Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Parks and Recreation Commission Finally Meets Again

A FULL AGENDA AHEAD
The short-handed Costa Mesa Parks and Recreation Commission meets for the first time since March and has a full, meaty agenda ahead of them, HERE.  The meeting begins Thursday, May 26, 2016 in City Council Chambers at City Hall at 6:00 p.m.

NO REPLACEMENT FOR HARPER YET
No replacement has been selected for Don Harper, who resigned a couple months ago, and the April meeting was canceled.  There has been no word when a replacement for Harper's remaining few months on the commission will be chosen, so the group, under the leadership of Chairman Brett Eckles, will operate with four men on the dais.

HERE YOU GO....
So, taking it from the top, here's what you can expect to see if you attend or watch live or on streaming video on Costa Mesa Television.
TREE AND PLAQUE DONATION
There will be a donation of a tree and plaque at Lions Park in honor of the Harbor Mesa Lions Club, HERE.

TWO TREE REMOVAL REQUESTS
There are two requests for tree removals - at 2069 Swan Drive, HERE, and 3260 Idaho Lane, HERE - both of which the staff is recommending denial.
CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT BUDGETS
The commissioners will review the proposed Capital Improvement Program for Fiscal Year 2016-2017 through 2022-2023, HERE, including a specific review of the 2016-2017 Capital Improvement as it relates to Parkway Median Improvement, Fairview Park, Curbs and Sidewalks, Park Maintenance and Park  Development.  According to the staff report, their review will also include the 7-Year Capital Improvement Program as it pertains to Curbs and Sidewalks and Community Health and Environment.
ARLINGTON DRIVE LANDSCAPE PALETTE
Next on the agenda will be the proposed Landscape Palette for Arlington Drive between Fairview Drive and Newport Boulevard.
AB 2496 IMPACT ON YOUTH SPORTS PROGRAMMING
Perhaps the most controversial item on the agenda is Assembly Bill 2496, which will significantly impact youth sports because it proposed to eliminate Daylight Savings Time.  This move will dramatically impact the shortage of lighted fields throughout the city and add pressure to use temporary and/or permanent lighting on many school fields.  You can read that staff report HERE


APPOINTMENT OF TWO COMMISSIONERS

 The final item on the agenda, HERE, is the appointment of two (2) commissioners to the Streetscape & Median Development Standards Committee.

A LOT ON THEIR PLATE...
For the first time in a long time this commission will have its hands full, exacerbated by being down one member.  I don't expect this to be a short meeting, particularly since there are several items that may draw out public comments - Capital Improvements in Fairview Park, for example.  We plan to attend and will report tomorrow night.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

District Mapping Meeting Schedule Announced


MEETING SCHEDULE ANNOUNCED
City Public Information Officer Tony Dodero issued a press release this afternoon announcing the series of community meetings at which the voting by district mapping program.  The community is invited to attend these meetings as convenient for them to provide input to the process.  There WILL be a voting by districts issue on the ballot in November.  This is your chance to provide input.
RSVP PREFERRED, BUT NOT REQUIRED
Here is the text of the message.  Click on the image to enlarge it if you have trouble reading it.  It will also be posted on Costa Mesa Connected and the City Facebook page shortly.


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Short, Successful Planning Commission Meeting

WE'RE BACK!  
 Yep, we're back.  In nearly eleven years of publishing this blog I've never gone 20 days without posting an entry - until this year.  My sweet and very patient wife and I took a VERY much needed vacation (more on that in another entry) and I avoided spoiling it for her by not posting new entries - even though there was plenty going on here in our absence.  Now, to the point at hand...
SHORT AGENDA - NO SOBER LIVING ISSUES ON IT
The Costa Mesa Planning Commission held a short meeting Monday night - it finished at just after 8 p.m. - although it could have been shorter since there were only two items on the agenda, HERE.  There had been an expectation that a Sober Living issue would be heard at this meeting, but that did not happen.  According to a clarification by Commissioner Stephan Andranian during his comments, the applicant in question is in control of when the item is heard, and he has chosen to delay it - perhaps to access the impact of the two Sober Living ordinances.  We don't know.

RESIDENTS CONCERNED ABOUT SOBER LIVING HOMES
During Public Comments several people addressed the Sober Living issue.  Hillary Larson, Ron Moss and others spoke on the subject, citing safety concerns for such facilities being in near proximity to schools, and the general decline in the community as a result of sober living facilities.


MISTAKES IN THE GENERAL PLAN AND EIR DOCUMENTS
Also mentioned was the great number of errors in the General Plan and Environmental Impact Report documents.  Development Services Director Gary Armstrong explained that it's not unusual for there to be errors on such a large document, particularly with so many contributing authors, and that an errata document will soon be available for review listing those mistakes in the documents.
ANOTHER NEW DEVELOPMENT ON BAKER STREET
During Commissioner Comments Colin McCarthy told us that there will be a community meeting held by a developer who plans to build a single-family development at 929 Baker Street - the site of a current RV Storage Lot.  The meeting begins at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 26 at 929 Baker Street and all interested parties are encouraged to attend.
COMMISSIONER COMMENTS
Tim Sesler attempted to provide a primer on our Sober Living Ordinances - bolstered by Deputy City Attorney Tarquin Prezisoi - for those in the audience concerned about the issue.  He emphasized the need for our laws to be enforceable.
During his segment Stephan Andranian also spoke to the Sober Living issue, and confirmed with Preziosi that there is a one-year grace period for the attainment of a permit before any enforcement action takes place..
Vice Chair Jeff Mathews continued on that subject and confirmed with Preziosi that civil action is possible if no permit is obtained.
Chairman Rob Dickson affirmed that the permit process provides for the first one in the door to get the permit and any others that apply, but fall within the 650 foot radius, will be left out.  He also confirmed that the previously mentioned errata document will be coming forward at the 6/14 council meeting.
ANOTHER WESTSIDE RESTAURANT/BAR
The first item, Public Hearing #1, is a request for a conditional use permit (CUP) for a new restaurant - Public Trade, at 2145 Placentia Avenue - for extended hours of operation and sale of alcoholic beverages on-site after 11 p.m.  The staff recommended approval of this use - replacing an old gasoline station.  Representative Brett Engstrom, speaking for owner, affirmed that this restaurant - a gastropub - will enhance the neighborhood.  It meets the parking requirements, including sacrificing one space for a bike rack to encourage bicycling to the site.  Tracy and Becky Jones, operators of an adjacent business, expressed concern about overflow parking onto their parking lot.  Beth Refakes was concerned about possible noise overflow from the planned outdoor patio.  Those concerns were addressed by Engrstrom, indicating that signage will be installed reminding their patrons that no parking on adjacent lots is permitted and subject to towing, and that patio music would be kept low to avoid disturbing neighbors.  The issue passed, 5-0.
A SURPRISINGLY GOOD PROJECT ON THE EASTSIDE
 Public Hearing #2, the 13-unit 2-story residential development in the recently-annexed section of the Eastside at the corner of Santa Ana Avenue and 22 Steet, was up next.  The developer, Melia Homes, presented a project that had NO deviations requested.  Some will recall that homeowners of the annexed property expressed great concern about the size of the lots for any future development on this empty T-shaped chunk of land. The county minimum was 7,200 square feet and the City Council imposed a limit of 6,000 square feet.  However, this developer - in the person of Chad Brown - did significant community outreach and has actually presented a project that appears to satisfy the anxious owners.  Liz Parker, one of the most outspoken residents during the annexation process, spoke and expressed gratitude for the quality of the project, which exceeds open space, set back and parking requirements significantly.  Eleven (11) of the 13 homes planned will be reached by a private street off of Santa Ana Avenue.  The remaining two will be a accessed from 22 Street.  The images below show the site plans.  The anticipated price point for these homes will range from $1.2 million to $1.5 million, according to Brown.  The issue was passed, 5-0 just after 8 p.m. and we all got to go home early.

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Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Righeimer's Bond Scheme Fails And More

EXPECTING ANOTHER RIOT?
The Costa Mesa, apparently expecting big trouble because there were four (4) officers in the auditorium plus Chief Rob Sharpnack, made it through the meeting without incident.  Maybe it was because I watched the proceedings at home..

MAYOR'S AWARD
Mayor Steve Mensinger opened things up with a presentation of his Mayor's Award to yet another local business - the Chick-Fil-A store on Harbor Blvd.  Operator Tammy Guadagno was praised for  outstanding community support.
PUBLIC COMMENTS
We had some new rules last night.  A big sign behind the City Clerk advised that speaker cards must be given to the staff member in the lobby.  Also, Mensinger imposed a rule where you MUST come to the speaker podium promptly or you cannot speak.  A couple speakers missed their turns.   

Nina Reich praised the signature-gatherers and those who turned out for the Trump demonstrations.  She also expressed concern for the lack of affordable housing.
Ashley Collins and David Twiss again expressed concern about a recent vote made by the Vector Control District to authorize aerial spraying for mosquitos.
Mary Spadoni attended the Trump rally and was concerned about the lack of a Nixle alert by the CMPD to advise residents of traffic issues in the area.  She did praise all the law enforcement officers and command staff present for doing an excellent job.
Chuck Perry told us he loved living in Costa Mesa.
Dr. Richard Mehren - long-time Fairview Park advocate, expressed pleasure at the collection of signatures.
Another individual showed samples of T-shirts with catchy phrases on them and provided a primer on good government.

Beth Refakes expressed concern about the apparent wheeling and dealing going on with the Attic Theater/Costa Mesa Women's Club.  She was concerned that the women were being taken advantage of and explained the terms of the deal as she understood them.
Kristine Bogner expressed concern about speaking at the meetings for fear that her photo might appear in "a blog".  Well, she's right... here she is!  She encouraged folks to come and speak up.
Ralph Taboada asked for more bike racks at parks and commercial areas, expressing concern that bicyclers were being cited for chaining their bikes to sign posts when racks were not available.
This fella, I've heard him referred to as Iggy, spoke again and once again complained about the incomplete 55 Freeway through town.  This time he used the term "bat guano" instead of his previous epithet.
Barrie Fisher provided statistics on how sober living organizations were circumventing the new ordinances.
Kim Hendricks thanked the Fairview Park Initiative volunteers.
Greg Thunnel blamed the Trump riots on the council members.
Jay Humphrey praised the Fairview Park petition gatherers and criticized the management of the Fair and event center for not being good neighbors, referring to the Trump rally.  Nine more speakers were trailed to the end of the meeting.
AERIAL SPRAYING RESPONSE
During Council Member Comments Sandy Genis explained in great detail why the decision was made by the Vector Control District to do aerial spraying, citing the very serious public health threat of the West Nile virus.  She also expressed concern about the minimal communication about the Trump event from city staff.  She also expressed extreme concern about language that was added to the Draft General Plan regarding the "repurposing of Fairview Park" and included the mention of playing fields.
MORE MOSQUITO QUESTIONS
Gary Monahan had nothing of his own to say, but asked Genis about "mosquito fish" as a solution to the mosquito problem.  He also asked CEO Tom Hatch to investigate a system used by the Mesa Water District to circulate water to keep mosquito breeding down.
FULL SPEED AHEAD ON SOBER LIVING ENFORCEMENT
Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer asked City Attorney Tom Duarte if the sober living lawsuit with Solid Landings had been signed, and if so, may we now enforce the two sober living ordinances?  The answer was yes.  He addressed the Trump event and was concerned about the short notice received, but praised the CMPD for their response to the issue.  He said he was "proud of the culture in our department."  What a great irony, since his minions have, for a couple years, vilified the CMPD for what they called the "culture of corruption."  What a hypocrite!
TRUMP AND HELPING NEIGHBORS
Mensinger praised the CMPD for their performance during the Trump event and mentioned that "people think I run the police department so I got many messages about not enough use of force, too much use of force."  I could only but smile...  He told us of the Neighbors Helping Neighbors event that he, Monahan and Righeimer participated in recently, and mentioned that one of the houses they spruced up was the home of local Pop Warner football icon, Ed Baume - recently deceased.  He told us he promised Ed he would fix up his house.  Sorry, but that seems just a little peculiar to me.
MAYOR'S CELEBRATION
Mensinger also told us his Mayor's Celebration is coming up next week and his former employer, George Argyros and wife Julia, would be feted, as would Hank Panian.  And he thanked Director of Public Services Ernesto Munoz for the great job being done sprucing up Harbor Boulevard, and mentioned the monument signage denoting "College Park" near the recently-remodeled GMC dealership.

TRUMP EVENT AND CRONEY ORDINANCE
Katrina Foley addressed the Trump event, too, saying you can't blame the Fair Board because they had no say whatosever in that event.  She praised our public safety folks.  She suggested we should bill the Trump campaign for damage to municipal property and the costs involved in keeping order.  She asked Hatch about the "Croney" ordinance, required to be implemented by any city with a COIN ordinance and was told the staff is implementing it.  It involves any contract over $250,000.
BETTER BRANDING
She told us of a recent conference by the Orange County Visitors Bureau at which municipal branding was emphasized.  She offered a long opinion on how we could be doing a better job of branding our city.

A NEW PIANO
She had left the chambers briefly and explained that she was at Costa Mesa High School for the unveiling of a recently acquired - through significant donations - of a concert grand piano.

BUDGET MEETINGS COMING UP
Mensinger almost overlooked Hatch again, but given the chance he reported on several things.  He advised that we should NOT be ticketing bike riders when racks are not available.  He told us the budget process is underway, and that a budget study session will be held next Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. - but didn't say where.  He said there will be a community meeting on May 19th at 5:30, but didn't say where.  He said the budget will be adopted at the meeting of June 21st.
NO AGREEMENT ON THE THEATER
Regarding the Women's Club/Attic Theater, he said he only knew of informal discussions and that the City has NOT entered into any agreement.

MEETING THE EXPERT ON DISTRICTS
Assistant CEO Rick Francis spoke briefly about the upcoming Voting By District meetings, stating that there would be a series of meetings with small groups - 2-3 people at a time - with the expert demographer hired for this process.  This image gives you the dates and the number to call to be included.  Larger, community meetings will be held in June.  He indicated we really had NO choice in how this process plays out because the issue WILL be on the ballot in November.
CHIEF GOT A STANDING "O"
Police Chief Rob Sharpnack spent the next 20 minutes giving us a briefing on the Trump event.  His report was thorough and professional.  I cannot begin to cover all his points, except to note that the patience and control exhibited by the members of the CMPD and other agencies involved kept the chaos to a minumum.  The crowd clapped when he finished.
Three items were pulled from the Consent Calendar for discussion at the end of the meeting.

CDBG PASSED WITH TINKERING
Public Hearing #1 dealt with the use of CDBG and HOME funds.  Consultant Mike Linares provided the staff report.  Members of some of the groups being granted funds spoke.  Representatives of California Elwyn, which was receiving no funds, expressed concern and advised that it would mean a shortage of staff to help manage their programs.  Andy Smith, the spokesman for the city committee charged with assessing the groups using criteria created by the council, advised how the process was conducted and why Elwyn came up short.  Eventually, Katrina Foley moved that eight of the recipients would have their stipend reduced by $500 and the resultant $4000 would be given to Elwyn.  It passed, 3-2, with Mensinger and Monahan voting NO.
COULD HAVE BEEN RESOLVED IN 5 MINUTES
For the next 90 minutes Jim Righeimer's vindictive Affordable Housing Bond was the subject of discussion.  For this issue to move forward four of the five council members were required to vote in the affirmative.  Celeste Brady, representing the law firm coordinating this activity, gave the staff presentation.  In response to a question by Foley it was acknowledge that we have already spent $25,000 on this issue to this point.  It was clear early-on that Foley was NOT in favor of this issue.  To capsulize some of her thoughts - she thought there had NOT been enough thought given to this.  This is precisely the kind of issue that called for a study session so the council could talk among themselves to flesh out concerns.  We have not had a study session in a long, long time - apparently because Righeimer and Mensinger know they've got the votes to do whatever they want, so things like this just happen.
RIGHEIMER'S VINDICTIVE SCHEME
You will recall that in an earlier meeting Righeimer warned affordable housing advocates that he was going to put a $20 million bond on the ballot and if it didn't pass - it takes a 2/3 vote - or the people don't even give it more than 50%, then they should never come back complaining about no affordable housing.
A MATTER OF TRUST
Although Brady did a very professional job, Foley was tenacious and the fact that we had NO idea how this money might be spent really stuck in her craw.  Same with Genis.  At one point Foley said, "It's a matter of trust."  She went on to say that trust had not been developed on the dais.  Righeimer retorted it was a matter of "Brown Rules" - we assume he meant "Brown Act Rules", but one never knows with him.  Foley barked back that it's why there should have been a study session.

NOBODY SUPPORTED IT!
Eight people spoke to this issue during the public hearing.  None supported it - including Affordable Housing advocates!  They, too, were concerned about the lack of a plan.  Cindy Brenneman told the council that she wasn't going to vote for the bond, but that she'd give them $25.00 right now if it would help with housing right now.  That amount was presumed to be what each property owner would see on their property tax bill to pay for the bond.
Tamar Goldmann said she couldn't believe that a man who swore "no new taxes" was advocating exactly that.  She told them to "butt out of housing issues."
Kathy Esfahani, the most vocal advocate for affordable housing, was leary of this plan and said they would have all their eggs in one basket.
Jay Humphrey told the council this reminded him of the Charter debacles - where one person decided to move forward without any kind of study session, and he reminded Righeimer of that mess.
Wendy Leece reminded Righeimer of his "no new taxes" pledge.
Mary Spadoni observed that "we just can't trust this group".
WHAT?
Righeimer voted to move the issue forward and Monahan seconded it.  He said, "I seconded it, but I don't know if I agree with it.  I don't know if I'll vote for it in November."  Now, isn't that a crock?!

NOT ENOUGH ANSWERS
Genis continued to harp on the language of the item which describes it being used for "low and moderate" housing.  She got into a discussion of what earnings level constituted "moderate" - turns out it's over $100,000 per year.  She and Foley seemed concerned that this money would be used to facilitate developers building luxury housing with a tiny piece devoted to affordable housing.  Again, a matter of trust.
YET ANOTHER RIGHEIMER FAILURE
Righeimer continued to try to massage this thing to approval,  even "offering" control of the commitee that would be put together to manage it to Foley/Genis.  Evenutally the vote was taken and it failed, 2-3, with Genis, Foley and Mensinger voting NO.  Keep in mind, it would have taken four of the five to approve it.

BIA RE-AUTHORIZED
The final agenda item was the re-authorization of the Business Improvement Area for the Conference and Visitor Bureau.  We had a good presentation from Paulette Lobardi Fries, saw a nice video and heard about how our money is being spent.  Foley had many ideas about how it might be spent in the future.  During the discussion, as Foley proposed a couple ideas, Righeimer spit back at her that he "wanted something actionable" - he was upset that she didn't have a plan.  Is it just me, or is that a great irony - him asking for a plan when he was just trying to bamboozle the voters into handing him $20 million with out a plan!  The council voted, 5-0, to approve the program again.
WARRANT QUESTIONS
Quick work was made of the three items pulled from the Consent Calendar.  Greg Thunnel pulled the Warrant and spent a couple minutes pointing out specific items he didn't understand.  It passed 4-0 - Genis took a break.

I.T. ITEM CONTINUED
Foley asked item #6 to be continued until the next meeting - it dealt with a revamp of the city internet infrastructure.

KOKEN EXPLAINED HIS SITUATION
Two people hung around to be heard in the trailed Public Comments.  One was Terry Koken, who used his three minutes to address the events of his recent visit by a police officer because of his song at the last meeting.  He said it was political harrassment and suggested Mensinger had filed the complaint.  He said it was pure intimidation - all the things we discussed in my blog post about the event.  He demanded Mensinger come out from behind the facade and admit he did it.
A DIFFERENT VIEW OF THE RIOT
Jeff Cohen took exception to the description earlier of the way the CMPD handled the Trump event.  He was there and had a different viewpoint - indicating they didn't know what they were doing.
The meeting abruptly ended at 10:40.

ON SIMMER FOR AWHILE
That's it for awhile, loyal readers.  I'm turning the Caulderon down to simmer for awhile, so local politicians can get a little breather.  We'll be back soon.

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