Wealthy OC enclave Newport Beach is up in arms over an adorable public art installation that a handful of residents and city councilmembers say is a symbol of unforgivable government waste. The offending piece, nicknamed "bunnyhenge" by locals, is comprised of 14 white bunnies about as tall as an average adult man, plus two eight-foot bunnies that are paired up elsewhere on the grounds of Newport's new Civic Center, according to the LA Times. Designed to "provide intrigue and discovery," the bunnies dress up for various holidays and are a favorite of children. "The bunnies, to me, they're lighthearted and fun, which is what Newport Beach used to be before it became so absorbed in this kind of controversy," says one resident. "[W]e need to blow up the bunnies!" says a recently elected city councilmember.
Those who don't see the rabbits as fun are mostly caught up with their $221,000 pricetag. Combined with a striking and pricey new Civic Center, some residents are scared that Newport is changing its long-held tradition of having super-wealthy residents but modest public buildings. In the latest race, four city council candidates campaigned against what they saw as spendthrifty government and won three open seats. "The victory was built partially on the strength of mailers, such as the one that had an image of a milk-white bunny peering over the new City Hall as $100 bills rain from the sky," observes the Times.
The newly elected mayor and councilmembers are mostly focusing on other Newport issues—auditing or defending the contentious Civic Center, reinstating banned fire rings at the beach, and reducing fees for private residential docks. Only one recently seated councilmember is still focusing on bunny removal. His campaign video depicted the violent demise of the bunnies, but now he would merely like to send the rabbits packing. He's looking for a new home for them, possibly in the Pasadena Bunny Museum (which unfortunately seems to be at bunny capacity right now) or at a neighboring hospital.