Occupy Protests Cost Irvine Taxpayers $30,000

The Orange County Register is reporting that the Occupy OC protests from last fall and early winter cost the city about $30,000 — about half in legal fees.  That’s really a drop in the bucket for Irvine which has a healthly budget reserve and money well spent to support freedom of speech that was approved by progressives and conervatives on the city council.

From the story:

The city paid $14,600 in legal services for negotiating camping agreements with the group.   Two electronic sign boards were posted near the corner after that discouraged honking by passing drivers and later read “quiet zone.” The city erected the signs after neighboring residents complained of the noise from cars honking in support or protest of the demonstration. The total coast was $6,300.   The cost of replacing the grass on the corner, which died after weeks of occupation, was $8,500.  

Protesters said the cost of the Irvine occupation was significantly less than that in other cities.   The city has said the occupation was peaceful and that protesters complied with all of the city’s conditions for camping. In contrast to the clashes and evictions in other cities throughout the country, the Irvine City Council and members of Occupy OC negotiated agreements and cooperated with each other.

Now Occupy did have collection boxes and accepted donations for a portapotty, and aside from a protest where people cancelled bank accounts with large banks such as Bank of America and Wells Fargo, the Occupy movement in Orange County simply didn’t have the impact here that similar groups did in New York.  I’d love to know if the Occupy Protesters plan to reimbursh the city for replacing the grass.   Given that the cost of managing Occupoy was $30,000 to Irvine taxpayers, I doubt the city of Santa Ana would have had more expenses in allowing Occupy Santa Ana to camp out.  The difference here between two progressive city councils, one acted in accordance withy progressive values and the other paid lip service “supporting” the movement.

Occupy seems to be moving towards actions that may positively affect policy with several Occupy members running for office.  The candidacies, even if unsuccessful, place the issues Occupy advocated for in the public square in a meaningful way.  I’m hopeful Occupy will align themselves with candidates who support policies that benefit the 99 percent.

  7 comments for “Occupy Protests Cost Irvine Taxpayers $30,000

  1. March 21, 2012 at 11:51 am

    Occupy Irvine was a waste of money and political energy.
    Standing on the curb and yelling at passing cars, – “I am the 99 %” – is fun; but the activity does not accomplish anything. The delusional Irvine Occupiers should have been yelling at the Irvine Mayor and congressional candidate Sukhee Kang.

    (1) Sukhee, – why aren’t you a reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act (1933-1999) candidate? http://larouchepac.com/credit (
    (2) Sukhee, – why aren’t you an anti-war candidate? http://thomas.loc.gov enter “H. CON. RES. 107
    (3) Sukhee, we visited your website; – are you running for reelection to the Irvine City Council or for Congress?

    Links to candidate websites for US Senate & Congress, http://www.politics1.com Robert Lauten for US Senate 2012, vote early and often.

  2. Greg Diamond
    March 21, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    As I’ve commented under the Register article: we had the right to be in the park during the day (which, among other things, is what prevented re-seeding to cover up winter-dormant — not “dead” — grass.) Passing a law to chase us off for acting legally would have cost the city much more than $30,000; they made the wise choice. The only major concession they made was to let us stay on the grass at night, which among other things substantially cut down on the honking.

    The City’s choice to pay $14,500 for legal fees was their business. As protesters, we’re not responsible for the City having to pay money for advice on how to deal with us. Can you imagine that being said to Civil Rights protesters?

    The $6500 for the street signs was for the benefit of nearby residents, and mostly affected their being able to avoid hearing honking during the day, when — again — we had a right to be in the park. That was the City’s choice. To infer, as many commenting on the article do, that the prospect of our attracting honking (which we tried to discourage) meant that we should have not undertaken legal protest at all is weird and seriously antagonistic to American values.

    The $8500 for grass was the city’s aesthetic choice. The grass would have come back on its own by about now; the city just didn’t want to leave a “scab” (not a “scar”) of our presence that would detract from the beauty of the City Hall. That’s the City’s call. I don’t see this as a “necessary” expense — and, again, it stemmed entirely from our presence on the park grass during the day, not our special permit at night.

    Meanwhile, what people seem not to understand is that Irvine got positive national publicity during this period, burnished its reputation for promoting free speech, and also earned the admiration of (and was solicited for advice by) many other city governments across the country. The City spends a lot of money on PR; this was probably worth $30,000 of it easily, with a long tail of more good publicity to come.

    This event a good thing for Irvine. I and others worked very hard, with some very smart public servants, to make sure that it would be a good thing for Irvine. Nevertheless, we will not attempt to charge the city for doing it that service. Our having given the City a chance to shine is its own reward.

    (It will probably not surprise anyone that I am not going to bother to address LaRouchie’s Robert Lauten’s opinions on what constitutes proper and effective political protest. I’m surprised to discover that he is apparently in the bag for John Campbell, though. Who am I kidding; no I’m not surprised. I hope that the Campbell campaign responds to Lauten’s slamming of Campbell’s opponent quickly and firmly. Is this support it wants?)

    • March 21, 2012 at 2:47 pm

      Congressman John Campbell is on the Financial Services Committee and it would be huge if he were to cosponsor H. R 1489 to reinstate Glass-Steagall.
      There is little chance that Campbell will cosponsor because his June 5th Open Primary opponents Sukhee Kang and the Republican John Webb are not Glass-Steagall candidates.
      Today in the 45th District race is simply Democrat vs. Republican Party talking points.
      Why bother with it?
      Reinstating Glass-Steagall is the issue.

      http://www.politics1.com for the 3 politician’s websites

  3. Greg Diamond
    March 21, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    A couple of other points, Dan:

    (1) We had scraped together money to pay for at least most of the cost of re-seeding, but the city wanted sod.

    (2) No, we were not as effective as New York. It would be crazy to expect that we would be. We did the best we could here in territory where most people might well have predicted that we’d be run off within half a week, ending up as (from what I can tell) the longest continuing 24/7 occupation in the country, ending yesterday at the mark of 3773 consecutive hours. No, it’s not Zucotti Park, but it ain’t chopped liver, either. For it to have happened in OC? Pretty amazing.

  4. Dan Chmielewski
    March 22, 2012 at 10:00 am

    Greg —
    I must have missed the national coverage Irvine got from this protest and I can guarantee, any coverage earned wasn’t worth $30,000. It’s interesting that you keep framing this expenses as the city’s choice. Clearly, Occupy chose to damage property and they chose not to pay for the damage caused. You yourself admit you raised some of the funds needed to pay for some re-seeding, but in Irvine, park land in general is resodded; that’s how it’s done.

    You have a right to free speech, you have a right to protest. You don’t have a right to damage public property.

    Lastly, the OccupyIrvine event of months resulted in NO meaningful policy change whatsoever. None.

    I am looking at this from a practical matter; you are looking at it from emotion. Bottom line, you should pay to restore the grass to what it was.

    • March 23, 2012 at 12:22 pm

      Occupy Has a Policy
      Occupy has a policy; it’s called “Occupy Earth.” Starting tomorrow March 24th “Earth Month” is launched with direct actions against “big oil, big coal, fracking (natural gas), and uranium (nuclear power).

      Nuclear, coal, natural gas, and fuel oil is the source for 89% of America’s electrical power production. When hydroelectric power is added the sum of electrical power production becomes 96%.

      Without electrical power there will be no economy. Absent natural gas, fuel oil, or electrical power, homes will not be heated. Absent electrical power there will be no air conditioning. Absent “big oil” or electrical power there will be no transportation.

      The policy of the Occupy – Environmental Coalition is to take down national economies with the goal to reduce the world population by 2/3. (Fewer Emitters (that’s you) = Lower Emissions)

      “On Copenhagen: Does the Queen Deserve the Edward VIII Treatment?”
      http://larouchepac.com/node/12807 8 minute video

  5. March 25, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    Dan, sorry to have to agree with you on something, but the 30K spent to oversee the protest activities of “Occupy OC” was not unreasonable, under the conditions. Stronger actions preventing the protests would have cost a lot more and accomplished about the same results. Not sure they accomplished anything with their camp out, but from my perspective, it was their right to conduct a lawful protest of what they perceive to be corruption in the System. Had they included the Federal Government in their protests, who knows I might have been on the line with them. From deficit spending, over-regulating everything, to trying to be the “God father” who is everything to everyone, the Federal Government is clearly out of control. If not reigned in soon, we will end up like the bankrupt countries of Europe. In fact, we may already be there? Yet, even after the bail outs, Wall Street and the major banks are just as corrupt as they ever have been in the past. Meanwhile back at the farm, millions are without jobs, homeless and have all but lost hope. Unless there is major change and soon, half the country could well be on the protest lines along with “Occupy” in the near future. See you there.

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