Friday, May 04, 2012

Loaded Study Session Planned For Tuesday

FULL STUDY SESSION AGENDA
Next Tuesday, May 8, 2012, the Costa Mesa City Council will hold a Study Session at which three very important items will be discussed.  This meeting begins in City Council chambers at 4:30 and is normally scheduled to run a couple hours.  Unlike regular council meetings, total public comments time is restricted to 15 minutes unless Mayor Eric Bever changes the rule.  Typically it is first come, first served and usually each speaker will get only two minutes.  If you have something to say, jump up early or be left out in the cold

I-405 FREEWAY IMPROVEMENT PROJECT
The first item on the agenda is I-405 Freeway Improvement Project presentation by members of the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) staff.  You can read that staff report HERE.  The project involves adding a new High Occupancy lane - perhaps a toll lane - to 405 and 73 freeways where they join in Costa Mesa.  This project has been in the works for a couple of years, as a review of the staff report will explain.  It is my understanding that there is a significant ground swell of opposition to this project from residents living in the north part of our city - the area that will be most directly affected by the lengthy construction.  I expect there to be a significant presence from that group of our neighbors to hear the OCTA presentation and, perhaps, express their views.  Don't be late...
SR-55 FREEWAY IMPROVEMENT PROJECT
Second on the agenda is the proposed SR-55 Freeway Improvement Project, Monument Signs Options.  This is another mature project that has been put off in order to better coordinate with the OCTA actions at the present terminus of the freeway at 19th Street.  Staff will be looking for direction concerning landscaping treatments and choices of a Monument Sign.  You can read the staff report, which includes examples of monument signs, HERE.
PRELIMINARY BUDGET REVIEW - WITH NO STAFF REPORT
The final item on the agenda, the Initial presentation of the 2012-2013 municipal budget, presently has no staff report available for review, only a placeholder page in the agenda.  It is my hope that sometime before the meeting a staff report will be made available for the public to review.  This is going to be a very complicated process this year and CEO Tom Hatch has set aside dates throughout the month for on-going budget discussions.  In addition to the meeting Tuesday, he also identified May 17th, 24th and possibly the 29th for additional meetings - maybe more. 
 RIGHEIMER'S WISH LIST
Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer, at a meeting earlier this year, pulled numbers out of the air with no discussion by the council as to their appropriateness and has created a "5-year Plan" - a wish list against which they will now demand the staff prepare a budget to accomplish those wishes.  You can view that pipe dream HERE.   Unfortunately, in the case of the first year on that list - 2012/2013 - it looks like we will fall somewhere around $12 million short.  The only place any money can be found is in salaries and benefits of employees.  It's going to be a very interesting budget process this year.  If Finance and Information Technology Director Bobby Young pulls this off I'm going to ask him to turn water into wine next.

SPECIAL COUNCIL MEETING TO FOLLOW - A CLOSED SESSION
Following the study session there will be a Special City Council meeting - a closed session to discuss labor negotiations.  The public is not invited to that meeting.

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Thursday, May 03, 2012

Eastside Infrastructure Improvement Meeting

EASTSIDE STREET IMPROVEMENTS
At the last City Council meeting CEO Tom Hatch announced significant infrastructure improvements scheduled for most of the streets in the Eastside of town.  As you can see from the text of a recent notification, these much-needed improvements will use over $6 million in Gas Tax and Measure "M" funds.

PUBLIC HEARING/INFORMATIONAL MEETING WEDNESDAY
Those of my Eastside neighbors interested in this project are encouraged to attend the public meeting to be held next Wednesday at Kaiser Elementary School.  I've included a map to Kaiser Elementary School for you.  At the bottom of the page I've also included an image of proposed improvements, including a key to show the type of improvement in each area, for your viewing pleasure.  Click on the images to make them larger.  The text of the announcement follows:

CITY ANNOUNCEMENT
The City's Public Services Department has completed the construction documents for a major rehabilitation project in the Eastside neighborhoods bounded by 15th Street to the south, 21st Street to the north, Irvine Avenue to the east and Newport Boulevard to the west. The project includes the rehabilitation of  pavements, removal and reconstruction of damaged curb & gutter, sidewalks, driveways and cross gutters.  The work also includes removal of existing asphalt sidewalks and driveways and replacing them with concrete sidewalks and driveways. The construction cost is estimated at $6,305,000. The project is funded entirely from Gas Tax and Measure "M" revenues.
The City will be hosting an open house neighborhood meeting to go over the project details and timelines. 
The public meeting will be held as follows:
Date:   Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Time:   6:00 pm
Place:  Kaiser Elementary School
             2130 Santa Ana Avenue, multi-purpose room,
             Costa Mesa, CA 92627.
If you need additional information please contact Fariba Fazeli at (714) 754-5378.


KAISER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL LOCATION


IMAGE OF IMPROVEMENT AREA




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Wednesday, May 02, 2012

OC Marathon On Sunday

HERE THEY COME AGAIN!
It's that time of the year again.  Thousands of runners and supporters will descend on our community Sunday, May 6th, for the running of the Orange County Marathon and its related shorter races.

PLAN YOUR DAY SUNDAY
This is a great event but, as you might expect, many neighborhoods through which the race route is plotted will be a total traffic snarl for several hours Sunday.  For those of us who live near the route of both the full marathon and the half marathon that begins less than an hour later it's important for us to plan our activities on Sunday carefully or risk being stranded or at least severely inconvenienced that day.

SCHEDULE AND MAPS
You can read all about the Marathon and the schedule of events at www.ocmarathon.com.  I've included maps of both the full marathon and half marathon courses for you below.  Just click on the images to make them larger.  You will also find them on the web site, along with very specific details about road closures along the route.

GOOD LUCK TO ALL COMPETITORS
Good luck to all of you participating and those who will line the course to cheer them on.


FULL MARATHON COURSE MAP 




 HALF MARATHON COURSE MAP 

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Another Long, Eventful Evening

FINISHED BEFORE MIDNIGHT - AGAIN!
What should have been a relatively short meeting of the Costa Mesa City Council Tuesday night turned out to be another long one, although it "only" lasted until around 11:30.

MY PREVIOUS REPORT
You can refresh your memory about everything that was on the agenda from my earlier post, HERE.  However, here's a summary of what transpired last night.
 

KUDOS TO OFFICER KHA BAO
The council recognized police officer Kha Bao as employee of the month for his remarkable accomplishment of arresting 432 drunk drivers last year.  He led a team of CMPD officers in achieving "Century Club" status - snatching up 100 or more drunk drivers for the year.  Officer Bao is shown here with members of the CMPD command staff.  Left to right, Captain Les Gogerty, Captain Allen Huggins, Sergeant Greg Scott, Officer Kha Bao, Chief Tom Gazsi and Lt. Rob Sharpnack.


SMART KIDS
Mayor Eric Bever also presented certificates to members of the Costa Mesa High School Business Academy/Virtual Enterprise teams for recent accomplishments.


MORE NEW HOUSING
The council approved a small-lot residential development at 743 West 20th Street despite numerous and significant variations from the established guidelines.  They also heard the screening request for 40 live/work units at the location of the present Anchor Mobile Home Park on Newport Boulevard near Industrial Way.


 RELAXED RESTAURANT PARKING REQUIREMENTS
They adopted the resolution relaxing parking requirements for certain types of establishments where food and beverages are sold in the city and gave second reading to the ordinance that forbids sex offenders from entering any park or athletic venue within the city.



AN EXPLOSIVE INDEPENDENCE WEEK AHEAD
The council also affirmed the current ordinance about sale and discharge of fireworks.  That means that this year residents will be able to purchase so-called safe and sane fireworks from June 30, 2012 through July 4, 2012 and discharge them from July 2 through July 4th.  Very little discussion was conducted on this item and there were no voices of opposition heard even though there seemed to be no good reason to permit the discharge of fireworks on the two nights leading up to July 4th.  Pet owners beware - it's going to be a long week for you.



FISH FRY, BEER AND WINE AND DEMOLITION
The council made quick work of the two items on the agenda involving the Fish Fry.  They approved moving it from Lions Park to Fairview Park and also approved the establishment of a beer and wine garden - similar to the one approved for the Concerts In The Park last year.  They also approved the demolition of the picnic shelter at Lions Park using $60,000 from the CEO's contingency fund to get it done immediately.

WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS...
The most fun came during the discussion of sending Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer and his pal, councilman Steve Mensinger to an economic development conference in Las Vegas later this month.  The amount of money was small - probably less than $1,000 (the Convention and Business Bureau is picking up about half the cost) - but the discussion was lively.  Actually, despite the fact that this reeks of a boondoggle, sending those two council members to this particular conference makes a lot of sense.  As Gary Monahan observed, they ARE developers and speak the language, so if we're serious about enticing developers to consider Costa Mesa in their future plans, their presence at this conference makes sense.  The council approved it, 4-0.


ROAD TRIP!
An amusing sidebar was during the public comments on that item.  Resident Terry Koken, who has been known to croon his message to the council in the past, suggested that, because much of the discussion on this subject implied that some folks didn't trust Righeimer and Mensinger in Las Vegas, perhaps Wendy Leece should accompany them as chaperone.  Koken then expressed concern about possible Brown Act violations so suggested an alternate chaperone - ME!  It may have been the high point of the evening.  I later asked Mensinger when he and Righeimer would be picking me up and asked if I could ride shotgun.  Mensinger suggested the Mitt Romney approach - me in a dog crate on the roof.  Sounds like fun...

CALL FOR CIVILITY REJECTED BY THE COUNCIL
Early in the meeting, during public comments, resident David Kincaid suggested the need for more civility in the discourse about city matters.  He wasn't very specific, although he did glance back my way a couple times.  Members of the council agreed with him.  I must observe, however, that the only rancor last night came from the dais when, near the end of the evening, Mayor Bever was his usual snippy self and Monahan criticized the long discussion of the Righeimer/Mensinger trip as "getting personal" against those two men.  He aimed his comments at Leece and the audience.  And, Bever topped it off with another snide remark about Leece that got her daughter, Amy, so angry that she sprinted up to the dais after the meeting closed, ready to confront him.


BEVER THE BOOR
Bever continued his petty, boorish behavior when he dashed down into the audience at the end of the meeting to confront young Orange County Register reporter Sean Greene, raking him over the coals for apparently not contacting Bever for comment on an issue recently.  This from a guy who is notorious for his lack of responsiveness to the media!  Greene, during his brief tenure as a writer for the Register, has done a very good job and this meeting may have been his last - he's off to grad school.  He probably should have told Bever to stick his complaint where "the sun don't shine", but he didn't.  He just stood there and took it, much to his credit.


JUST A WARM UP
So ended another adventure with the Costa Mesa City Council.  And, since May promises to have perhaps another half-dozen meetings due to the budget, I fear this is just the warm-up for this month.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Righeimer Spreads The Big Lie

 RIGHEIMER SQUAWKS ON "SQUAWK BOX"
As mentioned in my earlier post, Costa Mesa Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer made an appearance on "The Squawk Box" on CNBC this morning shortly before 9:00 a.m.  Considering what he had to say, I thought the name of the program seemed somehow absolutely perfect.

SPREADING THE BIG LIE... 
Righeimer, apparently in Chicago to celebrate his father's 80th birthday, used a couple minutes of valuable air time to perpetuate the myth of Costa Mesa's supposed insolvency for a national audience.  Granted, it's a small audience - miniscule by national television standards - but an opportunistic politician like Righeimer doesn't care as long as his face is on the screen.
HE'S NUMBER TWO
In the preamble, where the interviewer wanted to identify Righeimer for his audience, he asked him "what's mayor pro tem mean because we don't have a mayor pro tem in Chicago?"  In his reply Righeimer said the following:  "I was elected to the council seventeen months ago and I'm, like, appointed by the council to be the number two person."  Well, that's accurate and, when I think of Righeimer, I certainly do conjure up the image of "Number Two".

A BARE-FACED LIE!
When he was asked how he got elected he dove right into his "pensions are unsustainable" mantra and said, "We have arguably the number one sales tax generating, you know, shopping area, South Coast Plaza, on the planet and we can't slurry seal our streets."  This lie, from a guy who lives in a section of town that just had their streets not just slurry sealed, but completely repaved!  It takes giant cojones to tell such a bare-faced lie.  He probably assumed that nobody back home was watching.  Wrong, Jimbo!

RIGHEIMER WON'T BE AT THE COUNCIL MEETING
The only positive element in his trip to Chicago is that he won't be at the City Council meeting later today.  Of course, that keeps him from having to vote to send himself and his buddy, Steve Mensinger, to Las Vegas on that "economic development" boondoggle.
   

ELEANOR EGAN GETS IT RIGHT
As a reminder of just how pervasive lying has become for some members of the council, I present for your edification a short commentary issued by Eleanor Egan at the last council meeting.  As usual, she gets it right.


Get Microsoft Silverlight

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Monday, April 30, 2012

Righeimer Spreading The Gospel

 RIGHEIMER ON CNBC TUESDAY A.M.
Just in case you had not heard, our carpetbagger Mayor Pro Tem, Jim Righeimer, has managed to land himself yet another spot on national television - a bigger pulpit from which to spew his garbage.

DON'T MISS IT!
Righeimer will present himself to CNBC's audience - all six of them - Tuesday morning at 8:30 a.m.  I know, I know - I didn't tell you about this sooner, but I was conflicted about whether to expose you to more of his mantra or not.

I'LL REPORT...
Anyhow, I've got my VCR - yes, I still have one of those - and will record his magic mutterings and report on it sometime Tuesday morning.

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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Another Busy Month Ahead

 WHERE DID APRIL GO?
Well, Monday is the final day of April and I want someone to tell me where THAT month went!  Holy Cow!

 
TUESDAY'S MEETING COULD BE ANOTHER LONG ONE
Tuesday we have our first of what will be MANY meetings of the Costa Mesa City Council in May.  This one, the first of two regularly-scheduled meetings, has a pretty full agenda so we might see another long one.  The last one wrapped up just before midnight, so I may take a pillow and blankie with me Tuesday.  According to city sources there will likely be at least three more - maybe four - meetings this month because it's budget time and the City Staff is trying to figure out how to accomplish the wish list the council concocted with no study of the situation.  Another time for that discussion.


GRANT MONEY FOR SIGNAL SYNCHRONIZATION
Tuesday the council holds a closed session at 5:00 p.m. and the regular meeting at 6:00 p.m.  You can read the agenda HERE.  There are nine (9) items on the Consent Calendar - "routine" items that may be voted upon in one vote unless someone on the council or public decides they want to discuss one or more of them.  Perhaps the biggest ticket item is #7,  the Fairview Traffic Signal Synchronization Project - a coordinated effort between Costa Mesa, Santa Ana and CalTrans.  Part of this item involves a budget adjustment of more than $650,000. You can read the staff report HERE.



WESTSIDE HOME PURCHASE OPPORTUNITIES
Public Hearing #1 is a 4-unit, 4 story development on W. 20th street.  The units actually have 3 stories plus a rooftop deck.  You can read all about it HERE.


RESTAURANT PARKING TO BE RELAXED?
Public Hearing #2 is an ordinance modifying off-street parking requirements for establishments where food and beverages are served.  This ordinance, if passed, will relax the requirements.  It will be VERY interesting to hear the discussion on this one, since our city is full of small malls with one or more small food establishments that are severely underparked.  You can read the staff report HERE.

 
SEX OFFENDER ORDINANCE
The only Old Business item is the second reading and adoption of a new ordinance prohibiting sex offenders from entering parks and sports facilities in the city.  This one's a no-brainer and should pass without any hassle at all.


ANOTHER TRAILER PARK TO BITE THE DUST
There are six separate items on the roster under New Business, the first of which is a screening request for 40 so-called live/work units at 1527 Newport Boulevard, near the border with Newport Beach at Industrial Way.  This would displace the existing 40-unit Anchor Trailer Park, some of which are unoccupied.  I recall a few years ago when two trailer parks on the other side of Newport Boulevard were razed to make way for a medical office building and the turmoil that caused.  Theoretically, the City has a procedure in place to handle displaced folks when trailer parks are converted to other uses.  The staff report on this one is HERE.


FIREWORKS FIREWORKS
Next comes what is turning out to be an annual event - the re-hashing of our Fireworks Ordinance.  Since the holiday falls on Wednesday this year, it's going to be interesting to see if anyone wants to sell the fireworks from the Friday before and authorize the discharge of them on other than the evening of July 4th.  The staff report is HERE.

MOVING THE FISH FRY TO FAIRVIEW PARK

Next come three items related to the Lions Club annual Fish Fry.  The first, HERE, is a request to move the event from Lions Park to Fairview Park and waive the special event permit and park use fees.


 SELLING WINE AND BEER WITH YOUR FISH
The second, HERE, is a request to sell beer and wine at the Fish Fry.  This one should be interesting. 

TEARING DOWN AN "ATTRACTANT"
The third, HERE, deals with the demolition of the picnic shelter at Lions Park - an apparent magnet for homeless folks in our city.  Lions Park has been the epicenter for homelessness in Costa Mesa.



RIGHEIMER AND MENSINGER TO VEGAS
Finally, the last item on the agenda is a request to send Jim Righeimer and Steve Mensinger on an economic development boondoggle, er, conference in Las Vegas in May.  According to the staff report, HERE, they would be joined by several staffers to introduce and promote Costa Mesa to an international audience.  Unfortunately, there is no provision requiring Mensinger and Righeimer to stay in Vegas after the conference.  Seems like a missed opportunity to me.


THAT, AND MORE...
All that, and the always exciting Council Members Comments, await us Tuesday.  I can hardly wait to hear Righeimer's latest rant.

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