Measure AA Immediately Impacts Parks Commission Business
DIMINISHED COMMISSION AND SHORT AGENDA
The Costa Mesa Parks and Recreation Commission met Thursday night to discuss a small agenda. Chairman Brett Eckles was absent, so Vice Chair Bob Graham conducted the meeting. It didn't take long for Measure AA, the ballot measure that is passing overwhelmingly, to impact this meeting.
FIX THE ARROYO
Resident Kim Hendricks spoke during Public Comments addressed the problems at Fairview Park regarding the illegal filling of an arroyo, provided historical photos to illustrate the issue. She asked that the arroyo be restored to it's natural state.
DE ARAKAL PRAISES MENSINGER AND MONAHAN
During Commissioner Comments Byron de Arakal addressed his admiration for both Steve Mensinger and Gary Monahan. Regarding Mensinger he said, "Whether you like him or don't like him or you don't like the policies he's advancing or you do, there's nobody that's ever sat on this council that's cared more or worked harder than he has to improve the City of Costa Mesa." He went on to further praise his work in youth sports and also thanked Mensinger's family. He then went on to state that he, de Arakal, owed his career in public service to Monahan, who asked him to serve on the Parks and Recreation Commission back in 2003. He said, "No one has achieved more for this city as a councilman or woman than Gary Monahan." He closed by wishing Sandra Genis, John Stephens and Allan Mansoor all the best on the City Council. As most of you who read these pages know, Byron de Arakal is my friend and the reason you're reading this. We don't always agree on issues, but we can always talk about them. In this case, while I appreciate his loyalty to his friends and views on Mensinger and Monahan, I think they were over the top when you consider the long list of outstanding municipal leaders this city has had in more than 60 years of existence. Just sayin'...
MERCURIO PRAISES FRANCIS
Commissioner Julie Mercurio thanked Assistant CEO Rick Francis for his role in defusing some kind of a unity protest gathering scheduled at Wilson Park today, Friday. She spoke about how "the community" - I'm thinking she was referring to the denizens of her Costa Mesa Public Square Facebook page - "reached out" to the organizers and made it clear that such an event wasn't appropriate for Wilson Park, so they decided to move it to Civic Center Park, across the street from the Police Headquarters. This, apparently, is where Francis became involved following contact by "the community" with city officials. She went on at length to explain his role in getting the event cancelled.
PEDERSON CONGRATULATES THE WINNERS, CRITICIZES CRITICS
Commissioner Kim Pederson also congratulated the successful candidates, then used his time to complain about critics of public officials. He cautioned the public to drive safely over the upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday.
GRAHAM GRATEFUL, TOO
Graham also congratulated the successful candidates and thanked the staff.
SHIFFER PARK CELL SITE CHANGES CONTINUED TO JANUARY
Commissioner Byron de Arakal moved to continue the item on the agenda regarding the modification of a Cell Site at Shiffer Park until their meeting in January, 2017. That passed, 4-0.
TREE REMOVAL REQUEST DENIED, BUT...
Next up was the tree removal request at 360 Bucknell Drive. This is the second consecutive meeting the applicant has requested this removal. This had been pushed off so the staff could ascertain the property lines and setbacks at this location to determine if the City or the applicant owns that tree. Turns out the City owns the tree. After a short discussion it was moved to deny the removal request and direct the staff to work with the applicant to firm up pruning schedules and the possible application of a pre-emergent herbicide.
FAIRVIEW PARK ANNUAL REPORT, BUT WAIT - MEASURE AA
Before City Engineer Bart Mejia could present the remaining issue, the Fairview Park Annual Report, de Arakal advised the commission that he was going to move that this item be continued until at least January. He launched into a long explanation about why - that Measure AA may impact plans for existing projects planned for the park, so he wanted the City Attorney to review and provide direction. (See below)
SERIOUS BLUFF EROSION
Public Comments were heard before a motion could be presented. Bill Bowman spoke to the commission about a problem he's having with the bluff erosion at his home above Talbert Nature Preserve and Fairview Park. He spoke at length about the work he's had to do - lugging 46,000 buckets of dirt and sand bags to stabilize his slope for fear it would fail. His area is part of the West Bluff restoration project, so it will be reviewed as that project proceeds, if it proceeds. (see below)
RESTORE THE DARN VERNAL POOLS!
Kim Hendricks again spoke, reminding the commission that residents want the vernal pools restored, wants the city staff to go after grants and that the residents have spoken loud and clear with Measure AA.
CONTINUE TO JANUARY AND MORE
Following discussions about these items de Arakal reiterated his motion. Specifically, here's the complete text of his motion: "To continue this item to our January meeting. That we recommend to the City Council that they ask the City Attorney to provide a legal opinion on which projects listed in the Fairview Park Annual Report dated November 10th, 2016 would fall under the provisions of Measure AA and report back to us at that January meeting on that legal opinion. And then recommend to staff to reconvene the Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee as soon as possible. Have them examine the work they've done to date and the work they need to do to complete their work with respect to the provisions of Measure AA and provide their report to the commission on their recommendations for Fairview Park Master Plan at our April, 2017 meeting." Julie Mercurio seconded it. We're presuming that the legal opinion must precede any meetings by the committee and it's highly unlikely that the committee could be brought back together before the year-end holidays. And, how many of them are left? Will they have to add members. Will Steve Smith be in charge? So many questions...
Before a vote could be taken Commissioner Pederson launched into a mini-rant, criticizing speakers before them - he was looking directly at Kim Hendricks at the time - who purport to speak for all residents of the city.
The vote was then taken and it passed, 4-0.
Bart Mejia and Tom Coughlin(sp?)then provided a report on parks and maintenance of them.
Recreation Manager Justin Martin provided an overview of the recreation programs and upcoming events. One thing he mentioned was that the Neighborhood Community Center will be closed the end of the year in preparation for the $30+million complete renovation of the Lions Park - new library, re-purposing the existing Donald Dungan Branch Library building as a community center and major landscaping changes. He said all the existing users have been able to find meeting spaces elsewhere for the duration of the renovations.
ADJOURNED UNTIL JANUARY
The 70 minute meeting was adjourned to January, 2017.