[LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER] June 2016
The city has a knack for initiating ideas or projects without having the foresight of how to pay for them. One case in point, is when Mayor Eric Garcetti declared last year a state of emergency regarding the city’s increasing homeless population, which was then followed up a few months later with, oh, by the way, we don’t have enough money to pay for it.
Regarding a much less critical issue, imagine my surprise when I discovered this month the city now says it does not have enough money to fund the construction of a youth baseball field in Griffith Park, even though it has been in protracted legal proceedings since 2014. The reason the city has no money for the project? A city employee underestimated its costs by 500%.
Former Los Angeles City Councilmember Tom LaBonge once indicated he expected a shortfall of funds for the project—perhaps he was aware its estimated price tag was so grossly misstated—and he would use Quimby Funds, money developers pay the city in exchange for approval of some projects—to make up the shortfall.
Current councilmember David Ryu, through a spokesperson, says that is still a possibility, but the city is hoping voters approve an expected county ballot measure this November for funding green space and parks.
I, for one, am voting no on any measure asking for more taxpayer dollars. If the city can afford to launch a costly bid for the 2024 Olympics, which would bring athletes to Los Angeles from all over the world, it can afford a simple baseball diamond in Griffith Park (where there currently is none) to serve its own youth.
I’ve requested the estimate showing the costs to build a single youth baseball field over $3 million. I was denied that request by a city agency responsible for the project, as it is close to being settled, but is technically still in litigation.
A quick Google search however, presented costs to build a baseball field in 2003 in Colorado. The cost then: $196,500, which in today’s dollars would be $260,000. While the Colorado ballfield may not be a precise apples to apples comparison to the one proposed for Griffith Park, it does make you wonder: how could it ever cost over $3 million to install a kid’s baseball field within an existing park?
There are times I lose complete faith in my city. This is one of those times.