Jim Newton’s column in Saturday’s Los Angeles Times on the so-far failed promises of Irvine’s Great Park was overall a good primer on the problems facing those who want to develop the park.
But perhaps the most interesting tidbit came deep into the piece when he quoted Irvine City Councilman and Great Park Director Larry Agran.
Newton quoted Agran as saying the Great Park Board has both a “plan B and a plan C” should the Brown administration eliminate redevelopment agencies, the primary source of funding for the park. Newton added that Agran “preferred not to disclose those publicly.”
Apparently he hasn’t disclosed them privately either. Fellow park directors Jeffrey Lalloway, James “Walkie” Ray, Sukhee Kang, Michael Pinto, Steven Choi, and Beth Krom all say that they don’t know what Agran is talking about.
“I can’t say that I do know what plans B and C are,” Ray said Monday.
Agran hasn’t returned a reporter’s calls for confirmation on the backup plans.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to ax redevelopment agencies would hit no other county asset harder than the 1,478-acre Great Park. An estimated $1.4 billion in park revenue — possibly much more — over the next 40 years could be wiped out should Irvine’s redevelopment agency be abolished.
One possible explanation for Agran’s comment is that board directors have devised alternate funding plans during closed meetings. But a governing body may meet secretly only in very few cases, such as pending litigation and real estate deals, per the state’s open-meeting law known as the Ralph M. Brown Act.
Yet the only items that have been on Great Park board closed-session agendas since Gov. Brown announced his proposal have been evaluations of park CEO Mike Ellzey. Again Agran’s colleagues pleaded ignorance.
“I don’t know what he’s [Agran] talking about,” Choi said.
Krom, who is the Great Park Board chairwoman, said it’s possible that Newton misunderstood Agran. Her sense was that Agran was “undoubtedly” trying to tell Newton that the board has a range of creative funding solutions for the park.
— ADAM ELMAHREK