Well Done, Halecrest and Mesa Del Mar!
BIG SUCCESS IN HALECREST
Last night's Costa Mesa City Council Candidate Forum hosted by the Halecrest Community Association and the Mesa Del Mar Homeowners Association was a big success. Congratulations to the organizers for a job well done.
A GOOD TURNOUT, INCLUDING MR. U. KNOW-WHO - BRIEFLY
Held in an un-air conditioned room - with lots of open doors and fans - it got off to a slightly delayed start, but moved briskly thereafter. The venue was just right for the crowd - probably around 80 residents showed up for this event, including one old grouch from Mesa North who made what he must have felt was an obligatory appearance, then skulked away at least an hour before the event ended. Perhaps sitting on the far LEFT side of the room gave him vertigo - who knows?
BEVER A NO-SHOW - NOBODY CARED
Eight of the nine candidates made it to this event. Mayor Eric Bever failed to show, which is getting to be a habit with him these days. You'll recall that he didn't show up for the Daily Pilot interviews recently, either. I'm thinking he may have finally run out of jokes or "clever" quips, so felt that he would be making an appearance "unarmed" - like a gunfighter without his pistols. Or, perhaps, his unwarranted arrogance just got the better of him and he didn't feel it was necessary to make another appearance before the voters of this city. He wasn't missed.
EXCELLENT QUESTIONS AND ENOUGH TIME TO ANSWER
Each candidate was given two minutes to introduce themselves - that worked out just fine. Having been to most of these events, I heard nothing new, but many of the attendees were first-timers. From that point on the hosts asked questions that were important to them and their communities, ranging from their approach to balancing the city budget; alleviating speeders in neighborhoods; the vacant property where Kona Lanes once stood; high density apartments in Mesa Del Mar; Banning Ranch and Undergrounding utilities. They each had two minutes to wrap up at the end.
FIREWORKS - THE QUESTION
Along the way Bill Sneen cleverly managed to slide the subject of Fireworks into the discussion, to which several of the candidates chimed in during responses to other questions. Suffice it to say that Daily Pilot columnist Steve Smith, who was sitting directly behind me, and I were the only two people in the room who have taken the position that neighborhood fireworks are a bad idea. We both slid down in our respective chairs as the discussion went on, and on, and on...
GENERALLY CIVIL PROCEEDINGS
The proceedings were quite civil - more so than in previous forums. Bill Sneen came armed with a few big expensive fliers for Righeimer, Monahan and Bever and commented on them in contrast to his campaign. Monahan took a couple mild backhand swipes at Katrina Foley again, but generally it was a pretty darn civilized exchange of views all evening.
REEDY REVVING UP
Lisa Reedy, on her home turf and before a home crowd, took a much more affirmative and active role in the discussions tonight. I found myself wishing she had launched her campaign more aggressively earlier.
UNDERGROUNDING UTILITIES BURIED
I thought it was interesting that, during the discussion of Undergrounding the utilities, all the candidates thought it was a good idea, but too expensive, yet none of them put forward what that cost would be. I expected Foley or Monahan - or both - to tell the assembled crowd that Allan Mansoor's pipe dream of undergrounding the utilities throughout the city would cost more than $1billion and take at least a generation to complete - those were the last numbers we heard when this was being considered. Yikes! And those numbers do not take into account the cost to the individual property owners, who would have to pay to get the utilities from the curb to their homes. In my case, for example, I received a couple estimates in the $11,000 - $15,000 range. Those costs will have certainly gone up since then. That subject is dead and "buried" - sorry, couldn't resist.
BANNING RANCH - YES, AND NO
To no one's surprise, opinions varied on Banning Ranch. Chris Bunyan - who again lead the field in snappy one-liners - is leading the charge to keep Banning Ranch open space. Jim Righeimer, a developer, is more realistic - citing the fact that this is really Newport Beach's issue because the ranch property is within their sphere of influence. He pointed out that Costa Mesa must work with Newport Beach and the developer to obtain funds to mitigate the impact on our streets and other infrastructure during the process.
STRONGER CODE ENFORCEMENT
On the subject of the high density housing in the Mesa Del Mar area, there was unanimous agreement that stronger code enforcement is necessary. Several candidates thought stronger codes were necessary in addition to stronger enforcement of our existing rules. Foley and others felt that stronger positions should be taken with the property owners, including those owning the underlying property in the case of land leases. Monahan opined that eventually those units would simply just be "scraped" and new, upscale housing built in place.
BALANCING THE BUDGET - TOT OR NOT TOT
The issue of balancing the budget resulted in two sides of the issue - those who thought an increase in the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) should have been presented to the voters this year and those who thought ANY tax increase, regardless who was being taxed, was a bad idea. Most felt some belt tightening was necessary. There was talk about using the $14 million in emergency reserves, but Foley set the record straight on that issue. The council MAY NOT use the emergency reserves except in the case of a disaster - earthquake, hurricane, etc., and then it takes a four-fifths vote of the council. Chris Bunyan once again quipped that he'd forego his council salary if elected. Monahan didn't make such an offer...
OUT OF THE MOUTHS OF....
There were several amusing moments tonight. One came from Nick Moss, the youngest of all the candidates at age 28. During the ad hoc discussion of Fireworks, he talked wistfully about how much he and his neighbors enjoyed the safe and sane fireworks, he said, "We have a blast." and never batted an eye. I'm still not sure he realized the humor in his comment.
ONE MORE FORUM TO GO
So, neighbors, one more forum to be held next Tuesday, the 28th, at the Presbyterian Church of the Covenant, on Fairview next to the Farm Sports Complex. That event begins at 6:30 according to the revised schedule. I find myself wondering whether Bever will ignore this group, too. Is it too much to expect that the mayor actually attends these things when he's running for re-election? I don't think so. In any event, I'll remind you about that last forum as the date approaches.
BUMBLING BEVER'S BUFFOONERY
As an aside, at the end of the last council meeting on Tuesday Bever demonstrated just what a chucklehead he really is when responding to City Manager Allan Roeder on the subject of shopping in Costa Mesa. Roeder, making light of a comment made earlier by the Mesa North Mouth that folks could soon visit the new Trader Joe's in Huntington Beach, indicating that we should be shopping at our own Trader Joe's on 17th Street. Bever, in an unnecessary and flippant reply, said the one in Huntington Beach was closer and it would take too much gas and he would pollute the air too much if he drove "all the way" over to 17th Street. Yes sir, that's your mayor - advocating driving out of town to do your shopping. "Clueless" is much too kind a word for him.
ELECTION DAY COUNCIL MEETING CANCELED
By the way, during the last council meeting after about five minutes of discussion the council decided to simply cancel the November 4th meeting. That's election day and most of them will be preoccupied one way or the other. The next scheduled City Council meeting will be on November 18th.