Larry Agran, longtime Irvine councilman and former mayor, was recognized for his 28 years of service during his final City Council meeting Tuesday. Agran lost his reelection bid this month.
Councilwoman Beth Krom, Agran’s only remaining Democratic ally on the council, expressed appreciation for his tenure, as did several residents during public comments.
Agran’s farewell was not without a touch of controversy, however. Mayor Pro Tem Jeffrey Lalloway objected to the approval of community partnership grants. Agran had applied for $9,000 in grants for distribution among 10 local organizations.
Lalloway pointed out that the annual budget allows each council member $10,000 in grant requests per fiscal year and that Agran would serve only five months of that term. Lalloway expressed concern that incoming Councilwoman Lynn Schott would be left with no budget for charitable grants. Agran had already used $1,000 in grant contributions.
Discussion reflected animosity along political lines that prompted catcalls from the audience. Mayor Steven Choi twice called for decorum in the council chambers.
After 10 minutes of acrimony, Krom interjected with a compromise. She offered to use her own communty fund budget to help fulfill Agran’s grant requests.
“I don’t want to see those organizations that council member Agran has identified lose out because of this absurd conversation,” Krom said.
“For us to be sitting here pretending this is about anything other than one last smack at council member Agran on his way out the door is ridiculous.”
Commission decision stands
In other business Tuesday, the council unanimously denied the appeal of the Planning Commission’s approval of a 280-unit condominium development.
Lalloway made the motion to deny after a report from an investigating attorney hired by the city convinced the council that planning commissioners had followed proper procedure.
Krom called the appeal a political campaign stunt and “wild goose hunt” and asked the city attorney how much the investigation cost the city. Told it was about $6,000, Krom quipped, “It’s probably enough to cover council member Schott’s community grant funds.”
Residents in the area around the site, at the southwest corner of McGraw and Murphy avenues, previously expressed concerns about noise, traffic and dust during hours of construction.
A representative said the developer has set up a line of communication to address residential concerns. The project will take roughly two years to complete.
Welcome to the dais
The next Irvine City Council meeting, on Dec. 9, will include the swearing-in of Schott and of Choi and Lalloway to new terms as mayor and mayor pro tem, respectively.
A public reception in honor of the outgoing Agran will be held at 5 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.