Of Planners and Despoilers
This week is going to be a very interesting one for the City of Costa Mesa. Monday the new Planning Commission meets for their first meeting of this tour and will elected a new Chairman and Vice Chairman to guide it for the next couple years. Tuesday is the second City Council meeting of the month with lots of watershed issues on the agenda.
PLANNING COMMISSION AGENDA
Following the election of officers the Planning Commissioners will hear staff reports on Code Enforcement Updates (HERE); 2010 Annual General Plan Review(HERE) and the 2009 Development Phasing and Performance Monitoring Program(HERE). After that they will hold four public hearings that include a review of the Development Agreement for Pacific Arts Plaza master plan(HERE); a request for a time extension on an East 23rd Street condominium development(HERE); a time extension of a project at 3003 Newport Blvd.(HERE) and, the most interesting one of all, former mayor Peter Buffa's pitch for the Sutra Lounge(HERE) at Triangle Square to abandon it's food service and convert itself into strictly a night club and booze dispensary.
WRAPPING IT UP
They'll wrap up the evening by hearing a staff report on Arterial Wall Standards(HERE) and discuss the 2010 Planning Commission Design Awards and Mesa Green Design Awards Selection(HERE).
TUESDAY PROMISES THE MOST FIREWORKS
The City Council will consider many issues critical to the future of our city - many of them on the negative side of the ledger.
DRAMATIC FEE INCREASES FOR FIELD USE
Right off the bat, so to speak, the council will consider a proposal to dramatically increase fees charged and new fee categories for the rental of utility fields and ball fields. (HERE) This may generate a lot of interest among the various user groups since they will be hit hard by these new fee increases.
COST SHARING VOTE AGAIN
They then vote again on the previously approved "cost sharing" agreement(HERE) with the local safety and miscellaneous employee plans. There's no way they will vote to disapprove this issue - it would be much too costly for the city at this juncture and breaks faith with the employees of this city. If passed this will require an "urgency ordinance", as well.
HATCH CONTRACT TO BE APPROVED
The council will then vote in open session on the employee agreement with new City Manager Tom Hatch, which will take effect on March 5, 2011, one day after Allan Roeder retires. You can read the staff report (HERE). In a nutshell, Hatch will be paid an annual salary of $207,288 and will have a package, including the salary, worth $274,707. His compensation will be at a step lower than what was budgeted for Roeder. And before everybody goes nuts about these numbers, based on recent City Manager salary numbers around the county these look just right, if not slightly low.
WORKING GROUP REPORTS
Next on the agenda will be reports from the council working groups, although at the time I write this there are no staff reports available. Those group reports are:
1- Economic Development and Development
2- Sports and Recreation
3- Policies, Procedures, and General Plan/Circulation
4- Budget and Capital Improvements
5- Motel Issues
NEW BUSINESS IS NEXT
New Business will include many items of extreme importance to the future of our city. I suspect several of these items will generate a lot of discussion and have very significant community input.
ATHLETIC FIELD USE AND ALLOCATION
Council will consider a staff request for modification of the current field use and allocation policy, (HERE), to include specific "rest times" for certain playing fields.
$200,000 BUDGET FOR A CONSULTANT
The council will consider a $200,000 budget adjustment so the city can hire a consultant for the city-wide organizational review(HERE). Having watched Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer in recent meetings, I assume he's going to be looking for someone who will affirm his belief that we can outsource every city function and thereby avoid all this nasty discussion about pensions. We'll see.
Based on the staff report (HERE), the council majority will likely vote to dissolve the ABLE helicopter program as soon as possible. I watched the discussion during the recent study session and have read the new staff report, which includes new information in an attempt to save ABLE and/or offer alternatives to flat-out shutting it down. I think ABLE is toast at this point and I, for one, will not sleep well knowing this marvelous, forty-year law enforcement tool is no longer available to us.
DROPPING TWO POLICE OFFICERS
The council will almost certainly follow through and eliminate two police officer positions that have been open for several months. (HERE) This move, plus the dissolution of ABLE, certainly does raise questions about this council's position on public safety in our city.
HIRE COSTA MESA YOUTH!?
This is a strange one. (HERE) Unelected councilman Steve Mensinger apparently feels it's important for our city council to proclaim that local businesses should hire Costa Mesa youth. Clearly, he has way too much time on his hands these days - more on that later. Is it REALLY necessary to issue this proclamation? Doesn't the staff have plenty of real work to do these days without this kind of fluff? Good grief!
Apparently Hatch's contract is at odds with the current policy about Executive Severance so the City Attorney and City Manager felt it was time to re-visit that policy.(HERE) OK, if you say so...
CITY CEO? C'MON, MAN!
Unelected councilman Mensinger, in another example of a guy with too much time on his hands, ginned up this scheme to change the title of the City Manager to Chief Executive Officer. (HERE) In my view this is a bit of superfluous fluff designed to give Mensinger a reason to say, "Hey, look what I did!" instead of being an actual, concrete improvement to anything in our city. This is unnecessary and, to use an Allan Mansoorism, silly. What are they going to call the new Assistant Tom Hatch hires to replace himself, Assistant Chief Executive Officer? C'mon, Steve. There are many more important issues to be considered instead of this bit of window-dressing. Just leave it alone, for goodness sake! Geez!
At the end of the meeting each council member will present his or her comments and/or suggestions. You will recall this used to be done at the beginning of the meeting, when most residents were in attendance. By moving this to the caboose of the meetings there's a real temptation for some council members to "sneak" new schemes into the mix for future meetings with very few people knowing about them. Now, even the members of the media will have departed to meet deadlines. So, I caution you to watch the tape replay of this if you don't watch the meeting live, or to watch the streaming video to see what your leaders are up to next. Don't blink...
AND, ONE MORE THING... NO MORE "ANONYMOUS"
In the past couple weeks I've permitted a few comments labeled as "anonymous", contrary to my stated policy and belief that comment threads are just to difficult to follow if we have a couple people using that moniker simultaneously. Since it is EASY to conjure up a moniker to use when commenting here I assume those who choose to use "anonymous" are just plain lazy. So, after trying to give this situation a chance to work, we're back to the original rule - no "Anonymous" comments will be published. I'll just reject them as they arrive. On the off chance that you simply cannot figure out how to do it, send me an email and I'll reply back with specific instructions - I cannot believe that anyone smart enough to read this blog can't figure this out?