The Orange County Register is reporting that the Occupy OC protests from last fall and early winter cost the city about $30,000 — about half in legal fees. That’s really a drop in the bucket for Irvine, which has a healthy budget reserve and money well spent to support freedom of speech that was approved by progressives and conservatives on the city council.
From the story:
The city paid $14,600 in legal services for negotiating camping agreements with the group. Two electronic sign boards were posted near the corner after that discouraged honking by passing drivers and later read “quiet zone.” The city erected the signs after neighboring residents complained of the noise from cars honking in support or protest of the demonstration. The total coast was $6,300. The cost of replacing the grass on the corner, which died after weeks of occupation, was $8,500.
Protesters said the cost of the Irvine occupation was significantly less than that in other cities. The city has said the occupation was peaceful and that protesters complied with all of the city’s conditions for camping. In contrast to the clashes and evictions in other cities throughout the country, the Irvine City Council and members of Occupy OC negotiated agreements and cooperated with each other.
Now Occupy did have collection boxes and accepted donations for a porta-potty, and aside from a protest where people cancelled bank accounts with large banks such as Bank of America and Wells Fargo, the Occupy movement in Orange County simply didn’t have the impact here that similar groups did in New York. I’d love to know if the Occupy Protesters plan to reimburse the city for replacing the grass. Given that the cost of managing Occupy was $30,000 to Irvine taxpayers, I doubt the city of Santa Ana would have had more expenses in allowing Occupy Santa Ana to camp out. The difference here between two progressive city councils, one acted in accordance with progressive values and the other paid lip service “supporting” the movement.
Occupy seems to be moving towards actions that may positively affect policy with several Occupy members running for office. The candidacies, even if unsuccessful, place the issues Occupy advocated for in the public square in a meaningful way. I’m hopeful Occupy will align themselves with candidates who support policies that benefit the 99 percent.