Playstation 5 – ‘We’re not happy’ – Orange County Register
Santa Ana Councilman Phil Bacerra was surprised to see a Chamber of Commerce board member attending an online hearing last week about how his city will handle state-mandated housing goals.
But surprise turned into gall when Bacerra realized Chamber board member William Ihrke was not at the hearing to support Santa Ana. Instead, Ihrke was there as an attorney representing Irvine, one of four cities that filed appeals with the Southern California Association of Governments looking to force a greater housing requirement on Santa Ana.
RELATED: Four OC cities fail in bid to increase Santa Ana’s future housing requirement
Bacerra said: “I could not believe it, that a member of the board of the Santa Ana Chamber of Commerce, and a resident of our city, would so blatantly work against our city’s interest.”
Councilman David Penaloza was also displeased. Both council members wrote a letter to the Chamber of Commerce this week asking “what appropriate actions” it will take in response.
As Penaloza put it during a council meeting earlier this week: “We’re not happy about it.”
Ihrke, listed as a partner with the law firm Rutan &Tucker, did not reply to requests for comment. Neither did Chamber President David Elliott, to whom the letter was addressed.
In their letter, Bacerra and Penaloza wrote that Ihrke’s role representing Irvine “to dump Irvine’s affordable housing obligations on the City of Santa Ana is in complete conflict with the mission of the Chamber.”
On Friday, neither Bacerra nor Penaloza specified what action they want the Chamber to take.
“I will leave it up to the board to decide whether to remove him, censure him, or take another appropriate action, but taking no action would send a message that directly conflicts with the Chamber’s mission,” said Bacerra, who added that he wished Ihrke had passed on representing Irvine to another attorney in his law firm.
Penaloza said he understands that Ihrke, as an attorney, “has a job to do and needs to make a living.” But he didn’t expect to see a leader from the city’s Chamber, “which advocates for the city’s economic well being and whose mission is to promote the city, then turn around and advocate against the city.”
California law requires all municipalities to revise their housing plans every five to eight years to accommodate future housing needs. Half of Orange County’s cities filed appeals this round with the Southern California Association of Governments, arguing to lower the number allocated to their communities.
Irvine, along with Newport Beach, Garden Grove and Yorba Linda, filed additional appeals with SCAG to increase the number of homes allocated to neighboring Santa Ana. During a hearing on Jan. 15, their appeals involving Santa Ana failed.
Federal data shows Santa Ana is the most densely populated city in Orange County, with 12,163 residents per square mile. The four cities seeking more housing in Santa Ana are all much less densely populated, with Garden Grove at 9,648 people per square mile, Irvine at 4,163 people per square mile, Newport Beach at 3,598 people per square mile and Yorba Linda at 3,413 people per square mile.