the City Council.

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