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Council Reviews Cost Analysis Report for Veterans Cemetery


The Veterans Cemetery proposed for Gypsum Canyon in Anaheim is estimated to cost some $100 million more than the previously proposed site in Irvine’s Great Park, according to a City review of available public reports on the plans.
In January, Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva and State Senator Tom Umberg released a report from the California Department of General Services estimating the direct costs of the Gypsum Canyon plan at $126 million. In an accompanying press release, Quirk-Silva invited public analysis of the report.
As part of the public analysis, Irvine Vice Mayor Larry Agran asked City staff to review the report and compare it with projected costs for development of the Great Park site, which was approved by the City’s voters in an election in 2018 and again in 2020 by the City Council when the Council adopted a citizen initiative that had garnered some 20,000 Irvine resident signatures.
Agran has long championed “implementing the will of Irvine voters.” However, in 2021 Agran’s Council colleagues voted to abandon the voter-approved Great Park plan and, instead, support the Gypsum Canyon proposal.
In March, the City retained Geosyntec Consultants to evaluate the state report and other public documents in order to compare the Gypsum Canyon and Great Park plans.
In their findings, shared with the City Council on May 28th, Geosyntec identified $20 million in additional project costs at Gypsum Canyon, mostly related to engineering, design and permitting costs associated with major environmental and seismic issues, plus the possibility of other issues that could not be estimated based on the information available.
Geosyntec compared the $146 million price tag identified as a minimum for Gypsum Canyon to the estimated $42 million price tag for placing a Veterans Cemetery within the now under-construction Veterans Memorial Park & Gardens in the Great Park.
Geosyntec stated that construction at the Great Park site could be completed within 36 to 48 months, compared with an estimated 10-year timeframe for the first phase of the Gypsum Canyon plan.

Although the Council took no action after the presentation, a number of Irvine residents who had worked on the earlier citywide signature-gathering efforts spoke in favor of the Great Park site, saying that the report showed that it was the better, cheaper, faster location.
Councilmember Tammy Kim — who campaigned in support of the Irvine site in 2020 but reversed her position once she was elected — was more interested in how much the City spent on the report than on the $100 million in extra costs associated with the Gypsum Canyon plan. She repeatedly questioned why Geosyntec was hired to study the two sites.
City Manager Oliver Chi explained to Councilmember Kim that the City routinely seeks outside expertise when it’s needed, and the cost to the City for the independent comparison study was between $15,000 and $20,000.

Roger Bloom


Irvine, CA
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