Against all logic, the Board of Supervisors has signed off on a 35-year extension of Goldrich and Kest’s lease to operate the Sunset Marina Park in Huntington Harbour.

And for this generosity, which included no taking of competitive bids even though the current lease agreement does not expire until 1999, the county has come away with some kind of deal: At the insistence of three supervisors who rightly had questions about the agreement, the operator now will pay $200,000 in back rent.

Still, imagine the equivalent of that concession in the housing rental market. What landlord would agree to a long-term lease extension when a tenant owes months in back rent and has been bold enough to seek to be let out of it?

In addition, this renewal is being granted to a tenant who has practiced some questionable management in the past. Goldrich and Kest is said to have been running the operation well recently, but will old questions about substandard maintenance be revisited sometime down the road now that a long-term lease is freshly in place?


Orange County also has negotiated for itself a favorable share of all revenue generated by the marina, but it is hard to see just what the county has achieved here that it could not have realized by opening the bidding.

The reason the county handled this lease agreement the way it did remains a mystery and should be a subject for outside review. Since one of the things that the Orange County Grand Jury does is examine how well government is operating, it might want to have a look at how and why this deal was put together.