Thursday, March 13, 2014

Numbers

COMMENT PIQUED MY INTEREST
In a recent post another Costa Mesa-based blogger made mention that a site he follows is ranked high on scale provided by Alexa, so that got me thinking about my site and others around the area.

DECIDED TO TAKE A LOOK
Alexa, HERE, is a site that analyzes web sites - blogs and the like - and does a calculation to "rank" them both from a global standpoint and when comparing them to the countries in which they originate.

INTERESTING RESULTS
So, I did some research, slammed it into a little spread sheet and now present it for your viewing pleasure.  The information surprised me.  I listed these sites by "Global Rank" since some didn't have enough data to produce a number in the "United States Rank" column. The calculations were taken from the site today. 

(click on the image to enlarge it)

HAVE FUN WITH IT...
You'll see some familiar names on the list.  The top three shouldn't surprise you.  I was interested in how those of us further down the list compared - not that it means anything.  Enjoy...


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Council Meeting Tuesday Introduces The Charter

SHORT MEETING?  WHO KNOWS?!
The agenda for the Costa Mesa City Council meeting on Tuesday, March 18, 2014 has been released, HERE, and it reflects what likely will be a very short meeting - although that's never a sure thing these days.
RECEPTION, THEN MEETINGS
The meeting is scheduled to start at 6:00 p.m. in Council Chambers, with a Closed Session beginning at 5:30 in Conference Room 5A.  However, since there is also theoretically a small reception for the members of the Charter Committee scheduled at 5:15 in Conference Room 1A and environs, it's unlikely that (1) the Closed Session will start on time and, (2) they will finish their work in that session quickly enough to begin the regular meeting at 6:00.

PRESENTING... THE CHARTER
The long-awaited Charter is on the agenda.  You can read the staff report prepared for the presentation of the draft Charter to the council HERE.  You can also read the entire draft, including the preamble and table of contents, HERE.  Also available is the initial list of issues the Charter Committee considered, HERE and a short list of things the committee suggests the council may wish to also consider, HERE.

WHAT WILL IT DO FOR US?
As you will see, this document is fairly short when you consider it is supposed to be our City Constitution, the grand document that frees us from the "oppression" of Sacramento.  Yes, indeed - this is the document that opens the door to prosperity and lets our local elected leaders carve out our future without that darn interference from state politicians.  Oh, did I mention, it also eliminates many of the safeguards from abuse we now enjoy as a General Law city?

LET US BEGIN...
I'm going to dig more deeply into the Charter as we move forward in the process, but let me just print one section here for your consideration and contemplation.
Section 104.  Powers
The City shall have the power to make and enforce all laws and regulations in respect to municipal affairs, subject only to such restrictions and limitations as may be provided in this Charter or in the Constitution of the State of California.  In the event of any conflict, this Charter shall control over the general laws of the State of California as to municipal affairs.

WHAT IS A "MUNICIPAL AFFAIR"?
Got it?  The operative phrase there is "municipal affairs" - what is a municipal affair?  If something is not specifically restricted in the wording of the Charter your city council can just go ahead and regulate it.  Well, one source I located says the following:

Determining what is and is not a "municipal affair" is not always straightforward.  The California Constitution does not define "municipal affair."  It does, however, set out a nonexclusive list of four "core" categories that are, by definition, municipal affairs.

These categories are 1) regulation of the "city police force"; 2)"subgovernment in all or part of a city"; 3)"conduct of city elections"' and 4) "the manner in which... municipal officers [are] elected."

To determine if a matter is a municipal affair, a court will ask whether there are good reasons, grounded on statewide interests, for the state law to preempt a local law.

In other words, courts will ask whether there is a need for "paramount state control" in the particular area of law.  The Legislature's intent when enacting a specific law is not determinative.


And thus begins the debate on this Charter... more to follow.

SMALL LOT ORDINANCE 2ND READING
In addition to the Charter, the new Small Lot Ordinance is also on the agenda, HERE.  Since the first Public Hearing on this item earlier this month modifications have been made regarding Tandem Parking, Open Space, Side and Rear Setbacks, Automatic Garage Door and Trash Storage.

SPENDING A LOT OF YOUR MONEY
The Consent Calendar has thirteen (13) items on it, which includes several construction projects totalling more than $6.8 million in your tax dollars.  These will likely be passed in one vote and, with their magic wand, they authorize spending an amount nearly equal to the entire budget surplus from last year.

INTERESTING WARRANT INFORMATION
Part of that Consent Calendar is Warrant 2511, HERE,  which is not included in the tally above.  No, the number for that Warrant - bills that have already been paid - is right at $3.9 million.  Included are some items worth noting:
  • Jones Day (CMCEA legal services) - $63,236.25
  • Intellibridge Partners (Purchasing assistance) - $11,870.25
  • Government Staffing Services (Proj. Mgt) - $3,822.50
  • Interwest Consulting Grp (Bldg Inspector) - $12,928.50
  • Keyser Marston Assoc. (Supportive Housing & Homeless) - $9,198.00
  • Liebert Cassidy Whitmore (legal-general) - $11,868.86
  • Management Partners, Inc.(Interim Mgt. Svcs.) - $8,680.00
  • Melad & Assoc. (Bldg Permit Tech and Plan Check) - $4,160.00
  • Scott Fazekas & Assoc.(Plan check) - $4,703.68
  • Allied Affiliated Funding LP (Mobile Data Computer?) - $261,954.00
  • Jones & Mayer (various legal) - $147,567.93
  • NextLevel Information Tech. Inc (Interim IT Director, 1/14) - $22,165.00
  • Civil Source (Pk Proj. Staff Svcs) - $5,325.00
  • Dougherty+Dougherty Architects (CH/PD Entry Way Design) - $2,162.30
  • Filarsky&Watt (Legal Services) - $2,902.50
  • Liebert Cassidy Whitmore (60th Invest./ACA Advice) - $4,767.50
  • Norman A. Traub Assoc. (HR Investigative Svcs) - $3,031.25
  • Scientia Consulting Group (IT Services) - $7,077.50
  • White Nelson Diehl Evans LLP (Year end/CMCFA 60th Anniv. Audit) - $6,955.00
 IT WILL BE AN INTERESTING EVENING
That's it for now.  I'm predicting that the meeting Tuesday will begin at least a half hour late - the closed session has a late start time and involves labor negotiations with the CMPOA, which means that Mayor Jim Righeimer and Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger cannot attend.  It won't surprise me if the whole meeting is over before 8:00 p.m.  Of course, that will be determined by how long Righiemer talks about the Charter...  See you there.

A FITTING TRIBUTE
The meeting will be adjourned in memory of my friend, community activist and tireless volunteer, David Stiller, who passed away last weekend.

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Services For David Stiller Announced

ANNOUNCEMENT
Yesterday Braden and Eric Stiller announced the plans for a memorial service for their father,  my friend, community activist and volunteer, David Stiller.

MAY 30, 2014
According to the information provided, the service will be held at Presbyterian Church of the Covenant, 2850 Fairview Road, Costa Mesa, 92626 on May 30, 2014 at 11:00 a.m.  All are welcome to attend.  Following the service there will be a reception with lunch.  Dave's ashes will be scattered at sea following the service and luncheon.


PLEASE RSVP IF YOU WILL ATTEND
The Stillers asked that you notify them if you plan to attend the service and luncheon so they can properly plan for the event.  Please DO NOT reply to Dave's email account, which will be closed shortly.  Please reply to Eric Stiller at ericstiller@yahoo.com.

I'LL REMIND YOU
This service is a couple months out, so I'll remind you as the date approaches.

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Charter Committee Wraps It Up!

UNEXPECTED CHANGES MARKS A LONG MEETING
Last night the Costa Mesa Charter Committee used an extended meeting - four hours! - to wrap up their final version of the document they've spent the best part of a year cobbling together.  And this meeting, which should have been a walk in the park, still ended up with some high drama before it was all over.

MOST MEMBERS PRESENT
Most of the committee members attended this meeting, which began at 5:00 p.m., and finally wrapped up shortly after 9:00 p.m.  Only MaryAnn O'Connell and William Fancher were absent.  Both facilitators - Dr. Kirk Bauermeister and Dr. Mike Decker - both lawyers - Kimberly Hall Barlow and Yolanda Summerhill - and both staff members - City Clerk Brenda Green and Intern Sawyer Pendleton all were present.  A handful of residents also attended - a smaller group than normal, which dwindled as the meeting dragged on.  There were two of us and one lonely Daily Pilot reporter left at the end from the high of about 10 earlier.  (Ramos & Eckles shown)
FINE TUNING - WITH A CHAIN SAW!
Language for the Charter had been hammered out as the deliberations went along over the past many, many months, so the plan last night was to fine-tune it for presentation to the City Council on March 18th.  "Fine tuning" in this case included adding major segments from scratch in some cases and completely removing one section that had taken parts of three meetings to create last year. (Panian, Ramos & Bauermeister)
 
A WASTE OF TIME
The end result will be a short document - six or seven pages, depending on how it is formatted - that seems to not significantly change anything.  Almost every element included in the document is possible to accomplish under the current General Law rules that govern our city.  For that reason, this effort has been a colossal waste of time and resources.

COMMITTEE DID A GOOD JOB
Don't get me wrong... the Charter Committee did a good job.  They all worked hard, did their homework, remained mostly civil to one another and clearly found unanticipated respect and admiration for fellow members of the committee.  They flogged controversial issues into submission throughout this process, trying to find common ground and, when that was not possible, working on language that will pass muster with the voters. (Bauermeister shown here)

SALARY DISCUSSIONS
In that regard, the language included a segment regarding Council Member Salaries - the issue that was discussed at length over several meetings.  I reported at the time that they finally decided that each council member should receive a monthly stipend of $2,100 per month, and that any other optional benefits - health insurance, for example - would be deducted from that amount.  Currently each council member earns $904.40 per month and also receive health care benefits ranging from zero to a couple thousand dollars each month. (Shown here, Kevin Tobin with Ron Amburgey)

FEAR DRIVES LAST MINUTE CHANGE
However, as the discussion worked its way to this issue last night, committee member Andrew Smith (shown here with Amburgery and Ramos) balked.  After all that hard work and negotiation among the members previously, he feared that the voters would only see it as a move to double the council's salaries and that, alone, would drive a stake in the heart of the Charter.  Back and forth the discussion went and, eventually, the committee agreed with Smith and the language will be amended to indicate that the council will receive salaries consistent with state law.  As a sidebar - if they had NOT included specific language regarding salaries it would theoretically been possible for a future council to pay themselves big bucks - as in City of Bell big bucks - because the Charter language is such that if something is NOT specifically mentioned the council can pretty much do what they wish.  That's something to remember.

SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE
Member Gene Hutchins - a nice guy (shown here with Tobin and Bauermeister) - had another of his Unfunded Pension Liability meltdowns.  Even though committee members are supposed to present new ideas or expansion of old ones by the Friday before their Wednesday meetings, Hutchins has consistently - and frustratingly - brought what he thought was significant information to the committee the NIGHT of the meeting.  Last night - their last night - was no exception and things got just a little heated as he just would not take no for an answer.  As had been the case throughout this process, every time the subject of Unfunded Liabilities was mentioned he practically launched from his chair, eager to get into the discussion.  He's also a member of the Pension Oversight Committee and, apparently, has enlisted that entire group to help him craft language for the Charter on Pensions.  Keep in mind that the Pension segment had already been put to bed at a previous meeting.  This time, though, he brought several NEW segments he insisted were crucial for the Charter.  In the end his ideas failed to gain support from the committee.

ACTUAL FINAL LANGUAGE IS PENDING
Eventually the final document, which received so much manipulation last night that I just couldn't keep up with all the language alterations, will be completed by the legal staff and presented to the council next week. (Tom Pollitt and Tom Graham Shown)

HERE'S THE FRAMEWORK
The document includes a three-paragraph preamble and eight (8) articles.  This is what the Table of Contents will look like:
 Article 1.     Incorporation and Powers
             Section 100.  Name of City
             Section 102.  Boundaries
             Section 104.  Powers

Article 2.     Form of Government
             Section 200.  Form of Government and Powers
             Section 202.  Administrative Officers

Article 3.     Elective Officers
             Section 300.  Terms
             Section 302.  Presiding Officer
             Section 304.  Council Member Salary
             Section 306.  Incompatible Offices

Article 4.     Elections
             Section 400.  Elections
             Section 402.  Initiative, Referendum, Recall

Article 5.     Finance
            Section 500.  Budget Reserves

Article 6.    Personnel
            Section 600.  Retirement Benefits
            Section 602.  Civic Openness In Negotiations
 

Article 7.    Public Contracting
            Section 700.  Public Contracting
            Section 702.  Prevailing Wages
 
Article 8.   Miscellaneous
             Section 800.  Charter Review
             Section 802.  Outsourcing
             Section 804.  General Plan Consistency
             Section 806.  Construction and Interpretation
             Section 808.  Severability

SPECIFICS COMING SOON
I'm not going to begin to try to give you all the language because there are segments that need to be burnished by the legal staff based on last night's activities.  Nor can I give you the final version of the Preamble for the same reason.

NOT INCLUDED, BUT...
The committee also will present to the council a short list of things NOT included in their document, but that the council may wish to consider.  Those are:
  • Community Outreach
  • Establishment of a Citizen's Academy
  • Consider a specific percentage of a budget surplus earmarked for reserves
  • Current Council Members to cease "participation" in Pension Plan
  • Adoption of a Private Pension Plan for new hires
  • Use of Certificates of Participation to pay down liabilities
WHAT'S NEXT?
Here's the tentative schedule of events as this process moves downstream.
  • March 18, 2014 - Charter document presented to the City Council at regular City Council Meeting
  • April 15, 2014 - 1st Public Hearing (regular City Council Meeting)
  • May 20, 2014 - 2nd Public Hearing (regular City Council Meeting)
  • June 17, 2014 - City Council to vote whether to place on ballot in November (regular City Council meeting)
PLENTY OF TIME FOR OUTREACH - OR MISCHIEF
Keep in mind, the deadline for placement on the November ballot is August 8, 2014, so the council has plenty of time for manipulation of this document and to hold workshops, town halls and whatever other form of community outreach they feel is important to sell this document to the voters.  There's also plenty of time to tinker with the document to satisfy personal objectives.

SAYING GOODBYES...
Last night, as the committee met for what will likely be the final time as a group except for the reception that will be held for them immediately preceding the March 18th council meeting, they went around the table to share their thoughts on the experience.  Some of the comments were quite moving and obviously very sincere.  Member Hank Panian's (shown here with Harold Weitzberg) comments were particularly moving.  He was on the original charter commission back in the 1970s.  He spoke of having been part of the group that founded what is now Mesa Water District back in 1960 and he helped create the Newport-Mesa Unified School District also during that decade.  He said he was grateful because through this committee he, "Finally have a chance to help shape the future of the city."  The common thread through them all was that each one learned a lot during this process, gained new respect for individuals and the staff and were uniformly glad they participated.  Congratulations to them, the facilitators and staff for all the work they did.

NOW WE'LL SEE...
Now we see what happens with this work product.  We'll see if the council decides to add items to it or make changes at all.  The next couple months will be very interesting.



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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Final Charter Meeting Tonight?

THE LAST GASP...
The Costa Mesa Charter Committee, facilitated by Dr. Kirk Bauermeister and Dr. Mike Decker, will meet beginning early, at 5:00 p.m., Wednesday, March 12, 2014 in Conference Room 1A in a mad dash to complete their task of cobbling together what, in my view, is an unnecessary document.  The plan is for it to be completed this evening so it can be presented to the City Council with much hoopla at its meeting on March 18th.  You can read the agenda HERE.
THE COMMITTEE
I've attended almost all of the previous meetings and have reported on each of those.  During that time I've been aware that several of the members have brought to the table their own personal ideas - and maybe some ideas planted by others - to this process.  The committee is heavily weighted with folks selected by the current council majority who share the view that the City needs a Charter, despite the fact that the voters soundly rejected the last attempt to change our form of government in 2012.  In fact, whether we even need a Charter was never discussed by this committee, despite the fact that Mayor Jim Righeimer specifically stated that their task was to decide whether we needed one or not.  Later he said he misspoke, but I think he was correct.  This committee should have been charged with determining first IF we needed a Charter form of government and, if they reached consensus that the City would benefit significantly by making the change,  ONLY THEN proceed with the process they've followed since last summer.

OBSERVING BIAS...
Of the participants chosen, I would categorize only MaryAnn O'Connell and Harold Weitzberg as solidly against a Charter.  That being said, they both actively participated in the discussions and presented clear views on issues.  Of the remaining eleven members - based on my observations of them in action - I think Brett Eckles, Tom Graham, Henry Panian and Kevin Tobin have tried hard to keep an open mind and have not appeared to be strongly of the opinion that we need a Charter, but have worked hard during discussions when issues are presented to them.  The other seven - Ron Amburgey, William Fancher, Gene Hutchins, Kerry McCarthy, Tom Pollitt, Lee Ramos and Andrew Smith - all seem firmly in the pro-Charter camp, although some of them have demonstrated the willingness and ability to debate important parts of the discussion.

GENERALLY CORDIAL AND RESPECTFUL
I have been generally impressed with the way the entire committee conducted itself.  Most members debated issues respectfully, particularly as they got to know one-another as the process moved along.  They gave serious, thoughtful consideration to the language to be used.  There have been some flared tempers from time to time, and one notable hissy-fit that I reported on at the time, but most meetings have been conducted with appropriate decorum.

SOLID STAFF WORK
The City Staff that supported their efforts - attorneys Kimberly Hall Barlow and Yolanda Summerhill, City Clerk Brenda Green and intern Sawyer Pendleton -  have been responsive to their questions and tried to give the committee everything they wanted and/or needed to accomplish their task.

BAUERMEISTER AND DECKER
The facilitators had a tough job and did it well.  They've managed to move the process along following the rules of procedure all committee members agreed upon at the very beginning.

SON OF MEASURE V?
I was surprised when, at their last meeting, the specter of Measure V - Jim Righeimer's Charter that failed so miserably at the ballot box - was dredged up at the last minute.  I'm not quite sure how this will impact their deliberations later today.  It's unclear whether they will attempt, at the last minute, to transplant some of the verbiage from Measure V into their document.  I guess  we'll see.

NOT THE STAFF'S JOB!
I was also surprised when members of the committee suggested that Barlow and Summerhill "tell them what they've missed" at the last meeting.  In my opinion, the staff is there to support them, not to tell them what should or should not be in a Charter - except from a strictly legal standpoint when it comes to the language of the document.  Deciding WHAT should be in the document is ONLY this committee's responsibility until they hand it off to the council.

HERE ARE THE STAFF REPORTS
There are staff reports for the following items:
A - Proposed Pension Language
B - Miscellaneous Proposed Language
*Supplemental Report dated 3/11/14
C - Review Final Charter Document
*Revised Charter Document 3/11/14
D - Suggestions to the City Council
E - Post Committee Process
F - Communication received from Committee Members

TIME IS RUNNING OUT
As I mentioned, the document the committee finalizes tonight will be presented to the City Council on March 18th, preceded by a small congratulatory reception for the committee originally scheduled for 5:15 that evening.  It is not mentioned on Item E. above, so we'll see about that.

THIS CHANGE IS NOT NECESSARY!
I've read through the document as it exists in draft form now, before the meeting.  I've watched it being created over these past many months.  At this point, in my opinion, there is NOTHING in the proposed Charter that is not possible to be accomplished as a General Law City.  I am not convinced that it is necessary for the voters to consider this document in November, particularly since by adopting the Charter form of government we will lose many of the protections provided to us as a General Law City.  The past three years have clearly shown us why we need to have those protections in place.



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Old Wounds Mark OC Fair & Event Center Open House

FAIRGROUNDS OPEN HOUSE
Tuesday evening the Orange County Fair and Event Center (OCFEC) hosted what was billed as an Open House/Discussion at their administrative offices at the Fairgrounds.  The plan was to invite members of the community to provide input on the strengths, needs and visions for the organization.  No members of the Fair Board were present.

CONSULTANT LED THE DISCUSSION
Consultant Bill Kelly of Kelly Associates Management Group led the discussion, supported by his wife, Christine Kelly, Executive Vice President of the business.  Their firm has been retained by the Fair Board to gather data and report back to them.  In that process, in addition to holding the meeting last night, Kelly has been interviewing every staff member and most of the members of the board.  And, no, he didn't do this with his eyes closed!  That's the best photo I could salvage.

FEW RESIDENTS ATTENDED
The sparse crowd - just over 30 people attended this poorly-advertised meeting - was made up of many regulars at Fair Board meetings, some of whom were veterans of the battles to save the Fairgrounds a few years ago.  That experience has left more than a few of them with still very tender  wounds from the experience and very negative feelings about some former and current board members and senior staff.

INFORMAL DISCUSSION
The very informal couple hours moved briskly as Kelly followed a loose structure to guide the conversation - tossing out thoughts that generated discussions and deftly deflecting audience inquiries into further discussions.

WIDE-RANGING 
Suggestions and comments were wide-ranging.  Some were based on personal experiences and others based on observations.  I cannot begin to cover all the comments made, but some of them included:
  • Return the equestrian area to its former footprint
  • Retain and enhance the Centennial Farm
  • A shorter Mission Statement
  • Return to "rural" roots
  • Update and follow the Master Plan for the site
  • Tone down the LED information sign
  • Reduce the noise from the Offroad/Monster Truck events
  • Provide more positive support for existing vendors/OC MarketPlace
  • Do a better job of restricting parking in surrounding neighborhoods (reduce parking costs)
  • Educate the senior staff to be more service-oriented

CHARACTERISTICS FOR NEW CEO
Kelly wrapped up his program by soliciting thoughts on what characteristics were necessary in a new CEO for the OCFEC.  Presently there is an interim CEO, but the board will soon be recruiting a new, permanent person to run the operations.  Kelly was unsure of the process - the CEO is a state employee, so the recruitment process may be significantly encumbered by the bureaucratic requirements.  Among the attributes offered by the audience were:
  • Should come from an agricultural background
  • Should understand how to operate in a state government environment
  • Should be a "people person"
  • Should be multi-lingual (Spanish or Vietnamese) to better communicate with segments of the community
  • Should be a true leader
  • Should have experience managing a diverse organization.
  • Should understand Orange County
STILL TIME TO COMMUNICATE...
So, Kelly will now compile the results of this meeting and fold it into his report involving other interviews and observations and present it to the Fair Board in the April/May time frame.  Residents were encouraged to provide more input to Kelly by email if they choose to do so.  His email is:  Bill Kelly - williamk@ka-mg.com.

OLD WOUNDS STILL EVIDENT
It was very clear last night that there are many festering wounds within the community that pays attention to Fairgrounds issues.  These will only heal when a new, trustworthy leader is selected to run the organization who will implement some of the reforms they feel are necessary.  It will be very interesting to watch this unfold.


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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

My Friend, David Stiller, Passes On

ANOTHER FRIEND PASSES...
I cannot let another day go by without a mention of the passing of my friend, David Stiller, over the weekend.  Dave had been in and out of two hospitals over the past three weeks before succumbing to natural causes just about 48 hours ago - at 1 a.m., Sunday, March 9th.

ZINT'S EXCELLENT PIECE
Bradley Zint wrote an excellent piece about Dave Stiller HERE, which captured the essence of the man I knew.  In particular the quotation by Parks and Recreation Chairman Byron De Arakal is especially precise.

AN OUTSTANDING VOLUNTEER
I knew Dave as a truly dedicated community volunteer, who served the city in a variety of ways.  At the time of his death he was a member of the Fairview Park Citizens Advisory committee, the Financial Advisory committee and the Costa Mesa Senior Corporation Board of Directors.  He previously served on the Parks and Recreation Commission and the Transportation Commission.

A STRONG, LOYAL FRIEND
Dave Stiller was a man of strong character, strong opinions, a lover of classical music and a man who would debate issues that were important to him tenaciously.  He truly valued his old friends from the Naval Academy and his Naval service.  He was an excellent sounding board for those trying to resolve one of life's puzzles or flesh-out the municipal morass.

LOVING FAMILY
Dave was preceded in death by his wife, Clarisse, and leaves behind two sons, Eric(Jennifer) and Braden, two brothers and hundreds of friends.  I will miss him.

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Monday, March 10, 2014

Planning Commission Votes to Oust Recycler

RECYCLER OUT!
At an unusually short Planning Commission meeting, the five members voted unanimously to have the staff prepare a resolution revoking the conditional use permit for RePlanet Recycling, which operates a facility in the parking lot of the Stater Bros. market at 2180 Newport Boulevard.

TOO SUCCESSFUL
In an ironic twist, the business will be forced to leave the site because it's too successful!  Yep, all five commissioners agreed that the operation there is too successful for its own good, so will be asked to try to find another, more suitable, venue in Costa Mesa.  This leaves only the recycling facility at Orange Coast College - which a couple speakers described as not very satisfactory at all - for folks who are dedicated to recycling.

NEIGHBORS SUFFERED TOO LONG
Commissioner Colin McCarthy led the way on the decision to shutter the business, citing decades of complaints by neighbors despite many unsuccessful attempts to mitigate the impact on the contiguous neighborhood.  He suggested that the staff, when preparing the resolution revoking the conditional use permit, consider portions of the brand new Nuisance Abatement Ordinance.  It's unclear just when the resolution revoking the permit will take place.

SHUFFLING THE DECK
Earlier in the meeting Chairman Jim Fitzpatrick did a quick shuffling of the deck and moved Public Hearing #3 - the proposed expansion of the Wild Goose Tavern on 17th Street - up front so it could be quickly "continued" to the meeting on March 24, 2014, and did so without soliciting any public comments.  After less than a minute the commission voted to continue it on a 5-0 vote.

MINER STREET DEVELOPMENT MOVES ON
Public Hearing #2, the development on Miner Street, evoked responses from some commissioners that were practically orgasmic.  They slobbered all over themselves praising the developer for "cleaning up" that neighborhood.  During the discussion it was pointed out that if the recently approved Small Lot Ordinance had been in place this request would have had only one small variance instead of the handful that was approved.  It took barely 30 minutes for them to pass it on a 5-0 vote.

"TEAM BRUMBAUGH"
The final item on the agenda, New Business #1, was the nomination of Code Enforcement Officer Mike Brumbaugh for a Planning Commission Design Award - a strange suggestion, for sure.  Fitzpatrick explained why he nominated Brumbaugh - a great guy, who is doing a bang-up job according to reports - for this award by indicating that his efforts have cleaned up a large segment of the Mission/Mendoza area.  Apparently Brumbaugh, a long-time resident and former Chairman of the Parks and Recreation Commission before taking a job with the City, wants it to be a group award - also honoring all the participants who contributed.  It was referred to as "Team Brumbaugh".

STIFLING RIGHTS...
A couple sidebars from the evening.  Both Fitzpatrick and McCarthy complained about the recent appeal of one of their decisions that went to the City Council for final resolution.  That one resulted in the commission's decision being upheld.  However, McCarthy griped about the amount of staff time it takes and asked the staff to come back with ideas on how such appeals could be eliminated!  This is just another example of the rights of residents being trampled by these guys because it's inconvenient for them!

PILING ON THE WORK
McCarthy also addressed the various Westside Plans, citing that they were a decade old and may not be responsive to the world as it exists today.  He asked the staff to investigate that, as if that was something they could do in a couple hours.  Amazing how he complains on one hand that the staff is overworked, then he piles on a mountain of analysis for them to complete.  Clueless!

FITZY - DON'T BOTHER ME WITH STUDIES...
Back up there during the Miner Street development discussion the topic turned to parking.  One resident worried about the impact of six homes with four parking slots each - two in garages and two in driveways - providing no extra parking for guests.  During the discussion the conversation was directed to Raja Sethuramin, Manager of Transportation Services, who suggested studies could be done to determine whether a need exists for some type of "resident-only" parking restrictions.  At that point Chairman Fitzpatrick told us he "is not fond of studies" because they "took up too much staff time".  Nope, he wanted immediate solutions without studying them!  Good grief!

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