Monday, July 08, 2013

Planning And Pensions And Charters, Oh My!

There's plenty of good stuff going on in Costa Mesa this week, beginning with the Jim Fitzpatrick-led Planning Commission meeting on Monday, July 8th at 6:00 p.m. in City Council Chambers at City Hall.

This will be the first of two scheduled meetings by this body since they decided they were too overworked with only one meeting each month.  Ever since they made that decision the agendas for subsequent meetings have been pretty darn thin.

This meeting, for example has only 3 items on it.  You can read the full agenda HERE.  The Consent Calendar has a Code Enforcement update, HERE.  Public Hearing #1, HERE is the revocation of a Conditional Use Permit for a tattoo parlor that has relocated.

The only controversial item is Public Hearing #2, HERE.  This one, a proposed development in the 2500 block of Santa Ana Avenue, involves an 8-unit two-story detached residential development and has a load of modifications requested.  There are four (4) variances, three (3) administrative adjustments, two (2) minor modifications and two (2) deviations from residential guidelines being requested by the developer.  The developer recently met with city staff and community members concerned about this development to hash over issues.  This should make for some interesting viewing, either live or on CMTV, Channel 3 on Time Warner Cable or Channel 99 on ATT U-Verse.

By the way, I took a peek at the length of time Planning Commission meetings have been taking over the past few years.  Here's some information you may find of interest:

          Year          Number of Meetings          Average Length
          2006                       23                                     1:46
          2007                       23                                     1:58
          2008                       21                                     2:10
          2009                       15                                     1:34
          2010                       15                                     3:12
          2011                       15                                     2:43
          2012                       13                                     2:44
          2013                         9                                     2:35

As you can see, the meetings for the last two full years plus the nine meetings so far this year have been under 3 hours long.  It's curious to me that the Planning Commission finds it necessary to double the meetings - and thereby double the number of meetings staff members must attend after normal business hours.  If they had been running long - five or six hours, for example - I could understand the interest in more meetings.  It's hard to justify two meetings a month with such a light schedule.

Speaking of too many meetings, the Pension Oversight Committee meets again on Wednesday, July 10th at 4:30 p.m. in Conference Room 1A in City Hall.  You can read the agenda for that meeting HERE.  This committee has been meeting WEEKLY since it was created and, for the life of me, I can't understand why.  There is NOTHING they can do about our municipal pension situation except join the chorus led by Mayor Jim Righeimer bemoaning the unfunded liability situation.  Yes, I know - that $230 million plus number is staggering, but we're not being presented with a bill tomorrow.  Righeimer has stated many times that he's unwilling to pay another cent to CalPERS toward reducing the debt, fearing that it is going to go under.  Currently the City of Costa Mesa has budgeted around $18 million to CalPERS for our obligations.  If he's not willing to pay down the debt, what IS his plan?

While I don't necessarily disagree with Righeimer's reluctance to dump money down a rat hole, I don't hear any other solutions being offered.  However, we may have a clue about what he's planning when you realize that committee member Rick Kapko, a CPA who works with bankruptcy cases, presented a 2-part primer on Municipal Bankruptcy  to the Pension Oversight Committee over the past two meetings.  Unfortunately, there are several cities throughout the state that either are in the midst of bankruptcy proceedings or are seriously considering them.

Also on Wednesday, at 6:00 p.m. in the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), the recently-formed Charter Committee will hold its second meeting.  They plan to meet the second and fourth Wednesday's of each month at that time and place.  You can read their agenda HERE.  This should be very interesting, since at the previous meeting there was question raised about the purpose of the committee.  Member Harold Weitzberg - the last person selected for the committee - posited that the group should FIRST determine IF a Charter is necessary for Costa Mesa, and why, before plowing ahead to create one.  Attorney Kimberly Hall Barlow advised that the council had earlier charged this committee with creating a charter and copies of various staff reports and meeting minutes are included HERE to support that claim.  Facilitator Kirk Bauermeister stated emphatically that he was charged with facilitating the creation of a charter.  They also plan to discuss Roles and Responsibilities, HERE.

However, as I reported HERE following that first meeting, Mayor Jim Righeimer made it very clear in unambiguous terminology that the committee's task was to decide whether we want a charter.  His exact quote, viewable at 03:04:45 on the streaming video tape of the meeting during which the committee was selected, was as follows:
"I want to thank everybody so far whose made it on the committee.  These are gonna be the last final people that will be on the committee.  I think it's going to be a committee made in heaven for Costa Mesa and to decide whether we want to do a charter or not in the city."  This issue MUST be resolved before the committee moves forward to create a charter.

And, I must state that, even though many of the volunteers on this committee have their hearts in the right place and, so far, seem willing to be "facilitated" toward the creation of a proper charter for Costa Mesa, this whole exercise is one of futility.  Regardless what this committee presents to the City Council, it is the council, or, rather, the majority on the council, that will decide WHETHER we should have a charter presented to the voters next year and EXACTLY what will be in that charter.

I doubt there is any person who has followed Costa Mesa municipal government affairs over the past few years who actually believes the charter that results from this exercise will make it past the council without Righeimer's pet projects included.  For example, he has tried for most of two decades to find some segment of the electorate willing to pass his Paycheck Protection scheme - an issue that has been soundly rebuffed every time it has been presented to voters anywhere - including last November when Costa Mesans crushed his charter scheme, 60% - 40%.  I expect him and his council majority to give lip service about what a great job the committee is doing, but when push comes to shove - or chest bump - I fully expect him to go through another cut-and-paste exercise and convince his majority to place THAT charter on the ballot.  We'll see...

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Anonymous How many times will i have to vote no? said...

This whole dredging up the charter again is so unamerican. I should think even true conservatives should be pissed-- the people spoke not even 1 year ago!

We said no, and we said no by a wide margin!! It seems like they think voters/citizens are an inconvenience! Argh! What a waste of time and money!

7/08/2013 03:06:00 AM  
Anonymous magna charter said...

the new charter BETTER have a lot of cut and paste. why reinvent the wheel? put in through cut and paste all that fits and has been shown to be legal language. very efficient wouldn't you say? we could borrow language from such charter cities as HB, NB, Irvine, etc. you know, our surrounding CHARTER cities.

7/08/2013 05:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Ron Salas said...

Why do we even have a Planning Commission when Fitzy and the other puppets always give developers what they want?

Let's save money by not holding a meeting. Rubber stamps only cost a couple bucks. Staff can instruct the Chairman on how to hold one and make contact with the paper while continuing to lick Riggy's boot.

7/08/2013 06:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Sando said...

Go Harold! He's just the guy to hold this group accountable.

7/08/2013 07:55:00 AM  
Anonymous CM Pessimist said...

The Planning Commission typically has had one meeting per month. I believe the Sanitation Board usually meets once per month. Perhaps the reason for the two Planning Commission meetings per month is to fill the void Fitzpatrick is currently experiencing thanks to his departure from the Sanitation Board. If Fitzy attends the same number of meetings per month it almost makes up for his unceremonius resignation from the San Board. It is too bad he betrayed the trust of the voters who took a chance on him. He was so close to reforming things at the San Board. Oh well, as long as he remains loyal to Riggy and Mensy, they will always be there to pick him up after he falls down. Stick to your posse Fity cuz they'll always have your back!

7/08/2013 08:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Pasturized for the good of the city said...

CM Pessimist is right, Fitzy will always be a part of the club and will always have saying power just like Bever. You all remember him right, he was promised jewels and gold if he followed Riggys plan and helped him destroy the City and where is he now? Right where Riggy wants him, out to pasture cuz he is useless to Riggys current plan for the City.

7/08/2013 09:55:00 AM  
Anonymous planner jumps ship for water said...

Ron Salas: I had to laugh at your post because I remember when Fisler was a planning commissioner he said the very same thing you do from the dais. He kept trying to stop underparked "condo conversions" but always was outvoted because they represented "homeownership" to the other commissioners. Fisler said they would also end up as rentals because of shabby refurbishment standards and too many variances and if the planning commission was going to rubberstamp anything that said "homeownership" why not just skip the meetings and have the 2nd floor planning department stamp the plans as approved on the spot because of "homeownership". Anyway, I laugh because the Chair went ballistic at Fisler and went into a loud yelling rant calling him a communist for such thinking. Never seen a redder face than Fisler's after the attack. LOL.
Actually the old guy, the chair, Hall was his name , apologized publicly the next meeting but he sure took his head off. too funny. Fisler soon left for water department. exit stage right.

7/08/2013 10:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Ron Salas said...

@planner jumps ship:

If what you're saying is accurate, then I wonder why Fisler acts the way he does today.

What was he promised?

If Fisler cares more about Costa Mesa than ocgop, why doesn't he disassociate himself from Riggy and Mensy?

7/08/2013 01:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Heart for Costa Mesa said...

How about looking at our neighborg NON Charter city like Fountain Valley? Maybe JIm just want to pretend Fountain Valley doesn't exist. They've dealt with all the economic issues that face Costa Mesa effectively but without the drama. They have a consevative majority very protective of their quality of life and public services. The also had the good sense to reject Righeimer.

7/08/2013 02:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Fisler dont stop said...

Fisler was a good vote back then as he is a good vote on water now. he is not driven by Grover Norquist nor anyone else.

They don't follow Riggy.

They do work together to improve our city

The champions of status quo seek to label them and their followers emotionally agree. That is hwo it works.

Keep going Fisler, don't stop.

the team is large and wide. There are people, many people all around you as electeds, appointed on committees and involved in the city making it a better city.

you know you are on target when you start taking flack

Fisler must be doing something right

7/08/2013 03:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Neptune said...

have you heard about the California Natural Sea Salt Production Plant planned in HB? Sea salt is sold in health food stores. An additional by product of production is pure water! enough water for 10 per cent of our water needs. very handy if the delta fails or the smelt need more fresh water and we get less. I love sea salt. I use pure water. a win win situation.

7/08/2013 05:52:00 PM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

Go Harold!
I'm so glad he and MaryAnn are on the Charter Committee!

7/08/2013 08:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Found Another Hand Puppet said...

Hmmm...I read the job of the facilitator, and nowhere do I see that its his job to come up with a charter. In fact, just the opposite. He is to remain neutral, and assist the others in THEIR efforts. The facilitator isn't CHARGED with anything officially. If Bauermeister was "charged" with coming up with a charter, it was from Righeimer, on the side, which would be a Brown Act violation.

7/08/2013 08:42:00 PM  
Anonymous isn't it? oh well..... said...

people don't really seem to understand what a Brown Act violation is. It is evident from all the accusations of violations of it that are not, in fact, violations and probably never occurred in the first place. reminds me of all the baseball fans who always yell "balk" when a pitcher steps off the rubber and fakes a pickoff throw to first base. idiots showing their colors.

7/09/2013 05:32:00 AM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

But "fake to third, throw to first" is now an official balk.

We probably disagree on many things, Mr. Oh Well, but on this one, I'm with you. If only infractions of the Brown Act were as easy to spot as a balk...

7/09/2013 04:58:00 PM  

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