City Council/Parks & Rec. Commission Confab.
This afternoon the Costa Mesa City Council and the Parks and Recreation Commission met in a joint study session similar to the one yesterday with the Planning Commission. This event, as was the case yesterday, was to insure that the commission and council are on the same page with priorities for the next several months. All the council members attended, as did all the Parks and Recreation commissioners, plus other senior staffers. City Attorney Tom Duarte, Assistant CEO Rick Francis, Public Services Director Ernesto Munoz and Recreation Manager Bob Knapp attended.
RIGHEIMER RAN A TIGHT SHIP
This meeting had an agenda list with a dozen items on it - two more than yesterday - but Mayor Jim Righeimer ran a tight meeting and they actually finished at 5:57 - three minutes to spare before the council jumped straight into a closed session to discuss labor negotiations.
HERE'S THE LIST
As was the case yesterday, I'll give you the list of agenda items exactly as they were presented to us today, along with whatever comments I think are relevant.
1. Update the City's Open Space Master Plan of Parks and Recreation
Director of Public Services Ernesto Munoz emphasized that this document is the "Bible" for the Parks and Recreation Commission and a guidebook for progress. It was last updated in 2002 and it certainly does need updating. A consultant will likely be obtained to help with this project. Wendy Leece stressed the need to engage the public in the process. Sandra Genis stressed the need for an impartial assessment of needs, not just the gripes of a few in the community. Gary Monahan said the Eastside need should be considered, since the kids there tend to be shunted aside, assuming they would use Newport Beach facilities and programs. Parks and Recreation Commission Chairman Byron de Arakal emphasized the need to acquire the consultant earlier than later and suggested breaking the city into five districts with each commissioner assigned to one.
2. Evaluate the Fairview Park Master Plan relative to community needs and make Master Plan update recommendations to the City Council for the addition, reduction, elimination or modification of active and passive uses. Incorporate the updated Fairview Park Master Plan into the Open Space Master Plan of Parks and Recreation.
Munoz led the discussion. Genis mentioned that the unique character of the park, and the physical constraints contained therein, should be considered. Munoz said the new committee will be completed by the assignment of a Parks and Recreation Commission liaison at their meeting on May 23rd and then they could begin their work. Leece express concern about the overlap between this committee and the work being done in item #1.
Genis suggested another survey of the critters that reside in the park. deArakal inquired about the RFP for the consultant and was told the staff will prepare it and deliver it to the commission for comments before releasing it. Commissioner Bob Graham stressed the need to make the city more bike friendly and distributed information about the current generation of electric bikes.
Commissioner Dean Abernathy mentioned that OCC students were going to be operating a bike check-in tent at the concerts in the park this year. Righeimer wondered about bike racks and was told that all parks will soon have new bike racks. Genis told the group that "Cap and Trade" funds will soon be available for a variety of uses for parks and recreation activities and that we should prepare early to avoid the "feeding frenzy" that was sure to occur.
3. Evaluate the possible incorporation of Talbert Regional Park into the City of Costa Mesa. Conduct a survey of federal, state and local resource agency jurisdiction relative to Talbert Park; develop the cost/benefit analysis of park incorporation; and initiate exploratory dialogue with the County of Orange.
A lively discussion was held on this issue, with Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger taking a lead and emphasizing that this was about control of the area. Genis reminded the group of certain constraints and of funds that might be available. She emphasized the value of a maintenance agreement with the county instead of buying the place. Francis told the group that it cost the county around $300,000 to maintain the park now. Munoz stress the liability of possible slipping cliffs under homes that are adjacent to the park. Buy the park, inherit the liability. Righeimer wanted to have it all assessed - to put a number on it. He envisions it as a gateway to the ocean for Costa Mesa.
4. Evaluate and update the Streetscape and Median Development standards.
This was discussed in broad terms, not specific plant choices, etc. Righeimer stressed the need to bring ourselves up to date and get away from that "1990s" look. Genis stressed the need to seriously consider drought tolerant plants. Mensinger said their plans had last been updated in 2006, so this is overdue.
Graham wondered about undergrounding utilities and was told that "Rule 28" funds were used for that and that we had mortgaged ourselves when we did the Placentia Avenue/19th Street area a few years ago. Munoz told us we are 3-4 years away from being able to consider anymore undergrounding. You might recall that former mayor Allan Mansoor had a pipe dream about undergrounding the entire city - which would have cost around 2 Billion dollars! Commissioner Kim Pederson emphasizes native plants.
5. Review and update the Athletic Field Use and Allocation Policy.
Concern was expressed by several members that "semi-nonprofit groups" were using fields to the detriment of Costa Mesa youth groups. Genis asked for a calendar of just who is authorized to use which fields, and when. deArakal stressed his priority is that Costa Mesa kids get access to the fields first. Outsiders can use them if there is time available after that goal is met. Knapp said this issue is on the agenda for the May 23rd meeting. Pederson stressed the need for groups to be responsible for the maintenance of the fields.
6. Evaluate existing recreation-oriented lease agreements of City assets to nonprofit/community organizations to determine if City assets are fully meeting the needs of the community. Including all or a few of the following: the Costa Mesa Senior Center, Orange County Model Railroad Engineers, Costa Mesa Tennis Center and Costa Mesa Country Club. (Added were the Harbor Soaring Society and the Community Gardens).
The discussion of this issue made me more than a little uneasy. There is growing stress between the Senior Center Board and The City and it became clear during the discussion. I had the impression that the developers on the council and commission didn't like to see land under-utilized. This was emphasized when Mensinger said, "That land is worth something!" It's going to be interesting to see how this shakes out. I guess if I'm a member of one of those groups mentioned above I'd be getting just a little nervous about now.
7. Evaluate the condition, community use, and Letter of Understanding (LOU) between the City and the Costa Mesa Bark Park Foundation.
A full four minutes was dedicated to this issue. Suffice it to say this will get some early discussion by the commission this year.
8. Assess active City recreation facility development and use at Newport Mesa Unified School District (NMUSD) school sites including the Joint Use Agreement (JUA).
Munoz stressed the need to evaluate specific sites and Leece suggested a complete review of the Joint Use Agreement.
9. Conduct a naming competition to officially name the Fairview Park Bridge.
The discussion of this issue took less than one minute. Nobody heard me mutter under my breath my suggestion - "Old Rusty".
10. Assess potential sites for land acquisition for park and athletic field development.
Genis suggested this would be part of the Master Plan discussion. Leece mentioned that the Library Foundation sign on that large hunk of land previously reserved for a new library had been removed. I could see some members of the group salivating about how to use that chunk of green.
11. Establish community-based nonprofit organizational support through use of City Assets.
There was some confusion about just what this meant. Genis, for example, thought it meant the creation of something like the Costa Mesa Parks Foundation - a repository for donated dollars toward the purchase and/or maintenance of parks. I'm still not sure what the objective was.
12. Establishment of park groups so that each Parks and Recreation Commissioner has responsibility of all affairs, community suggestions and perceptive concerns. Each park would be assigned to a Commissioner and the name and email of that Commissioner would be provided to the public.
It was suggested that each Parks commissioner be designated - literally - as the "go to" person on individual parks around town. Some wanted to put their names and email addresses ( and telephone numbers) on signs at the parks. Knapp suggested that the Recreation Division be the clearing house for such calls. I suspect that certain council members won't care if commissioners get calls at 3 a.m. at home by residents who want to talk about a park. Leece suggested that the commissioners divide into smaller working groups and do some of their own research and not over-burden the staff.
IT'S GOING TO BE INTERESTING
So, the Parks and Recreation Commission - under the firm hand of Chairman Byron de Arakal - now has a clear idea of where the council wants them headed. This will be the most active group in these seats since de Arakal was last on it several years ago. I get the distinct impression that he's less patient now than he was then, and that things will get done on his tour. We'll see.
PRELIMINARY BUDGET AVAILABLE NOW
At the close of the meeting Righeimer announced that the preliminary fiscal year 2013/2014 budget is now available online for those interested in wading through all 290 pages of it, you can find the document HERE. More on that in another entry.
Labels: Bob Graham, Bob Knapp, Byron de Arakal, City Council, Ernesto Munoz, Gary Monahan, Jim Righeimer, Parks and Recreation Commission, Rick Francis, Sandra Genis, Steve Mensinger, Tom Duarte, Wendy Leece