Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Reduced Planning Commission Agenda Got Shorter

SHORT MEETING - REDUCED AGENDA
The Costa Mesa Planning Commission held the most recent of their steady string of meetings last night, with two more planned for the next two consecutive Mondays.  This one turned out to be a short meeting.
SOBER LIVING APPEAL PUSHED OUT TO DECEMBER 12TH
The reason for the brevity is the fact that Item 4 was yanked from the agenda late last week and Public Hearing #1, an appeal of a denial for a Conditional Use Permit for sober living facilities on Victoria Street.  After a short discussion the commission decided, on a split vote, to continue this item to the meeting on December 12, 2016.  The vote to continue passed, 4-1, with Commissioner Stephan Andranian voting NO.
SMALL LOT DEVELOPMENT SENT BACK TO DRAWING BOARD
Public Hearing #2 is a Small Lot Development at 353 East 18th Street.  This is a design review for four units on a narrow - 60 feet - lot.  Although the project provides some interesting features, the commission eventually voted to deny the project without prejudice, 5-0,  so the applicant can return sooner than 6-months out with another cut at it.  The unusual solution to guest parking was the issue.  It can be appealed to the City Council.
SOBER LIVING SPECIAL USE PERMIT
Public Hearing #3 is the appeal of the denial of a Special Use Permit for a Sober Living Home at 2152 Raleigh Avenue.  This operator - 13 years in our city without a single complaint - has the misfortune to be an unlicensed facility that falls within the 650 feet of other state licensed facilities.  The operator, Greg Ohlhaver, is a native Costa Mesan who operates a successful business - Harbor Radiator -  in the city.  According to his testimony, he has helped hundreds of men with his affordable facility.  The costs seem to be about half of what it may cost at other facilities.  Of the half-dozen people who stepped up in support of the operator, a couple former residents of the facility cited their own personal successes and those of others.  According to the testimony, it would be very costly for him to get a State license, which would necessarily raise the cost to the residents. This facility seems to be exactly the kind of sober living facility the city says it wants, and yet a clear glitch in the system creates an unworkable situation.  The commission upheld the denial on a 5-0 vote.  One of the great ironies of this particular hearing was that exactly the same time, at the Neighborhood Community Center, several senior elected officials - Dana Rohrabacher, John Moorlach and Matt Harper - and a couple very high-priced lawyers were attempting to convince nearly 150 members of the public who attended their town hall that we needed to keep "the good operators" and discourage the "bad operators".  This decision by the commission just doesn't square with that goal.
APPROVING THE REVISED HOTEL AT 33250 AVENUE OF THE ARTS
Public Hearing #5, is an amendment to the previously approved Master Plan at 3350 Avenue of the Arts for the former Wyndham Hotel.  This change abandons the previously-planned condominiums, replacing them with all hotel rooms to perpetuate Costa Mesa's only 4-Star hotel.  The height of the project was reduced from 23 stories down to 15 stories.  According to the testimony of the operator, it will add about $1 million in additional Transient Occupancy Tax revenue to the City annually.  After the presentation by the applicant there were no members of the public left to address this issue.  Colin McCarthy whined about the lack of apparent interest in this project by the public.  The commission approved the project amendment, 5-0.
NEXT MEETING WILL BE A SOBER LIVING MARATHON
At the end of the meeting, at 8 p.m.,  Interim Development Services Director Jay Trevino advised the commission that their next meeting, on December 5th, would have a packed agenda - all sober living issues.  He said there were 11 group homes with 7 Public Hearings.  That is going to be one looooong night.  Bring a pillow if you plan to attend.

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