Curious Discussions At The Planning Commission Meeting
At the Costa Mesa Planning Commission meeting Monday night the small crowd - 22 people at the high point - had a chance to hear some curious conversations.
FITZY FIGHTS OFF THE SANDMAN
Early in the meeting Chairman Jim Fitzpatrick was clearly having difficulty staying awake. I really did expect him to nod off during the discussion of the proposed new car wash on 17th Street. He didn't, but it was close.
CAR WASH APPROVED
On that subject, after longer than anticipated conversation the commission approved the plan, 4-0 - commissioner Tim Sesler was AWOL. The only controversy was the fact that commissioner Colin McCarthy didn't like their roof line! Yep, he didn't like the appearance of it - a kind of "S" shaped canopy in the front of the building. Other commissioners joined him and it seemed like they might actually ask the applicant to abandon it - his brand identification - for the approval to proceed. In the end common sense prevailed, but they will ask him to work with the staff to lower the feature to a level that will still permit trash trucks to drive under it. And, there was some serious discussion about the volume of traffic that is anticipated to be routed out the back of the facility, through what was described as an alley, but is really the parking lot of the strip mall on Irvine Avenue.
NEW HOMES ON TUSTIN
Then came the final item on the agenda, the proposed development of 11 fee simple homes on Tustin Avenue at the corner of Ogle Street. This one seemed like a no-brainer - replacing 14 old apartment units with 11 brand-new homes that would sell in the $900,000 and up range. The developer, Chad Brown of Melia Homes, had good answers for all the questions and also managed to fend off most of the angry protests by the eleven speakers who challenged it.
DICKSON FLUMMOXED BY THE SMALL LOT ORDINANCE
As it wound down to the end Vice Chairman Rob Dickson seemed very hung up on the fact that this project, which fell under the recently-approved Small Lot Ordinance, failed to meet the requirements of that ordinance because the front set back requested was only 12 feet instead of the minimum 20 feet required. The conversation went 'round and 'round, with Fitzpatrick lethargically suggesting that Dickson take a little more time to think about it. He said he didn't need to think about it, so the vote was called and it passed, 3-1, with Dickson dissenting.
OOPS! NOW WHAT, OLLIE?
This was a very interesting test for the Small Lot Ordinance, which was designed to eliminate the morass of administrative adjustments, deviations, variances and other modifiers of the then-current codes that made life difficult for developers. This ordinance was hailed by many of those developers as the key to infill developments in Costa Mesa. Well, as it turns out, it's not quite that easy and I wouldn't be surprised if someone appeals the decision to the City Council later this week.
That was it for the evening. Many of the speakers interested in that project left the auditorium shouting at the commissioners over their shoulders. It was as raucous a crowd I've seen at a Planning Commission meeting in many, many months. The next Planning Commission meeting is Monday, September 8th.