THE REST OF THE STORY...
Well, there was a lot more happening at the Costa Mesa City Council meeting besides Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer
demonstrating that he's a liar. We covered that part in my earlier post, so let's address the rest of the meeting - the parts that occurred while it was still Tuesday.
PAY ATTENTION, STEVE!
The meeting began on a pleasant note, with three presentations, although I was a little concerned when Mayor Steve Mensinger
- not the sharpest knife in the drawer - prepared to call everyone to order, but observed that they didn't have to hurry because they still had a few minutes. This was at 5:52 p.m. - past the new starting time of 5:45 he imposed. He must have had a brain burp - which was kind of an omen of things to come.
Anyhow, back to the presentations. First the City recognized a handful of Orange Coast College soccer players for their outstanding play this year. Then a herd of young Aussies from our sister city of Wyndham were welcomed and presented with goodies. Their local hosts, the principals from Newport Harbor High School and Estancia High School spoke. And then a nice woman from Cal Trans told us about the upcoming renovation of the I-405/Red Hill overpass
. That project will begin "soon" - a date uncertain, but probably this month.
During Public Comments nine individuals rose to address the council on a variety of issues.
COUNCIL MEMBER COMMENTS
- Tamar Goldmann stepped up to criticize the council for their recent decision to not permit Costa Mesa Television to record candidate forums for replay. She spoke of the Smart Growth Initiative and even gave a promo for this site - thanks to Tamar for that.
- Robin Leffler spoke on a recent survey, which she described as a "push poll" that posed very specific questions about Fairview Park.
- Al Melone, former (and maybe future) city council candidate stepped up to speak on his only issue - the Dog Park.
- Tea Party Tom Pollitt apparently slipped his leash and spoke on the World Economy, a comment that managed to morph into a criticism of the pension issue.
- Mary Spadoni told the council about the practice by the Coastal Commission of permitting folks in the audience to show support or lack thereof by quietly using hand signals. She also rebutted some of Pollitt's comments.
- Kim Hendricks spoke about the new initiative for which petitions are being circulated for placement on the November ballot to protect Fairview Park from development.
- Ann Parker, referring to the passing of the Eagles Glenn Fry, told the council about the sober living outfit, Hotel California, on the Eastside. She also tried to segue into another entertainment reference when she complained about the lack of Code Enforcement by saying "May the Code Enforcement be with you." Mensinger suggested she share her information with the staff, to which she replied that she'd already done that - many times.
- Former Councilwoman Wendy Leece bemoaned the failure of this council to hold study sessions, meetings during which a few items would be vetted in a casual atmosphere.
She also criticized the council for beginning the "silly season" - the campaign season - by using new Public Information Officer Tony Dodero to write a recent commentary for Mensinger and Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer.
- Businessman Tim Lewis told the council about property ownership issues with a piece of property that's in development near his business on Harbor Blvd.
During Council Member Comments Righeimer, indicating he wasn't going to speak, then launched off on a mini-rant about some of the public comments. Addressing concerns about possible development at Fairview Park, he said, "Nothing's happening - nobody wants to develop it.
" On Sober Living homes, he referred to a "stay
" placed on enforcement by legal action. He spoke about Fire Station #6 - the one he and Mensinger co-authored a commentary about recently - indicating that it didn't "have the calls
", which is why it was considered for closure. He then complained about some of the comments, stating, "We don't want to have more divisive issues in the city.
" Curious, since he's usually the source of those issues. He spoke about the Costa Mesa United Golf Tournament and just casually mentioned that his sidekick, Mensinger, received the Costa Mesa United Leadership Award (my eyes rolled back in my head!).
spoke about the golf tournament, indicating it was a nice event with "no politics
". I nearly choked when he said that.
addressing the recent survey that was conducted as part of the update of the Master Plan of Parks and Open Space, asked for a copy of the questions that had been asked because of complaints made about it being a "push poll
". She also asked City Attorney Thomas Duarte
for a clarification of an issue about the Sober Living R-2 zone ordinance dealing with the density of such facilities because there is apparently confusion among staff members. She also cited recent turmoil at the Newport-Mesa Unified School District and encouraged us all to pay attention to what's going on over there because, as she said, "Something's not right.
mentioned a recent Economic Summit she and Dan Baker attended. She said it was a good news/bad news situation. She said jobs are coming back, but they are lower-paying jobs. She spoke of recent information from the California League of Cities on group homes, indicating that Orange County has the highest number, and within Orange County, Costa Mesa has the highest concentration. She also said Fairview Park should be "kept off the table
" for development.
In a rare instance, Gary Monahan
actually had something to say.
He expressed concern about lack of handicapped access to areas of Fairview Park... muffled murmurs were heard in the crowd. He also acknowledged Wendy Leece's concerns for free speech - but I'm not sure if he said that tongue-in-cheek or not.
During his time CEO Tom Hatch
spoke of recent hires in the Costa Mesa Police Department - three from the recent Academy class and one lateral from the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department. He told us that "our" Academy graduates are excellent - at or near the top of the class. He also told us that all Code Enforcement slots are now filled, giving us nine (9) Code Enforcement officers. He also spoke briefly about the recent survey of parks.
Only one item was pulled from the Consent Calendar - #2, the Warrant. This should have been heard at that time instead of making Tamar Goldmann sit through the entire meeting until 1:10 a.m. to present her concerns about the $3,000 rocker/recliner we apparently purchased. Bad judgment on Mensinger's part on that one. Add it to the list.
Old Business #1, the second reading of the marijuana cultivation ordinance, took less than one minute to pass on a 5-0 vote.
Old Business #2, the new Residents-Only parking ordinance, took a little longer. Following a very brief discussion and comments by a couple residents, it passed, 5-0.
New Business #1, the I-405 Improvement Project Aesthetics discussion took longer. Jeff Mills
from the OCTA provided a history of the project, which will add lanes to the I-405 from the 73 Toll Road to the I-605 at the Los Angeles County Line and was not viewed favorably by residents and elected officials in Costa Mesa. It will require the demolition of our new Fairview Road Bridge to accommodate the greater width of the new freeway lanes. This discussion involved the "look" of the roadway as it passes through our city and focused on decorative walls. Four people stepped up to express opinions on issues like the proximity to Moon Park, the intrusive Fountain Valley Freeway sign, the fact that we were ignored in the planning process and that the decorative walls would be a distraction to drivers.
PICKING THE BIRD
Concerns were expressed by council members about the potential for graffiti damage to the walls and as to which graphics to be used. In the end they agreed to reject the opinion of the Cultural Arts Committee to use the "Least Terns" graphic because it represented Newport Beach and voted to recommend the White-tailed Kite because those birds are often seen in Costa Mesa.
CDBG GRANT CHANGES
Next up was New Business #2, the revisions to the Community Development Block Grant Public Service Grants rating criteria and related policies and procedures. One of the big changes is the number of agencies to be considered. It was reduced from a maximum of 20 to 10, and the minimum amount was increased from $5,000 to $15,000. Several changes were made to the grading criteria, too. During the public comments Wendy Leece expressed concern that this committee had changed from a standing committee to an ad hoc committee and was curious about how one might apply to be part of it.
SPEED HUMPS APPROVED!
New Business #3 was the request for Speed Humps on Saint Clair Street. The staff recommendation was to deny the request. However, after Jay Litvak
and several other members of the neighborhood involved spoke describing the situation the council voted, 4-1, with Righeimer voting NO, to direct the staff to install the speed humps bring back an evaluation of the process by which speed humps may be requested.
BIKEWAYS AND WALKABILITY COMMITTEE REPORT
New Business #4 was the report by the Bikeways and Walkability Committee on their Goals, Objectives and Policies, which were prepared to be included in the General Plan update. Chairman Ralph Taboada
and Vice Chair Cynthia McDonald
made the presentation to the council, describing the process they followed since the committee was created in April. They had their first meeting in June and, in September, decided to double-up the number of meetings to meet the deadline. I attended most of those meetings and have frequently written about how effectively they worked together. I saw the sometimes tedious process work as they carefully crafted the document they presented to the council last night. I observed the give-and-take and the collaborative process in action.
TOO MANY WORDS AND "POLICIES"
So, when Righeimer reacted negatively about the work product - he basically thought there were too many words - I was surprised and disappointed. That feeling was shared by the many members of the committee in attendance last night. Righeimer was concerned about the "policies", even though he was told several times that the format used followed the General Plan format intentionally. Despite the explanations by staff and liaison Katrina Foley - this committee was her idea - Righeimer had it stuck in his craw. Four people spoke to this issue, including members of the committee and regular attendees to the meetings. At the end, after a significant discussion about "policies" and the General Plan, the council voted to approve the document with the proviso Righeimer demanded that the "policies" be re-titled as "recommendations". They took a break, then returned at 9:37 to commence New Business #5, the subject of my angry earlier post.
I'M STILL TICKED-OFF!
Let me close this by stating, once again, that the meeting Tuesday night/Wednesday morning was one of the most disappointing I can recall. I don't know what the future holds for the Costa Mesa Fire Department, but I suspect there were few happy firefighters in our city today. That's a shame. We'll talk more about that as time goes on.
Labels: Bikeways and Walkability Committee, CDBG, City Council, I-405 Toll Lanes, Jim Righeimer, Katrina Foley, Marijuana, Resident Only Parking, Sandy Genis, Steve Mensinger, Tom Hatch