Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Irvine Housing Blog

Irvine Housing Blog

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IRWD Water Rate Will Increase in July - Why?

Posted: 27 Jun 2012 05:00 AM PDT

“Over the past five years, imported water costs have increased approximately 65%.”—Orange County 2011 Community Indicators Report (

 “Water is heavy (62.4 pounds per cubic foot) and tends to resist moving uphill. It takes a lot of energy to move water, but also to treat it, and then treat it again after we use it.”—19 Percent: The Great Water-Power Wake-Up Call,” KQED (

“We’re also developing alternate waste supply strategies to further reduce the need for costly imported water.”—Beth Beeman, IRWD Director of Public Affairs


Starting July 1, rates for customers of the Irvine Ranch Water District (IRWD) will increase by .02cents per one hundred cubic feet of water. In addition, the service charge will increase by 55 cents. You might think that this is due to the recent snow pack level which was only 40% of normal. However, reports are stating that this year’s water supply is adequate since last year’s snow pack was well above normal.

So, if water supply is adequate, why are the water rates increasing? Approximately, two-thirds of the IRWD water is from local sources such as ground water wells, reservoirs, and recycled runoff. However, the other third is imported water that IRWD purchases from the Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC). MWDOC purchases this water from Metropolitan Water District of Southern Californian (MWD). The infrastructure cost associated with this imported water is the primary reason given for the need to increase IRWD water bills.

MWD gets it water from the Colorado River or the State Water Project. The Colorado River aqueduct, which is needed to transport the Colorado River water to southern California, was built in 1939, and the State Water Project system, which transports water from the northern California delta and the Sierra snowmelt by means of the California aqueduct, is out of date. Both these systems are in need of infrastructure updating. For example, the bay delta system, which is just a portion of the State Water Project system, is anticipated to need an estimated $27.8 billion in retrofits.

In addition, IRWD is responsible for maintaining 1,500 miles of pipelines, 53 reservoirs, and two wastewater treatment plants. Over 40% of MWD facilities are over 60 years old and need repair or replacement. For example, Yorba Linda’s Diemer water treatment plant, built in 1963, and La Verne’s Weymouth treatment plant, completed in 1940, are scheduled for $143 million in retrofits in the next two years.

IRWD was criticized by a recent grand jury for holding too much money in reserves ($225 million). However, Beth Beeman, IRWD director of public affairs, said, “These are not reserves.” Beeman also said, “That money is designated for infrastructure maintenance and improvements that will be needed in the future. It’s like putting money away for your kid’s college. It’s there when you need it.”


“Water rate hikes could be worst,” Tina Richards, Foothills Sentry (

Irvine Ranch Water District (IRWD) (

Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Robert B. Diemer Water Treatment Plant Update (

Open House Review: 243 Terra Cotta

Posted: 26 Jun 2012 05:00 AM PDT

Condo Contrasts on Quail Hill     243 Terra Cotta, $769,000

As I exited the San Diego Freeway and made my way up Quail Hill my first impression was how remarkable the contrasts are in this community.  Moving off the packed lanes of the San Diego Freeway,   I drove past rolling open fields, and then approached  the door of a sleek condominium at the end of a quiet cul de sac.

For some this could be the best of several worlds.  Quail Hill offers access to 600 acres of permanent open space with first rate hiking trails,  the convenience and ease of upscale condos or homes, and quick freeway access to work, entertainment and other nature and art communities like Laguna Canyon.

Quail Hill has over 1,650 homes and condos in a secluded community with pools, shopping, outdoor fireplaces, tennis courts, playgrounds and Irvine’s quality schools.  At the foot of Quail Hill, the 2.8-acre Quail Hill Trailhead connects to southern Irvine’s extensive trail network.  Located at the end of Sand Canyon Road it marks the beginning of the Quail Hill Loop Trail, an easy two-mile natural surface trail open to the public from dawn to dusk.   Check the Irvine Natural Landmarks  website  for more nature trail information.

Inside 243 Terra Cotta I found  all the flair and function of a well planned condo. This detached and dramatic condo is a nice contrast to its rustic surroundings.  As you enter, to the left there is a small but impressive formal dining room.  To the right the living room is contained but quite dramatic.  The high ceilings, designer draperies and rich colors all work well with plantation shutters, ceramic tile, wood and carpet floor areas. The multiple window and balcony views are beautifully treated with faux draperies.


Over $86K in custom upgrades by the previous owner have resulted in a sparkling gourmet kitchen with granite counters,  island,  and walk-in pantry, plus a remodeled master and guest baths with dual granite vanities and stone sinks.     

Moving down the main hall. which really serves as the spine of the house, the  kitchen is on the left  with a small family room on the right.  Upstairs the master bedroom and bath echo the downstairs theme with designer draperies and rich colors.  There are three bedrooms and two baths with a loft, optional for a fourth bedroom, and laundry room upstairs.

Private outside space is snug, but the closeness to the rolling fields beyond is a particular delight on the patio at the end entrance.  One has the feeling some morning as you sit there and sip your coffee  you might look up to find a jackrabbit watching your every move.  Just a few feet from the patio, the open grillwork fence frames the green fields. The front patio is equally inviting, small but comfortable, nice for relaxing, great for summer suppers, or late night astronomy sessions.

There is a double garage with an epoxy floor, and 2 more parking spaces are available.

Specifics  for this 2 Level Modern Condo:

Beds: 3
Baths: 2.5
Sq.Ft: 2,100
$/Sq.Ft: $366
Common Walls Detached/No Common Walls
Cooling: Central A/C
Wood Fire Place/Gas
Garage Spaces Total 2, 2 parking spaces
Heating Type: Forced Air
Association Pool
Roofing: Spanish Clay Tile
HOA Dues: $220
Mello Roos Tax: Yes

Considerations and Comparisons:  The floor plan is efficient and functional, but for some the space may feel a bit confined. Outdoor private space is limited, but nicely balanced with the closeness of the open rolling fields and the quiet end position in the cul de sac.  On June 4 the price was reduced $5,900. In 2008 the property sold for $843.000.   Nearby properties for sale: 127 Tall Oak condo is listed at $669,000 with 3 bedrooms and 2.25 baths,  91 Canopy is listed at $749,000  with 3 bedrooms and 2.5 baths.  

Who will be the next occupant?  A small family who likes to hike and explore nature and values quality schools  could be happy  here.   A professional couple or an individual who spends weekends outdoors and wants quick access to work, entertainment, and dining spots will find this condo very workable.    Another couple or family who  works or spends time in Laguna Canyon and other coastal spots might be comfortable here. 

Discuss below or on Talk Irvine.


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