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The Orange County Forum served up humor, straight talk and useful insights at last week’s Housing Outlook 2016 at the Hilton Irvine, where FivePoint Communities CEO Emile Haddad and Larry Webb, his counterpart at New Home Co., joined the Business Journal’s Richard Reisman for a chat. Haddad and Webb showed their lighter sides—they could do buddy comedy together. They also agreed the market is basically good but that affordability remains a problem … Webb set the benchmark on straight talk, calling to mind the byproduct of the bovine digestive process in assessing everyday OCers as obstacles because their NIMBYism often blocks developments that would give working households of modest-to-middling means a decent chance at home ownership … Reisman pressed on a contention that projects under the banners of the Big 3—Irvine Company, Rancho Mission Viejo LLC and FivePoint—are just about sure things while sales are spotty elsewhere around OC. Haddad responded with some analysis that included an estimate that as much as 85% of recent sales at FivePoint’s Great Park Neighborhoods (see related story, page 1) were to buyers from “Greater Asia”—immigrants, their offspring or offshore shoppers from an area that stretches from the Middle East to East Asia. Haddad pointed to various world events as reasons for buyers from over there to seek safe havens over here (see related OC Leader Board, page 67), and he and Webb agreed that Irvine’s reputation on education and public safety are the top factors in the trend here … That helped explain why Irvine PD Chief Mike Hamel attended a panel that brought UC-Irvine Chancellor Howard Gillman on stage with Irvine Valley College President Glenn Roquemore and Irvine Unified School District Superintendent Terry Walker for a discussion hosted by the Irvine Chamber’s Education & Business Partnership ... Each of the leaders impressed—and so did Edwards Lifesciences CEO Mike Mussallem, who fit his opening remarks into a day that included meetings with visiting members of the medical device maker’s board and top management … FYI: Keep an eye on IVC at the former Marine base in Tustin if you want to see some academic planning come to life in the community … None of the schools in Irvine have anything on Santa Ana College when it comes to this artful pattern, which can be found on everything from attractive tile work to banners around the neat-as-a-pin grounds of the campus at 17th and Bristol. It doesn’t take long for a visitor to associate the image with the school—and to realize that the campus boasts a physical plant on par with any campus in OC, even as it undergoes a major construction project, with a new $73 million science center in the works … Lots of fun, as usual, at the OC chapter of the Public Relations Society of America’s Summer Mixer at the Island Hotel, where titillating tidbits flowed as freely as the drinks … Start with word that those five armored trucks out in front were hauling away what had been some upscale jewelry display … End with this from Saddleback Memorial PR rep Monica Lee: The Laguna Hills hospital counts five expectant mothers of triplets on its current patient roster.

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