More Storage, More Development And More Legal Fees
FIRST MEETING SINCE THE ELECTION
The Costa Mesa City Council will hold its first meeting following the elections last week on Tuesday, November 15, 2016 in City Council Chambers at City Hall beginning at 5:45 p.m. There is no Closed Session prior to this meeting. You can read the full agenda HERE.
The Consent Calendar continues to provide fodder for discussion. Even though all items on the Consent Calendar are, in theory, of such a routine nature that they all can be voted upon in one vote, without discussion, at least a couple of the items on this edition simply cry out for conversation.
Let's begin with Item #2, the Warrant, #2566, HERE, which lists dollars being spent on our behalf. I'm not going to list all the entries that give me heartburn, but will mention a few that may do the same to you.
- Clean Street - $57,291.98 - Street Sweeping for September
- G4S Secure Solutions, Inc - $56,483.31 - Jail Facilities Svcs for September
- Jones & Mayer - $143,393.47 - Legal Svcs
- Kimley Horn & Associates - $25,981.50 - Consultant thru 9/30/16 (see report below)
- City of Huntington Beach - $23,660.00 - Helicopter Svcs, Sept. 2016
- Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth - $6,833.27 - Legal Svcs various
REMOVING GRASS IN MESA VERDE
Item #5, HERE, it the $457,737.00 contract to spruce up medians in Mesa Verde - you know, where the mayor and mayor pro tem live - by pulling out the grass and replacing it with drought-tolerant plantings.
MORE EXTENSION ON LEGAL CONTRACTS
Item #7, HERE, is an increase request for legal services for Best, Best and Krieger, doubling the previously-authorized $75,000. Each time we see one of these kinds of bills I find myself wondering just what the heck Jones & Mayer are doing for us as our contract legal department? When they were hired it was on the presumption that their firm was a full-service legal firm and would be handling most, if not all, of our legal business in-house. That has certainly turned out to NOT be the case. For example, as Katrina Foley told us at the last council meeting, Rutan and Tucker cost us $50,000 defending Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer's botched ballot argument, which a judge ruled was a pack of lies and misleading to the voters.
ANOTHER EXPENSIVE CONSULTING CONTRACT EXTENSION
Item #8, HERE, is an extension of a professional services contract with Kimley-Horn and Associates. Of all the items on the Consent Calendar, this one bugs me the most. This one asks to extend the contract so we may continue to use the services of Sherri Vander Duessen as interim Assistant Director of Community Improvement Programs in the Development Services Department. If approved, the City will spend just under $500,000 for 14 months work by Ms. Vander Duessen, which apparently focuses mostly on sober living issues. We should have a chance to see her in action at the Planning Commission tonight, since that meeting will focus exclusively on sober living issues. In my view, and nothing against Ms. Vander Duessen, this situation is a perfect example of the crappy management by the current City Council majority, whose dictatorial style has created such a toxic work environment at City Hall that many, many experienced leaders have either retired early or sought other jobs. It is tragic. We can only hope a change in the demographic on the dais can, finally, begin to rebuild what was once an outstanding municipal organization.
CREATION OF ASSISTANT BUILDING OFFICIAL POSITION
Finally, Item #9, HERE, is the request to create a new position at City Hall - Assistant Building Official. Apparently this is intended to fill the gap created by the recent, abrupt departure of Building Offical Khanh Nguyen. A consultant is currently filling the job at a cost of more than $262,000 per year. This new position would be placed at a level of $194,330 per year and provide upward mobility. Again, the departure of seasoned, experienced staffers bites us in the posterior!
SEPARATE DISCUSSION? WE'LL SEE...
Again, if any of these - or others - are pulled for separate discussion they will be trailed to the very end of the meeting thanks to the policies implemented by the current council majority.
ADOPTION OF NEW CODES
Public Hearing #1, HERE, is a mandatory adoption of the most recent model codes including Building, Residential, Green Building Standards, Fire, Plumbing, Mechanical and Electrical. This shouldn't take long.
REVIEW OF PLANNING DECISION ON "HOLIDAY"
Public Hearing #2, HERE, should generate a lot of interest by the public. This is a review, requested by a council member, of the Planning Application for Holiday (formerly Lion's Den and Maison) on West 19th Street. This controversial establishment has been in the news for a couple years and has apparently undergone a couple of ownership changes. This review, a "de novo" review - which means the entire issue may be re-heard as though it is a brand new item - calls into question the decisions made by the Planning Commission regarding compliance with state noise laws. This one could take awhile.
SELF-STORAGE AT 375 BRISTOL STREET
Old Business #1, HERE, is the second reading of an ordinance, passed by the council on November 1, 2016 on a 5-0 vote, for a re-zone of a business site at 375 Bristol Street for a self-storage facility/retail center. This won't take long.
OLD LOS ANGELES TIMES SITE
Old Business #2, HERE, is also a second reading. This is a re-zone request for a 23.4 acre site in the north part of town - the old Los Angeles Times site plus an existing baseball field. This also passed on a 5-0 vote on November 1, 2016. This also won't take long.
New Business #1, HERE, is a General Plan Screening for a proposed self-storage facility at 390 Ford Road and 1957 Newport Boulevard on both sides of Ford Road.
A NEW URBAN PLAN WITHIN THE SOBECA PLAN
The final item on the agenda is New Business #2, HERE. This is a new Urban Master Plan within the SoBECA Urban Plan and calls for the re-purposing of existing business facilities at 769 Baker Street and 2972 Century Place. Plans call for retail, restaurant and food stall uses totaling 22,000 square feet; add 10,000 square feet of new retail and office uses and construct 3 live/work units and 45 residential units.
COULD BE AN INTERESTING EVENING
I have no idea how long this meeting will last. I expect a large crowd to show up for the Holiday item, but beyond that, it's any one's guess. Heck, we may not have a full council since Gary Monahan has previously said there's no reason for him to show up since he's termed out. And, will Mayor Steve Mensinger show up now that it looks like he's been de-throned? Only tomorrow will tell.