Irvine approves Great Park ride price

March 13, 2013 by  
Filed under Solar Energy Tips

IRVINE – The free carousel and balloon rides at the Great Park will become $2, $5 and $10 rides as of April 1.

That decision came amid lengthy debates at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, during which council members traded accusations of being deceitful and shrill, and using the U.S. Solar Decathlon as a cover to charge for rides and using the meeting as another opportunity to retell the park’s history.

Article Tab: The Irvine City Council has voted 3-2 to begin charging for the Great Park balloon rides beginning April 1. Children will be charged $5 and adults $10 to ride the balloon. Riders of the carousel at the park will be charged $2.


•Adopt Great Park board recommendations to charge for balloon and carousel rides and eliminate events to pay for the U.S. Solar Decathlon.

Approved 3-2 (Agran and Krom voted no)

•Approve a request for proposals for an auditor to review Great Park contracts.

Approved 3-2 (Agran and Krom voted no)

•Adopt gun safety measures. A substitute motion proposed by Christina Shea was proposed.

Approved 5-0

•Contribute $100,000 to the Christopher Dorner manhunt reward.

Approved 5-0

•Establish and change speed limits on five roads.

Approved 5-0

Councilman Jeff Lalloway, who supported the new ride fees to support Solar Decathlon costs, urged the crowd not to be upset with him and other members of the council majority.

“Be upset at the people that wasted 220 million-plus dollars,” he said, referring to the council that led Irvine before November’s election, which included Larry Agran and Beth Krom.

The council voted 3-2 to charge for the rides and remove three events from the park’s calendar, among other cuts, to cover more than $2 million in costs for the Solar Decathlon and related energy expo. Krom and Agran voted no, but not before Agran made a failed substitute motion that would have required the city to host a fundraising summit for the decathlon instead of charging for park features.

All riders of the carousel will be charged $2 a ride. Children will be charged $5 and adults $10 to ride the balloon.

Catherine Nagel, the executive director of the City Parks Alliance in Washington, D.C. (the Great Park is a board member), said in a recent interview that Irvine certainly isn’t the first or last to consider charging for features. The National Mall, for one, is free to walk along but the carousel comes with a charge: $3.50. So does the carousel at the National Zoo.

Irvine charges for some features at other parks including a $2-$4 fee to swim at the William Woollett Jr. Aquatics Center and for events like Moonlit Marshmallows where children can make s’mores for $3 each.

The most public interest at Tuesday’s meeting was reserved for a proposal to adopt gun-control measures in the city. More than 20 members of the public remained in the council chamber past 10 p.m., about seven hours since the meeting’s start, to discuss and listen to the issue. Agran, who proposed the original motion, whittled down seven recommendations to two – hiring more school resource officers with Measure BB funds and encouraging Mayor Steven Choi to join Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

Several residents urged the council to enact stricter laws, noting that the mayor of what’s been dubbed America’s safest city should make a symbolic stand against guns. Many cited the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Conn., as an example of the need for more school resource officers. The Police Department has hired one additional officer, though funds from Measure BB won’t arrive until July.

But one resident said she wished her daughter had had a gun when the 21-year-old was raped in December.

Ultimately, the council unanimously approved a substitute motion made by Councilwoman Christina Shea with a list of 10 gun-control recommendations slightly different from Agran’s proposal.

The council also voted to contribute $100,000 to the reward fund set up in mid-February for tips leading to the arrest and capture of ex-Los Angeles Officer Christopher Dorner, who was suspected of killing two Irvine residents and died in a shootout with officers near Big Bear. Two days after Choi appeared at a Los Angeles news conference announcing the reward, the Irvine council was expected to vote on the contribution. That same night Dorner died in a deadly standoff.

The vote was delayed, but Irvine remained on a list kept by the Los Angeles mayor’s office of about 30 donors who pledged contributions. Tuesday night, Choi said repeatedly that he did not promise any money at the time of the news conference. Irvine’s city manager and chief of police said the promised contribution required the City Council’s approval, which was unanimously given at the meeting more than a month after the press conference.

Contact the writer: 949-864-6371 or


Comments are closed.