General Plan and Draft EIR Approved By Planning Commission
A BRISK, SHORT MEETING
The Costa Mesa Planning Commission made a fairly short night of it Monday as they slightly juggled the agenda to shove the General Plan issue to the end.
HEROES HALL AND SIGNAGE
Under Public Comments Beth Refakes told of the move of the Heroes Hall building move at the Orange County Fairgrounds that morning. She also complimented the staff on the completion of the Costa Mesa monument sign at the end of the 55 Freeway.
Kim Hendricks spoke of the various General Plan workshops and how it appeared that many of the opinions express by the public had not been considered, particularly regarding Fairview Park.
SOBER LIVING AND ILLEGAL NIGHT CLUBS
An unidentified woman expressed concern about the sober living homes, and told the commission that a new restaurant, Holiday, was opening at the site of the defunct Maison on 19th Street and expressed concern about the completion of necessary repairs - sprinklers, etc.
BOGUS "NON-PROFIT" DOING WORK AT FAIRVIEW PARK
Cindy Black was concerned about a "non-profit" group doing work in Fairview Park, indicating that they are pretending to be conservationists but know nothing about conservation. She also took exception to the whole General Plan process, describing it as a "show".
SOBER LIVING NOT ON AGENDA AS PROMISED
Pat Murphy showed up expecting to speak to the sober living issue, but it was not on the agenda. She described the negative impact of such places in her neighborhood.
THE WRONG FOCUS
During Commissioner Comments Colin McCarthy waved a copy of the Orange County Register in the air, citing an article about two people who had stabbed a man at one of the motels - using the event to further denigrate motels in the city. He complained that they were a drain on public safety resources and that they "weakened our brand." He said we "shouldn't be hearing about this in the paper." What he failed to mention is that the Costa Mesa Police Department - in a stellar piece of police work - snatched up the two perpetrators in less than 24 hours and had them in jail. Politics in Costa Mesa is not a pretty thing.
Tim Sesler complimented the staff for their "thoughtful, smart, consistent approach" for the city.
Stephan Andranian thanked Ms. Murphy for coming to speak.
PROBLEM MOTEL PRIMER
Chairman Rob Dickson gave us a little primer on the "Motel Task Force" - and how his assignment was to do something about the problem motels.
Nobody pulled the Boathouse Collective review from the Consent Calendar for discussion so it was approved along with the minutes of the previous meeting, 5-0. Unfortunately, nobody told the owners of that restaurant, so they and their kids sat in the audience for an hour before they discovered it. Oh, well.
410 WALNUT PLACE
Public Hearing #1, the Tentative Parcel Map for a big Eastside lot not too far from my home, was promptly approved on a 5-0 vote. None of the nearby neighbors showed up this time, so one assumes they're going to be happy four large lots on which four large homes can be built. The developer, Steve Scarborough, apparently took great pains to communicate with the neighbors following the previous meeting where the plan for five lots was rejected primarily because the neighbors didn't like it.
Similarly, Public Hearing #2, the two-lot subdivision at the corner of Pacific and Wilson on the far Westside was quickly approved.
OPERATING HOURS FOR THE HUB
Public Hearing #4, which was moved ahead one slot, is the request for expanded hours of operation by The Hub restaurant on Old Newport Boulevard. The chart below shows what they were requesting. The commission approved expanded hours - from 7:00 a.m. - 2:00 a.m. Thursday through Saturday nights and 7:00 a.m. - 11:00 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday. They also included the longer hours for New Year's Eve, regardless what day it falls on AND, to placate concerns about noise for the nearby neighbors, a provision that all cars will be removed from the back parking lot at Midnight and it will be locked at that time.
GENERAL PLAN AND DRAFT EIR
This brought us to the big item of the evening, Public Hearing #3, the General Plan Update and Draft Environmental Impact Report. Assistant Director of Development Services Claire Flynn kicked off the four-part presentation by reminding us this was the fourth such hearing, which had followed nearly three years of public outreach via the Great Reach process. The staff report for this item was about an inch thick.
FAIRVIEW DEVELOPMENTAL CENTER
Among the issues discussed were the Fairview Developmental Center property, which will receive a new, previously-unused zoning designation of "Multi-Use Center". There remains some conflict between the City and The State regarding the density for this property, and also for the open space.
The Airport Land Use Commission also signed in with conditions they need to be met by the General Plan, such as height restrictions and sound levels.
US Fish and Wildlife also presented its views.
PRIOR CONCERNS ADDRESSED
Consultant Laura Stetson, who has been intimately involved in this process for the entire time, addressed some of the concerns expressed by individuals at the last meeting. Some of those are covered by the following slides.
NO FAIRVIEW PARK CHANGES IN GENERAL PLAN
Colin McCarthy affirmed that nothing changes at Fairview Park as a result of the General Plan update. Acting City Engineer Bart Mejia confirmed that fact, and advised that the Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee will begin meeting again to complete their work to fulfill the update of the Master Plan of Parks, which is a decade old. McCarthy also complimented the staff for its creative solutions to the FDC issue.
AFFORDABLE HOUSING ALSO NOT INCLUDED
During the discussion it was affirmed that Affordable Housing is NOT included in this General Plan update - McCarthy made it clear that the City Council provided a strong signal on how it feels at the last meeting, when they rejected Katrina Foley's idea for an Inclusionary Housing Ordinance.
TRAFFIC NUMBERS UPDATED
A representative of the consulting firm Stantec updated us on the traffic issues. These slides show some of that information.
FISCAL IMPACT UPDATED
Consultant Roger Dale updated the Fiscal impact, as these slides show.
During the Public Comments segment Kim Hendricks told the commission that their data on "distance to parks" is incorrect, and provided information to the commissioners.
DENSITY, TRAFFIC, OWNERSHIP RATIO AND MORE
Cynthia McDonald expressed concern about the density and traffic. She also indicated that the renter vs. ownership housing ratio is headed the wrong way - from what was presumed to be 60/40 to 67/33. She also implied that there was a plan for "district parking" similar to Davis - which severely restricts individual parking in certain areas of that town. She also expressed concern for the lack of new parks, but the increasing population that will increase the demand for parks.
BEMOANING LOSS OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING...
Kathy Esfahani, representing the Costa Mesa Affordable Housing Coalition, again bemoaned the loss of affordable housing in the form of so-called "problem motels" - another of which was just cited by The City Monday. She also quoted Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer from the last council meeting, citing some of his comments as "stupifyingly ignorant comments by someone who says he's an expert on affordable housing." She also said 10 cities have Inclusionary Housing Ordinances. As an aside, Righeimer was on the John and Ken Show on radio station KFI Monday afternoon pontificating about Affordable Housing for about 10 minutes.
Linda Tang, representing the Kennedy Commission again complained about the loss of affordable housing units in motels, specifically citing the Costa Mesa Motor Inn, which is currently embroiled in two lawsuits, so the project to demolish it and replace it with luxury apartments has stalled.
FDC 20 YEARS OUT
During the subsequent discussion McCarthy opined that the Fairview Development Center is probably a 20 year discussion, and that there will likely be some "horse trading" with the State before anything gets done there. He also opined, again, that despite evidence to the contrary, he "knows" the city needs more playing fields, but didn't provide any kind of qualification for that opinion.
MOVED THE ITEMS FORWARD
The commission voted to recommend that the City Council certify the Draft EIR and the General Plan. Flynn told the commission that the next step is for the Airport Land Use Commission to review the documents tentatively at their May 19th meeting, after which it will go to the City Council for consideration.