Planning Commission Votes To "Zero-Out" Long-Term Stays
The Costa Mesa Planning Commission, on a 4-0 vote, (Vice Chair Rob Dickson was absent) decided to pass the staff recommendation that will make it virtually impossible for Costa Mesa motel operators to house folks for long-term stays on to the City Council for further action/codification. If the council passes this measure motels will no longer be able to use up to 25% of their rooms for long-term stays without a conditional use permit. Unless they qualify, their allocation would be dropped to ZERO!
The staff report, HERE, provides the details of their decision. As I mentioned in my previous entry about this issue, in order for a motel operator to qualify for a conditional use permit for long-term stays at their establishment they must meet very specific criteria. Those are:
1 - The motel must have a minimum of at least seventy-five (75) rooms.
2 - Fireproof safety deposit boxes must be available to all occupants of the motel.
3 - Each guest room shall be serviced daily with central maid, mail, and room services.
4 - Each room shall be a minimum of three hundred seventy-five (375) square feet.
5 - The motel shall maintain on-site laundry services.
6 - The proposed use is compatible with the surrounding neighborhood, uses, zoning and general plan.
AN ADDED CONDITION
As they were about to take the vote they added one additional proviso - that there be some capability to prepare meals in units earmarked for long-term stays. The staff will cobble together some verbiage for the presentation to the City Council - sometime next month.
As that issue evolved Chairman Jim Fitzpatrick told his fellow-commissioners, the staff and the handful of folks in the audience that he thought it was important because he had gone through a situation where he spent some time in a motel and really needed cooking facilities. One had the impression that his experience was recent...
COMPLY OR GET OUT!
Commissioner Colin McCarthy said this ordinance seemed quite rudimentary and was surprised there was any opposition to it at all. He told us that if businesses don't want to follow these minimal standards to help folks who are down and out then, "I don't want them doing business in our city".
As part of the discussion Kathy Esfahani - a member of the Costa Mesa Affordable Housing Coalition - spoke to what she referred to as the misrepresentation of a letter from her on the subject written a year ago that formed part of the foundation of this move to oust long-term residents from motels. To his credit, Fitzpatrick gave her much more than 3 minutes to present her views, then gave her a little more time to further clarify the issue.
MOTEL OPERATOR SPEAKS OUT
Among the speakers on this subject was Mike Lin, owner of the beleaguered Sandpiper Motel. He opined that the fact there are people who NEED long term housing is not a result of actions the motel operators take - it's the result of actions those folks take. His words fell on deaf ears. The commission certainly appears to be completely unsympathetic with him on these issues.
WE NEED MORE AFFORDABLE HOUSING
Former City Councilman and current council candidate Jay Humphrey told us that there are only two motels that might qualify now, then spoke on the need for affordable housing, and pointed out to the commissioners that NONE of the many projects they and the city council have approved recently had ANY affordable units included. He implied that was very short-sighted of them.
TAMAR GETS IT RIGHT
Tamar Goldmann, as she spoke on this issue, may have captured that sentiment more precisely when she referred to it as a "let them eat cake" attitude. Uh, huh...
TATTOO PARLOR APPROVED (BARELY)
The only other item on the agenda was the request by operator Eric Jones for another tattoo parlor in town, at 1145 Baker Street. Surprisingly, this request got a luke warm reception. McCarthy said he wouldn't vote for it at the planned location because it was across the street from a residential neighborhood. The issue passed on a 3-1 vote, but you got the impression from the almost complete lack of enthusiasm for the business that it could easily have gone the other way. McCarthy had made a motion to deny the request, but received no second to it. So, those of you in the north part of town will soon have your own tattoo parlor for your inking pleasure.
UNNECESSARY POLITICIZING OF ISSUES
An interesting sidebar - McCarthy was the first to politicize this issue by mentioning the "silly season" is upon us - campaign season. Then, during his little discussion, Tim Sesler mentioned Humphrey's presentation and referred to him as a council candidate - completely ignoring the fact that Humphrey is a regular attendee at most important city meetings and a regular presenter of facts and questions and offers solutions, too. Indeed, the "silly season" is upon us.
SHE'S FINALLY HEARD!
Oh, yes... before I completely forget... the woman that Mayor Jim Righeimer stiff-armed at the last council meeting when he prohibited her from addressing the council during Public Comments - I'm sorry, I missed her name - had another shot at it when she and her husband addressed the Planning Commission at the beginning of the meeting about the poor condition of their street in front of their home. They complained about lack of responsiveness from City Staff. Fitzpatrick jumped right on it - referred her to Bart Mejia who was standing in for Fariba Faseli in the meeting. One had the impression this problem would be solved rapidly. Too bad she had to wait another week to be heard.