Car Dealership and Motel Owner Flogged
Last night the Costa Mesa Planning Commission took two businesses to task in our city, both with good reason. More on that in a minute.
OCC "VISION 2020" DISCUSSED
At their meeting the commission first heard from President Dennis Harkins of Orange Coast College about their "Vision 2020" program that is underway. Commission Chairman Jim Fitzpatrick moved this item from the very end to the very beginning. It will be the subject of a meeting at the OCC Library tonight beginning at 6:00. The public is invited to attend and participate.
Harkins gave a brief history of OCC, spoke about the high water mark of enrollment back in the 1970s of 30,000 students. Today there are 25,000, with 26,000 anticipated in the near term.
EXPANSION IN THE WORKS
He listed the very significant expansion plans in the works - they are shown along the right side of this exhibit. If you're interested please attend that meeting to hear more. The draft Environmental Impact Report for this massive project can be viewed HERE.
TWO-UNIT DEVELOPMENT APPROVED
Next up was Public Hearing #1, the proposed development at 270 Palmer, HERE. This item had been continued from an earlier meeting and the result was that it now addressed the concerns expressed by the commission and public at that one. The project was "flipped" - the two homes on the lot were just re-adjusted to provide an entrance to both from Palmer instead of one having only an alley entrance. The discussion of this item took about twice as long as it needed. It was approved on a 5-0 vote.
CAR DEALERSHIP FIASCO
At 7:00 Public Hearing #2, HERE, the modification of the plans for the Orange Coast Buick/GMC/Cadillac dealership at 2600 Harbor Blvd. to add roof deck parking commenced. More than two hours and 16 speakers later the commission continued it to a date in the future on a 4-1 vote. Colin McCarthy was livid and wanted to deny the request outright.
HUGE PR PROBLEM
It seems the builder has been inconsiderate and not communicative with residents which has resulted in a very bad public relations problem, at least. One resident spoke of her wall being knocked down without notice so her small dog escaped her yard. The issue got worse when the dog later managed to escape the makeshift fencing the builder installed and was struck by a car and killed on a nearby street.
RESIDENT ONE-UPED THE ARCHITECT
One interesting sidebar on this issue. During Public Comments resident Teresa Drain addressed this project in critical terms and, at one point, mentioned a specific item in the staff report. On handwritten page 6, in the segment that addresses Entry Signage Proposal there appears this sentence: "In a further effort to enhance the appearance of Harbor Boulevard, the Mayor Pro Tem directed staff to work with the applicant to provide, at their expense, two entry signs, identifying the "College Park" residential neighorhood." Ms. Drain correctly pointed out that for the Mayor Pro Tem to direct any member of the staff to do anything is specifically against our Municipal Code, and she quoted directly from the relevant section. Some might say this is no big deal - but it really IS a big deal. There are good reasons for council members to be prohibited from directing staff to do anything - the staff doesn't work for the council - they work for the City Manager/CEO.
COSTA MESA MOTOR INN CUP REVOKED
After a short break the second big item on the agenda, HERE, the revocation of the conditional use permit for the Costa Mesa Motor Inn commenced. Much like the recent similar event with the Sandpiper Motel, city staffers were sworn in and the proceedings were conducted by Gregory Palmer of the City Attorney's office. He is the City Prosecutor and he conducted the meeting like he was in court. In fact, there was a court reporter there recording every word.
SOON TO BE REPLACED BY APARTMENTS
Code Enforcement officer John Neal was the primary witness. He described in graphic detail, over and over and over again, the miserable conditions he and another half-dozen investigators found at the establishment while conducting a regular inspection. There was no doubt about how this was going to end up after the first fifteen minutes. The representative of the property owner made a feeble mea culpa and explained that the city council is supporting their plans to replace the motel with a high-end apartment complex, which would include some affordable housing units. Because of that pending project the commission voted to soften it's approach on this issue, although it still voted to revoke the CUP, but not to prohibit existing long-term residents.
UP NEXT - COFFEE WITH A COP AND COUNCIL MEETING
The commission ended its meeting shortly after 11 p.m. by spending two minutes flat on the modification of their bylaws, HERE, and that was it until July 28th.