A Quarter Billion Dollars and a Decade Later: Where’s the Park?
Posted by Chris Emami on November 21, 2013
As I said in my last post on the topic, I was surprised by the 3-2 vote by the Irvine City Council on November 12 to delay consideration of the Great Park construction plan. Conservative Republican Jeff Lalloway unexpectedly joined liberal Democrats Larry Agran and Beth Krom in voting to delay for two weeks over the dissenting votes of Steven Choi and Christina Shea.
I like Lalloway, and Lalloway is a good conservative. Let me be unequivocally clear: I support Jeff Lalloway’s re-election to the Irvine City Council next year, just as I support Steven Choi’s re-election as Mayor in that same election, and I plan to support Christina Shea’s re-election to the Council in 2016. I just disagree with Lalloway on this one vote. Those who would attack Lalloway need to remember this: he only voted on a two-week delay to have more time to review this plan. I am confident that when he has fully examined the plan, he will be supportive of this effort to build the Great Park.
Lalloway made the motion to delay the item solely to have two more weeks to iron out the plan details. Choi and Shea voted against his motion to move the plan forward. Agran and Krom voted to delay in an attempt to kill this plan.
Irvine has already spent a quarter of a billion dollars and a decade since Measure W stopped the El Toro Airport in favor of the Great Park. What do they have to show for it? A giant orange balloon, a merry-go-round, a farm, an art display, and some soccer fields, ponds, and lawns.
The proposal by developer FivePoint Communities to build the Great Park would be a giant step forward. FivePoint Communities proposes to build 65% of the Great Park with a huge sports park, an 18-hole golf course, an agricultural site, and a woodland “Bosque” area.
What does FivePoint Communities want in exchange for these gifts to the City of Irvine? The right to build more homes on its own land. FivePoint Communities would only build homes on land that FivePoint already owns. This is a property rights issue. Protecting private property rights are a core principle of conservatism. FivePoint should have the right to build on its own land. It wishes to build an additional 4,600 homes on its own land and will construct a substantial proportion of the Great Park for the City of Irvine.
This seems like a very reasonable trade: FivePoint can build more homes on its own land and will build nearly 2/3 of the Great Park for the City of Irvine.
What’s often forgotten in the history of this land is that Lennar bought nearly the entirety of the old El Toro base from the Navy for $649.5 million. Then, Lennar gave 1,347 acres to the City of Irvine for the Great Park. (FivePoint Communities is a spin-off of Lennar.) Many of the significant steps forward that have occurred in the last decade in relation to the Great Park have been driven by the private sector.
My fellow OC Political co-founder, Chris Nguyen, often says, “The public sector exists only to do that which the private sector cannot do.” I believe that’s a core principle of limited government. If the Irvine City Council votes against the FivePoint Communities plan, then they will turn this on its head. That would mean the City of Irvine would try to build the park itself and reject an attempt by the private sector FivePoint Communities to do it.
The private sector generally does things more efficiently than the public sector. FivePoint Communities will not spend a quarter million dollars and a decade like the Agran majority did. Let FivePoint help build the Great Park.
Let’s not forget that the criticisms of the FivePoint plan in both the staff report and from the Council dais are being leveled by the people who spent a quarter billion dollars over a decade to build a balloon, a merry-go-round, a farm, an art display, and some soccer fields, ponds, and lawns. Agran and Krom’s nitpicking perfectionism is reminiscent of the busybody neighbor who calls the homeowners association when someone paints their house eggshell white instead of pearl white.
Agran and Krom are your classic big government liberals who believe in governmental centralized planning of all aspects of our lives. Just listen to Krom’s quote from the November 12 meeting in this Voice of OC video. It’s just frightening what she says about the FivePoint plan’s differences from the original master plan: “If you take the master plan and you blow it up, then the money we invested in the planning, you’re going to tell me we won’t even have a plan. So why would I support you destroying my plan, and then telling me ‘you wasted money on the plan?’”
It was Jeff Lalloway who put it best back in October, when the Orange County Register quoted him saying, “No master plan is sacred.”