Irvine Meadows West Has to Go

A grim sense of inevitability has pervaded questions of Irvine Meadows West’s demolition plans since the late 90s, and
after a spate of protests, arrests, petitions, forums and appeals, the residents of IMW should accept the finality of the administration’s decision to tear down the park for good. There is no doubt that everyone – from the roughly 110 IMW residents to the casual UCI onlooker to those demolition-eager administration officials – see
something unique, even special, in the IMW trailer park community.
Who can possibily fail to see what’s attractive about a community of spunky homes where pets are allowed, class is just a 5-minute walk away and rent is an astonishingly low $130 a month? And given the context of a drab Irvine where every other apartment and townhouse
complex is just about identitical in its unattractive uniformity, right down to the outrageous rent, IMW is a streak of brilliant rainbow on a canvas of pre-planned grey. And it’s certainly color on the cheap, on the very cheap. In a way, IMW is too good to be true, and as in most
things in life that are too good to be true, it’s about to be taken away – and in this case – fittingly so. Unfortunately, on a campus straining to reach 30,000 students over the next decade, it is an inevitability – and brute reality – that prime real estate like the approximately 5 acres IMW rests on will be needed for legitimate building and expansion.
IMW has never been factored in as a part of UCI’s Long Range Development Plan, and a trailer park housing a modest 110 people, no matter how distinct and attractive, should not impede the construction of everything from new buildings to parking structures to new student housing complexes to parking lots. The four to five hundred parking spaces that will result from IMW’s demolition cannot be dismissed as irrelevant to UCI student’s parking needs-they are a truly precious few spaces that will be all the more necessary when a new physical sciences building is erected over parking lot 12A in the near future. The parking lot that will replace IMW is not a self-contained parking lot that should be evaluated on its own merits within the context of now; it must be evaluated within the context of an ever-expanding UCI, a university frought with a slew of future needs that will continue to grow with certainty.
That doesn’t mean the university should turn its back on the 110 IMW residents who will be losing their homes for the sake of growth.
The actions that the university has taken, including the recent e-mail scare tactics and failure to suggest any possibility for compensation for the 110 IMW residents that will be affected by the university’s decision, must be compensated for their loss, and must be compensated completely.

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