If new Irvine Mayor Steven Choi has his way, the Orange County Great Park would become the Irvine Great Park. Now that Republicans have control of the Irvine City Council, Choi wants to eliminate the at-large members of the Board and make it consist of only members of the Irvine City Council than therefore turn control of the Park over to the Republicans.
In a memo to City Manager Sean Joyce, Choi cites the elimination of redevelopment agencies and the extensive planning work already done for the Great Park as the reasons for a “streamlined board.”
Choi writes: “Mindful of the thorough planning that has already occurred — and that the nine member Board of Directors has facilitated — while simultaneously mindful that the loss of redevelopment tax increment leaves us with finite resources to continue to add to the inventory of physical amenities at the Great Park, I believe it is timely to give consideration to streamlining the governance of the Orange County Great Park Corporation so that we can focus as much attention as possible to operations and, where feasible, future development of the physical park features in the near term.”
Choi wants to eliminate the at-large members completely, suggesting that at-large members are not accountable to the public. According to the Articles of Incorporation, the City Council can adopt amendments.
Back when Beth Krom and Larry Agran led the fight against the El Toro Airport (Christina Shea was out of office at the time and Choi was on the school board), it took a coalition of county leaders from South County in a unified effort to beat back the Airport and make the Great Park the choice of the voters. With this move, Choi and the Republican majority are thumbing their nose at the rest of the county.
The Great Park Corporation is governed by the same requirements the city operates under. Councilman Jeff Lalloway, we’re told, has invoked the “City of Bell” in his rhetoric. This is laughable. The Great Park Corporation has a board which is paid a small stipend and a CEO with a salary in line with what a like sized business would make. The city and the Great Park win awards for management. City of Bell? Not even close.
Council member Christina Shea has already volunteered to be on a committee for a forensic audit of the Great Park to look for waste. Perhaps she’ll volunteer to reimburse the city for her trip to Charlotte in an effort to secure an NFL stadium for the Great Park site that she took during a previous stint on the council.