Never Too Old To Learn...
HERE and watch the streaming video of the meeting HERE)
GARY RUNS OUT OF GAS
I learned that "stayed-too-long-at-the-dance" council member Gary Monahan can still arrive at a council meeting with something to say - he told me that, by name, from the dais last night as he began his "council member comments" - but that he no longer has the stamina or interest to stick it out for an entire meeting. He left early last night when he had to recuse himself from an item on the agenda and probably went back to his bar to pull beer taps for the crowd gathered to watch the MLB All Star game. And, no, it wasn't the last item to be considered - there was still business to be conducted.
TOO LAZY TO DO THE HOMEWORK
PERFECTION STILL A GOAL
I learned that, while the city staff generally does a terrific job carrying out their tasks, they are not perfect and occasionally make a mistake.
POTENTIAL HOMELESSNESS A MOTIVATOR
I learned that the specter of losing one's home can motivate folks who would never otherwise even consider speaking up in public to present their concerns to the council, looking for relief.
D.U.M.B. WITH A CAPITAL "D"
I learned that, while we like to assume the developers trying to do projects in our city are really smart guys, that's not always the case.
A VINDICTIVE MAYOR
And I learned that Mayor Jim Righeimer is such a vindictive man that he may have slandered a former employee last night while defending his position on his latest effort to turn Costa Mesa into a Charter City.
HE HAD ME FUMING...
That last item got me so angry at Righeimer that it impaired my ability to post my summary of the meeting last night... so, here we are this morning, still angry but ready to rumble... So let's get that last one out of the way first so we can focus on other things later.
ROBIN REMINDS US
Last night frequent speaker Robin Leffler used her three minutes to play a short video clip of Righeimer from council meeting at which the Charter Committee members were selected stating that their task was to determine IF the city needed a charter. I provided the text of his statement in an earlier post. This issue has been resolved to the satisfaction of the facilitators of the process and the committee is moving forward, but Leffler apparently felt it was necessary to remind us that we should not trust what Righeimer says from the dais. In fact, she showed the clip twice - a nice touch, I thought.
DEFENDING HIMSELF HE MAKES A GAFFE
"I remember last time, we had a city employee, a City Clerk, who for whatever reason decided not to file it with the county so it didn't get on the ballot, okay? Now, in the end, you know, she wasn't criminally charged. She didn't go to jail, she just resigned. But it was put on by the council, the elected officials to say 'Do you want to vote on this or not?' and an employee just decided to not turn it in."
Jim Righeimer's Charter from being placed on the June Primary ballot was being actively defended in court by The City as "a clerical error". Then they threw her under the bus...
SOUNDS LIKE A GOOD IDEA
A little later, when speaking about actions the council has taken, Righeimer said:
"If you don't like people on the council just vote them out. We've all got other things to do."
Those seem like words to remember next fall.
ARRIVED LATE, LEFT EARLY
I was amused when Monahan, who was not in attendance when the council adjourned to the closed session at 5:00 p.m., came scampering into the chambers shortly after 6:00, just after the roll was called. I was further amused when he made a big deal of telling me that he had something to say last night - he and I smiled at each other. Then he began...
WORRIED ABOUT HIS BUSINESS?
He wondered about the status of yet another restaurant that is supposed to open at The Triangle (which he referred to as Triangle Square). Since that would mean another competitor for the community booze dollar only a block away from his gin mill, I guess I understand his concern.
FIREWORKS AND NOT ENOUGH COPS
He agreed with others who complained about the fireworks over the long, long, long Independence Day celebration. He thanked the CMPD and the CMFD for their efforts over that time. (As an aside, HERE is an excellent "after action" report prepared by Captain Rob Sharpnack of the CMPD for that holiday). He went on to talk about the difficulty working a fire works booth, and about the difficulty trying to police the evening's events. He said, "There's only so many officers to go around". Really? No kidding! He suggested that Costa Mesa "always has been a fireworks city" and that the only way to get rid of them is to ban them via the ballot box.
He talked about the lights at Harper School - Wendy Leece has appealed the Parks and Recreation Commission decision to deploy lights there for another year. He defended the Parks and Recreation Commission decision and ranted on and on, including a segment where, in response to the suggestion that the fields at the Fairview Developmental Center be used more, he wondered why Fairview was a target - "because they are handicapped or because they are low income?" By this time I realized that Monahan had forgotten that you're supposed to engage your brain before opening your mouth. He closed his rant by observing that the street beside his restaurant - part of the GREAT EASTSIDE RE-PAVING that has been going on for months - cost him a ton of money.
EARLY BAIL OUT
He did not return to the meeting after he recused himself from the consideration of the 208 apartment unit project discussion - the project is within 500 feet of his gin mill, across the freeway. So, he failed to participate in the discussion of the last item covered - the other General Plan Screening issue at the corner of 17th Street and Superior Avenue.
IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU, STEVE!
One of the low points was Mensinger attempting to criticize Leece, and later Genis, because they actually did their homework on the Code Enforcement issue. He ranted about "not having all the information they had", so he wanted to not consider the item. I, and others, wanted to stand up and shout, "Do your homework, dummy!", but we didn't. Instead both Leece and Genis calmly explained just why they choose to dig deeper into the issue. As a result, at least a couple parties listed to have a lien placed on their property were removed from the list. It's a good thing at least a couple council members think doing their homework is a good idea for the residents of the city.
IMPROVING THE SYSTEM
As a result of Genis' and Leece's action the Code Enforcement and Finance staffs will investigate ways to tighten up the system. That's a good thing.
SURPRISED AND ANXIOUS RESIDENTS
During the presentation of New Business #2, the 208 apartments proposed near the intersection of Ford Road and Newport Boulevard, more than 20 people stood to express concern that the residents had NOT been told of this project, nor "noticed" for the meeting. They only heard about it when one of the residents saw an article about it in the Daily Pilot and sounded the alarm. They were, and probably still are, concerned about losing their homes in the Rolling Hills Mobile Home Park - the site of the project. Twenty-five people spoke - actually, 24, but one guy spoke twice - and most had the same theme. They said the ownership of the park had "promised them" that they would be able to live there until they died! They had no idea the property was up for sale! Many residents are infirm/elderly and don't have another move in them. (If this sounds familiar, it should. We heard the same thing about the recent closure of the Anchor Trailer Port earlier this year).
DEVELOPER SCREWS UP!
In the end, after an hour and three-quarters of discussion, it turned out that the developer didn't really have ALL the property tied up. Seems he neglected to acquire the key piece of property - where Orange Coast Trailer Supply is located - that would be the main entrance! The owner of that property, Larry Sutton, (shown here) stepped up and told the council that his property is NOT for sale - the crowd cheered. So, the council voted, 4-0, to deny the General Plan change for this project.
Righeimer, however, gave a wake up call to the euphoric crowd when he reminded them that the property is "in play", and that it's likely that "something" will be happening to it soon. Either the current developer will be back with a plan that actually works, or someone will buy it and put a commercial building on it - no council approval would be required for that use, or someone might buy the park and probably raise the rent. None of those choices will be good for the current residents.
29 UNITS TURNS INTO 49
New Business #1, heard last and minus Monahan, was not as controversial, but interesting because that developer had worked hard and, at the last minute, acquired the property at the corner of 17th Street and Superior Avenue that made his project much more attractive - to some. Unfortunately, the "noticed" item only had the original 29 units. The modified plan now had 49! He will be back with a new plan, including potential mitigation measures for traffic at one of the busiest intersections in Costa Mesa. It will be interesting to see how this one goes, since it would add hundreds of trips each day to that site.
The meeting, which could have ended at 8, finally drew to a close at 10:40 p.m.! August 6th is the next meeting - the only one until after Labor Day since the council decided last time to cancel the August 20th meeting.