What Do YOU Think: How’s the Great Park Doing?

(Image courtesy of OC Register)

“(This agreement) adds one more brick to the solid financial foundation of the Orange County Great Park.”

That was Irvine City Council Member and Great Park Board Chair Larry Agran, quoted by The Register about the Great Park Board’s decision to approve a deal to give the Great Park $134 million and develop 35 acres of Irvine city land. The Great Park Board approved the deal with no dissenting votes, though board members Stephen Choi, Christina Shea, and Walkie Ray were absent at the time of the vote. Choi actually was at the meeting early on to ask staff members questions, but after he was rebuked by Agran over refusing to stop mixing questions and comments while not allowing Agran to speak, Choi just left the building. Wow, talk about raw emotions!

OK… And in other Great Park related news, the board also gave final approval to a $27.3 million contract with Ken Smith’s design team in order for the lead designer of the park to continue making the dreams of the Great Park into a reality. According to The Register:

Under the contract, the designers will refine the park plans in the next year to the point of “schematic design” – or 30 percent of the detail needed to build the park. The designers also will work on construction-ready drawings for mass grading of the park site, along with everything needed to build a wildlife corridor and a stream.

I guess as this process goes on, we’ll need to regularly check up on how the park is doing. So how’s the park doing? When will these dreams of a perfect natural retreat in the heart of our urban area become reality? Is we having proper oversight over this project? And of course, is this all what we were hoping for when we approved Measure W in 2002?

So I want to know what you think about the Great Park. Do you like the design so far? Do you like the governance so far? And are you glad that we’ll have a little more nature in the heart of Orange County instead of another airport?

Go ahead. Make my day. Fire away! 😉

  15 comments for “What Do YOU Think: How’s the Great Park Doing?

  1. PB
    August 10, 2007 at 8:53 am

    So far looks like all the business and commercial stuff is being dropped in. I really hope we aren’t being sold down the river.

  2. Andrew Davey
    August 10, 2007 at 9:01 am

    I really hope we aren’t being sold down the river.

    So do I, PB. So do I. Still, it looks like the Great Park Board is, for the most part, planning a pretty nice park. No, it wasn’t exactly what we all envisioned in 2002. But still, I’m pretty satisfied overall with what’s happening.

    Sure, I was kinds perplexed by all the residential and commerical development being put in. But then again, those areas were already part of the City of Irvine BEFORE the rest of the former El Toro Base was annexed, so the city had every right to do this. And if they continue to plan a truly great park for the rest of the Great Park land, then I’ll be happy.

    Just my $0.02. 🙂

  3. Aunt Millie
    August 10, 2007 at 9:13 am

    The Great Park is one of a two great visionary accomplishments going on in Orange County right now.

    What amazes me most about this project is the transparency and openness of the planning effort, starting with the seminars about how to design a truly great multi-generational park, and following through every step of the process.

    The naysayers continue their barrage of piddling crap, but it really just makes Choi and Shea look embarassingly stupid, uninformed, and inarticulate at times.

    Irvine did get lucky when the Navy refused to sell the base, which ultimately resulted in the complex plan to sell the land, which provided the long-term funding for the infrastructure and maintenance of the park.

    The only scary part of the project now comes from the meltdown in the mortgage market. and the correction in housing prices. This could threaten all of the financial underpinnings of the park.

    The best news about the park is that the county didn’t follow the incredibly irresponsible path of trying to build a new airport when they would never be able to compete financially with LAWA.

    All in all, I have to say that the combination of Agran, Krom, and Kang is the smartest, best, most progressive team in California.

  4. Andrew Davey
    August 10, 2007 at 9:28 am

    All good points, Aunt Millie! Again, while I share your concerns over the housing aspect that’s supposed to contribute to the financing of the Great Park, I still must say that they’re doing a great job overall. Hopefully this housing slump won’t last forever, and once real estate eventually bounces back, we won’t have to worry so much about this.

    And yes, I am constantly amazed by the openness of this entire process. If Choi and Shea and all the naysayers actually had a grain of truth behind their wild conspiracy theories, then why isn’t the board majority doing a better job of hiding all of this from the public view? So you’re totally right that the naysayers are just marginalizing themselves with all their ludicrous behavior.

    I just hope that Agran, Krom, and Kang keep up the good work in Irvine, and that they continue to provide strong leadership in making the Great Park happen. After all, this park isn’t just about Irvine. It’s about the future of open space in Orange County. 🙂

  5. Publius
    August 10, 2007 at 9:30 am

    Interesting perspective, Aunt Millie.
    Curious about what you see as the other visionary accomplishment in OC.

  6. August 10, 2007 at 9:33 am

    The current Council in Irvine is are completely controlled by the real estate developers. It’s a pay to play scheme happening. It’s hugely ironic that we fought tooth & nail to stop an airport at El Toro because of the all the traffic and reduced quality of life it would have brought, but the Council is now approving every project coming down the pike that wil equal of greatly increase the traffic an airport would have brought. Lastly, maybe someone can explain to Suhkee what it means to put contracts out to be competitively bid. Evidently he doesn’t know what it means.

  7. Andrew Davey
    August 10, 2007 at 9:39 am


    Is Irvine really approving EVERY project coming down the pike? Or is Irvine just looking for enough development on the land IT ALREADY HAD so that the park project can be properly financed? I mean, I thought you conservatives were into “fiscal responsibility”. Now isn’t that what’s being done with the Great Park?

    Oh, and what have Shea and Choi proposed that would finance the park? Are they actually looking for a fiscally sound way to finance the park? Or do they just want to say no to EVERY little thing that the “big, bad Democrats” propose?

    Just sayin’…

  8. August 10, 2007 at 9:54 am

    Follow the money Andrew. A lot of irvine residents are fed up with the traffic situation in our city and it’s only going to get a lot worse.

  9. RHackett
    August 10, 2007 at 12:13 pm


    Isn’t it time for you to run back to your junior high blog where you are enamored with Antonio’s love life?

    Your commentary about the non-important is almost like a little boy whose seeing pee pee parts for the first time.

  10. Dan Chmielewski
    August 10, 2007 at 12:25 pm

    Allan —
    Maybe someone ought to explain everything to Shea like she’s a third grader since she always questions very minute and obvious detail; and maybe someone should tell Choi to stop acting like a third grader storming off and leaving a meeting because he can’t tell the difference between asking a question and making a comment or staying within the time limits every other member of the board had to question staff.

    As far as traffic goes, well a light rail system would have been nice but your on record as saying its wasteful and Irvine voters punted the Centerline projct after extreme pressure from conservatives. Just how might we solve the traffic problems you perceived we have? I have lived in Boston, and traffic here is a breeze compared to it.

  11. Andrew Davey
    August 10, 2007 at 12:46 pm

    Dan- Does stuff like this happen often at Irvine City Council meetings? If so, then I now understand why your council meetings go so darn late! Well, if even they aren’t useful for actually getting stuff done in Irvine, at least they add lively entertainment to city government! 😉

  12. Aunt Millie
    August 10, 2007 at 12:56 pm

    Interesting perspective, Aunt Millie.
    Curious about what you see as the other visionary accomplishment in OC.

    Oh, obviously the Groundwater Replenishment System ready to go on line in Fountain Valley – an amazing non-partisan agreement that protects our beaches and oceans while adding to a long and vital history of saving and replenishing our ground water basin.

    This is a project that people are coming to see from around the world.

  13. August 10, 2007 at 1:40 pm

    So Dan, I take it you don’t believe we have any traffic problems? It must be nice to live in that dream world. No one rides trains here in OC for transportation. People love their cars. It is what it is. Putting money into a system like light rail that no one uses is wastefull.

  14. Andrew Davey
    August 10, 2007 at 1:53 pm


    So I take it that you don’t think all these people moving into Irvine should have a place to live? People need housing. And once people move into the housing, they need a way to get around. What can we do with the freeways? There’s only capacity for so many lanes. Oh yes, and we kinda have this CLIMATE CRISIS that will only get worse if we don’t change bad habits like driving everywhere. So what can be done?

    How about building transit-friendly communities where new homes are conveniently located near bus and rail options? Irvine’s been trying to do this, but your hard-right friends there keep thwarting it. And now you’re complaining about traffic? Cheese louise!

    Aunt Millie-

    Absolutely agreed on Groundwater Replenishment in Fountain Valley… That’s AWESOME! 🙂

  15. Dan Chmielewski
    August 10, 2007 at 3:55 pm

    Bull Allan; my wife trains it to LA and the lots and trains are full.

    I used to take the T and commuter rail in Boston all the time because it was often faster and cheaper than driving.

    No one uses light rail here because the option isn’t available and it should be. You can’t bitch about traffic and diss alternatives to driving. I love the idea of the choo-choos at the Great Park because maybe we’ll extend the lines to places people want to go.

    Andrew — we have certain city council members with thin skins. Neither Choi nor Shea can take any measure of criticism. They are both about dividing rather than uniting the community. Neither voted for tough new ethics laws in Irvine despite calling the progressive members ofthe counil unethical. Every campaign is a platform of about how bad the Krommunists and Agranistas are rather than any measure of ideas for moving the city forward. The conservatives here want Irvine to go back to its sleepy college town days when Woodbridge and Turtle Rock were the only neighborhoods and we had about 50,000 people.

    Those days are long gone.

    I’ve bee here 10 years now; and there’s an occassionla traffic jam, but it likely takes me an extra 5 minutes or show to get where I am going compared to a few years ago.

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