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City of Irvine passes resolution for Jamboree-Michelson Pedestrian Bridge Project

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The Irvine City Council passed a resolution affirming the public necessity of the Jamboree-Michelson Pedestrian Bridge Project as city officials discussed property acquisition methods and implications during an Irvine City Council meeting on May 14. 

“This is a very important project,” Irvine City Councilmember and Vice Mayor Larry Agran said during the meeting. “This is the first of what I trust will be two, three, maybe four bridges over Jamboree to make that road so much more functional.”

According to a presentation by Sean Crumby, director of project delivery and sustainability for the city of Irvine, the 175-feet-long Jamboree-Michelson Pedestrian Bridge would connect the Park Place campus — featuring shops and offices — and the Central Park West condominiums at the intersection of Jamboree Road and Michelson Drive. With construction for the bridge projected to end in June 2027, Agran emphasized the bridge as a pedestrian-friendly way to let traffic “flow better” on Jamboree, a frequently congested street.

Crumby also presented potential outcomes of the Jamboree-Michelson Bridge.

“The bridge will make it easier for those who want an on-foot access [to] Park Place,” Crumby said. 

Crumby also showed daytime and nighttime-rendered images of the bridge upon completion.

“[The bridge] will really be an attraction at night and will have LED lights that change colors,” Crumby said.

According to Crumby, the city already acquired property east of Jamboree for the bridge and looks to acquire property west of Jamboree in the Park Place campus for the project. To prepare for processes of condemnation under eminent domain — or the acquisition of private property by the government for public use — council members began negotiations with Park Place owner LBA Realty to purchase the property in April 2021. They currently await confirmation from LBA on a counteroffer. 

During the May 14 council meeting, council members passed a resolution confirming three aspects of public need for the bridge, authorizing the condemnation of property.

In a memo from its legal representatives included in the council meeting agenda, LBA objected to the city’s motion to acquire the property due to an inadequate appraisal. Under state law, government agencies must appraise the property to be condemned, make an offer to the property owner based on its market value and engage in fair negotiations. Agencies then must pass the resolution affirming public necessity, ensuring public projects are planned to maximize public benefit and minimize private injury. 

According to LBA’s legal representation, city officials used “incomparable” and “outdated” measures to appraise the property and did not offer adequate compensation for damages to LBA should the bridge be built and obstruct the view of Park Place — a major selling point for the real estate firm and its tenants. 

“Even though LBA’s Park Place is much more valuable and desirable than the City’s comparable sales, the City’s appraiser assigns a price per square foot in the bottom half of the range of comparable sales,” Nazani Temourian, an attorney representing LBA, stated in the memo. 

“The City’s appraisal ignores LBA’s devastating severance damages, both for physical changes caused by the City’s project and impacts on LBA’s Park Place.” 

Following Crumby’s presentation, the floor was opened for staff comments. Agran discussed the relevance and importance of constructing the Jamboree-Michelson Bridge, as Crumby shared the ultimate purpose of the bridge: to “[fully] remove the pedestrian traffic from crossing Jamboree.”

During the public comment section of the council meeting, an Irvine resident named Jeremy spoke on the importance of bridges in Irvine to mitigate traffic and support pedestrians.

“Irvine would definitely be better served with more bridges … I definitely support more projects like these along Jamboree — particularly in between possibly the Tustin Marketplace and the Irvine Marketplace,” Jeremy said. “It would be exciting to see [the Jamboree-Michelson] bridge built; overall I think this bridge will get a lot of use from Irvine residents.”

According to Crumby’s presentation, conceptual designs for the Jamboree-Michelson Pedestrian Bridge Project were presented in March 2016, and the final design and property negotiations occurred in 2021. According to Agran’s website, the Vice Mayor called for an update on the bridge construction in August 2023, emphasizing the need for expanded and more pedestrian-friendly infrastructure. 

“As a dense, mixed-use neighborhood, bike and walking improvements such as the long-awaited Jamboree-Michelson Pedestrian Bridge are critical,” Agran said. “I envision a thriving Irvine Business Complex with walkable neighborhoods and streets.”

Ethan Huizar is a City News Intern for the spring 2024 quarter. He can be reached at ejhuizar@uci.edu.