Irvine is one of the fastest growing cities in California. Between 2010 and 2020, Irvine added over 95,000 new residents; among cities statewide with at least 100,000 people, none grew faster over the past decade. This dramatic increase has been fueled by ongoing growth in immigrant communities. With growing numbers of Asian American, Pacific Islander, and AMEMSA residents, the city is also home to an emerging low-income population with needs similar to those of Latinx communities in Costa Mesa. Figure F below illustrates the distribution of low-income communities across Irvine, Costa Mesa, and Tustin. Recognizing common needs related to affordable housing, language access, and other concerns, public programs providing rental assistance and workforce development target communities in both Irvine and Costa Mesa. These needs are much different than those of affluent communities to the north like Yorba Linda, the Anaheim Hills, and North Tustin.
Guidance: Irvine and Costa Mesa should be kept whole, drawn together with parts of Tustin not required for VRA compliance in an adjacent district, and apart from more affluent communities to the north like Yorba Linda, the Anaheim Hills (generally east of the 55 Freeway), and North Tustin.
Testimony: Christina Nguyen
Hi, my name is Christina Nguyen and I represent the Orange County Asian and Pacific Islander Community Alliance or OCAPICA. OCAPICA is the largest Asian American and Pacific Islander nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing the well-being of Asians and Pacific Islanders in Orange County. While our main office is in Garden Grove, we are housed and provide services throughout the county, including Irvine. This has allowed us to serve more than 55,000 community members annually across diverse racial and ethnic groups.
One of the many issues we work on is redistricting as a member of the People’s Redistricting Alliance. Our communities of interest in Irvine include low-income, limited English proficient, Asian American, Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern, and Latinx communities. In the last couple of decades, Irvine has become home to the largest AAPI community in Orange County, including a diverse mix of Chinese, Korean, South Asian, Vietnamese, and other immigrant families. They are joined by a large number of students, who live near UC, Irvine.
Irvine is similar to Costa Mesa, which is home to many important low-income Pacific Islander communities and where many working-class Latinx and Asian American families live. As the cost of housing skyrockets, these cities face common challenges associated with access to affordable housing, especially the availability of Section 8 assistance. The populations we serve in these cities are also impacted by poverty. Many families live in overcrowded conditions, need access to food and transportation, and have social service needs such as access to Medi-Cal and free and reduced lunch. Language access is another common need. Asian, Latinx, and Middle Eastern community members in these areas speak a language other than English at home, with many in need of translation and other bilingual services. Particularly in the wake of
COVID-19, these in-language options are crucial to ensuring that our immigrant communities have access to potential resources, government assistance, and healthcare.
In contrast, Irvine is very different from areas to the north like Yorba Linda or the Anaheim Hills. While Irvine is disproportionately immigrant and most are renters, most Yorba Linda residents are native-born and homeowners. Yorba Linda also has a higher median household income and lower poverty rate. As a result, it has less need for social services and language access programs.
We ask that you respect these communities of interest and prioritize residents’ needs as you consider how to draw supervisorial districts. With this in mind, Irvine should remain whole in a supervisorial district and be drawn together with Costa Mesa. The city should not be drawn into the same district with areas that have very different needs, like Yorba Linda and the Anaheim Hills. Thank you.
Testimony: Kelani Silk
ORAL TESTIMONY (OCBOS, DISTRICT 2, COSTA MESA – AUGUST 12, 2021)
Iakwe. My name is Kelani Silk. I am of Marshallese and Kiribati Origin and have been a resident of Orange County for 36 years, of which 12 were spent in Costa Mesa. I am here on behalf of the Marshallese community. Though we are a small community in number, I am here to ensure that our voice is heard and present. To that end, we are involved in statewide and local redistricting as a member of the People’s Redistricting Alliance.
My community is:
I represent a vibrant and resilient, faith-based community where the traditional customs of our ancestors can still be seen and practiced to this day, in each of our community homes. Our current population is roughly 5,000 peppered throughout Orange County with the majority in Costa Mesa. As one of the oldest Marshallese communities here on the continent, we play a vital role in preserving the Marshallese heritage and addressing the unique needs to the Marshallese diaspora. For many years the community here in Costa Mesa has been the link between the U.S. and the Marshall Islands in the Pacific and have been instrumental in combating healthcare and immigration issues that continue to plague immigrants from the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI).
My community is located:
Our serving areas include Newport Beach and Costa Mesa. with the heart of the community and majority members residing in Costa.
My community is similar to the following neighborhoods:
Costa Mesa is similar to Irvine; many live in multi-generational households of 2 or 3 generations, 50% speak other than English in the household, at least 85% are high school graduates and the percent of those 65 years and older is similar at 10.5%.
What makes my community special is:
Being from a Compact of Free Association (COFA) nation we are not eligible for programs such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Covid-19 Funeral Assistance grants. Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander (NHPI) data has yet to be disaggregated for many service providing agencies so we are not lumped into the Asian-Pacific category where the special needs specifically for our Marshallese communities are over-shadowed by the larger population. We ask for continual support of the Compact Impact Fairness Act as we push forward through the pandemic.
Our roots lie here in Costa Mesa; it is here that many of our social events; church gatherings and outreach work exist. It is in Costa Mesa that four to five generations of Marshallese flourish and it is here that we hope to build the capacity to better assist ourselves.
Komol tata, Thank you. Kelani Silk
Pacific Islander Health Partnership