The Irvine City Council Tuesday night gave the final OK for a $25,000 per-month no-bid contract for the San Francisco-based Strada Investment Group to generate public-private partnership deals at the Great Park.

The Council′s 3-2 vote in favor of the contract follows its approval by the Great Park Board last week. The Council′s Democratic majority voted for the contract while councilmen Jeff Lalloway and Steven Choi voted no.

Questions have been raised about the contract because Forde and Mollrich, the Great Park′s $100,000-per-month public relations consultants, are already assigned to create public-private partnerships. The firm′s contract specifies it will provide “analysis and strategic council for public-private partnership opportunities.”

When asked why the park needed another consultant to obtain partnerships, Great Park CEO Mike Ellzey said Forde and Mollrich will be opening negotiations for potential partnerships, and Michael Cohen of Strada Investment Group will be closing the deals.

“I would characterize that as a complementary” relationship, Ellzey said last week.

The park′s Board of Directors previously approved the contract in a 5-2 vote, but a City Council vote was required for it to be adopted.

In other council action:

• The council unanimously approved a residential and commercial development fee deferral program, which would allow developers to wait up to a year to pay their usual development impact fees.

The city has had a development fee deferral program since 2008. The program covered only residential development, and it also expired in January.

The new deferral program includes residential and commercial development and will be effective for a year.

• Mayor Sukhee Kang and Councilwoman Beth Krom were appointed to an ad hoc subcommittee that will study future expansion of the city’s train station.

• The council unanimously approved an ordinance that forbids use of the city seal and city logo for nonofficial city business without city clerk or city manager permission.

• The council unanimously OK′d Lalloway′s request that city staff report on trimming the costs of the city′s paid contracts.

Krom, however, said she didn’t want approval of Lalloway′s request to imply that there have been extra contract costs.

Councilman Larry Agran also emphasized that the city has been dramatically reducing the cost of city services per resident. Agran also asked staff to look at the legality of issuing public notices through the city′s website instead of a newspaper. He said the city spends $50,000 a year on publishing public notices.


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