So you all know I still track the whole Orange County Great Park thing. Mainly because during previous administrations it was help up as the ideal of what Alameda should strive toward when considering Alameda Point. Probably because it was called the “Great Park” and the plan largely centered around creating a huge Central Park like area meaning the the majority of the land would be, well, a park. Meaning no housing, which makes people in Alameda very very happy when you talk about plans that involve little to no housing. Since the Great Park was first held up as the example of what Alameda Point should be, it has all gone slowly downhill from there, culminating in an article in the LA Times about scrapping the majority of what made the Great Park the Great Park and going for a more traditional, residential centric plan.
From the LA Times:
On Tuesday, the Irvine City Council is expected to vote on whether to approve a plan proposed by a developer to build about 688 acres of the park. Gone is the long, winding canyon that was described in the park’s master plan as a “beautiful oasis — a place to wander and daydream.” In its place could be a 188-acre golf course. Gone is the largely centralized parking that would have forced people out of their cars to wander around the park. In its place, parking lots scattered throughout.
Developer FivePoint Communities, which is building 4,900 homes around the perimeter, has proposed getting the project underway by building 688 acres of park space at an estimated cost of $172 million. In exchange, the firm would be allowed to nearly double the number of homes that will surround the park — to 9,500.
[T]he city, which started with about $200 million from developers to build the park, has spent much of that, and only about 200 acres have been built. According to a Times analysis late last year, most of the money went to pay for plans, designs, administrative costs and consultants. Less than a fifth went toward actual park construction.
In addition to the $172 million Haddad has offered to spend on the park, $19.5 million would be set aside to study building an amphitheater and museums, sprucing up undeveloped parts of the park and providing for additional costs. The developers would get $40 million reimbursed through a special tax on Great Park homes…
In case you were wondering what happened with the vote, in grand tradition of determining anything remotely controversial, the Irvine City Council punted:
Meanwhile, Councilman Larry Agran, whose influence over the park was largely diminished after last year’s election, said it would have been “crazy” to approve the deal last night.
“This requires a hell of a lot more discussion,” he said, telling city staff to “get on the ball here and start protecting our interests.”
The council voted 3-2 to delay to Nov. 26, with Mayor Steven Choi and Councilwoman Christina Shea opposing.
I thought the portion about the Mayor deciding to limit the time to speak after the staff presentation had already stretched to four hours long was rather interesting. While not the best form for public officials, I can’t say that I disagree with his rather blunt assessment that the sentiment was best left to “opposed” or “not opposed.” While I’m typically a fan of public comments, I can see how an already agonizingly long meeting could make longer by offering people that additional minute. After all 50+ people waiting in line to speak, a minute really makes a difference. in how long the people at the end of that comment queue have to wait to speak. It will be interesting to see what the final decision on this “Great Park” will be given how visionary it had been in the start and how much money had been wasted and so little to show out of that initial $200 million investment.