The city of Irvine voted Nov. 24 to immediately begin divesting from companies that go against the city’s “social and environmental values.”
The city council approved the city’s 2022 investment policy by a 3–2 vote, with Councilmen Anthony Kuo and Mike Carroll dissenting.
Mayor Farrah Khan pushed to amend the city’s 2022 investment policy, asking to “divest” from companies currently partnered with the city that are countering the city’s “environmental and social objectives,” and to invest those funds in other companies.
These include “fossil fuel” companies such as Exxon—in which the city has $5 million invested—firearm manufacturers, for-profit prisons, anti-LGBTQ organizations, and military-industrial complex entities.
“It isn’t particularly difficult for our city to stay away from investments in tobacco products, companies that produce firearms, and the like,” Councilman Larry Agran said at the Nov. 24 council meeting. “We stay away from companies that produce liquor products as well, and for good reason. Those do not conform to our values as a community.”
He said that of the city’s $1 billion-per-year investment, there are far better companies to invest with.
While discussing the item, Irvine City Treasurer Don Collins urged Khan to table the item and wait for further guidance from the state or federal government on what to avoid investing in, though she refused.
“I’m at this point waiting for the state to give us more guidance at this,” Collins said at the meeting. “What we found is that there are a few cities that have implemented … restrictive policies that wind down to the interpretation of an individual. So I’d like to table this until the state or federal government comes out with more clear guidelines that we can follow as opposed to my interpretation or your interpretation of what’s right and wrong.”
Collins used Exxon as an example, saying that while they’re an oil company, they invest $1 billion per year and support over 100 entities that are looking for alternative energy sources.
“While I agree with you that Exxon is behind the curve compared to some of the European counterparts, they’re aggressively moving towards renewable energy. I’m not going to make a stand as to what’s right and wrong here. I’m just letting you know that until I see more clarity, I think we should table this,” Collins said.