Final 2010 Planning Commission Meeting Monday
At it's last meeting of the year, Monday the Costa Mesa Planning Commission - without former Chairman Jim Righeimer, who has moved up to the big seat on the City Council - will consider a variety of important issues. It is assumed that they will have enough members present to form a quorum so the City's business can be conducted. Heck, this might be the last meeting for some of these commissioners, period, depending on how the appointment process plays out in January. The meeting begins in City Council Chambers at 6:00 p.m. and can also be viewed via streaming video on the City web site.
WHAT ABOUT FITZPATRICK, MS. BARLOW?
We STILL don't know if Jim Fitzpatrick will be allowed to serve on the Planning Commission and the Costa Mesa Sanitary District Board simultaneously because City Attorney Kimberly Hall Barlow refuses to let the public know her decision before the City Council is informed. Unless she's derelict in her duties, one must assume that the council has already been informed since this meeting is right around the corner.
First off they will make a presentation to Righeimer for his contributions during his four years as a planning commissioner. I doubt they will mention his contributions to the discontent among city employees and the city in general during the recent campaign.
CODE ENFORCEMENT UPDATE
Then, as part of the Consent Calendar, they will receive a Code Enforcement update, which tells them about 15 of our friends and neighbors who have recently felt the heavy hand of the law regarding their property around the city. If you care, you can read that report HERE and look for your neighbor's addresses and infractions.
Following a handful of fairly normal public hearings for projects such as new plans for the recently-vacated Paul Mitchell School Building (the old Edwards theater for you old-timers) and adjacent buildings; a 10-unit common interest development on Thurin Street and two auto repair shops the Planning Commission will consider a really juicy issue.
HOMELESS TASK FORCE
At a joint study session with the Parks and Recreation Commission early in November the City Staff presented information about the current and growing infestation of homeless people in and around Lions Park and adjacent public facilities. The staff will request the Planning Commission to ask the City Council to form a task force to be made up of community stakeholders to study the impact of homelessness on the City of Costa Mesa and authorize the Chair of the Planning Commission to appoint two commissioners to serve on the task force. It's unclear whether any of the homeless will be asked to serve. You can read the staff report HERE.
The previous staff report, which is an attachment, outlines the severity of the problem in very specific detail. Trust me, some of the facts will make you cringe. One of the comments, for example, talks about the need to frequently replace the upholstery on chairs in the Donald Duggan Library because homeless folks use the chairs while wearing soiled clothing. I warned you!
Some of the statistics, available in detail on the staff report, will get your attention, too. For example, "incidents" (ranging from Assaults to Traffic Stops and almost anything you can imagine in between) have gone from 111 in 2008, to 123 in 2009 to 634 for the first nine months of 2010! It's obvious we have a problem and something must be done to fix it. We have reached a point where young mothers simply refuse to take their children to the park, library, historical society and other amenities for fear of confrontation with homeless people.
NOT AN EASY PROBLEM TO SOLVE
I don't kid myself that this is going to be an easy problem to resolve. The economy has produced a growing number of homeless people - no news to anyone paying attention as they drive around our city. The formation of this task force seems like the right first step to addressing this issue and I commend Assistant City Manager Tom Hatch for being the point man on this issue.
WHAT ARE YOUR IDEAS?
I suspect City leaders will be soliciting input from residents if they actually do approve the formation of the task force. I know we will hear from some of the usual suspects exhorting us to chase the "magnets" out of our city - the social service entities that provide relief to the downtrodden - and to "drain the swamp" (bulldoze the "slums") so the "alligators" will go elsewhere. At a time of the year, when we normally think of spreading good tidings to all, those suggestions will seem more than a little heartless. Let's hope some of the really smart folks in this town step up with some good ideas on this subject. I'm sure willing to hear yours...