Monday, September 06, 2010

Labor Day Festivities

HOW WE SPENT OUR HOLIDAY
I don't know how you spent your Labor Day holiday weekend, but let me share mine with you.My wife and I spent our holiday on the California Central Coast in a town so small that it isn't even a town, per se. No mayor or city council to drive you nuts with boneheaded decisions - only a community services district charged with keeping the water and sewers flowing, the trash picked up and fires fought.

LOCAL LIONS CLUB SPONSORS PINEDORADO
In this little burg of only 6,000 permanent residents there are two really big events each year - Independence Day and Labor Day. On the latter, this weekend, there is the annual Pinedorado celebration, sponsored by the local Lions Club. This time around the theme was "Home Town Heroes".


REMINISCENT OF THE FISH FRY OF YEARS PASTThis event is real small town Americana and reminds me very much of what the Costa Mesa Fish Fry and parade used to be when our town was much smaller. Pinedorado includes a parade Saturday morning which travels the entire length of the town in which you'll see service clubs on display, the football team riding on a flatbed truck, local school bands, local emergency responders and Shriners on minibikes.

HORSES...
We saw several mounted groups, including a couple of locally-bred Clydesdale horses pulling a wagon and the pastor of the local Presbyterian church aboard his beautiful paint stallion. And, since "stuff happens" the local Boy Scout troop manned the shovels to clean up behind the equine groups.







...AND HOT RODSAutomobile fans were treated to a flock of vintage Thunderbirds, a couple lonely Corvettes and a covey of Smart4Two cars. The automotive hit, though, was the Dodge Viper Sheriff's Cruiser used as the "pace car" for the event.

CLOWNS AND A "KELP BAND"
We also saw members of the local bicycling club, clowns on scooters, four companies of strong, enthusiastic, disciplined young people from the Grizzly Youth Academy and a group called the Krazy Kelptics - they played music using kelp as instruments! We even saw a flatbed truck loaded with "floozies" from a local bar. As I said, this is small town Americana.











PROUD MARINES

This year was an especially patriotic event. This year the 1st Marine Division Band from Camp Pendleton marched in the parade and gave a concert following the parade in the parking lot of the local Veterans Hall that was attended by hundreds of admirers in a standing-room only crowd. As I watched the band play I saw many a tear in eyes among those in the crowd.

"GREATEST GENERATION" HONORED
Grand Marshals for this year's event were more than two dozen local residents - members of Tom Brokaw's "Greatest Generation" - who either served in the military in World War II or performed as "Rosie the Riveter", supporting the troops at home. They were transported in the parade by huge military trucks and the Marine Band preceded them as an honor guard. You couldn't keep from feeling proud of those brave men and women who sacrificed so much for us all, and of those young Marines serving our country today.
THIS FAIRGROUNDS NOT FOR SALEThis little community has a "fairgrounds", just as Costa Mesa does, right in the center of town. However, there is absolutely no chance it will be put on the auction block to help balance the state budget. Nope, this "fairgrounds" is used only once each year - the Labor Day holiday weekend. It contains permanent little structures for ticket sales, booths for food sales and games and a little, teeny railroad for children to ride. The entire "fairgrounds" would fit nicely in the front parking lot at Costa Mesa City Hall. In the weeks before Pinedorado members of the Lions Club tighten nuts and bolts and slap a fresh coat of paint on everything so, as you sit and enjoy your Hearst Ranch beef or chicken, you'll be proud of your surroundings.

HOT ROD SHOW
Sunday, in the parking lot where the crowd assembled the day before to hear and cheer the Marine Band, there was a car show, where classic cars and hot rods from the area are put on display to jog memories of many of us who remembered the days when the cars were new and we were, too. This year that part of the event grew so much that they had to block off one of the main streets adjacent to the parking lot for the overflow entries. It was great!

NOW BACK TO REALITY
That's how we spent our weekend - mingling with happy, patriotic folks honoring my parent's generation for their selfless sacrifice to keep our country free. I hope you had a good time, too. Now, back to reality - there's a council meeting Tuesday requiring our attention.

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Friday, September 03, 2010

Council Meeting Promises Some Entertainment

FUN ON TUESDAY AFTER LABOR DAY(AMENDED)Tuesday, September 7th, the Costa Mesa City Council will return from a long Labor Day weekend to deal with some sticky issues at their council meeting beginning at 6:00. Actually, the closed session will commence at 5:00, so if you want to address either of the two closed session items - labor negotiations with the bargaining units and real property negotiations dealing with the Fairgrounds - be there promptly at 5. (NOTE: With all the late requests for continuances and items withdrawn, this could be a short meeting. Don't blink!)

FIXING THE SANITARY DISTRICT FLEET - AT COST
At 6:00, though, the regular meeting will commence and a review of the agenda provides some fodder for contemplation. For example, in the Consent Calendar - items which may be lumped together for a single vote - item #6 tells us the City proposes to perform fleet maintenance and repair services on Costa Mesa Sanitary District vehicles. Reading that staff report we learn that the city will not make a profit since the Sanitary District will provide the parts and our staff will perform the labor "at cost". Interesting.

FARMING OUT OUR DRUNK WOMEN
Item 7 is an agreement with the Huntington Beach Police Department to house at their facility the dozen or so female "drunk in public" arrests Costa Mesa makes each year, apparently because we lack facilities to house them. I've called the PD for more information because we just spent millions of dollars to renovate our Police Facility, so I wonder why this need was not anticipated since we've had such an agreement since 1993! Unfortunately, there was nobody available today to talk about it. Such is life in the land of budget cuts.

MORE "FAIRGROUNDS" DISCUSSION
Then, the council will morph into the Orange County Fairgrounds Authority (OCFA) for a meeting during which they will consider - again - two items dealing with the lease with Facilities Management West. There's no reason to believe there will be new information, but there is no staff report attached to the agenda as of noon on Friday.

The council will then reappear as itself and start with the meat of the meeting.

GARCIA RECYCLING MAY BE CONTINUED
Public Hearing #1 will be the appeal by Garcia Recycling of the Planning Commission's revocation of it's conditional use permit for a recycling facility on West 19th Street. We assume there will be significant public input on this issue. The staff report was so long that it required six segments, individually downloaded! The Staff is recommending continuation of this issue until the meeting of October 5th.

NEIGHBOR APPEALS SCHOOL USE ON RED HILL
Next is the appeal of the Planning Commissions approval of a conditional use permit by a continuous neighboring business of the proposed school site on Red Hill. (NOTE: Late Friday a request from the appellant was received requesting a continuance to as far out as January. No word if the request will be considered.)

TRIANGLE SQUARE LED SIGNS
Then comes the biggie of the evening - the appeal by Mayor Pro Tem Wendy Leece of the Planning Commission's recent approval of huge LED light displays on the foundering Triangle Square retail center. Two signs, one 15X20 feet on the corner of Newport Blvd. and Harbor Blvd, facing outbound Newport Blvd. traffic and the second, and most controversial one, on the corner of 19th Street and Newport Blvd., facing the traffic emerging from the 55 Freeway ditch onto Newport Blvd. This sign, proposed and approved at 10X96 feet - nearly 1,000 square feet - that will wrap around the building just below the dome and will spill illumination more than 200 degrees around the corner. The image shown here was provided by a concerned resident, giving an idea of just what such a sign might look like.
INCREASE IN OVERALL SIGNAGE ALLOWANCE
In addition to being a huge distraction to drivers coming off the freeway, this particular sign will be in addition to the 2400 square feet of signage approved for the center, driving the approved total signage to just over 3400 square feet.

APPLICANT REQUESTS CONTINUANCE FOR A MONTH
My understanding is that several residents plan to attend and speak to this issue, even thought the applicant has requested a continuance until October 5th.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA DISPENSARY URGENCY ORDINANCE
After some housekeeping issue, the final two items on the agenda, for which there are no staff reports available, might generate some interest. The first, New Business #1, is an urgency ordinance dealing with medical marijuana dispensaries, but no staff report is available, so we don't know why the urgency ordinance is necessary and what it will accomplish. I expect we'll see City Council Candidate Susan Lester speak on this one, since this is the only plank in her campaign platform.(NOTE: Late Friday this item was pulled from the agenda. No word about reasons for removing it, or why it was on the agenda as an "urgency item" in the first place!)

A BUMP IN THE BIA TAX
Finally, the council will consider a resolution permitting an increase in the assessment for the Business Improvement Area (BIA), raising the assessment from 2% to 3%. Apparently the BIA doesn't have enough cash to promote Costa Mesa properly, so want to dip into the pockets of visitors for just a little more. You will recall that a 2% increase in the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) will appear on the November ballot.

HAVE A GREAT HOLIDAY!
Have a great Labor Day holiday. Posting of comments may be delayed over the weekend.

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Thursday, September 02, 2010

Upcoming Candidate Forums

EASTSIDE NEIGHBORS GROUP ON OCTOBER 14TH.
On Thursday, October 14th, my friends at the Eastside Costa Mesa Neighbors Group will host a forum at the Neighborhood Community Center at which it is hoped all five candidates for the Costa Mesa City Council will attend. It's my understanding that Costa Mesa TV (CMTV) will be there to tape the forum for subsequent replay. This forum will run from 6:30, for a meet and greet, with the forum running from 7:00 to 9:00. In 2008 this group produced an excellent forum, so we have high hopes for this one, too. Mark your calendar.

COSTA MESA UNITED ON OCTOBER 6TH
Yesterday, on his Facebook page, irrepressible Costa Mesa Planning Commissioner Steve Mensinger - in his own inimitable style - jumped the gun and announced to the world that Costa Mesa United will host a forum on October 6th, also at the Neighborhood Community Center, which will be unique in my memory.

UNIQUE FORMAT
This forum, according to Mensinger and confirmed by Gordon Bowley, President of Costa Mesa United, will include all five Costa Mesa City Council candidates plus all four of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District board candidates in contested elections. To my knowledge, this has not been done before.

NARROW FOCUS - THE KIDS
Apparently, the format will be narrowly focused on issues that both the Costa Mesa City Council and the School Board either share overlapping responsibilities or common interests. According to Mensinger's "announcement", the theme will be "Academics, Athletics and Activities, and Ways to Improve the Infrastructure for our Community". Regarding that latter one, I'm assuming Mensinger meant playing fields, not better streets and gutters.

MORE "OFFICIAL" INFORMATION TO FOLLOW
This forum is in the early planning stages, so we're not sure whether CMTV will be available to cover it. Budget constraints have created severe staffing issues recently and, as of this morning, they had no knowledge of this event. I'll let you know more when I do. Mark your calendar for this very special event.

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