Friday, February 12, 2016

Budget Review Tops Tuesday's City Council Meeting

THE NEXT INSTALLMENT...
The Costa Mesa City Council will meet again on Tuesday, February 16, 2016 beginning at 5:45 in City Council Chambers at City Hall.  You can read the agenda HERE.

HOW WE SPENT OUR MONEY
There are several interesting items on the agenda, but first we will give you a few interesting snippets of Warrant #2551, HERE, bills that have been paid.  These entries were plucked from the list just because I thought you might be interested, or because I was.
  • Apple One Employment Services - $3,034.80 - Temp Services, various
  • Clean Street - $57,299.98 - Street Sweeping Svcs, Dec 15
  • G4S Secure Solutions Inc - $54,706.68 - Jail Svcs, 11/30 - 12/28/15
  • Jones & Mayer - $148,314.04 - Legal Svcs, various
  • Liebert Cassidy Whitmore - $56,746.51 - Legal Svcs, various
  • Accountemps - $2,179.20 - Temp svcs, Treasury
  • Benefit Funding Services Group - $6,250.00 - Retirement Pln Cnsltng 10/1-12/31
  • Bucknam Infrastructure Group Inc - $6,759.35 - Pavement Mgnt Prog
  • CSG Consultants Inc - $3,612.20 - Bldg Pln Rev, Pln Check/Inspct Svcs
  • Estancia TeWinkle School Foundation - $5,000.00 - 2015 Gala Sponsorship
  • Glenn Lukos & Associates, Inc - $2,574.00 - Biological Svcs 10/31-12/11/15
  • Government Staffing Services Inc - $5,958.75 - Temp Svcs, various
  • Scott Fazekas & Associates - $3,678.14 - Bldg Pln Check Svcs
  • Stantec Consulting Services Inc - $7,749.00 - Right of Way Services
  • City of Huntington Beach - $18,970.00 - Helicopter Svcs-Dec 2015
  • Civil Source - $131,143.00 - Project Mgt, various
  • Accountemps - $871.68 - Temp Svcs Treasury 1/22/16
  • CSG Consultants - $10,470.00 - Bldg Inspector 11/28-12/25
  • Government Staffing Services Inc - $3,094.00 - Temp Svcs Buyer
  • Liebert Cassidy Whitmore - $3,542.50 - Legal svcs, various
  • Mercy House - $4.059.76 - 15-16 Subrecipient agreement
  • Mika - $3,000.00 - 15-16 Subrecipient agreement
  • Orange County Council on Aging - $2,500.00 - Subrecipient agreement
  • Scientia Consulting Group Inc - $5,504.00 - ProfSvcs Agreement 12/27/15-1/9/16
  • Stantec Consulting Services Inc - $922.75 - Right Of Way Services
  • Telecom Law Firm PC - $525.00 - Legal
So, we spent nearly $210,000 on legal services, nearly $165,000 on temporary services and project management.
STATE-MANDATED WATER EFFICIENT GUIDELINES
There is one (1) Public Hearing on the agenda, HERE.  This is the first reading of an amendment to the Municipal Code related to Water Efficient Landscape Plan and Related Guidelines.  These new rules are required by Governor Brown's Executive Order issued April 1, 2015 and must be in place by March, 2016.
 (Click on Image to enlarge)
CLOSING THE WALLS ON PROBLEMS
There is one (1) item of Old Business, HERE.  This deals with the request to close off seven (7) wall openings along Victoria Street and Dorset Lane.  The staff report provides a list of those locations.
ANOTHER SMALL LOT DEVELOPMENT ON THE WESTSIDE
New Business #1, HERE, is a screening request for the replacement of a single dwelling with detached garage with a 3-unit residential development at 1979 Anaheim Avenue.  This is just a screening of this project, which provides the applicant with feedback from the City Council and refine the development, if necessary.


BUDGET DISCUSSIONS
The final item on the agenda, New Business #2, HERE, is the Financial Update, including the Review of the June 30, 2015 CAFR; Fiscal Year 2015-2016 Mid-year Budget Report and the Five-Year Financial Plan.  This one could take awhile.  The total budget adopted last June was, $154,189,869, including the General Fund budget of $115,202,900.  The revised General Fund budget is $117,330,310 - see the staff report for the details on those changes.  According to Interim Finance Director Steve Dunivent's report, "Small deficits of 1.3 and 2.7% of general fund revenues occur and will be balanced during the annual budget processes."  It will be interesting to hear exactly how that works out.
WILL RIGHEIMER LOSE IT AGAIN?
I'm going to be very interested to see if Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer blows another gasket Tuesday night.  Last time he sucked up valuable Public Comments time with a rant following a comment by Costa Mesa Firefighters Association President Rob Gagne instead of waiting for his time during Council Member Comments.  He's such an arrogant, egotistical guy that he thinks the world revolves around him.  We'll see what provokes him this time.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

New Good Stuff From The City

HOUSEKEEPING
We've been doing a little tidying-up here at A Bubbling Cauldron and wanted to make you aware of some of the recent informational sites made available by the City of Costa Mesa.

HANDY LINKS
Over on the right of this page you'll find a roster of links - many sites I thought might be helpful to you during your quest for information about the City of Costa Mesa and beyond.  The City has recently added some new ones, so I updated my list - culled some dormant links and added new ones.  Most titles are self-explanatory, but there are some new Costa Mesa-oriented sites listed for your use.
  • The first one on the list is the City of Costa Mesa Crime Map - that's been there for awhile. 
  • Further down you will find "Costa Mesa Connected", a new one which is actually a blog generated by Public Information Officer Tony Dodero, and provides a rolling report on activities and important news snippets.  He tries to update it daily, so it's worth a frequent stop-in to see what's up.
  • Next I listed the "Costa Mesa New Resident Guide", which is a new very nifty source of important information for all of us, not just newbies to the City.
  • Next is the link to the City of Costa Mesa web page.
  • Next is a direct link to the City of Costa Mesa Municipal Code
  • And, I even linked to the Costa Mesa Library Foundation site for you, too.
CLICK HERE FIRST AND ENJOY
I encourage you to scroll down through the whole list of links to refresh your memory about what is available to you here.  I think you'll find those sites useful - and you can always find them by clicking here first!  Clever, huh?  More information for you.... and more Page Views for me.  You're welcome.

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Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Planning Commission Rejects A Church, And More...



AN EVENTFUL EVENING, FOR SURE
It was an interesting evening with the Costa Mesa Planning Commission last night.  Much of the evening went about as anticipated, but there were a couple things that snapped my eyelids open.  Let us begin...
EGGSTRAVAGANZA
Public Comments included Beth Refakes reminding us of the Eggstravaganza - the candy and gifts drive for the children of our adopted Marine battalion out of Camp Pendleton. 
A "RED MOUNTAIN" REMINDER
Businessman Tim Lewis, who apparently came directly from work judging from the grease on his hands, reminded the commission of the ownership issue on the Red Mountain project at Harbor and Hamilton.
WANTS A CODE ENFORCEMENT REPORT
During Commissioner Comments Stephan Andranian again asked for a Code Enforcement update - at the next meeting on the 22nd.
FAIRVIEW DEVELOPMENTAL CENTER
Colin McCarthy mentioned the meeting last Saturday at the Fairview Developmental Center concerning the apparent plans by the State to sell the site, which has dwindled down to just over 200 residents from something over 2700.  The meeting ran from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.  McCarthy told us he arrived just after two and the Daily Pilot article about the meeting was already online.  He made a point of demanding to know if the Smart Growth Initiative will have an impact on the development of that site.
YOUTUBE VIDEO
Chairman Rob Dickson mentioned the Costa Mesa Brief YouTube video of the meeting.

The commission voted, 5-0, to pass the Consent Calendar - the minutes from the previous meeting.

PUBLIC HEARING #3 CONTINUED
As they then began to consider the Public Hearings for the evening, right off the bat Dickson announced that Public Hearing #3, the proposal for 43 units at the site of a car dealership on Harbor Blvd. at Merrimac was being continued to the next meeting at the request of the applicant, and that he would NOT be entertaining any public comments on the issue.  The commission then voted, 5-0, to continue the item.
EDUCATIONAL CENTER
First up was Public Hearing #1, the request for minor conditional use permit for a church at 3184-J Airway Avenue.  The request had been approved by the Zoning Administrator in December and called up for review by the Planning Commission by Commissioner Stephan Andranian that month, also.  The applicant was "The Ismaili Community", which apparently is a religious organization funded by the Aga Khan Development Network and has 9 hospitals, 200 clinics and 200 schools worldwide.  They have 80 facilities in the US.  They have been domiciled nearby in Irvine for many years, but say they've outgrown the site.  An odd statement, since the proposed site is just under 2,000 square feet and the site they currently occupy is 3,200 square feet.
TOO COMPLICATED - REJECTED
The complication of this application was the proximity of another church, the Berean Community Church, already located nearby, and the complication of congregations competing for parking.  Of the seven (7) members of the public who spoke about this issue, only one - the property owner and seller - spoke in favor of this move.  The rest were either representing the other church, nearby businesses who would apparently suffer from the influx of more people to the center, or concerned residents.  Following an hour of discussion the commission voted to reject the Zoning Administrators approval on a 3-2 vote.  Chairman Dickson and Vice Chair Jeff Mathews voted NO.
DON'T BLINK ON THIS ONE
Public Hearing #2, the proposed restaurant use at the shopping center at the corner of Harbor and Adams at the site of the old theater, then Paul Mitchell School, was promptly approved unanimously following 10 minutes of discussion.  Parking - an issue with the Paul Mitchell School - is apparently a non-issue now, according to applicant John Hill.

NICE LITTLE PROJECT, BUT...
Public Hearing #4, the proposed two-unit development at 1808 Pomona Avenue, should have been a slam dunk, but it had some interesting moments.  This project requested no deviations from code.  Everything was rocking along nicely - Commissioner Tim Sesler asked the owner what price point they would be at and was told $680,000 - $720,000 for the 4-bedroom model and more than $720,000 for the 5-bedroom model.  Colin McCarthy began to wax poetic again about the Small Lot Ordinance.  Then came public comments...
DESIGNED FOR SOBER LIVING HOME USE?
The first speaker, a person active within the community and particularly so in dealing with the sober living home issue, stepped up and told the commission that this neighborhood was packed with sober living homes - she described the locations in detail - then pointed out that the configuration of these two homes was as though they were designed specifically for such a facility!  The 5-bedroom unit, for example, has a bedroom with bathroom on the first floor and 4 more bedrooms and three more bathrooms on the second floor.
THEORY REINFORCED
A second speaker stepped up and told the commission that Costa Mesa has 215 unlicensed sober loving homes and 90 licensed facilities and this project was designed for such use.  A third speaker was concerned about the parking requirements for the development.
WITH A SHRUG, PASSED UNANIMOUSLY
During the subsequent discussion commissioners tap-danced around the sober living issue, stating that they couldn't make a decision based on speculation of how the properties might be used.  It's interesting to note that, based on what we're led to believe is the going rate for "clients" in sober living homes in the city, it would take just over a year to pay off one of those homes with that use.  The commission passed the project on a 5-0 vote.
2-UNITS ON MYRAN DRIVE APPROVED
Public Hearing #5, the two-unit development at 2156 Myran Drive, also passed on a 5-0 vote.  The only question on this one was the size of a landscaped area abutting Myran Drive, which was quickly resolved.
A REMINDER
The meeting ended at 8:30 with Deputy City Attorney Yolanda Summerhill reminding the commissioners that their Statements of Economic Interest were due to be submitted in March.

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Monday, February 08, 2016

Crime Stats - Los Angeles vs. Costa Mesa

LOS ANGELES AGHAST OVER RISE IN CRIME
Over the past few days the Los Angeles-based media has been peppering the airwaves with news about the dramatic increase in crime in Los Angeles.  Horrified politicians wring their hands because it's up 10% - and rightfully so.  That's a significant number and should cause concern for anyone living in or visiting that city.  In response we heard LAPD Chief Charlie Beck tell reporters that he had reassigned his elite Metro Division to work on targeted areas.  He also said part of the solution to the problem, which he attributed in part due to Prop. 47 and AB 109 releases, was to add a couple thousand more cops to his 10,000 already on board.

MEANWHILE, COSTA MESA INCREASE IS TRIPLE!
Contrast this to Costa Mesa, where our crime rate as of December 31, 2015, was up 33%.  And you can just take a peek at this chart and realize this is NOT a new situation. (click on the image to enlarge it)
SHARPNACK HAS PLANS, BUT...
New Police Chief Rob Sharpnack has told us in recent months of his plans to improve things and it all sounds just fine.  The only problem is, we are so far behind the curve in our recruitment that it will take most of this year - at least - to get the headcount back to the arbitrarily-diminished level imposed on the CMPD by the current council majority.  We're down 20 officers, so if we snag two or three per Academy class and don't lose any more officers to retirements or departures to other jurisdictions, we just might make it back to the authorized headcount by the end of the year.
LEARNING CURVE
However, having bodies behind the steering wheels of our cruisers doesn't solve the problem.  It takes months for a new officer to gain even the minimal skills to patrol alone.
WHAT ABOUT THOSE "GRANT" COPS?
And, by the way, five of our current positions are "grant" positions - and the grants are about to expire.  That eliminates those slots unless a way can be found to authorize them beyond the expiration date.
MORE CONDITIONS FOR CRIME
In the meantime, Prop. 47 will continue to negatively impact our city, as will the early-releases as a result of AB109.  And, of course, our homeless population - up a reported 45% - will continue to be problematic.  And that issue is complicated by the growing number of sober living homes in our city.  When "clients" fail in one of those places there apparently is not mechanism to ship those failures back to their homes in other states.  So, they become one of our homeless individuals and, worse, they typically are now back using whatever their drug of choice happened to be.
REMEMBER WHY...
As we move forward in what is likely to be the most contentious campaign season in Costa Mesa history, it will be important to think about this issue and to remember who is responsible for a big chunk of it.  There are plenty of campaign issues this time around, but in my view, the rising crime rate and diminished police force is right at the top.

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Planning Commission Agenda



FIRST MEETING OF FEBRUARY
The Costa Mesa Planning Commission meets again on Monday, February 8, 2016 in City Council Chambers beginning at 6:00 p.m.  The full agenda for that meeting may be found HERE.  There are five (5) public hearings schedule for this meeting.  Here's a brief rundown on the issues to be discussed.

CUP FOR SHARED PARKING ON AIRWAY
Public Hearing #1, HERE, is a request for a minor Conditional Use Permit to deviate from shared parking requirements for a religious education and cultural assembly at 3184 Airway Avenue, Suite J.  The Zoning administrator approved the request late last year and was promptly called for Planning Commission review.  The staff is recommending approval, but there are letters in the file from nearby neighboring operations opposing this change.
 ADDING A RESTAURANT AT HARBOR AND ADAMS
Public Hearing #2, HERE, is a request to amend a planning application for the shopping center at 1534 Adams Avenue, Suite J, on the north corner of Harbor Blvd. and Adams Avenue.  Specifically, the applicant wants to add 2334 square feet of restaurant space, deviate from the shared parking requirements and add valet parking.  The staff recommends approval of this one.
 43 UNITS REPLACING CAR DEALERSHIP ON HARBOR
Public Hearing #3, HERE, involves a proposed 43-unit, two-story, detached residential common interest development at 2626  Harbor Blvd. at the corner of Harbor and Merrimac. The applicant has requested this item be continued to the meeting of February, 22, 2016 to make modifications to the project.
TWO UNITS ON POMONA AVENUE
Public Hearing #4, HERE, is the planning application and tentative tract map for a detached two-unit small lot development at 1808 Pomona Avenue with no code deviations requested.
TWO MORE ON MYRAN DRIVE
Public Hearing #5, HERE, is another two-unit small lot development located at 2156 Myran Drive, which also requests no code deviations.
It looks like it's going to be a busy night at City Hall.

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Sunday, February 07, 2016

City Seeks Committee Volunteers

VOLUNTEERS SOUGHT
The City of Costa Mesa is currently seeking several residents to serve on the following committees:

Bikeways and Walkability Committee
Cultural Arts Committee
Historical Preservation Committee
Finance Advisory Committee
Housing and Public Service Grant Committee
Pension Oversight Committee

FOR MORE INFO...
For more information visit the city website HERE, for complete details on the duties for each committee and the number of vacancies on each.  The deadline for applying is 5:00 p.m., Friday, February 19, 2016.

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Thursday, February 04, 2016

Bike Committee Had A Full Meeting



NOT A FULL TEAM AGAIN
The Costa Mesa Bikeways and Walkability Committee met again Wednesday evening at City Hall and managed to fill the time provided with productive discussions.  The committee membership is down to twelve (12), plus Brent Stoll and Dr. Kirk Bauermeister.  Two members and Stoll were absent last night.  Three positions will be filled with the current recruitment effort for this and several other city committees.  Applications must be received by 5:00 p.m., Friday, February 19th.

TAXING CARS FOR BIKE INFRASTRUCTURE
Member James Kane did more work on an analysis of Senate Bill 1183, HERE, which theoretically provides for up to $5.00 per vehicle annually to be assessed by cities, counties or other park districts to fund bicycle enhancements within their boundaries.  The following slides outline what he found out.
Apparently, there are NO jurisdictions who have taken advantage of this bill.  It would apparently take a local vote to enact the process and there are few politicians willing to impose a new tax.  It's an interesting concept, though.  According to the data Kane provided, it could provide net revenue of more than $400,000 annually for such efforts.

WEST 19TH STREET BIKE TRAIL PROJECT
There was a presentation by Min Zhou, Project Manager for KOA Corporation, the consultants working on the 19th Street Bike Path project.  They gave an overview of the project to the committee and answered several questions.  This plan will be presented as a community outreach effort in the near future, so members of the community nearby or with special interest can attend in a larger venue to hear the plans and offer comments.
 PRESENTATION OF GOALS, OBJECTIVES AND.... "RECOMMENDATIONS"
Chairman Ralph Taboada and Vice Chair Cynthia McDonald briefed the committee members on their presentation of the Goals, Objectives and Policies presented to the City Council at a recent meeting.  Much discussion revolved around the negative reception their work product received, and the demand by Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer that the "policies" be modified to be called "recommendations", even though the format is the preferred style for the General Plan update.
I sat through most of the meetings where this committee met and hammered out this excellent piece of work on a rushed timetable.  I, too, was surprised and disappointed with Righeimer's reaction to it.  Yes, there were a lot of words, and, yes, it took some time to carefully craft the document - but that was their charter.

RIGHEIMER'S MOTIVATION
Personally, I think there's more at play here.  I think that Righeimer realizes - although he didn't say it - that the "rules" provided by the "policies" might negatively impact some future developments by his pals.  By calling them "recommendations" the staff can be instructed to simply not enforce those Righeimer finds objectionable.
THE REVISED MAP
There was also a lengthy discussion of the completion of the Bicycle Map for the Master Plan.  An example of a conceptual map was reviewed and, after discussion, it was agreed unanimously to put that map forward.  There was significant discussion about the method of presenting this map, with some members favoring approaching individual members of the council, while others strongly suggested to not use that tactic.  The committee will present the map to the council as a whole.

 NO TAKERS FOR CICLOVIA SUBCOMMITTEE, BUT...
Also on the agenda was a opportunity for the creation of a ciclovia subcommittee.  I wasn't at the meeting where this was proposed as an agenda item, but it seems like the plan was to form a smaller group to move forward with all elements of a possible ciclovia event similar to others held elsewhere.  When it came time for volunteers for this committee nobody stepped up.  The subsequent discussion resolved that it may be too soon for such an effort for this fledgling committee.
...AN OUTREACH SUBCOMMITTEE WILL BE FORMED
So, the conversation then turned to the creation of a broader Outreach Subcommittee, to begin with smaller steps.  Four members stepped up for this group - Chairman Taboada, Vice Chair McDonald, Rick Huffman and Jim Erickson.  The committee will wait until the next meeting, when a couple more members may be present, to fill out the five-person subcommittee and tighten the focus of its activities.  Discussions revolved around creating a presence at currently-existing programs in the city - like the Fish Fry and the Community Run - to launch greater awareness of this group and their efforts to improve bikeability and walkability in the city.
LOCKED GATES ON GREENVILLE-BANNING CHANNEL TRAIL
There was a brief slide presentation requested by Parks and Recreation Commissioner Bob Graham, who was in the audience last night, regarding the possibility of finding a way to open two locked gates on the trail that parallels the Greenville-Banning Channel on the Westside of town to provide access to walkers.
NEXT MEETING IN A MONTH
The next meeting will be held on March 2, 2016 at the Costa Mesa Senior Center, which is undergoing termite treatment.  The meeting adjourned at 9:07 p.m. and the 9 members of the public in attendance departed.

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