Hey, Santa Ana! Irvine’s model agreement with Occupy OC!

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"Irvine City logo with tents overlay"

I thought that I had posted this.  I was assured that I had not.  I was incredulous.  And … I was incorrect.  My sincere apologies to everyone who’s been wondering about what Occupy OC (Irvine Synod) and the City of Irvine agreed to two weeks ago but hasn’t been able to find out; here it is, below.

Occupy OC (Santa Ana Synod) activists, with your City Council considering following Irvine’s lead tomorrow, you might want to pay special attention.  After all, this has worked for those of us in Irvine so far!

Letter of Understanding

This Letter of Understanding is made and entered into by and between the City of Irvine (“City”) and the Occupy OC Demonstrators, effective as of Tuesday, October 25, 2011.

The parties agree as follows:

1.       For the period beginning on Tuesday, October 25, 2011 and extending through and including 12:00 noon on Wednesday, November 9, 2011, the portion of the Civic Center situated at the northwest corner of Alton Parkway and Harvard Avenue, between the wall and the sidewalk, is approved for use by the Occupy OC demonstrators for overnight camping purposes, subject to the provisions of this Letter of Understanding.

2.       The duration of this Letter of Understanding may be extended in writing for such further period of time and subject to such provisions as are mutually satisfactory to the parties.

3.       To enable maintenance by the City of the front lawn (the area between the wall and City Hall), to eliminate the need for late night irrigation, and to avoid any unintentional damage to the personal property of the Occupy OC demonstrators, the area approved for overnight camping and the front lawn shall be vacated by the Occupy OC demonstrators and cleared of all personal property on Tuesdays and Fridays, commencing on Tuesday, November 1, 2011, for a 5-hour period from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

4.       The sidewalk shall continue to remain available for the exercise of freedom of speech rights throughout the day and night, subject to compliance with Irvine Municipal Code Section 4-14-105, which prohibits hindering or obstructing free passage.  Nevertheless, equipment or other apparatus of Occupy OC demonstrators may be temporarily placed on the sidewalk during the period of lawn maintenance described above, provided that such items do not interfere with the performance of maintenance and do not hinder or obstruct free passage of the sidewalk, and provided further that the Occupy OC demonstrators acknowledge that such items placed on the sidewalk may be subject to irrigation overspray and debris from lawn mowing.

5.       Equipment and apparatus that will be allowed for camping include sleeping bags and tents, but excludes structures or improvements that would require a building permit.

6.       No cooking, cooking equipment, fires, open flames or smoking are allowed.

7.       The Occupy OC demonstrators, at their own expense, shall provide port-a-potties, the number and location of which shall be designated by the City of Irvine, and arrange for normal maintenance of such facilities.  The port-a-potties shall be situated within a reasonable distance from the overnight camping area.

8.       The Occupy OC demonstrators, at their own expense, shall provide trash collection services and maintain the area utilized in a clean and sanitary condition.   On weekend days (Saturday and Sunday), when trash pick-up is not available from Waste Management, trash may be disposed of in the City of Irvine’s trash bins to the extent space is available.

9.       Except as otherwise expressly provided in this Letter of Understanding, the Occupy OC demonstrators shall comply with all applicable provisions of the Irvine Municipal Code relating to park use.

10.     The Occupy OC demonstrators shall comply with all applicable fire safety requirements, including those set forth in Attachment A.

11.     The City of Irvine may designate specific parking areas for Occupy OC demonstrators should the number of vehicles associated with their activities reach a point that inhibits the ability for City staff and community members having business at the Irvine Civic Center to find parking within the Civic Center facility.

12.     The Irvine Civic Center is open for business and public access Monday – Friday with every other Friday closed, from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and from 8 a.m. to 5 pm. on open Fridays.  Public access to restrooms is available during these times for regular restroom type use, but not for the purposes of personal bathing.  The City of Irvine asks for the assistance of the Occupy OC demonstrators with conveying the message and suggesting alternatives for personal hygiene and care.  Additional restrooms are available at Bill Barber Park, which Occupy OC demonstrators are currently using.

13.     The City of Irvine designates Commander Barry Aninag to be the City’s primary contact with the Occupy OC demonstrators.  Commander Aninag can be reached Tuesday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. through his office phone at 949-724-7025.  During all other times, the Sergeant on Duty/Manager can be reached by calling 949-724-7200.  In the event of an emergency, call 911.  The Occupy OC demonstrators designate Linda Swartz as their authorized representative and primary contact with the City for the purpose of this Letter of Understanding.  Ms. Swartz can be reached by calling ­­­­_______________.

14.     The Letter of Understanding represents the full and complete agreement between the parties, supersedes any prior agreements or understandings, and can be amended only by written consent of the parties.

15.     The parties acknowledge that the terms of this Letter of Understanding are intended to establish the rights and responsibilities of the parties only for the period during which this Letter of Understanding is in effect.

16.     The Mayor of the City of Irvine, who is signing this Letter of Understanding on behalf of the City, represents that the City shall be bound by the above terms, provided that the Occupy OC demonstrators comply with such terms.  The person signing this Letter of Understanding on behalf of the Occupy OC demonstrators represents that he/she personally witnessed and now conveys the willingness of the Occupy OC demonstrators, through their General Assembly, to be bound by the above terms, provided that the City of Irvine complies with such terms.

CITY OF IRVINE                                             OCCUPY OC DEMONSTRATORS

Sukhee Kang, Mayor                                       Linda Swartz


Sharie Apodaca, City Clerk


Fire Safety Requirements and Recommendations

  • No onsite storage of flammable liquids.
  • All fire protection equipment shall be maintained in an operative condition.  Clearance around fire protection equipment shall be maintained.
  • Tents, canopies and temporary membrane structures shall be adequately braced and anchored to withstand the elements of weather and/or collapse.
  • The sidewalls, drops, top, floor coverings and decorative materials shall be composed of flame-resistant material or treated with an approved flame retardant.  Self-treated materials may subject to a flame test by the Orange County Fire Authority.
  • Electrical equipment and installations shall comply with the electrical code.  A permit for electrical equipment and/or generators shall be required.
  • Generators, if permitted, shall be separated from tents and canopies by a minimum of 20 feet and isolated from the public by fencing or other means.

(It is now safe to open your eyes.)

I know that all of this looks very legalistic — and that’s because it is very legalistic.  This setting forth of a clear understanding of the rules is the alternative to trying to win a victory by force.  What did you expect it to look like?  This is the price a city pays if it doesn’t want protesters to break the laws — as Occupy OC in Irvine hasn’t — and this is the price that protesters pay if they want to be in a position where they can spend their time spreading their message within a city — this weekend, having a rousing rally on the lawn and a march for Bank Transfer day (that would not likely have happened otherwise — rather than spending their time fighting with a city.

Of course, a peaceful occupation has its good side and its bad side.  On the bad side, it’s not dramatic and headline-making; no one speaks of Irvine in the same breath as Denver or Nashville.  On the good side, though, is that by my estimate Irvine has spent less money in dealing with its overnight Occupation — a 24/7 occupation that, on Wednesday morning, will have reached 25 days (and 600 hours!) on the corner of Harvard and Alton without stopping — than pretty much any city in the country facing a similar situation.

Irvine has also gained in prestige.  I happened to run across stories last week about, believe it or not, Occupy Chattanooga — a city where, if I know anybody at all, I don’t know that I know them.  They where they were asking their City Council to emulate what was done in Irvine.  Not “Los Angeles.”  Irvine.  I read one commentary noting the old notion of “repressive tolerance”: that by giving a little and keeping tempers from boiling over, the state could prevent a revolution against repression.  And then even that author said that, all that notwithstanding, Irvine’s approach to the Occupy movement was an admirable model.

You don’t hear a lot of people hoping that their city will emulate Oakland.

Santa Ana had its first conflict with demonstrators two weeks ago yesterday.  It made four arrests and gave out other citations for illegal presence on public land the following morning.  Two dozen officers were out there making arrests, two of them on horseback.  That’s expensive overtime for a city that cannot afford it.

There’s another way: Irvine’s way.  If you want to understand the Irvine way — well, there it is, laid out clearly in legalese, ready for the taking.

I can’t say that Irvine’s Occupation has no problems.  They will be, I hope, fixable.  We’re trying to get along with our neighbors and will be meeting many of them in Tuesday night’s council meeting, trying to figure out how we can work together.  (If you support what we’re doing there, especially if you’re from Irvine, write the City Council and let them know!)

But it’s the night before that interests me now: the night that Santa Ana will decide on its posture.  I’ll be there on Monday night, as a fascinated observer.  Santa Ana has a home-county model that it can follow.  Will it?

About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Deposed as Northern Vice Chair of DPOC in April 2014 (in violation of Roberts Rules) when his anti-corruption and pro-consumer work in Anaheim infuriated the Building Trades and Teamsters in spring 2014, who then worked with the lawless and power-mad DPOC Chair to eliminate his internal oversight. Expelled from DPOC in October 2018 (in violation of Roberts Rules) for having endorsed Spitzer over Rackauckas -- which needed to be done. None of his pre-putsch writings ever spoke for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level, nor do they now. One of his daughters co-owns a business offering campaign treasurer services to Democratic candidates and the odd independent. He is very proud of her. He doesn't directly profit from her work and it doesn't affect his coverage. (He does not always favor her clients, though she might hesitate to take one that he truly hated.) He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)