Thursday, June 07, 2012

Costa Mesa School Resource Officer Program Canceled (**Updated)


COSTA MESA SRO PROGRAM CANCELED
Based on several contacts this morning, it is my understanding that the School Resource Officer program at Costa Mesa schools has been canceled effective next month.


LOSS OF A VALUABLE PROGRAM
This program, in which Costa Mesa police officers are an active presence on high school and middle school campuses in Costa Mesa, has long been hailed as very positive program and an effective deterrent to gang participation.  The Newport-Mesa Unified School District pays for half the cost of these officers.

 OFFICERS MOVED TO PATROL
It is my understanding that the officers who participate in this program will be transferred to patrol duties in an effort to shore-up that effort in the face of diminishing resources due to low staffing levels,  departures and injuries.  Normally the SRO officers would perform patrol duties during the summer months, when school is out.  However, it is my understanding that there is NO anticipation that they will return to the campuses in the fall this year.


UNDERSTAFFED
As most folks know, the Costa Mesa Police Department is now operating with 131 sworn officers (including a handful from a federal grant) down from 164 two years ago and well below the staffing levels recommended by the consultant the City hired to do an assessment of police operations last year.  Former Interim Police Chief Steve Staveley - who did two tours in that role in our city recently - also recommended a much higher staffing level.  The current levels were demanded by the current council using numbers that were largely irrelevant to Costa Mesa's circumstances.  I wrote about it HERE and HERE.


POLITICS AHEAD OF PUBLIC SAFETY
I'm not surprised that this move has been made.  Crime is up in our city and I expect that Chief Tom Gaszi and the CMPD command staff sees this as one way to try to plug holes in our system to keep all residents of the city safe.  The current city council majority refuses to permit the CMPD to hire new officers until there is a second pension tier in place, so they've placed political dogma ahead of the safety of all residents and visitors to our city.  Shame on them!


Officials from The City, the CMPD and the School District were not available for comment yet.  When they are I'll provide their input. 

**MORE NEWS...
I've heard from the City since I published this story.

PER BILL LOBDELL
 Bill Lobdell, Communication Director, sent me the following message:
"It hasn't been cancelled.  The program winds down each summer.  This year, the shift started a little early because of increased demands and officers out of the lineup as a result of on-duty injuries.  It's anticipated that the program will start again in the fall."

CHIEF GAZSI CONFIRMS
This evening I also heard from Chief Tom Gazsi, who confirmed that the SRO program has NOT been canceled, per se.  Due to recent injuries to several officers, the summer program was moved forward a couple weeks.  He tells me his expectation and hope is to resume the SRO program in the fall, although much depends on the extent of the injuries to the officers and when they can return to regular duty.  And, of course, it depends on what's happening elsewhere in the city crime-wise.  If crime stats are up significantly it may mean some more creative deployment to attempt to provide a safe city with limited human resources.

NO WORD FROM THE SCHOOL DISTRICT YET
So far, no official word has been received from any member of the School District administration or the board on this issue.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Mansoor And Rush - Oh, My!


 A RARE VIEW
Take a little peek at that photo above.  It may be the last time you see these two men in a friendly handshake.

 LESLIE GUESSED WRONG
Yesterday the electorate apparently demonstrated that just throwing money into a campaign is not enough to sway their opinions and buy their votes.  I say that because, although Charlie Munger rained hundreds of thousands of dollars into Leslie Daigle's campaign for the past month or so, it didn't do any good.  Of course, the fact that Daigle dodged her opponents by refusing to face them in debates following her miserable performance at the Feet To The Fire Forum may have also contributed to her poor showing.  As you can see from the results of the 74th Assembly Vote below, not only was she trounced by the OC GOP anointed one, Allan Mansoor, but she trailed freshly-minted Democrat and political neophyte Bob Rush by more than 5,000 votes.


Official Results
  IT'S A LONG WAY TO NOVEMBER 
I don't think Mansoor can get too comfy with his showingat this point.  In November we're going to have a much bigger turnout.  The Presidental battle, apparently between the incumbent and Mitt Romney, alone will draw a crowd to the polling places.  And in Costa Mesa, where we expect to see large numbers of voters to decide about Jim Righeimer's Charter and whether or not he will maintain power on the city council on November 7th by who they choose to place on the dais with him.


WHAT WILL THE ELECTORATE DO IN NOVEMBER?
It will be VERY interesting to see whether the voters of the 74th Assembly District will choose to return to Sacramento an ineffective, unskilled politician - a lock-step lemming who marches to the drum that OC GOP Chairman Scott Baugh is pounding and who has a track record of ZERO accomplishments during his term - or will they choose someone who has demonstrated strong negotiating skills, can articulate his views, is a successful businessman and is a CPA, to boot, to help try to sort out the monumental difficulties that exist in the state capitol.  Hmmm, such a decision.. what will I do?

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Righeimer's Charter, And More

ANOTHER BAD DECISION BY MONAHAN
 Last night - Election Night - while dozens of residents took time from their busy schedules to attend the Costa Mesa City Council meeting at which Jim Righeimer's Charter would, once again, be discussed in the first of two mandatory public hearings that are required before it can be placed on the November 6th ballot, former mayor and now councilman Gary Monahan spent HIS evening serving drinks and schmoozing with the OC GOP power elite at his gin mill.  Since abdicating his throne to Eric Bever earlier this year - citing the need to spend more time at his business and with his family - it seems like he's missed as many meetings as he's attended.  Maybe not, but it seems like it.  Although he's stated that he's running again in November, it is time for him step aside.  Clearly, his mind is elsewhere these days and the residents of this city deserve more.

AN "EARLY" MEETING, WITH SOME HIGH POINTS, TOO
The council meeting itself had some interesting moments.    You can watch it online HERE.  For one thing, it ended just before 11:00 p.m.!  That was good news for those of us who take the time to attend and participate in the governance process.  And, as has been the case in recent months, a couple dozen high school students from Newport Harbor High School sat patiently and observed the proceedings.  And, it began with a real high point - the presentation of the Employee of the Month award to Hilda Veturis, a stalwart in the Development Services Department, which included a very clever video clip that is also now being shown on the Costa Mesa Minute.


GOOD FOR US!
The City was also given a check for more than $27,000 by Southern California Edison in recognition of recent energy-saving efforts - the installation of two new "chillers" at City Hall and the Police Department, which apparently resulted in energy savings equivalent to powering hundreds of homes.  Good for us.

 FEDS NOW AWARE OF TEWINKLE PARK SCHEME
The Public Comments, as usual, had some interesting moments.  Resident Jay Litvak stepped up and read into the record a letter from  the United States Department of Interior National Parks Service - the agency charged with administering public lands - that addressed Litvak's concern for a possible violation of the deed that transferred the chunk of property that is now TeWinkle Park to The City decades ago.  It seems, based on the content of that letter, that the city may have jumped the gun when it moved ahead with Monahan's plan to privatize the Sports Complex at that park.  Litvak was a member of the now-dormant TeWinkle Park Task Force and had expressed concern about this issue previously.  Later, resident Eleanor Egan also addressed this issue - as she has done in the past.  Sadly, this is just one more example of how this current council does not listen to its constituents on very important issues.  This gaffe may be very costly if the City moves forward with the plan to turn the TeWinkle Parks Sports Complex over to a private, for-profit company to operate.

FEENEY GIVES OCTA HECK
Resident John Feeney gave the council his take on the OCTA informational meeting from the previous night, describing the folks at the OCTA as "tin badge dictators" and reiterating his belief that the choice of Alternative #3 would only help "the swells from Newport Beach".


  FISH FRY SUCCESS
Lions Club President Bob Ooten gave a preliminary report from the Fish Fry weekend and gave kudos to all who made it come together, particularly Public Affairs Manager Dan Joyce for his efforts.  He mentioned some infrastructure improvements that will be necessary for a smooth operation in future years and some tweaking of the parking plans.

YOUNG SPEAKERS
There was a covey of Westside children who spoke, requesting the council consider a way to provide financial assistance for sports programs for underprivileged youth.  Several subsequent speakers praised them for their efforts.  They did a great job.


WHAT ABOUT FITZY'S VACANCY?
Sue Lester why the City had not participated in the recent county-wide emergency drill and also asked when the council was going to discuss the replacement of Jim Fitzpatrick on the Planning Commission.  She postulated that they might be waiting to see if he is, in fact, ousted from the Sanitary District Board, so they could then re-appoint him to the Planning Commission.  That's a question that needs answering.


BEVER'S LETTER TO THE OCTA BOARD
During Council Member Comments, Mayor Bever announced that he had sent a letter to the OCTA Board opposing Alternative #3 and asked CEO Tom Hatch to prepare a resolution for the council to consider officially opposing that choice and supporting either Alternatives 1 or 2.  He expressed concern that south county folks using the proposed toll lane would be precluded from hopping off the freeway to reach South Coast Plaza.


FISH AND MOTELS

Righeimer talked about the Fish Fry and the "Motel Problem".


SUPPORTING OUR TROOPS
Wendy Leece spoke about Bever's letter and addressed the activities of the Military Affairs Team.  She showed a slide show of CMPD officer Jon Smith, currently deployed in Afghanistan, to whom boxes of goodies are being sent as the first step in the re-activation of the effort to support our adopted Marine unit, the 1/5 from Camp Pendleton.


DUMPING THE AUDITOR
Steve Mensinger demanded that the City find another auditor, since our current auditor is embroiled in the City of Bell fiasco.  He also suggested that the Investment Oversight Committee play an active role in the selection of an auditor.  He also threw some budget numbers around as if the preliminary budget had actually been passed.  He needs to pay more attention.  More on that in a minute.

 
 WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS...
During his CEO Report, Hatch gave a report from the recent Las Vegas business development trip that he and four other staffers attended.  He quantified contacts made and follow-up meetings that have been held.  The trip cost $7,000, of which half was paid by the Costa Mesa Convention and Visitors Bureau.  Based on his report, it seems like having a presence at the trade show may have been a good investment.

BUDGET MEETING ON THE 12TH

He also announced that the budget will be the subject at the next study session on June 12th.  It is hoped that the council will be able to wrap up the final version by the meeting of the 19th.  It is required to have a finished budget before July 1st.

DUARTE WORKING ON LITVAK'S LETTER
He also acknowledged the receipt of Litvak's letter and that contract City Attorney Tom Duarte is working on it.


CONSENT CALENDAR
As the council plowed through the Consent Calendar they, and members of the public, pulled several items for separate conversation and votes.  One of the high, or low, points depending on your viewpoint, was when Mensinger pulled "#8", then it turned out he actually meant #7, an item discussing the renovation of an alley.  Obviously, he wasn't paying attention to the business at hand - he may have been swapping emails with Jim Fitzpatrick, who was plopped down in the audience, madly tapping out messages on his phone.  Regardless, when it came time for that item to be discussed the council had already voted on it as part of one single vote on items not pulled.  Still, Mensinger just HAD to discuss it and used what will likely be one of his platforms for his council campaign this summer and fall - the condition of alleys in our city.  Somebody needs to take that darn Ipad away from him so he can actually pay attention to the business at hand!


GENERAL PLAN UPDATE
Addressing #6, the contract with a Pasadena consultant for the General Plan update, Leece expressed concern that it appeared that the contract proposed does not include significant community outreach.  Resident Marshall Krupp - an announced candidate for City Council in the fall - observed that we could expect additional charges of more than $100,000 if the consultant is asked to do community outreach beyond the terms of this contract.  There seemed to be little concern about this among the other council members.  Perhaps they will treat this project as they are treating Jim Righeimer's Charter - they'll just do what they want and not care one bit about public input.

BIA RE-AUTHORIZED

Public Hearing #1, the re-authorization of the BIA funding, passed on a 4-0 vote after some discussion about taking a more "global approach" - to support more businesses than just the 10 hotels that participate.


 BETHEL TOWERS DECISION DELAYED
Following a "10 minute break" that turned out to be 20 minutes, they tackled Public Hearing #2, the mandatory public hearing dealing with the bonds required for the sale and renovation of Bethel Towers, the senior housing high-rise on the Westside of town where 268 seniors reside.  This was a VERY interesting discussion, during which Righeimer attempted to throw his weight around as a former Chair of the Orange County Housing Commission.  Phrases directed at the applicant like, "Before I ask any questions just know that I was a housing commissioner for the county for the last 14 years."  And, when interrogating the applicant about where they will get rent subsidies, Righeimer cautioned him to "Remember who I am."   Geez!  The short version of the discussion is, that the council wants assurances that will protect the current residents and were unwilling to approve this issue until they had them in hand.  The item was shoved off to the June 19th meeting - at which time Righeimer will probably attempt to muscle the applicants again.

JIM RIGHEIMER'S CHARTER
Finally, at 9:35, we finally got to the meat of the evening, Public Hearing #3, the discussion of Jim Righeimer's Charter.  It was interesting that, during his preamble to the discussion, contract City Attorney Tom Duarte mentioned that, "due to a clerical error" the issue failed to reach the June ballot.  I smiled for a couple reasons.  First, yesterday would have been the day the voters would have considered it. And, his acknowledgment - for the second time at recent meetings - that it was only a "clerical error" that kept the item off the ballot encourages me that City Clerk Julie Folcik - presently on Administrative Leave pending the completion of the investigation into why the item missed the deadline earlier this year - may actually have a future with The City. (As a side note, Hatch earlier introduced Brenda Green, former City Clerk for the City of Stanton, as Interim City Clerk.  The workload in the City Clerk's office due to the upcoming election, including three council positions, Jim Righeimer's Charter and a possible increase in the Business License fees, apparently requires additional skilled manpower to manage it all.)

 
CHARTER SCHEDULE
According to Duarte, this is the first of two public hearings on this issue.  The second will be July 10th and the council will be asked to adopt the Charter at a meeting on July 31st.  Both of those meetings will be Special Meetings.  He also stated that the initial information - the resolutions, impartial analysis and arguments for and against - are due at the Registrar of Voters by August 10th.  He wants the impartial analysis and arguments to the City Clerk by close of business (5:00 p.m.) August 7th.  Rebuttal arguments will be due to the City Clerk by close of business (5:00 p.m.) on August 17th.  Of course, the folks in the City Clerk's office would prefer they arrive before that time so they can perform the administrative functions required - counting the words, etc.


 FAMILIAR FACES - NEW TACTICS
During the Public Comments portion of this discussion many familiar faces stepped up to ask many of the same questions they posed to the council months ago, when this really bad idea first surfaced.  It was clear that there is less patience on both sides of the dais on this issue now.  I was concerned with what appears to be a new tactic on the part of council proponents of this scheme.  As residents stepped up to the podium to pose questions or to make comments, both Righeimer and Bever would interrupt them, breaking the speaker's train of thought, to either ask a question or to rebut something that had been said.  Not only is it rude, but it is unconscionable behavior, but it may be a demonstration of the desperation they're feeling about this issue.  Regardless, speakers should be allowed to say their piece without interruption by members of the council.  If council members have questions they can be asked following each speaker's presentation. 

 INCOMPLETE CHARTER ON THE WEB SITE!
Speaker Charlie Mooney - a gentleman who has recently written to the Daily Pilot with cogent observations on this issue - stepped up and pointed out to the council and audience that the version of Jim Righeimer's Charter posted on the City web site is NOT the version handed out as part of the staff report last night.  The version on the web site has many omissions, which puts anyone trying to use it to compose comments to the council at a definite disadvantage.  Mooney gave several examples - including some VERY IMPORTANT segments that were missing.  Members of the council glared down at Communications Director Bill Lobdell, who was seated in the well next to the City Clerk, and the looks were clear - FIX IT!  I'm sure those missing segments were something simple - like a "clerical error" - and certainly not done intentionally.  However, the consequences of those deletions are significant if you're a concerned resident attempting to communicate with your leaders


 LEFFLER - WHO IS "WE"?
Many of the comments made by the fifteen speakers were re-hashes of old issues.  Righeimer gave a lame response to Robin Leffler's question about who the "we" is that he constantly referred to when addressing how his charter was conceived.  He actually invoked the "royal we"!  Leffler wanted to know just WHO influenced his decision while composing his charter.  She didn't get an answer.

KRUPP CONFOUNDED
Candidate Marshall Krupp, who will very likely be a regular visitor to council meetings, attempted to deliver into the record his 20 page letter sent earlier to the council.  He had NO CHANCE on this issue - even if he hadn't antagonized the council.  He did express concern that there had not yet been any reason WHY we need a Charter - a good point, for sure, and he's not the first to express that question in public.  Perry Valantine may have been the first at a council meeting months ago.


BEVER BULLIES AGAIN
Speaker Tamar Goldmann, who followed Krupp, attempted to offer Krupp her time.  Bever rejected that request.   She then asked to have Krupp's letter so she could read it and, as it was being passed to her, Bever made this comment: "Boy, you sure outsmarted us, Tamar", with sarcasm dripping from his lips.  The poor guy just doesn't know when to shut-the-heck-up!

MOSER BRINGS PERSPECTIVE

One new speaker was Newport Beach resident Jim Mosher, who provided the council and audience some perspective as a resident of a city with a Charter.  He pointed out some of the many flaws in that form of government - something Righeimer NEVER mentions - in a very calm, analytical manner.




  LEECE - "LIPSTICK ON A PIG"
As council members addressed this issue Leece said this exercise was like putting lipstick on a pig.  She said, "You can't keep word-smithing this and make it right."  She said the process was flawed and this whole exercise was damaging Costa Mesa's brand.  She said we need to work together on something this important, that "one person doesn't get to decide"



BEVER'S ATTEMPT AT DEFLECTION
Bever, during his comments, attempted to deflect the concern about the Charter by pointing out that the Municipal Code, Zoning Code and General Plan are the documents that shape what this city is.  He ignored the tremendous power that Jim Righeimer's Charter provides to those on the dais.


 MENSINGER CONFIRMS SUSPICIONS
Mensinger, during his comments, again sounded like he was warming up his stump speech for the council campaign ahead this summer and fall.  He may have just inadvertently confirmed something many of us suspected - where his real loyalties fall.  He said, "The reality is, whether it's the state legislature or its this council, the elected officials have to be responsible to those people who that elected them.  Or put them in office.  Or in my case, appointed them."  Thanks, Steve, for confirming that your responsibilities as a council member are to those who appointed you, not the residents of this city.  We'll remind you of that statement as your campaign evolves.

 
 LEECE IS CORRECT
As the council was about to wrap up this segment Leece observed that we didn't see a single person rise to speak in favor of Jim Righeimer's Charter.  Of course, it could be that those folks were over at Monahan's pub, sloshing beer and rubbing elbows with the OC GOP power elite.  She went on to say that she's not opposed to the idea of a charter, but this one is flawed and does not represent the wishes of the people of this city.  And she's right...


APPOINTMENTS
The final item on the agenda was the long-delayed and much-manipulated appointments to various city committees.  By this time - roughly 10:45 p.m. - the council was clearly not interested in spending too much time on the issue.  Maybe they were in a hurry to get over to Monahan's.  They slap-dashed together the appointments, including adding to the number of members on the Investment Oversight Committee without that issue having been part of the agenda, and may have inadvertently messed up those appointments.  We'll find out soon enough.  If so, their haste may have, again, made waste and they'll have to undo their mistake at a future meeting.


BUDGET STUDY SESSION NEXT WEEK
The next scheduled meeting of this mob is on Tuesday, June 12, 2012, when they meet at 4:30 in a study session devoted entirely to the budget.  This will be where the rubber meets the road and we find out whether fixing potholes are more important than police and fire protection in this city.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Righeimer's Charter Is Back!

VOTING AND FREE SPEECH!

Now that you're off the couch and headed out to vote, don't forget the City Council meeting tonight at 6:00 at City Hall.  Today you not only get to exercise your right to vote, but you also get to exercise your right of free speech and to address your grievances before your city council.

IT'S BAACCKK!
Tonight, among other things, we will see the resurrection of Jim Righeimer's Charter - that ill-conceived attempt to completely re-vamp city government.  Tonight is the first of the required Public Hearings on this debacle.  Under the guise of "saving money", this poorly-crafted document will place the City on the threshold of corruption.  The nine page document - cut and pasted together by one man to advance his personal political agenda - doesn't contain sufficient safeguards to protect the residents of this city from mischief.

COME WATCH THE SHOW
So, spend a lovely evening with your friends who actually care about this and other issues.  Come to City Hall, snuggle into one of those comfy chairs and watch the show.  Watch your elected leaders as they either ignore those who speak to them or - if you're really lucky - watch them chide and denegrate those same speakers.  Come see how many potential city council candidates step to the podium for some free face time with the voters.  It's always fun.

OR, WATCH CMTV LIVE
If you can't be bothered after a strenuous day in the voting booth, then grab a brew, turn on CMTV - Channel 24 on Time Warner Cable and 99 on ATT U-Verse) and watch the festivities live and in living color.  I'd suggest you watch it while eating dinner, but there's always a chance that someone on the dais will say something that will make you choke...

 MORE ON THIS TOMORROW
Tomorrow I'll tell you what I saw and heard - it may or may not be what you saw and heard.. we'll just have to sort it out between us.

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VOTE!!!


OK, I know we don't have a Charter to deal with and that both presidential races are a done deal, but there's some interesting stuff to be considered on the ballot today!
So, get up, get out and VOTE!  You can't complain later if you don't participate!


I-405 Open House/Public Hearing Wrap-up



MEETING WAS SUCCESSFUL
The "Open House" that was billed as a "Public Hearing" conducted at the Orange Coast College Student Center by the Orange County Transportation Authority last night was a rousing success.  Careful... I didn't say everyone liked what they heard, but as a communication device, I think it was successful.   

STANDING ROOM ONLY
The meeting played to an overflow house.  I'd estimate at least 250 interested parties showed up for what turned out to be a standing room-only event even though extra chairs were brought in.  As I looked around the room I saw at least 50 people standing in the back, listening intently.




PLENTY OF "LEADERS", TOO
In addition to interested residents there were plenty of politicians and staffers in the room, too.  Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer and council members Steve Mensinger and Wendy Leece were there.  I saw Planning Commission Chairman Colin McCarthy, commissioner Sam Clark and former commissioner Jim Fitzpatrick, too.  I saw City CEO Tom Hatch sitting in the back of the room and Public Services Director Ernesto Munoz and Transportation Services Manager Raja Sethuraman were also in attendance.  Others may also have been there, but I didn't see them from my front row seat.


GOOD INFORMATION
The roughly 30 minute presentation, including a nearly 9 minute video clip, was moderated by Kevin Haboian from the Parsons Corporation.  The room was also full of OCTA and CalTRANS staffers, ready and eager to answer questions.  There were plenty of visual aids available to make it easy to understand most of the options being considered.  From my vantage point, both before and after the formal presentation, the posters showing Alternative #3 - the option that included High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes and the demolishing of the Fairview Bridge received the most attention.  You can visit the OCTA website, HERE, for more details and the video site, HERE, to access two (2) video clips that will be very informative.  The first provides a history of the need for this project.  The second, almost 9 minutes long, is the one we saw last night.  Both are worth viewing.

 
 "DIVIDE AND DIFFUSE" DIDN'T WORK
Following the formal presentation Haboian was all set to disperse the crowd to the 30 "experts" OCTA provided for up-close conversations when long time resident John Feeney jumped to his feet and demanded that they take and answer questions from the crowd.  The several others in the crowd responded to Feeney's demand, so Haboian took a deep breath and began fielding questions.  He did so for nearly 30 minutes before finally adjourning that segment of the meeting so folks could circulate around the room, view the displays and ask more specific questions.  I suspect Feeney was concerned that this meeting might turn out like the "informational meeting" the City sponsored on Jim Righeimer's Charter earlier this year, when Hatch refused to answer any questions and used the same tactic to disburse the crowd into smaller groups.  It didn't work this time.



FITZY SPITS OUT THE FIRST QUESTION
The first question out of the box was a belligerent question by former planning commissioner Jim Fitzpatrick who, from his standing position in the rear of the room, observed that the previous meeting (at the City study session a few weeks ago) didn't go very well and wondered what benefit Alternative #3 had for Costa Mesa.  The answer, in a nutshell, was basically nothing except to move traffic through our city on the I-405 faster.



ONLY THE "SWELLS" WILL BENEFIT...
Feeney opined that it would only benefit the "swells from Newport Beach", and that Costa Mesa would only get the construction inconvenience.  That was the tone for the next half hour, when more than 20 people stood to ask important questions.


 MORE MEETINGS SCHEDULED THIS WEEK AND NEXT
We learned a lot at the meeting last night.  For example, the chart above (click to enlarge) provides a graphic comparison of how the so-called experts project traffic moving based on each of the four alternatives - including the do-nothing choice.  A couple speakers challenged the assumptions on which that chart was based.  I think the folks from the OCTA learned a lot, too.  They learned that there are a lot of very angry folks here in Costa Mesa who won't simply roll over in this little drama.  I suspect more than a few will attend the next meetings on this subject, too.  The schedule for those meetings, each of which begins at 6:00 p.m. with the presentation at 6:30, followed by time for questions of the experts, is as follows:




  • Wednesday, June 6 at the Westminster Community Services Facility, 8200 Westminster Ave. in Westminster
     
  • Thursday, June 7 at Rush Park Auditorium, 3021 Blume Drive in Rossmoor
     
  • Thursday, June 14 at the Fountain Valley Senior Center, 17967 Bushard St. in Fountain Valley


  •  PROPERTY ACQUISITION?
    One of the points emphasized by the folks from OCTA last night was that none of the alternatives presently proposed include any "full residence acquisitions", meaning they presently do not plan to throw anyone out of their homes for this project.  There was a good deal of tap-dancing when questions were asked about "partial residence acquisitions" and I later saw more than a few nervous residents sitting with "experts" at computers trying to figure just how close new sound walls would come to their properties if the Alternative #3 was chosen.


    LANDSCAPING IS HISTORY
    By the way, one reason given for NOT having to acquire properties for this project was because the landscaping alongside the freeway will be disposed of and that area will be used for roadway.  When asked about the loss of the sound-deadening affects of the landscaping, one of the experts shrugged it off, indicating that the landscaping was inconsequential as a sound-deadener.  Funny, that's not my personal experience, but then, what do I know?



     A CONCERNED PARENT
    One young man, relatively new resident David Powers, expressed much concern since he had no clue about this project when he bought his home near the current freeway a couple years ago.  He was very concerned about the impact of this construction and proximity of a sound wall close to his home and how it will affect his young family.  It was only coincidence that he was sitting between OCTA CEO Will Kempton and OCTA board member Jerry Amante as he fired his questions at Haboian, with whom he later huddled, still searching for answers.

    MITIGATION?
    Mesa Consolidated Water District Board member Trudy Ohlig Hall stood up and asked what kind of mitigation the OCTA planned for those residents who suffered serious negative impacts from the construction and the new footprint of the project.  She didn't get an answer.
     

      WHY NOT #2, MODIFIED?
    One portly older gentleman who had been busily scribbling notes in the front row asked why Alternative #2, which added two new General Purpose lanes, couldn't be modified to make that one General Purpose lane and one new HOV (carpool) lane, making a total of two (2) carpool lanes.  It seemed logical that two carpool lanes would move traffic faster than one.  I, er, he wasn't satisfied with the answer, so I, er, he sought clarification of "experts" later.  I, er, he got two different answers from two different "experts", so it's still not clear why that alternative, modified, wouldn't be a good compromise choice instead of Alternative #3 - nobody's favorite.

    ALT.#2
    ALTERNATIVE #3 IS DOA FOR THIS CROWD
    It was clear from the mood of the crowd that virtually NOBODY in the room except the folks from the OCTA liked Alternative #3.  No matter how Haboian tried to massage it, the combination of noise, dust, congestion, the demolishing of the Fairview Bridge and the fact that very few Costa Mesans would benefit from the HOT lanes, doomed it as a viable option.

    ALT. #3




    MILESTONES
    SEND COMMENTS TO:
    The chart above shows the milestones for this project. (click on it to enlarge)  The Public meetings will end next week.  The OCTA invited comments - at the meeting as dictated to a court reporter - and by mail to:
    Smita Deshpande
    Branch Chief - Caltrans District 12
    "Attn: 405 DEIR/DEIS Comment Period"
    2201 Dupont Drive
    Suite 200, Irvine, CA 92612

    Or by email to Christina Byrne, Manager of Community Outreach, cbyrne@octa.net or reach her by telephone at 714-560-5717.  So, pick up the telephone, sit down at your computer or send a letter letting the folks at the OCTA know how you feel.  The clock is ticking...






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