First Post-Layoffs Council Meeting
Tuesday evening's Costa Mesa City Council meeting had some interesting moments, beginning with the absence of Katrina Foley. Don't know why she wasn't in attendance, but, as you will soon see, her absence played an interesting role right off the bat.
MANSOOR BOXED IN
As anticipated, they had to fiddle around shifting the agenda until the magic 7:00 hour for public comments. During that time there was a very entertaining moment when Eric Bever - formerly Mayor Allan Mansoor's good buddy - pulled Item 12 from the Consent Calendar for separate discussion and vote. That was the item which provided an enhanced retirement opportunity for firefighters to add a couple years of service toward their retirement. What made this especially interesting was that Bever pulled it to express his displeasure with the plan and Mansoor is known to be strongly against any such idea. Because Foley was absent from the meeting Tuesday, if both Bever and Mansoor had voted "no" on this item it would have failed - a 2-2 tie is an automatic "no". In order to save this issue - one that had already cost many hours of staff time negotiating - Mansoor was forced to vote "yes" on an issue he holds in much disregard, and he said as much. I wonder if Bever did it on purpose, just to make his former pal squirm? It was too funny!
NOISY SENIOR HOUSING ON A BUSY STREET MOVES FORWARD
The council discussed the concerns Wendy Leece had with the proposed Senior Housing project on Baker Street, near the Shark Club. Several speakers, including the owner of the Shark Club and Shaheen Sadeghi - the visionary behind the whole SoBECA Urban Plan area - spoke against the project, citing the inappropriateness of a senior housing facility in what is clearly a noisy, heavily-trafficked location. Nonetheless, the council voted 3-1 to approve it.
DOG LICENSE FEES INCREASED DRAMATICALLY
The council approved an increase in dog license fees, adding to the staff-recommended fees an additional $5.00 to be applied to a fund for dog poop bags for our municipal parks. It will now cost you $80.00 to license an unaltered dog and $25.00 for an altered dog. Seniors will receive a $10.00 discount. Replacement tags will cost $5.00 Penalties for late payment will be 50% of the fee. The city will engage a canvassing company to identify unlicensed mutts around town.
CORRECTION! Despite all the written information to the contrary, it seems that seniors will be required to pay ONLY $10.00 for a neutered mutt license. They (we) don't get a $10.00 discount, we pay a $10.00 discounted fee! So, all us geezers should immediately run out and acquire a pooch.
ADDENDUM: Per the city, to qualify for a senior discount on dog licenses one must be only 62 years of age. The county age break begins at 65. See how lucky we dog-loving geezers are to live in Costa Mesa!
COMMERCIAL TRASH FRANCHISE FEES UP, TOO
The council also raised the solid waste hauling franchise fee from 12% to 16% and permitted the haulers to show that charge separately on their bills to their customers. This increase will affect only Costa Mesa commercial haulers, not the residential haulers. And, of course, the cost will be passed on to the end-user, so Costa Mesa businesses will be hit in the pocketbook for this increase.
CIVIL FINES AND PENALTIES ALSO UP
The council also increased the civil fines and penalties. The first citation jumps from $75 to $150, the second goes from $200 to $300 and the third remains at $500.
CHIPPING AWAY AT DEFICIT
Little by little the council is attempting to find ways to chip away at the budget imbalance. They've got a long, long way to go.
BLEAK TIMES FOR THE CMPD
Anecdotally, an opportunity presented itself for me to chat briefly with a member of the Costa Mesa Police Department on Wednesday. I asked him about life after the layoffs last week, which hit the police department especially hard. He told me that because most of the Crime Scene Investigators were either laid off or used bumping rights into other jobs, the work they previously did is now being done by patrol officers, who received a 90 minute crash course on how to be a CSI last week. He also mentioned the tremendous loss the reduction of flight time for the ABLE helicopter program is going to be. These are going to be bleak times for awhile.
GENIS AND RIGGY ON THE FAIRGROUNDS SALEIf you wish to watch former Mayor Sandra Genis and Planning Commission Chairman Jim Righeimer in a recent discussion on the Fairgrounds sale moderated by Rick Reiff on Inside OC, click HERE. They are in the first segment, which lasts just under 15 minutes. I think you'll find it interesting.