Friday, October 30, 2009

Scary Stuff!

TRICK OR TREAT!
As you prepare to fend off the onslaught of witches, hobgoblins, Michael Jackson look-alikes and all the other little scary characters who will knock on your door Saturday night, I thought I'd give you something else scary to think about.

ALL "FAIR", ALL THE TIME
At the Costa Mesa City Council meeting on Tuesday they will have their deliberations bracketed with issues concerning the potential sale of the Orange County Fair and Events Center.


CLOSED SESSION ON FAIRGROUND PURCHASE?
First, during their closed session beginning at 5 - don't bother going, it's not open to the public - item 2 on that agenda reads as follows:


Conference with Real property Negotiators - Property: 88 Fair Drive.

A
gency Negotiator: Allan Roeder, City Manager. Negotiating parties: State of California. Under negotiation: price, terms of payment. Pursuant to Government Code Section 54956.8.

WHO'S BUYING WHAT?
In case yo
u're wondering, 88 Fair Drive is the Fairgrounds address. Sounds like we're negotiating the purchase of that 150 acres, doesn't it? Wonder if anyone will "report out" the results of that part of the closed session when the regular meeting convenes?

CITY ATTORNEY OPIN
ION ON A BALLOT MEASURE
Then, on the agenda at the very end of the meeting, there is an item under Old Business, number 1 in which the City Attorney will provide a report requested months ago by Gary Monahan and, most recently, again at the last meeting regarding the placement of an initiative on the ballot relating to the Orange County Fairgrounds Land Use designation. You might recall that, when this issue was raised at the last council meeting, the stand-in City Attorney Harold Potter, opined that the thought t
here could be a liability issue if the city placed this on the ballot and it caused the property to diminish in value. Gee, really, Harold? That's the whole idea, isn't it? Don't we want to make the purchase of the Fairgrounds to be unattractive to those who want to develop it? The opinion should be interesting.

SOLORIO AND TRAN PUBLIC HEARING

By th
e way, I suppose anyone paying attention knows there is a public hearing on the Fairgrounds sale being held on Monday, November 9th, in the City Council Chambers beginning at 9:00 a.m. Since the auditorium only holds around 250 people, reservations are required. You can call John Nam in Assemblyman Solorio's office at 714-939-8469 to reserve a spot. As I mentioned before, this event will be televised live that morning by Costa Mesa TV, channel 24 on Time Warner Cable and will also be streamed live, the link for which can be found on the city web site. It will also be archived for later viewing and will be placed in the replay rotation on CMTV. Among the participants expected are Councilwoman Katrina Foley, Jeff Teller from the Orange County Marketplace and Rick Hanson from the Equestrian Center.

QUESTIONS

I wonder if anyone will ask the hosts, Assemblymen Solorio and Tran, why they voted to sell the Fairgrounds? I also wonder if Mayor Mansoor will be present, since the Benito Acosta trial is supposed to begin on the same day.


YOUTH BANNERS ON AGENDA

Also of interest late in the agenda is an item which considers a modification of the code to permit more liberal use of signs and banners by youth sports groups. While it's relevant on it's on merit, it's especially interesting in the context of Gary Monahan's request at the last meeting for the Code Enforcement folks to ease up on enforcement on illegal signs on businesses to help them out during the economy.

NO ANSWER ON MONAHAN'S BANNER YET...

You will recall in a recent post that I showed you the new sign at Monahan's pub. This is the same photo. Check out those lights - think they're big enough? After nearly a week since my inquiry the question remains - does it violate the current code? Finally, apparently because of the political sensitivity of this issue, I heard from the new Chief of Code Enforcement, Willa Bouwens-Killeen, this morning. I was told that no one has yet examined the sign, but someone will go measure it and assess whether it meets code requirements early next week. We'll see...

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!


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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Costa Mesa Library Foundation Fund Raiser



My friends at the Costa Mesa Library Foundation recently announced the 1st annual Barnes & Noble Bookfair!

GREAT OPPORTUNITY TO HELP
The event will be held at Barnes & Noble Metro Point from Thursday, November 5th through Sunday, November 8th. Store hours are from 9a.m.-11.p.m. I've attached a flie
r with all the details, but basically the Costa Mesa Library Foundation gets a percentage of any purchases of books, CD/DVDs and even snacks and coffee at the Starbucks Cafe'. All you have to do is tell the cashier that you are with the Costa Mesa Library Foundation when paying your tab.

EXCLUDED ITEMS

Unfortunately, purchases of gift cards, Barnes & Noble memberships, text books and magazine subscriptions are not included in Bookfair totals.

VOUCHERS ATTACHED
I've also attached a sheet of vouchers with the event number, Bookfair I.D. #10008878, on them, although the presentation of a voucher is not necessary for the CMLF to receive credit.

SHOP AT ANY BARNES & NOBLE

I'm also reminded that purchases can be made at ANY Barnes & Noble location during the established times for this very worthwhile event.


CHRISTMAS IS COMING
So, get a jump on your Christmas shopping and contribute to the Costa Mesa Library Foundation at the
same time. Tell your friends...

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Monahan and Banners - Why?

WHY DID GARY CARE ABOUT TEMPORARY BANNERS?
We were just a little curious why Councilman Gary Monahan would bother to bring the issue of temporary signs and banners before his council colleagues last week, particularly since the Planning Commission is going to be tasked with reviewing all our sign ordinanc
es in the very near future.

COUNCIL REJECTED HIS IDEA

After a little debate the council rejected his suggestion that, in light of the current economic times, the code enforcement folks cut businesses some slack and not enforce the temporary sign and banner section of the municipal code.

BRAND NEW BANNER!

So, on Monday, the 26th, I took a little cruise past Monahan's pub on Newport Blvd. and guess what I saw? Yep, what looks like a brand, spanking new banner stretching all the way across his Newport Blvd. frontage! Here's the photo, in which you can see three ladders that may have been used to install the banner that very day. The photo was taken shortly after noon.


MUNICIPAL CODE EXCERPT

The following information is extracted dir
ectly from the municipal code, Title 13, Chapter VIII, Table 13-115, and defines very clearly the restrictions placed on such signs.

BANNERS ON PRIVATE PROPERTY (No permits are required.)
MAXIMUM AREA
0.5 ft. per unit.
Maximum area: 100 sq. ft. per site.
0.5 sq ft. per lineal foot of building of building frontage facing the street.
Minimum entitlement: 25 sq. ft. per tenant.
Maximum area: 75 sq. ft. per tenant.
TIME LIMITS None
DEVELOPMENT STANDARDS 1. The entire surface of the banner must be securely affixed to a building wall of the business being advertised (the building wall must abut a public street or on-site parking area serving the business being advertised), or to the sign face of a freestanding sign. 2. May not be attached to any staff, pole, line, framing, vehicle, or similar support. 3. May not project above roof. 4. Must be maintained in good condition; removed or replaced if torn, faded, or dirty. 5. Limit one banner per tenant or building occupant on each street frontage maximum. 6. Banners are permitted only as a means of temporary advertisement, such as for new businesses, grand openings, or similar special events, and may not be used as permanent signs.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?
I draw your attention to items 1 and 2 under Development Standards. Item 1 says, "The entire surface of the banner must be securely affixed to a building wall of the business being advertised (the building wall must abut a public street or on-site parking area serving the business being advertised), or to the sign face of a freestanding sign." Item 2 says, "May not be attached to any staff, pole, line, framing, vehicle or similar support." Looking at Monahan's sign in the photo above, it sure doesn't seem to meet those requirements to me.

MEASUREMENTS?
I didn't take the time to attempt to measure the sign, but if it's 3 feet X 25 feet it would meet the maximum size allowed.

WE'LL LET CODE ENFORCEMENT SORT IT OUT - SOON

So, do you suppose Monahan just decided, "The heck with it! I'm gonna put my sign up anyhow!"? I guess we'll find out when the code enforcement folks pay his gin mill a visit in the near future.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Fairgrounds Sale - The Fit Hits The Shan





Well, that didn't take long...

CITY INSTRUCTED STAFF TO PREPARE SPECIFIC PLAN
On Tuesday the Costa Mesa City Council instruc
ted the staff to prepare a Specific Plan for the 150 acres the Orange County Fair and Events Center sits upon - obviously, to influence the potential sale of that property. If the city is successful in restricting the uses of that property to the current mix of uses - Fairgrounds, Orange County Market Place, Equestrian Center, etc., that will almost certainly make it a much less attractive property to potential salivating buyers.

SPECIFIC PLAN WILL REDUCE VALUE
Without the opportunity to, somewhere in the future, develop that land as commercial/residential or other lucrative uses, almost any buyer will put on the bra
kes and put their purchase efforts into a screeching halt. Except, perhaps, those devious folks on the current Fair Board who have put together a foundation to buy the place and "retain the current uses". Ha!

THE STATE SIGNS IN - BIG TIME!

So, last Friday, October 23rd, Teresa Bierer, Acting Deputy Director, Real Esta
te Services Division of the state Department of General Services, sent a scathing letter to Mayor Mansoor and the City Council demanding the city "thoroughly consider the State and local economic ramifications that could result from the preparing and adopting of the Specific Plan, and refrain from taking any further action that could reduce or otherwise negatively impact the Fairgrounds' value."

THE THREAT
After getting our attention with that line she goes on to say, "But if the City moves forward with the Specific Plan and the Fairgrounds' value is diminished, the State will consider whatever option
s may be available to preserve the Fairgrounds' value." Gulp!

GUN TO OUR HEADS
Basically, she's telling us she's got a gun to our municipal head and, if we persist, she will cock the trigger. I don't know about you, but this really has me steaming!

ARTICLES AND "THE LETTER" HERE
The Daily Pilot posted an article on this issue today, HERE, and the Daily Voice posted one this afternoon, HERE. I've posted the entire letter at the end of this post so you can read it for yourself. It includes Bierer's telephone number and email address... I've placed a call to her, to get some clarification on just what kind of "options" they have in mind.


PR GUY RESPONDS

After my second c
all to Bierer I received a call from Jeffrey Young, Deputy Director for Public Affairs in the Department of General Services late this afternoon. He, of course, couldn't respond when I asked exactly what the "options" might be. When I asked if one of them might be to simply take the Fairgrounds off the table, he told me that's up to the legislature. The Department of General Services simply prosecutes the legislatures wishes. I told him to find a better word... Anyhow, apparently no one in Sacramento is going to give us any idea what they have in mind until the City does, in fact, adopt a Specific Plan for the property.

CITY SHOULD MOVE FORWARD BRISKLY

Since that's probably the case, and since the bids for the property will be opened on January 8th, it seems prudent for the city to get the lead out and get a Specific Plan in place immediately. Otherwise, I suspect there might be some legal issues with bidders who assumed a certain value when they put in their bid, only to have that value knocked for a loop by the Specific Plan. And, I still wonder just what the State has in mind for us if we go forward. I don't know what punitive actions they might take if we do go forward.

LET OUR LEADERS KNOW HOW YOU FEEL!

In the meantime, it seems entirely appropriate for us to communicate with our elected leaders, both at the local and state level, and let them know how you feel about the sale of the Fairgrounds. I also think that a good turnout at the planned hearing on November 9th at 9:00 a.m in the Costa Mesa City Council Chambers might be instructive for our state leaders.
Reservations for a seat at that party can be obtained by calling John Nam in Assemblyman Solorio's office at 714-939-8469. I'm thinking this is going to be a sold-out affair. It will be televised live in Costa Mesa on Channel 24 and also streamed live via the city web site for those outside the city.

THE LETTER
(Click on image for larger size)




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