By PHOEBE SOLOMON
Almost everyone who knows of Irvine regards it as an “ideal” city. The public school system is among the best in the nation, the city’s inhabitants are relatively affluent and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recently recognized Irvine as the safest big city in America for the tenth consecutive year, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Many consider Irvine to be a “bubble” that is alienated from the issues facing the rest of the world. As neighboring cities, such as Santa Ana, face crime and poverty, Irvine’s agenda includes matters such as whether to synchronize all the traffic lights. It would be difficult to argue that Irvine is not a cookie-cutter city and even perhaps the closest thing to a utopia that society can muster.
It is also hard to claim that the city of Irvine is not somewhat boring in its seemingly perfect state, much of which is because Irvine is a planned city. However, it is debatable whether Irvine’s constant security and excellence is detrimental to residents.
Thanks to its planned communities, Irvine is truly one of the few places where one can specifically design one’s entire life to be within less than a mile of one’s home. A typical neighborhood usually consists of a plethora of richly-packed beige houses surrounding a shopping plaza containing everything residents need to lead their daily lives. For example, Campus Plaza, the shopping plaza nearest to University High School, has an extensive supermarket, a coffee shop, a postal service, haircutters, a bank and an assortment of restaurants. A short distance down the road, the University Town Center offers many of the same services and even more, such as a United States Army recruitment center, music and dance lessons, tutoring and a dental office.
Irvine citizens are not only disconnected from the rest of the world but also detached from their own city. When I lived in Connecticut, the supermarket was one town over, my school was temporarily located on the edge of the city limits, restaurants were downtown and I made use of the highway to access my doctor and dentist. These various and seemingly arbitrary locations were absolutely an annoyance, but at least they forced me, by necessity, to be aware of what was going on outside of my neighborhood. On the other hand, almost any reason to enter another “village” in Irvine is purely for pleasure.
Some may consider the concept of a planned community as an advanced form of living. I concede that, based off of my experience in Irvine, it has been time-efficient and convenient but at what cost? If residents of Irvine recognize that they can lead moderately fulfilling lives without involving themselves in local events, they certainly would not entangle themselves with outside conflicts.
Irvine’s planned community can provide citizens comfort and an assurance of safety, but Irvine’s near-ideal quality of life only serves to further disassociate the small Irvine bubble from a much different outside world.