O.C. grand jury report calls for new Great Park development plan

By Matt Morrison, Daily Pilot

The city of Irvine’s stewardship of the Great Park should include a comprehensive 10-year plan for strategic development, construction and funding feasibility, according to the most recent Orange County grand jury investigation into the project’s management.

The report, released Tuesday, is titled “‘Irvine’ Great Park: A Legacy of Hubris” and is the third grand jury investigation of Great Park procedures and operations since the project started more than a decade ago. The report of the first investigation, released in 2006, criticized Irvine officials’ lack of transparency in taking control of the project. The second report, issued in 2010, questioned the project’s financing structure.

With about $250 million in expenditures so far and little of the planned 1,347-acre park completed, the project has been the subject of residents’ discontent and a two-year city audit. The 2014-15 grand jury study was undertaken as an “objective investigation to inform the public as to where the money went, the current status of the park and plans for the future,” the new report states.

Several findings in the report echo those in the Great Park audit released in March. “From the outset, the project was poorly managed and did not follow conventional principles,” the grand jury states. “There was excessive political control, influence and interference.”

On the subject of questionable spending, the report states, “There seemingly was no effective oversight over invoices, contract compliance or quality control.”

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