Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Feeling Safer? Why?

SOMETHING TO CONSIDER IN THE NEW YEAR
Here's a little something for you to contemplate as you plan to ring in the new year.  The City of Costa Mesa is not safer this year than it was last year.  And, sadly, this is a DIRECT result of policies and attitudes by the current City Council majority - specifically Mayor Steve Mensinger and Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer.
NUMBERS TO CONTEMPLATE
Here's a little information for you, plucked straight from the pages of the city web site.  I've provided the last three months available for your consideration, but you can find all the rest at the city web site HERE(Click on the individual charts to expand.)

POTHOLES BEFORE PUBLIC SAFETY
So, as we enter the new year, full of hope and anticipation, keep in mind that some of your elected leaders have chosen to place potholes before public safety.  They care more about their legacy as measured by paved streets and alleys and fancy new center dividers than the safety of those of us who live or work in and those who visit and shop in Costa Mesa
FEWER COPS... AND DROPPING
As of the end of the year the Costa Mesa Police Department will have fewer than 100 officers ready for duty.  There are nearly 30 vacancies in the department.  Of the authorized staff level - which is well short of optimal - five are so-called "grant cops", officers being paid through a 5-year grant.  The time on those grants is expiring, which will reduce the authorized strength of the department's sworn officers even more!
INTENTIONALLY STALLED THE PROCESS
And, you may recall that Mensinger and Righeimer refused to let then-chief Tom Gazsi begin the hiring process for new officers for more than eight months, putting the department so far behind the curve that it will take years to recover.
AN EVEN GREATER NEED!
Even without the impact of a growing drug problem, and expanding homelessness problem, AB 109 releases and Prop. 47, it would be tough to properly police this city.  Add those elements to the mix, PLUS the fact that Costa Mesa has the highest percentage of rehab homes in the county - by far - than any other city and those places have been demonstrated to be incubators for homeless criminals.  When they are bounced out of the rehab homes for failure to complete the programs there is no mechanism or requirement for them to be returned to their home of record, so they end up on our streets.  A recent incident where a resident clobbered a burglar with a flashlight emphasizes that problem, HERE.
THE CONTRACT
And, of course, we have the CMPD contract to consider.  The men and women of the CMPD are working without a new contract for more than 500 days.  Only three members of the City Council - Gary Monahan, Katrina Foley and Sandra Genis - may be involved in the negotiations because the other two men have sued the men and women of the CMPD.  And those three must reach unanimous accord on the contract.
ROOKIES CANNOT REPLACE VETERANS
And, there is the loss of experience caused by the retirement and/or departure to other venues by skilled, season veteran officers.  Yes, we can hire some of the best new officers available, but they simply don't have the experience yet to actually fill the void - that takes years.
"THANK" THOSE RESPONSIBLE
So, I encourage you to drop a little note to the two top elected leaders in our city to "thank them" for caring more about their legacy than our safety.  I'm sure they will welcome a little note from you.  I suspect Mayor Pro Tem Righeimer will remind you of what he constantly says - "Having more cops doesn't mean you have a safer city."  Yeah, really?  Well, it's a great place to start!
HOPING FOR A SAFER, HAPPIER NEW YEAR
And a Very Happy New Year to you all.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Group Launches Initiative To Save Fairview Park

PROTECTING THE "CROWN JEWEL"
As the petition signature-gathering winds up for one initiative - the so-called Smart Growth Initiative - another group has launched a similar effort to preserve and protect Fairview Park - referred to by many as "Costa Mesa's Crown Jewel".
SIGNATURE GATHERING BEGINS
The Fairview Park Alliance, HERE, has crafted an initiative to do just that.  The full initiative may be viewed HERE.  Beginning within the next few days representatives of that organization will begin collecting signatures, hoping to gather enough by the deadline - I'm told it will be early in May - to qualify the initiative for the November, 2016 ballot.
CITY ATTORNEY'S TITLE AND SUMMARY
As is required by law, the initiative has been reviewed by the Costa Mesa City Attorney, who has fulfilled his responsibility of creating a proper title and an official Summary which will appear in the sample ballot should this initiative qualify.  The following is the complete text of that Title/Summary as produced by the City Attorney recently.  I've edited it for spacing and type color only, for easier reading:
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AN INITIATIVE REQUIRING CHANGES IN USE AT FAIRVIEW PARK
BE SUBJECT TO VOTER APPROVAL
 
    The initiative prohibits certain changes in land use at Fairview Park unless the City of Costa Mesa pays for and conducts a citywide election, and the electorate votes in favor of the proposal. 
    In general, the initiative requires voter approval each time Costa Mesa authorizes any expansion or intensification of uses, new or expanded amenities, expansion of park hours, grading, expanding parking lots, new foundations or permanent structures, installation of lighting or utility delivery systems, and alterations using geotechnical or structural analysis.  Exceptions apply to (1) restoration, (2) preservation, (3) maintenance, (4) public safety, (5 )expanding Fairview Park’s size, (6) improvements pursuant to the Fairview Park Master Plan which do not require installing permanent structures, and (7) certain changes approved and completed before the initiative’s effective date. 


    The following are examples of projects currently authorized under the Fairview Park Master Plan that could not be implemented without voter approval: 


Fairview Park, east of Placentia Avenue:  Playground, Platforms/retaining walls for vista overlook area, Museum/multipurpose building, Constructing two paved parking lots to accommodate a total of 131 cars.


Fairview Park, west of Placentia Avenue:  Playground, Covered picnic areas, Bus turnaround, Stairs to allow bluff access, Grading bluffs to prevent erosion, New restrooms, Boardwalk and pedestrian bridge on new trail.


    Other examples of activities that would be prohibited unless voter approval is obtained include:  Completing structures that were under construction when the initiative became effective, Concrete curbs, Expanding existing buildings, Installing additional lighting, Expanding park hours, New trails not listed in the Fairview Park Master Plan, Installing water, electric, gas or sewer lines, Expanding parking lots, Constructing retaining walls, Increasing the number of community events such as concerts-in-the-park, seasonal festivals or races, Pergolas and gazebos, Rest areas along trails that are larger than the minimum required by law, or are within 100 feet of one another.


    The following are examples of activities that would be allowed without an election:  Activities authorized in the Fairview Park Master Plan not requiring the construction of any permanent structure, Restoring Fairview Park to its natural non-developed state, Replacing non-native trees with native trees, Activities intended to protect habitat, vernal pools, burial grounds and artifacts, Removing paths, parking lots or existing man-made improvements, Improving educational signage, Repairing existing structures, Maintaining existing roads, trails and parking lots, Adding land to Fairview Park, Mowing, Replacing broken lights, Installing trash cans, park benches and picnic tables without coverings.


    The initiative requires specific information be included in any sample ballot mailed to registered voters regarding a proposed change to Fairview Park.  The initiative also requires compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act.  The initiative could not be amended without voter approval.  

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WANT TO GUESS WHY?
I've not asked the proponents of this initiative precisely why they felt it necessary to present this measure to the voters, but I can guess.  After having watched the current council majority create the Fairview Park Citizen's Advisory Committee - now dormant - and stack it with cronies who apparently shared their view - which appeared to be that ALL land within the city should be developed, either as high density housing or active use playing fields - I suspect the folks behind this initiative were concerned that similar attacks on the last bastion of natural open space in the City would continue to come under attack without protection.
A SCARY PROCESS
I watched that committee do it's work.  I saw them create a list of "possible" uses in Fairview Park that included all manner of playing fields, including Bocci Ball, for goodness sake.  I watched as, meeting after meeting, residents and other stakeholders in Fairview Park - including representatives of Native American tribes who have a very special interest in the park - presented their views to the committee.  It would be accurate to state that, by a very wide margin, the speakers wanted Fairview Park to remain in a natural state.
THE MASTER PLAN
The initiative and the summary, above, refers to the Fairview Park Master Plan.  You will find that document HERE.  
LOOK FOR THE SIGNATURE-GATHERERS
So, over the next several months you may encounter proponents of this initiative who will be asking for your signature.  Take a few minutes to have them explain the initiative to you if necessary, then let your good judgment and conscience guide your decision.  This really just boils down to a matter of trust.  Do you trust this current batch of elected leaders to protect and preserve this irreplaceable asset?

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