Irvine's Visionary Housing Mix Ensures Economic Vitality and Diverse Opportunity

Friday, February 11, 2022

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By Bryan Starr, president and CEO, Greater Irvine Chamber, as published in Irvine Standard, February 2022.

Bryan Starr

Irvine’s economy is as diverse as it is innovative.

In tech, the city is home to the world’s biggest brands and important companies that deliver high-paying jobs across multiple industries.

In health care, we’re fortunate to have world-class medical institutions with Hoag, Kaiser, MemorialCare, UCI Health and soon, City of Hope serving our community.

We are also home to Orange County’s largest employer: UC Irvine and its 25,000 employees. And Irvine Unified School District is home to 2,000 teachers and staff.

As diverse as these industries are, there’s one thing I consistently hear from all of them: Their employees (nurses, teachers, and all those STEM students who graduate from Irvine schools) need homes closer to their work so they spend less time on the road and more time keeping our economy strong and our city thriving.

Put simply: Irvine employers list housing needs as their No. 1 priority to attracting and retaining top-tier talent.

Irvine’s residents, perhaps motivated to have additional options for their children to remain close to home after graduation, also appear to support more housing.

We recently partnered with the independent research firm Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (FM3) to ask residents to share their beliefs on housing required to address the needs of Irvine’s workforce.

The results largely match what we hear from Irvine’s employers.

According to FM3, nearly 90% of residents supported building a variety of residential units for recent graduates, educators and essential workers.

More than 70% agreed that Irvine needs more attainable and well-located residential options for our workforce.

And placing housing near job centers and transportation corridors where existing infrastructure can support such smart growth – rather than within existing neighborhoods or by building on open spaces – was the location that 7 out of 10 Irvine residents preferred.

The brilliance of Irvine’s Master Plan is its balance. We are fortunate to have the best residential neighborhoods in the country, but also an economic base that provides good jobs for our residents and generates tens of millions of dollars each year to help fund our police department and maintain our parks and roads. We have a responsibility to provide the housing that’s needed to maintain this economic base and the quality of life we all enjoy.

The Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce is committed to continuing our role as a convener of Irvine stakeholders – from city leaders, our members, property owners, and residents – to respond to this important need.

Category: Irvine, Irvine Master Plan, Master Planned Community, Workforce, Workforce Retention