Friday, October 09, 2009

There's A New Blog In Town

WELCOME, CORONA DEL MAR TODAY
Today, as a little counterpoint to those little squirts of venom, I'd like to point out a new link over there on the right side of this page. Recently I discovered a new blog in our area - Corona del Mar Today - published by CdM resident Amy Senk. The blog, about six months old now, seems to be nicely filling an important niche by covering news and newsworthy items in and around the section of Newport Beach known as the Village of Corona del Mar - land of Sherman Gardens, The Five Crowns and sandcastles in the fall and much, much more.

IT'S A GOOD READ
Senk has the chops for this gig - she's a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and worked as a reporter for years before putting her career on pause to raise her family. When you read the blog it will be clear that it's written with a reporter's perspective, and done very well.

PISTOL-PACKIN' PERPS AT NEWPORT CENTER!
Yesterday she reported a story that appeared nowhere else in local media outlets - that the Newport Beach police snatched up two guys in Newport Center toting a bag with loaded automatic handguns, apparently with the intent of robbing people on the street! You can read her piece HERE.

WAKE UP CALL
Most of us living in this region tend to think of Newport Beach as a relatively safe haven from crime. The guy mentioned in the first paragraph certainly does. It's this kind of event that is like a splash of cold water on your face and makes you realize that nowhere - not even Newport Beach - is immune from violent crime.

VISIT CORONA DEL MAR TODAY OFTEN

So, I invite you to click on the link to Corona del Mar Today from time to time to see what's happening in that little slice of heaven.

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Thursday, October 08, 2009

Orange County Fairgrounds On The Block!

BREAKING NEWS!


LA TIMES AND OC REGISTER REPORT FAIRGROUNDS FOR SALE
The Los Angeles Times, HERE, and the Orange County Register, HERE, both reported about an hour ago that the state has officially placed the Orange County Fairgrounds up for sale and will begin accepting bids immediately through January 8, 2010. It is hoped that the sale will be completed by the fall of next year.

FAIR BOARD MEMBERS TO BID ON IT

According to the Los Angeles Times article, last night a group of fair board members and local politicians signed papers to form the Orange County Fair and Event Center Foundation, which will be made up of six members from the existing fair board, two members from the city of Costa Mesa, two members from the county and one public member elected by the board for the specific purpose of putting together a bid to purchase the land. If that group is configured as reported it gives the former Fair Board members the majority and control of the bid, regardless what members from Costa Mesa may think.

CITY SAYS IT WILL STAY A FAIRGROUNDS
This should be very, very interesting because Costa Mesa city officials have recently stated adamantly that the 150 acres that forms the property in question will remain zoned as a fairgrounds, which will significantly reduce it's value to potential bidders. According to the news reports, the governor's office estimated that the site could be sold for $96 to $180 million. In these troubled financial times, it remains to be seen if anyone is willing to pony up that kind of cash for a fairgrounds.

BUT...
On the other hand, if the city's promise (threat) to maintain the present zoning somehow gets quashed, that chunk of freeway-assessable land certainly could draw a fancy price if used for residential or commercial development.

This is going to be a very interesting story to follow over the next year or so.

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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Is The Barrett-Jackson Auction Deal Really Done?

BARRETT-JACKSON AUCTION COMING TO TOWN?
Tonight, at the Costa Mesa City Council meeting, Councilman Eric Bever took a few minutes to pat himself on the back for whatever minimal role he played in the recently-announced coup of the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction agreeing to come to the Orange County Fairgrounds sometime next year - probably in the
late spring.

AUCTION COULD BE A WINDFALL FOR THE CITY
I agree that having the Barrett-Jackson auction come to town will very likely be a
large financial benefit to our city. Millions of dollars are typically bid on cars at these events and it should bring many visitors to our city.

FRICTION AT THE FAIRGROUNDS
However, all is not happiness and light across the street from City Hall. A new blog, OC UNFAIR, recently popped up and is being used to vent some pent-up anger about issues at the Fairgrounds - primarily against Steve Beazley, the head honcho at the Fairgrounds. Allegations have been made on this blog that Beazley and Fair Board Director and local political king-maker Dave Ellis are trying to manipulate the process to basically have the state sell the fairgrounds to themselves.

A DIFFERENT VIEW OF THE BARRETT-JACKSON AUCTION
Thanks to a heads-up from that site we were referred to a link which include
s a long discussion of the complications of the Barrett-Jackson Auction as it affects existing businesses on the Fairgrounds site and the Fair itself. You can read that article HERE.

WHO IS PAYING ATTENTION?

It seems to me that a whole lot more attention is due in this matter. The Fair Board is appointed by the governor and has a history of handing out gratuities to pals in the form of free concert tickets and other amenities. Is there, as is implied, a concerted effort to hamper existing businesses at the Fairgrounds to grease the skids of a potential sale? If so, who's in line to benefit the most from this? Beazley? Ellis? Other board members?

WHERE DOES THE CITY STAND?
The City of Costa Mesa has a lot to lose depending on how this process goes. Perhaps our elected leaders should be taking a look at this situation to be sure the city's interests are being protected.

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Marking Time, Waiting For The Council Meeting

TICK, TICK, TICK...







HARMAN AND TRAN RECEIVE AWARD
Over at the OCWeekly's N
aval Gazing blog Matt Coker writes an interesting piece today about State Senator Tom Harman and Assemblyman Van Tran being honored with California Champion Against Lawsuit Abuse Awards. You can read Coker's piece HERE. He also mentions that Costa Mesa Mayor Allan Mansoor will be in attendance at the event at the soon-to-be-shuttered Clubhouse restaurant.

INTERESTING TIMI
NG...
The timing of this event and Mansoor's participation is just too pre
cious, considering that Benito Acosta's lawsuit against the city and Mansoor for the events that occurred when Mansoor cut his speaking time and had him tossed out of the council chambers a few years ago.

TIMES TWO...
It makes one wonder if the hastily-posted closed session tonight might have something to do with the Acosta suit, doesn't it? Do you supposed a settlement is in the wind, or if the City Attorney has, once again, fumbled the ball. I guess we'll eventually find out.

GRUMPY GEEZERS

I also find myself wondering if the disgruntled geezers that form Wendy Leece's posse in her frequent attacks on the Costa Mesa Senior
Center management will again present themselves before the City Council to air more unfounded complaints about the Center... Since Leece has abandoned her role as City Council liaison this group of grumpies, headed up by the perpetual sourpuss Ernie Feeney, have used their three minutes - and demanded more - to complain about issues that consistently turned out to be non-issues. Should be worth watching tonight's brief council meeting just to see if they show up, and with which new, fabricated gripe...

THE MOUTH WILL YAP TONIGHT AGAIN

And, of course, The Mouth From Mesa North will almost certainly present his warped views of the world to the council again tonight. I suspect he will speak at least a couple times, but will certainly address the proposed Victoria Street development that is the final item on the agenda. He will tell them it's an under-parked project - which it certainly is - and that it's too dense, too.

BULLYING EXPECTED

I suspect he will stand to speak against a couple candidates for the city committee assignments that will be bestowed tonight, too. He's already attacked them on his blog this week because they hold views that are clearly in opposition to his.

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Monday, October 05, 2009

DON'T BLINK!

LIGHT AGENDA TOMORROW
The Costa Mesa Cit
y Council meeting tomorrow night may set a record for brevity. There are no Public Hearings scheduled, no Old Business to be discussed and the only items on the New Business agenda are appointments to various city committees and, at the very tail end of the proceedings, a Master Plan Screening request for a proposed development in the 500 block of Victoria Street. Unless someone pulls something from the Consent Calendar for separate discussion - like item #12, which reduces pay and benefits for Deputy Fire Chiefs and Battalion Chiefs for the next year - it's possible that this meeting will wrap up well before 7 p.m.

SCREENING REQUEST HAS PROBLEMS
I've reviewed the staff report on that screening request. Looks to me as though this project will create an under-parked, over-populated ghetto on the Westside - precisely what the Urban Plan was supposed to preclude. In theory, this 44-unit common interest development will replace 28 apartment units, but the staff report indicates failures in the area of parking, compliance with Residential Design Guidelines and Municipal Codes regarding setbacks.

SEND IT BACK!
We hope the elected leaders of this city will not, in a misguided attempt to prime the development pump in this economic downturn, permit this development to move forward without some serious re-calculations. If following our codes and design requirements keeps the project from penciling-out, so be it. The developers will just have to go back to the old drawing board and present a project that meets our guidelines.

TIME FOR A RULES CHANGE

Maybe it's time for the City Council to revise their rules for the agenda at council meetings. Currently, no Public Hearings can begin before 7:00 p.m. I understand the rationale for that rule in the past, but times have changed. By following that rule it makes for herky-jerky meetings, with the council jumping ahead to New Business items if the witching hour has not yet arrived, then falling back in the agenda schedule for Public Hearings once the big hand on the clock passes 12. The council should revise their rules, follow the agenda as published and let those presenting issues to the council in the Public Hearings segment take the responsibility to be there on time.

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