Mission Viejo Community & Senior center expansion or, "how to boil a live frog"

“Oct 29,2004 City of Mission Viejo Press Release”

“The city of Mission Viejo has secured a $3 million grant from the state of California Department of Parks and Recreation towards the $5.5 million estimated cost to complete the expansion of the Norman P. Murray Community and Senior Center.”

It must be pointed out that this Oct 29, 2004 city document states that “the expansion plan includes construction of a new 11,224 square foot building (adjoining the existing 10,000 square foot facility), the addition of 172 more parking spaces, and the relocation of two existing soccer fields (that will be displaced as a result of the original building and parking areas)”.

Watch this closely. The $5.5 million INCLUDES the relocation of two existing soccer fields. The city has a problem. While they legally shred older documents, I tend to hang onto my copies with this post being an example.

Have you heard the instructions for boiling a live frog? If not check it out on Google.

We need to trust our city to bring projects to completion on time and under budget. Sadly that does not happen in Mission Viejo. There has been discussion that the original estimate DID NOT include cost for replacing the soccer fields. I beg to differ. Or we were lied to. I have indicated the soccer field costing in the following data.

Without going to the original task force plans for expanding our community and senior center, where their initial projected costs were low, let’s only peel the onion back to July 5, 2005 when we set Phase I development cost at $5,526,071. At that time there were two options to add additional parking (costing $196,759) and soccer fields and necessary park site improvements (at $1,919,078). The grand total being $7,641,908.

Fast forward to today where the latest Budget Summary reflects a Grand Total Budget of $13,496,833 or a 75 percent increase above the original budget and including Option #2.
On our city council agenda for Monday Sept 17, 2007 that long awaited project is requesting approval of change order #10 in which there is a request for an additional $21,207 in construction costs. You see. Their strategy and tactics are very simple.

Let the public buy in to a stripped down model and load it up with after market items when no one is paying too much attention.

It’s like setting a tax. It’s very hard to sell the public but once it’s in place it’s a lot easier to slowly and quietly ratchet it up with less oversight or criticism.

i.e. Boiling the live frog.

After a while we need to complete the expansion CIP project so simply add change order after change order placing it on the “routine consent calendar” where the vendor knows he has you hooked. Simply say go ahead, hit me again. After all, senior city management might say it’s not my money. I don’t even live in this city.

Juice readers. Have they cooked any live frogs in your city’s kitchen?

About Larry Gilbert