Tuesday, September 29, 2015

An Early Night At The Planning Commission

The final Planning Commission meeting of this month was a short one, with all the business completed by 8:15 p.m., barely two hours in duration.  It was a nice relief to be able to get home and re-introduce myself to the sweet and very patient woman who shares my roof.

Beth Refakes, member of the Military Affairs Team, reminded us of the Halloween candy drive for the children of the 1/5 Marines at Camp Pendleton.  Each piece MUST be individually wrapped and placed in the box in the City Hall lobby.
Item #2 was pulled from the Consent Calendar so Building Official Khanh Nguyen could make a brief report to the commission on the status of the Building Inspection Department.  I showed you this graphic before.  It shows you, in trimesters, the volume of building inspections done by city staff and contractors since 2005 - the year Nguyen began with the city.  He explained that the staff, supplemented by one contract inspector, are working long hours and that the management team also goes out to inspect if necessary.  You can see the dramatic dip during the recession and the rise to current record numbers today, from just over 3100 to over 11,000 today.
 Nguyen went through the permitting process and showed many slides depicting various stages.
Public Hearing #1, the request from Segerstroms and Sons for a 20 year extension of the Development Agreement for what is known as the Segerstrom Town Center property.  It took all of six minutes for staffer Minoo Ashabi to make her presentation, Segerstrom representative Justin McCusker to make his and for the vote to be taken - 5-0 - to recommend to the City Council that this request be approved.
Public Hearing #2, the request for a helistop on the roof of a commercial building at 3132 Airway Avenue, adjacent to John Wayne Airport, didn't go quite so quickly.  This item is a resurrection of the same request from 2011, which was denied by the then-Planning Commission and the applicant did not appeal it to the City Council.  The applicant, Kevin Coleman, explained that this use would actually reduce the number of flights by this private owner, who currently houses his helicopter in a hangar on the John Wayne Airport grounds within 200 yards of this site.
Property owner Denis Labonge stepped up to object to the proposal and said he represented several of the other occupants of the building in question.  He spoke of the noise and dirt that his tenants would be subjected to with this use on the roof of the building - dust being forced down the air vents, etc.
Helicopter Mike Manclark addressed the issue and clarified the uses of his machine currently and the anticipated reduced use if the request is approved.  He spoke of the philanthropic uses of his helicopter throughout Costa Mesa.
When the original request was denied by the Planning Commission they were missing a Noise Report, which was now available.  When this issue was considered in 2011 the City of Newport Beach sent a long letter suggesting approval of the request might be interpreted as an expansion of the John Wayne Airport footprint and, therefore, was against it.  This time around former Costa Mesa senior staffer Kim Brandt, now a senior planning official in Newport Beach, wrote a letter transmitting that original document, reinforcing their opposition, which members of the commission apparently interpreted as flagging interest in this issue.
Commissioner Colin McCarthy carried much of the discussion and seemed peeved that Newport Beach would dare insert itself into Costa Mesa's business.  He indicated early in the discussion that he didn't see the problem with the request.
Other commissioners, including Chairman Rob Dickson and Commissioner Stephan Andranian,  had some concern about the current helicopter - an EC 120 - being swapped out for a noisier one in the future.  However, the proposal contains a condition restricting the noise levels to those made by this machine, so any new equipment would be held to that standard.
Assistant Development Services Director Claire Flynn told the commission they actually had three alternatives.  They could approve, deny or simply register their opinions and pass the decision on the City Council.  McCarthy balked at that one, and suggested they actually make a decision - which would be sent to the City Council for ratification in any event.  So, he moved approval of the request and Vice Chair Jeff Mathews seconded it.  The commission approved it on a 5-0 vote.
Public Hearing #3, a two year extension request for a development at 522 and 526 Bernard Street took six minutes flat for the commission to approve.
Public Hearing #4, the development at 2333 Elden Street, took a little longer to flesh out.  Two minor deviations were being requested for this 5-unit Small Lot Development on a long, skinny lot.  The only clinker in the discussion was the requirement for the project to have undergrounded utilities.  The owner balked at this suggestion because a consultant he hired to assess the situation told him that it would be quite costly, even if Southern California Edison approved it - and that was no slam dunk.  For this to happen at least 3 nearby neighbors would have to agree to the undergrounding for their properties and that was complicated by the understanding that Edison would forbid any infrastructure to be built over their undergrounded lines.  Unfortunately, the applicant had no letter from Edison to that effect.  Nor did he have communication from the neighbors involved registering their opposition.  If he had, the staff could have handled it without commission intervention.  Even though they knew that, the commission approved the plan WITH the requirement that the undergrounding move forward, presuming the applicant would get the necessary objections from Edison and/or neighbors which would negate the requirement.  They simply could have NOT required the undergrounding.  Strange.  Now this means more work on the part of the applicant and more staff time taken up on this issue.  The project was approved, 5-0.
During staff comments City Engineer Fariba Faseli told the commission that the median and monument work was beginning near the Starbucks at DelMar and Newport Boulevard, near the community garden.

Flynn told the commission that the information about the project at the Costa Mesa Motor Inn is now online and the project will be appearing before them at their next meeting on October 12th and will go before the City Council on November 3rd.
(Image courtesy of the Daily Pilot)

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Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

What heliport surprise?
Google the stories from 2011.
This time the rigbots on the planning commission got their marching orders and approved the application, with Colon taking the lead like he did in 2011. Surprise! In that year Jumbo Jimbo Riggy spoke out glowingly in favor of... Developer Coleman.
Any questions?
If friends of the bosses want a helipad next to your backyard they're gonna get it because they contribute and support the takeover of Costa Mesa by developers and party bosses in Newport.
Move away if you don't like it.
Government of the developer, by the developer, for the developer, public be damned.
Oh, and make sure you re-elect Caveman Mensy in 2016 so Fairview Park can be paved over.

9/29/2015 06:04:00 AM  
Blogger zennymoon said...

Planning Commissioners seem to do everything but planning. There was a short lived hope Andranian might have some smarts but alas be is a rigbot through and through, and in short order. A little piss ant city, with a litte wantabee piss ant leaderrship, small men in a small city with lofty goals, residents be damned.

10/01/2015 11:14:00 PM  

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