Please take a moment to answer two quick questions about the Great Park Audit. Your answers are confidential and will be sent directly to all five city councilmembers.

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ackerman_95x95Dear Irvine Resident,

Over the past decade the prior city council spent over $250 million of taxpayers funds on Great Park planning.

With just 88 acres of park to show for it, the current city council has just completed a forensic audit of where the money went and who was paid.

You can read the audit here and the companion legal analysis here.

Councilwoman Shea puts it best, “We uncovered malfeasance, improprieties, cronyism and millions of your tax dollars squandered on plans, parties and excessive no-bid contracts.”

The Audit’s Highlights Include:

  • Some contractors and consultants had the gall to seek reimbursement for 2.1 million in company expenses, legal fees, $304,000, $38,000 for restaurants and $50.00 business license tax rebate– to name a few; a symbolic example of greed that permeated the project.
  • Soft costs (pretty plans and glossy mailers) totaled roughly $170 million, while only $70 million was spent on actual construction. The Design Studio, a joint venture between architect Ken Smith and project manager Gafcon, Inc. were paid $46.8 million.
  • Councilman Agran’s political consultants, Forde & Mollrich, received payments totaling more than $7.1 million, almost as much as the Designer Ken Smith.
  • Forde & Mollrich’s fee fluctuated over the years (generally between $50,000 & $100,000 a month); despite no clear evidence justifying this variation.
  • Former Mayor Larry Agran stated the park could be built for $400 million when designer Ken Smith testified in his deposition that Agran was told it would cost $1 billion. Agran’s hand chosen program manager, quietly estimated the park with buildings and other structures above ground, the cost would be $3 – 4 billion.
  • An example of mismanagement is the Preview Park best known for the “free” orange balloon donated by Lennar. Construction costs were estimated to be $4.1 million, but with change orders, the final cost for our “free” balloon was $25.4 million.

A common thread in the Audit’s conclusions reveal that former Council Member Larry Agran misled the public, wasted millions, and squandered the dream of a world class Great Park.

The City Council will soon meet to decide their our next steps to seek recovery of excessive funds overpaid for park operations. What’s your opinion?


Dick Ackerman
Chairman, Irvine Cares
State Senator & Minority Leader (ret.)

P.S. Please take a moment to complete the quick poll above (It’s only two questions!). Your answers are confidential and will be sent directly to all five city councilmembers.

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