One of Irvine’s original planning commissioners and an early member of the City Council passed away this month after more than 40 years of public service.
Mary Ann Gaido, a longtime resident of Turtle Rock, often said she felt honored to play a role in implementing the Irvine Master Plan to create the best master-planned city in the world – something for which she is remembered.
Gaido was first appointed to the Planning Commission just after Irvine’s incorporation in 1971. She then served two terms on the City Council and later returned to the Planning Commission.
A lover of open space
In the 1970s, Gaido helped the city preserve the Bommer Canyon Cattle Camp, where a plaque still stands honoring her efforts.
“I’m humbled to have my name honored with such a beautiful place,” she once said.
In the 1980s, she supported the city’s historic Open Space Agreement with Irvine Company that resulted in one-third of the city being preserved as open space.
As a result, the city was able to preserve Bommer Canyon, Shady Canyon, Quail Hill, Loma Ridge, Limestone Canyon and more.
Affordable housing champion
Earlier this year, Gaido received the Ralph Kennedy Award for her decades of work in affordable housing.
Her legacy includes the city’s approval of more than 3,000 affordable housing units, which benefit teachers, nurses, health care workers and recent graduates – many who are just starting their careers.
“Mary Ann was a strong advocate for our community and the residents that needed affordable housing,” said Mark Asturias, executive director emeritus of the Irvine Community Land Trust. “She was a wonderful leader who cared very much for the city, its residents and its ongoing success.”
Gaido also advocated for social justice with the Interfaith Community in Orange County and was a lifetime member of the Orange Coast League of Women Voters.
“Mary Ann served the people of Irvine,” said City Council member Larry Agran, who appointed Gaido to multiple terms of service on the Planning Commission. He noted that she played a hand in planning “everything that is right about Irvine – our park system, our vast open space preserves, the Barclay Theatre, our social-support programs and our beautiful residential neighborhoods.”
“Thank you, Mary Ann, for the amazing legacy you have left us,” he added, “and that we, in turn, should pass on to future generations.”