Quote of the Day - If I want your opinion, I'll ask you to fill out the necessary forms.
That headline is a bit disingenuous, but stick with me here for a minute or so. When MIPTC first arrived in Orange County back in the late 80's - which practically makes me a native - the fledgling Irvine Ranch used fountains in its commercial building projects as a "we've made it" statement. After all, it was "founded" in 1971, even though the City of Irvine claims residents lived here some 18,000 years ago. That fact certainly impresses people that we've been here a long time .... But still, fountains were our own little status symbol to ourselves.
They were subtle in some ways (tic-tac-toe designs in small, three-hoot-high squares) to fantastical (the fountains at Fashion Island are timed and create wondrous designs that allow kids to play right in them). But they were everywhere - big and glorious to almost barely noticeable. In a land that would be desert but for the Colorado River, we splashed water about like it and money would always be flowing.
Then when the housing and commercial building slump hit in the 90's. The result? They turned most of the fountains off. "Too ostentatious," we were told. "We have to conserve," the leaders directed. "It's time to focus on rebuilding," developers harangued.
And we did. Over the last ten to fifteen years, the County has gone from being bankrupt to pell-mell building once again. In the meantime, we've added jobs, built more master-planned communities, plowed down orchards for homes and office buildings and moved nurseries further away from what has rapidly turned from a "City with no center" to the "Central Park of the West." Heck, we're even building The Great Park to rival all other parks in the world. This is, after all, the home of Disneyland (link has sound).
From my home at the North edge of Irvine, I travel down Jamboree Road each day to work and I cross the breadth of the City. At last count, there were some twenty different home sites being built, from apartments to single family detached homes to live above work townhomes to high-rise condos. It's a challenge every day just to figure out which of Jamboree's ten lanes are going to be passable. Yes, that's right - a ten lane city street with red lights. It's not a freeway.
But lo and behold, in the last week, fountains have returned, and returned in a big way, despite the similarities. At the opposite end of Irvine, the new Newport Lexus building has built a two-story fountain at the corner of Jamboree and MacArthur. The fountain has several columns of water shooting up, and then falling down six-inch stairsteps. There's another fountain at the corner of Jamboree and Campus in a concave shape extending probably 100 feet wide, again with six-inch stairstep drops. The third fountain is some distance away at the corner of Jamboree and Barranca near the old Tustin Air Base, and it too is about 100 feet wide, also with six-inch stairstep falls, but it's instead convex in shape.
All of which tells me in the most unscientific way that either there's no housing slump, or if there is, it won't last long. At least that's the view from this chair behind the computer.