Updated at the bottom: The city is going with a Cadillac plan. First posted at 8:05 a.m.
If you were part of the occupation of the L.A. City Hall lawn late last year, prepare to be very mad.
Remember when the mayor sent 1,400 officers to clear Occupy protesters from their City Hall encampment right after Thanksgiving weekend? The rationale was that, while Antonio Villaraigosa and much of the City Council professed to be down with the 99 percent, they couldn't stand by as the protesters destroyed city property and incurred millions of dollars in costs to taxpayers.
The destruction of the City Hall lawn, a huge issue at the time, turned out, in fact, to be peanuts:
A new report from the Department of Recreation and Parks puts the cost of restoring the City Hall lawn at $76,000.
Looks like Occupy was fruitful for some city employees (perhaps they ended it too soon?).
Original estimates for the city cost of the occupation hovered around $2.3 million, but as you can see, if you take the policing that was a Catch-22 (needed to extract the demonstrators from the precious lawn), and downgrade the estimates to repair the lawn, you carry the one and come up with ... some serious bullshit.
Remember that city officials initially estimated that it would take $400,000 to restore the lawn to its globally recognized splendor and that, for this reason alone, we needed to extract these otherwise righteous demonstrators (at the cost of more than $1 million -- see above).
But the Weekly's own Simone Wilson quickly debunked that, noting that some expert landscapers said the lawn's restoration could be done for $150,000.
She was right and then some.
Now, you could say the protesters weren't righteous. Or that they overstayed their welcome. That's fine. Reasonable, perhaps.
But that's not what Villaraigosa and much of the City Council said. No, in order to do their usual political jujitsu, they had to appear to be with the Occupy movement, but at the same time able to do something about it.
And then came the lies.
The Downtown News notes that the City Council today will take up three lawn options, some that would take the price tag beyond simple restoration.
After proposing three lawn design alternatives, the current preferred option would reduce the amount of thirsty turf by 51%, replacing the entire north lawn with new plantings. The cost of the proposal is uncertain, but a similar proposal that would have reduced the turf footprint by 58% was estimated at $390,000.
Fair enough. Use the occasion as an excuse to beautify the lawn. Just don't blame Occupy (and then say, in the same breath, that you were with the 99 percent). They was robbed. And used.
This is what happens in a City Council where way more money goes into public relations than policy.
It's called spin. But you know what we call it. (Hint: It's that stuff they'll be sprinkling on the lawn.)
[Update at 1:17 p.m.]: The City Maven reports that the City Council is going with a full-on, $390,000 "makeover," while reporting that, indeed, basic restoration would have only cost $76,000.
Michael Shull, superintendent of Recreation and Parks' Planning, Construction and Maintenance Division, is quoted as saying:
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We assumed the worst case scenario for the irrigation systems, thinking that we might have to replace all of them. Luckily, the irrigation systems are fairly intact.
That worst-case scenario seemed to play right into the hands of the politicians, coincidentally (or not).
The City Maven says the new lawn will debut in May.