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Author: Roger Bloom

Council Moves Forward with the Veterans Memorial Park and Climate Action, but Postpones Votes on 3 Critical Matters

The Irvine City Council put off discussions and decisions on its three heftiest agenda items during its February 14th meeting, but still managed to approve measures to finally begin clearing derelict buildings and structures from the Great Park “ARDA” site that will be home to the Veterans Memorial Park.

After four hours of public comments regarding the contentious amphitheater, district elections and the Orange County Power Authority (OCPA), Councilmember Mike Carroll requested that votes on the amphitheater and district elections be postponed until the next regular Council meeting, which is scheduled for February 28th. The OCPA matter was also postponed.

While the Councilmembers decided to postpone a vote on the amphitheater, they did take action on the City’s long-delayed Climate Action Plan and unanimously approved a demolition plan for the long-promised Veterans Memorial Park & Gardens.

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The Hollywood Bowl or the Greek Theatre? Irvine City Council to Discuss What Size Amphitheater to Build in the Great Park

Think of the two most beloved amphitheaters in Los Angeles — the Hollywood Bowl and the Greek Theatre. Essentially, that’s the choice being put before the City Council on February 14th, as they once again consider what kind of music venue to create as a centerpiece of the Great Park.

In September 2022, the prior City Council — with Councilmember Larry Agran dissenting — approved an agreement with Live Nation Worldwide Inc. to jointly build a massive 14,000-seat amphitheater, which would be about the same size as the Hollywood Bowl. Agran supported a smaller, more manageable venue about the size of the Greek Theatre in LA’s Griffith Park.

In the meantime, Live Nation has rejected the Council-approved deal and proposed numerous changes that would shift tens of millions of dollars in costs to the City; eliminate the City’s ability to regulate sound and noise emanating from the amphitheater; and create new income streams for Live Nation — including the ability to sell naming rights to the venue.

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City’s RFP Process was Ignored in 2021. Now, Questions Continue to Swirl Around the Multi-Million-Dollar Contract Awarded for Electric Charging Stations at the Great Park.

It’s been 14 months since the Great Park Board of Directors — comprised of Irvine’s Mayor and four Councilmembers — threw aside the City’s standard “Request for Proposal” (RFP) process and, instead, voted to award a multi-million-dollar contract for vehicle electric charging stations to a company that was not recommended by City staff.

During a 2021 meeting, Councilmember Mike Carroll made a motion to disregard the City’s formal bidding process results and, instead, award the contract to Casco Construction. Councilmember Tammy Kim supported Carroll, adding an amendment insisting that the contract include Noodoe as Casco’s subcontractor to manufacture the charging units.

Kim stated that Noodoe should be selected because the company was an Irvine-based business that would bring a boon of manufacturing jobs to the City. In fact, that same month Noodoe was relocating its administrative office to Houston while laying off its Irvine staff … and all manufacturing takes place at Noodoe’s factory in Taiwan.

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OCPA’s General Counsel Resigns

Orange County Power Authority (OCPA) general counsel Ryan Baron resigned this week — just ahead of a board meeting called to consider terminating him and his firm, Best Best & Krieger (BBK), as the agency’s legal advisors.

The removal of Baron and OCPA CEO Brian Probolsky had been demanded by new OCPA board member and Irvine City Councilmember Kathleen Treseder as the price for keeping Irvine in the four-city agency. Irvine is the largest member of OCPA, with some 110,000 ratepayers.

Baron was involved in the formation of the OCPA and was instrumental in the hiring of Probolsky. He has been criticized by present and former board members for acting more as the CEO’s personal attorney than the board’s legal counsel. For example, Baron advised the board that they could ignore the OCPA bylaws and have Orange County Supervisor Don Wagner, a Probolsky ally, included as a voting board member — even though the County was not yet drawing electrical power from the agency. (Orange County has subsequently withdrawn from the agency.)

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OCPA May Hold Special Board Meeting This Week

Irvine City Councilmember and Orange County Power Authority (OCPA) board member Kathleen Treseder has requested a special meeting of the OCPA Board for Friday (February 10th) to consider terminating its legal services contract with the Best Best & Krieger (BBK) law firm, whose partner Ryan Baron currently serves as general counsel for OCPA.

Treseder has publicly stated that the removal of Baron and OCPA CEO Brian Probolsky are necessary first steps in reforming the troubled power agency.

Critics have said that Baron functions more as Probolsky’s personal attorney than as the legal representative for the agency. And, according to Treseder, BBK’s billings are more than double OCPA’s budget for legal services.

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