Monday, October 26, 2015

Delay Marks Planning Commission Meeting

SHORT MEETING...
Surprise seemed to be the word of the evening as the Costa Mesa Planning Commission met for what was anticipated to be a short meeting.  It was!  In fact, we said "Adios!" to the commissioners at 8:03 p.m.

DICKSON ABSENT
However, it was not without some drama.  And, Chairman Rob Dickson missed all the fun - he was absent.

VICTORIA STREET "HIDEY-HOLES"
During Public Comments Barrie Fisher stepped up to complain about what she called "hidey-holes" in the shrubbery along Victoria Street - hang-outs for vagrants.  She suggested that city staff might prune the shrubbery up so those little crannies where vagrants nest could be eliminated.

HIXSON METAL REFINISHING AND REHAB LOITERERS
An unidentified person pointed out the ad from Hixson Metal Refinishing from the Daily Pilot, and referred to the June 22, 2015 meeting at which she expressed concern about the toxic nature of the chemicals flowing from that place.  She wondered if realtors should be required to disclose the existence of that plant when selling homes affected by it.  She also told the commission about  a gathering of rehab people at 17th Street and Orange avenue and expressed concern for kids trick or treating Saturday night.

MCCARTHY
During Commissioner Comments Colin McCarthy offered congratulations to the Estancia High School football team for its victory over Costa Mesa last weekend in the Battle for the Bell.

DIRECTED STAFF
Stephan Andranian asked staff to assess Fisher's concerns about the shrubbery along Victoria and he acknowledged the earlier question about the rehab loiterers.

SAID NOTHING
Neither Vice Chair Jeff Mathews nor Tim Sesler had any comments.

QUICK AS A WINK...
Public Hearing #1, the tract map for a proposed small lot development at 1620 Orange Avenue flew through the process, taking less than 10 minutes.  During the discussion McCarthy asked Assistant Director of Development Services, Claire Flynn, to have the staff put together a report on the impact of the Small Lot Ordinance - how many projects, where?, etc.

WORRIED ABOUT PRECEDENT
Public Hearing #2, the proposal to demolish a medical office building at 350 East 17th Street, on the corner of Raymond Avenue, and build a smaller building with several restaurants and office space.  Interestingly, this hearing took more than an hour.  Four members of the public spoke on the issue - 2 in support of it and 2 against it.  After all the dust settled the sticking point seemed to be the conditional use permit to utilize a patio that would encroach on city right-of-way.  McCarthy led the way with concerns about the precedent it might be setting.  Assistant City Attorney Yolanda Summerhill suggested that, if the commission chose to do so, staff could craft an Encroachment Agreement, but McCarthy and others still were concerned about the precedent.

EAGER TO PLEASE, BUT...
Architect John Hill and owner Greg Gabriel seemed willing to do whatever it takes to make the project work.  There are also parking issues to be considered.

CONTINUED OFF CALENDAR
Eventually, rather than deny the request outright and force the applicant to wait to re-apply and pay a whole new set of fees, the commission voted to continue the issue off calendar to give the applicant a chance to revisit his project, to see if he can't make it work within the footprint of the site without the encroachment.  It seemed like the right decision.

THE HALAL GUYS OPERATING HOURS
The crowd dwindled from 30 to about 13 as the final public hearing, #3, the appeal of the denial by the Zoning Administrator request by The Halal Guys, to extend their hours of operation, began at 7:20.  McCarthy, citing a conflict, departed for the evening, leaving a bare quorum to deal with this touchy issue.
NEW HOURS ARE A PROBLEM
As I wrote earlier, the applicants modified their earlier request to stay open until 3:00 a.m, to less onerous operating hours of 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 a.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 a.m. Thursday through Saturday and add security 11:00 a.m. - 1:30 a.m.  However, that didn't satisfy all the critics nor did it convince the three remaining commissioners.

NEIGHBORS ARE NOT HAPPY
Four members of the public spoke to the issue, including the owner.  Two neighbors spoke about the noise, trash and impact on the parking in the nearby neighborhood.  There were nine additional letters from members of the community - most appeared to be nearby neighbors - strongly opposing the extended hours.

PROBLEMS WITH SUCCESS
The owner, Thomas Pham, was very forthright about the impact the success of his restaurant has had on the neighborhood.  The Costa Mesa restaurant is the first of 50 such stores planned in California.  They plan to open a new one every other month.  He suggested that, once the novelty of his store wears off and new sites are opened nearby, the traffic and lines at the restaurant will diminish.

MAKING PROGRESS, LOOKING FOR SOLUTIONS
The property owner, Kevin McGuire, also expressed sincere concern and was looking for solutions, and was making progress in cleaning up the site.

A FEW OPTIONS
The discussion addressed the possible valet parking arrangement; the availability of the Dunn Edwards store parking lot after 5:00; the probability of greater impact on the neighborhood by staying open until 1:00, to cater to the bar crowd looking for food at that night.  McGuire suggested perhaps permit parking might resolve some of the neighbors concerns.

 CONTINUED TO DECEMBER 14, 2015
After much discussion the commission voted to continue this item until December 14, 2015, during which time the operators will engage in community outreach to allay some of the neighbors fears and move forward with plans they think will resolve the parking/noise/trash issues.  This also seemed to be a good solution, as opposed to flat-out deny their request, which is the way they seemed headed.

And we were done!  Yea!



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1 Comments:

Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

Interesting. We all know the commission will find a way to get the patio issues resolved. This commission has set precedence all along the way. All they have to do is grant a variance and voila!

I am also worried about the Hixson plant. It is just now coming to light. I really want to know if the residents in the homes around that plant have been notified or is it just a notice buried deep...deep in the paper that no one subscribes to. This is a serious issue. How can we find out if the realtors are notifying people of the seriousness of this contamination? I am hoping that there is a stop to this madness and very soon.

Why is Halal Guys wanting to stay open until 3:00 am? Why even 1:00 am? Why even midnight? Is it a restaurant? Or is it a bar? Or is it both? As they say, "Nothing good ever happens after midnight", so I'm wondering about the DUIs coming from there if there is a bar open that late and such. This is not L.A., this is not New Orleans. Why do we have to have a place open that late near residential areas? This sounds like a really bad idea to me.

10/27/2015 08:09:00 AM  

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