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Becoming The Wealthiest Real Estate Investor in the World: How He Overcame Major Problems in Land Development (Part 2)
Episode 20126th June 2024 • Commercial Real Estate Investing From A-Z • Steffany Boldrini
00:00:00 00:18:01

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How to overcome the largest problems and issues in land development? What are some tips in creative financing, collaborative problem-solving, and long-term planning for infrastructure development? We continue the interview with Pike Oliver and Michael Stockstill, authors of Transforming the Irvine Ranch book.

Read the entire interview here:

Buy the Transforming the Irvine Ranch book here:

What are some of the largest problems you have worked on? How did you overcome them?

Michael: Let me start with transportation in the late 70s. For various factors, Orange County was not getting its fair share of state or federal transportation money and there just was not enough money to build the level of infrastructure that was needed. There was a change in law, allowing Santa Clara County to impose its own sales tax and use it for transportation. The Irvine company took the lead in gathering people in the county, and other jobs, primarily other big businesses. People were suspect that a developer would be asking that they raise their taxes for the good of everybody and so a coalition was put together, I worked on that for probably 8 years. The citizens in Orange County were pretty conservative and we put it on the ballot "Let's raise the sales tax by a penny for transportation" That got beat very badly. We regrouped. We came back a second time and finally a third time. After a change in state law, we got 55% to make that happen but that was an 8-year effort to make that happen and it took an awful lot of time. The Irvine Company was the leader, both behind the scenes and publicly in making that happen.

Pike: We would survey people in the community at least twice a year. One of the things I've always been fascinated by what came back was that two things would make a difference in the community’s acceptance of continued growth: 1) adequate roadways and 2) adequate good schools; so, the company put a big focus on that.

How did you tackle the water quality issue which is a major issue that came in at the end of things?

Pike: It was an issue that came up with a little area called Crystal Cove, at the end of the whole effort. The approach the company took is the same approach it always took which is to find the experts, get them involved, tell them to work out a solution that will be acceptable to the people whose primary mission in life is water quality, and figure out how it can be done and still allow the company to achieve its goals.

Michael: In the 30-40 years that this has been done, the specialized attorneys, the consultants, the engineers, when El Toro was an issue, people that understood jet noise, there was just an army of people that worked for the Irvine company on a consulting basis that helped to make this happen. The bill has to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars over time for those people to give their expertise and, as Pike said, that was a real big part of dealing with bureaucrats, with regulators. Once you're willing to speak their language and try to meet them halfway and have facts to deal with, that makes a big difference. The Irvine company was rarely confrontational. It rarely raised its voice, if you will, and it could look long-term and say, "We can solve this, it may take some time, but let's put the resources to it."

Pike Oliver

Michael Stockstill





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