Tuesday's City Council Meeting Agenda
The agenda for the Costa Mesa City Council meeting scheduled for Tuesday, March 19, 2013 is now available for review, HERE. As is usually the case, it's full of interesting information, some of which raise more questions than answers.
LABOR, LEAVE AND LAWSUIT
The closed session begins at 5:00 p.m. and includes three items: Conference with CEO Tom Hatch on pending labor negotiations; a request for Special Leave of Absence for an un-named employee and the CMCEA lawsuit.
ANOTHER MAYOR'S AWARD
At 6:00 the regular meeting commences and will have yet another Mayor's Award and a presentation by the Orange County Vector Control.
The Consent Calendar - items that might normally be voted upon as one vote without separate discussion. Unless someone - a council member or member of the public - pull one or more of them you might not hear a word about them. Mayor Jovial Jim Righeimer has clearly stated his preference that nobody pull anything because it prolongs meetings. Fortunately, we are in a representative Republic, not a dictatorship.
MORE ALCOHOL LICENSES!
Within the Consent Calendar we find in the Reading Folder six (6) separate items dealing with alcohol licenses - 3 original licenses and 3 person-to-person transfers. Is anyone surprised that members of the Costa Mesa Police Department consistently lead the pack in DUI arrests?
LEGAL METER KEEPS SPINNING
There are two Warrants in the Consent Calendar. #2463, HERE, includes some interesting entries. For example, Jones & Mayer - our contract city attorney - received payment of $106,763.56. Jones Day, the high-priced firm handling the OCEA lawsuit, received $38,857.50. Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth, which provides legal services on housing issues, was paid $15,067.00. On second warrant, #2464, HERE, we find the firm of Norman A. Traub Associates for "HR Legal Svcs" for $9,015.38. So, that old legal bill wheel just keeps on a'spinnin'...
PAYING "HOW MANY" COMMISSIONERS?
Of interest on the second warrant is the fact that we paid seven (7) planning commissioners $400 each for February, 2013. We paid Colin McCarthy, Sam Clark, Jim Fitzpatrick, Ed Salcedo, Rob Dickson, Jeff Mathews and Tim Sesler for service in February. We have a five member Planning Commission. Yeah, I know... they each did serve in February, but maybe this shows a fault in our commission payments. The Costa Mesa Planning Commissioners are among the highest, if not THE highest, paid in the county. Most commissioners get paid per meeting with a cap. These guys get paid by the month for what is basically a volunteer job.
PARKS & REC. COMMISSION MEETINGS
Item #6 on the Consent Calendar is interesting, HERE. This one is a request from Recreation Manager Bob Knapp to the council to pass a resolution to change Parks and Recreation Commission meetings to once a month from once every other month and change the meeting date to the fourth Thursday of the month from the fourth Wednesday. There would be no meeting in December and the November meeting would not fall on Thanksgiving Day - it would be re-scheduled. The only justification I can find in the staff report is statement down in the Analysis section where this sentence is included: "Changing the meeting date to the fourth Thursday, and reestablishing the meetings on a monthly basis will allow for greater participation by the community and accommodate the Commissioner's schedules." That's it! No mention of anticipated greater workload in the way of upcoming projects, more tree removal requests, etc. Nothing, nada. So, I looked back at recent history to see if there's a trend of longer meetings that might justify this change at this time. Last year the Parks and Recreation Commission met five (5) times and those meetings averaged less than two hours each. Going back to 2011 it met seven times, including two special and/or joint meetings and averaged just over 2 hours each. So, without more justification, I fail to see why the Parks and Recreation Commission needs to meet more than once every other month. And this "accommodate the Commissioner's schedules" stuff seems bogus. Every one of them knew when the meetings were scheduled and how frequently. If their schedules didn't work they shouldn't have applied in the first place, for goodness sake!
SPIFFING UP CITY HALL
The final item on the Consent Calendar might be interesting for you to review. It's a proposal to pay almost $60,000 for "Professional Design Services For Redesign Of City Hall Lobby, Police Department Lobby, Directional City Signage and Design Concepts for City Clerk's Office, Council Chambers and the Closed Print Shop Space." You can read that staff report HERE. Now, don't get me wrong, each of those area need attention, but the justifications provided seemed just a little over the top to me. What do you think?
EMERGENCY SHELTERS, AGAIN
Then we finally get to the "real business". Old Business #1 is the second reading to the ordinance originally heard and passed unanimously on March 5th related to emergency shelters and supportive and transitional housing, HERE.
CAMPING AND ABANDONED STUFF
New Business #1 is a VERY interesting. The staff report, HERE, includes modifications of our ordinances and creates an entirely new section to deal with "Camping and Storage of Personal Property in Public Areas". This change appears to finally put some teeth into resolving at least part of the Homelessness issue in our town. Unknown at this time is the amount of staff time - police, code enforcement, etc. - that will be involved enforcing this one.
THE GENERAL PLAN
Finally, at the end of the meeting, the council will address New Business #2, "General Plan Update: Public Engagement Program and Land Use & Circulation Strategies", HERE. This is a REALLY big deal because the General Plan, as they say in the staff report, represents the city "constitution" for development. The staff will ask the council to provide direction in two areas:
- Select framework of Public Engagement Program (General Plan Advisory Committee versus Greater Community Outreach Approach)
- Approve General Plan Strategies for the Land Use and Circulation Elements
This is going to be a very interesting process - one that will likely set the course of this city through the end of this decade. I'm hoping that they don't begin this discussion at 10:00 p.m. or later - it's too darn important. I also suspect councilwoman Sandra Genis will assert her knowledge very heavily into this discussion. This segment of the meeting alone may be worth the price of admission.