wondered what kind of a meeting was ahead for us last night when I
found a brand new sign standing outside City Council chambers. Two
identical signs were placed strategically inside the chambers where
folks line up to speak, too. Kind of a mixed message, don't you think?
"Welcome, but don't you dare show any emotion!
SOLID LANDINGS LAWSUITS SETTLED!
off the bat the Costa Mesa City Council meeting jolted us awake when
the Deputy City Attorney Tarquin Preziosi
reported out from the delayed Closed Session (they
couldn't come up with a quorum until 5:15, when Gary Monahan
finally showed up) that the two lawsuits between the City and Sober
Living operator Solid Landings, had been settled! The short version of
this story is that Solid Landings, under it's various names, has agreed
to pull out of all Costa Mesa residential areas and to immediately move
their counselling facilities from locations on West 19th Street and
Placentia Avenue to commercial and industrial zones within the City on
Bristol Street and Airway Avenue, near John Wayne Airport. According to
the report, they will immediately close 15 residential facilities and
shutter another 18 over the next two to three years due to lease
obligations. Both sides will pay their own legal fees. Read Daily
Pilot reporter Luke Money
's story posted shortly before 9 p.m. Tuesday night HERE
"LOOK WHAT I DID!"
Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer
expounded on this subject - he told us he was unanimously selected by
the City Council a few weeks ago to negotiate with Solid Landings to
resolve these lawsuits. He spoke about the difficulty Solid Landings
had making their business model work unless they could locate several
homes in residential areas near each other. The city ordinance that
forbids such facilities within 650 feet of each other put a crimp in
this plan. He also spoke about the "consumer protection
aspect of this situation - citing families selling their homes to cover
the cost for children in rehabilitation homes to the tune of $25,000-
$30,000 per month.
WHAT ABOUT THE ORDINANCES NOW?
nobody actually said it, one must presume that our two ordinances - one
covering R-1 residential zones and the other covering all other
residential zones in the city - will now be enforcable. Enforcement had
been stalled by the lawsuits. Kudos to the City legal team and to
Righeimer for hammering out this deal.
BOYS NIGHT OUT
Council members Katrina Foley
and Sandra Genis
both were absent from the proceedings due to family issues. That
turned out to be too bad, since several of the discussions would have
benefited from their perspective. So, it was "boys night on the dais" -
and they behaved like they were just hanging out at Skosh Monahan's pub
with no adult supervision.
TESLA GETS MAYOR'S AWARD - YES, REALLY!
Mayor Steve Mensinger
bestowed his Mayor's Award on automobile dealer Tesla, and managed to
slip into his presentation a dig at city employees when, as he presented
the key to the city, he said, "Don't let the unions get that key.
Yeah, we know he was just kidding around - Steve being Steve and all
that - but that kind of behavior only exacerbates the strained
relationships between those guys and the employees. He obviously
COMMUNITY COLLEGE MONTH
were also made to the leadership of Coastline Community College
District with a proclamation naming April as Community College Month and
April 21st as Coast Community College District Day in Costa Mesa.
Former mayor Mary Hornbuckle
- a member of the Coast Community
College District Board, plus the presidents of both Golden West and
Orange Coast Colleges attended.
DONATE LIFE MONTH
And, Mensinger issued a proclamation naming April as Donate Life Month. John Weiland
, a liver transplant survivor, accepted the proclamation.
MEDICAL MARIJUANA RESCHEDULED
Mensinger announced that the Medical Marijuana issue
was being removed from the agenda and will be heard at the next meeting,
when Genis is expected to return. He also moved the final item of the
night - the lighted fields feasibility study - forward to be heard first
in deference to children in the audience.
Eighteen (18) people stepped up during Public Comments to address a variety of issues. Donald Duman
and neighbors addressed the delay in getting resident-only parking in
their neighborhoods and were referred to Director of Public Services Ernesto Munoz
complained about the crowded conditions at TeWinkle Park and suggested the council budget more equipment for that venue.
cited our water crisis and referred to trips her son makes to Zimbabwe,
where the water crisis is critical. She suggested developments be
required to utilize water capture measures.
a proponent of Flag Football organization "Under the lights" (sponsored
by Underarmor) expressed a desire to be permitted into Costa Mesa.
Tea Party Tom Pollitt
presented illegible charts showing year-old employee compensation data to make some kind of incomprehensible point.
He was followed by Gene Hutchins
who launched into his one-note-samba - Unfunded Pension Liability.
gave a brief slide show of the recent Easter event for the children of
the 1/5 Marines at Camp Pendleton. She thanked all who donated plastic
eggs, candies and gifts and to her fellow-members of the Military
Affairs Team who helped stuff the eggs and make the event a success.
took the council to task over their "divide and conquer
" tactics, and told them that crime has risen and that they were responsible for it. (Gary Monahan
just smirked during this presentation.)
Westside businessman John Hawley
wondered about certain elements of the Draft General Plan as it affects industrial areas of the Westside.
(sp?) stepped up to praise the council for all the wonderful things
they've done and brought a bag of liquor bottles as a conversation aid
as he complained about the homeless folks hanging out near a liquor
store near his home.
also praised the council for all their good works and said, "I don't always agree with you guys but I believe in you guys.
" Old Chuck tested my gag reflex with that one.
a member of the Bikeways and Walkability Committee, also rose to praise
the council for their design guidelines and alley improvement. Turns
out Jim would speak many times last night, all of the time gushing
praise for the council. I guess he's in a business that is part of the
development community... not a surprise.
up the original plans for the completion of the 55 Freeway through
"Downtown". That plan was abandoned long ago and Monahan told him about
it. Mark also said the developers are using Costa Mesa as a
prostitute. Clever turn of phrase.
told us of a quick police response to a man who had apparently passed out in her driveway
accused members of the council of improving their neighborhoods (she
meant Mensinger and Righeimer) and asked they take the same
consideration to other neighborhoods in the city. She also refuted the
fact that we were adequately paying our police because the real test
would be the ability to attract quality lateral transfers - which we
have not done. She also spoke of ground water capture, suggesting a
necessary requirement for developers to use permeable pavers and similar
devices to help recharge the aquifer.
compared the current General Plan and the draft of the update, finding
that somehow 5,000 single family homes may have mysteriously
disappeared. She finished at 7:00.
COUNCIL MEMBER COMMENTS
Council Member Comments Mensinger talked about three calls he'd
recently received about quick police responses, told us an anecdote
about an acquaintance's son - a 3-year police officer in the City of
Orange - who wanted to come to the CMPD because of all the good things
he'd heard about it. He also praised Munoz for his dedication - even
taking calls from council members on the weekends. Hey, Steve - quit
bugging Ernesto during his rare time off, for goodness sake! He also
told us his "Meet The Mayor" event scheduled for Sunday had been
canceled due to a family event.
apologized for his phone going off earlier - it was his wife in Big
Sur. He also told us it was Autism Awareness Month - he has an autistic
son - and asked us to wear blue and contribute to organizations dealing
with autism if possible.
BLOWHARD, ER, RIGHEIMER
it was Righeimer's turn - another long-winded rant covering a variety
of issues. He blamed Genis for the condition of the alleys during her
earlier tour on the council without actually naming her. He talked
about "problem motels
". He complained because in government it just takes longer to do things. Then began a string of memorable quotes. He said, "This council has a good relation with the employees.
I found myself wondering which employees he was talking about, because
his actions only show disdain for them. He spoke about the
"Miscellaneous Employees" contract - it was a terrible deal for them! -
and the pending police contract. Then he said, "We
have a great relationship with the police. Now, yes the fire contract
comes up now. Is there gonna be some tension? Are people gonna say
stupid things? Are people gonna put things on Facebook? Yeah! Is that
like divisiveness and toxicity in the community? No, it's called
negotiation. It just kinda happens.
" And I found myself
thinking to myself, right there he demonstrated what a two-faced person
he is, and why he just cannot be trusted. He's living in some kind of
INEXPLICABLY, NO REPORT FROM HATCH
CEO Tom Hatch
had no report, to which Mensinger and Monahan expressed glee. How very sad for Hatch.
item, #5, was pulled from the Consent Calendar by Robin Leffler and was
heard at the very end of the meeting. The remainder of the Consent
Calendar passed on a single vote, 3-0.
7:20 we began hearing New Business #4, the feasibility study for
lighted fields and use of artificial turf on three schools. Three
members of the public, Brett Woods
and Umi and Shawn Patterson
spoke in favor of it, citing the shortage of fields, particularly if
Daylight Savings Time is stopped. It passed on a 3-0 vote at 7:30.
PUBLIC HEARING #1 - OVERLAY CHANGES
up was the only Public Hearing on the agenda, the proposed updates of
the SoBECA and Westside Urban Plans. Assistant Development Services
Director Claire Flynn
led this discussion. She walked us through
the proposed changes using the charts in the staff report and, with the
assistance of the architect the City contracted, showed some examples
of different architectural styles that might be used on future
projects. Four members of the public spoke on this issue.
wondered about new industrial developments and indicated the need for a park on the Westside.
Leffler echoed the need for a park and was concerned about the narrow
setbacks and how they would complicate potential street widening in the
future. She also expressed an opinion that, since some of the new
developments used a modern style, those kind of units should not be
observed about parking at
one of the recently-completed projects - Sea House - near her Westside
home. She observed the improvements in the north part of town - near
where Mensinger and Righeimer live - and hoped for similar improvements
on the Westside. She cited the impact on the quality of life for
Jim Kerins again spoke, citing Costa Mesa as a breeding ground for talent, and told the council they were fantastic.
MONAHAN CHIDES WENDY
spit back at Leece, calling her comments ridiculous. He said the
arguments that we were adding traffic with new residential projects that
replaced industrial uses was "bogus"
MENSINGER CHIDES HER, TOO
telling us he has walked 2,750 miles in the city, said that Sea House
is not the reason for parking problems and chided Leece for living in a
cited the Lighthouse development with "ocean views". He spoke about
the need for more commercial on the Westside, and mentioned a new
business - a coffee roaster - who wanted to come to Costa Mesa. Then he
said that "people buying those three or four story houses are not bringing kids
", as a positive situation.
The item passed on a 3-0 vote at 8:07.
BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB LEASE
The discussion, guided by Assistant CEO Rick Francis, of the extension of the lease with the Boys and Girls Club was brief. Only Chuck Perry spoke to the subject, stating that we should not extend it for 48 years at $1 per year, but 10 years, max. In the end the council was satisfied that the financial and maintenance committments being made, and the bolstered terms of the lease, made it a satisfactory deal.
SMART GROWTH - SIMPLE CHOICES, NOT TAKEN
came the discussion of what I refer to as the Smart Growth Initiative.
The council only had to make three decisions. First, they could vote
to accept it as-is and vote it into law. Or, they could officially vote
to place it on the November 8, 2016 consolidated ballot. And, they
could direct staff on an alternative ballot measure.
A WASTE OF TIME FOR POLITICAL POSTURING
Instead of simply voting to place it on the ballot right off the bat - they really had no choice because they were NOT
going to vote it into law - they blew off the next hour with a
discussion of the initiative! Before that, though, eight (8) people
stepped up to address it. Only one - Kerins expressed the view that the
council should offer an alternative.
expressed befuddlement on why the council would even consider an alternative - just let the people vote.
Cynthia McDonald mentioned other cities with similar ordinances.
Goldmann told the council to not waste our money on another ballot
issue. She also address the increase in traffic from new developments.
Leffler said she had hoped for a public presentation of the
consultant's report - none had yet been forthcoming. She suggested we
just do what the voters want - let them vote on it.
suggested an alternative ballot measure could be referred to as the "second growth initiative
- and compared it to the return of cancer that had been in remission.
He also muttered something he said was from the Kingston Trio.
expressed a desire to show respect for the voters who had signed the petition.
Leece expressed concern that the council would spend more money just to
put a competing measure on the ballot to confuse the voters. All that
took about fifteen minutes.
ACCUSING FOLKS OF LYING, THEN FABRICATES ISSUES
took over and he told us that folks gathering signatures had lied about
the initiative, but provided no specifics. He pulled numbers out of
context from the initiative to demonstrate the complexity and that
people didn't understand it. Well, Jimbo, of course not! NOBODY
would understand your mumbo-jumbo - which Monahan confirmed - as you
tried to spread your own misinformation! He raised questions about
"retroactivity", and on and on. He asked Kathy Head
Principle of the consulting firm Keyser Marston Associates, about
differences between this initiative and Newport Beach's Greenlight
initiative. And on and on it went with completely irrelevant issues.
Their only task was to vote to place it on the ballot - all that
jabbering was just political posturing and intentional attempts to
confuse the public - and it won't be the last of it, either. Finally at
9:25, the council voted, 3-0, to place it on the ballot.
"HERE'S WHAT I WANT!"
Righeimer continued to control the discussion as they "debated" whether
to craft an alternative ballot measure. It really wasn't so much a
debate as a monologue. Righeimer said he wanted the staff to include
the following issues in an Alternative measure:
1 - Commercial developments to pay park fees
2 - Make it a General Plan Amendment, not an ordinance
3 - Require planning for bike paths for commercial developments - mainly north of the 405 Freeway.
4 - He mentioned affordable housing, then spoke of the Bond measure, which was next on the agenda.
5 - He wanted "triggers" to be reasonable.
STEVE'S ONE THOUGHT
Mensinger chimed in that he wanted it to insure NO
residential development north of the 405 - Righeimer refined it to mean
"north of thr 405 and west of Fairview". They voted on it, 3-0, at
9:30 and called for a break.
20 MILLION BOND ISSUE!
At 9:40 City Attorney Tom Duarte
did a brief presentation of Righeimer's plan to shut the mouths of
affordable housing activists by placing a $20 million Bond issue on the
ballot. Five members of the public spoke to this issue.
NO PLAN, LET DEVELOPERS PAY
Tamar Goldmann said she wouldn't support it because there was NO PLAN
for how the funds would be used. She gave her definition of "blight" -
Land that developers want. She indicated Affordable Housing could be
paid for by placing a requirement on future development.
- a former member of the City legal department and also a former planning commissioner - also suggested the same solution.
KERINS DOESN'T LIKE IT, EITHER
Jim Kerins said he didn't like the idea that his kids would have to pay for this and said that "there's affordable housing only a couple miles away in Santa Ana
Beth Refakes didn't like the fact that there was NO PLAN
and told the council they needed to re-think this scheme.
NO TAX PLEDGE DOESN'T SQUARE WITH THIS
Leffler observed that all three of the council members took the "no
tax" pledge, yet they were willing to saddle the residents of this city
with long-term debt. She mentioned the developer of 1901 Newport
Boulevard who included affordable housing in his project, then went
bankrupt and it as lost. She also suggested that developers pay for
affordable housing and that we not spend the money to put this on the
LIES AND CRITICISM FROM THE DAIS
chided Leffler, referring her suggestion as "code talk" and repeatedly
criticized her by name. Referring to developers, he said, "People like Robin want to denigrate anybody that wants to do this and she's been doing this for 30 years.
During that discussion he and Righeimer conspired to lie about Leffler,
implying that she had sued the developer of 1901 Newport when exactly
the opposite was true - he sued her! This is the kind of lies the
voters are going to have to deal with as we move on into this election
cycle. They lie and chuckle about it.
I'M GREAT, SO DONT QUESTION ME!
As Righeimer discussed this at one point he said, "I understand this stuff more than most people understand it - I just do!
He forgot to mention that he's also very humble. He criticized those
who would have developers pay for affordable housing. He pulled numbers
out of the air that varied by multiples of 100% before he settled on
the unknowable "20 bucks a year"
for the cost of affordable housing. This was another of his "speaking
in tongues" moments, where he just makes it up as he goes along with no
apparent regard for the truth.
He said, "Put your money where your mouth is, Costa Mesa.
" He went on to say, "If
the citizens do not want it and they vote it down - it's going to take a
23 vote, folks - but at least 50% don't vote for it, don't every come
back to these microphones again and say you want affordable housing. If
you went out there at least fighting for it, pushing for it or
campaigning for it, because you're full of hot air!
" So much for Humphrey's call for giving the voters respect, huh?
MOVING IT FORWARD
10:05 the council voted, 3-0, to have the staff and consultants craft
the Bond language which would include all those pesky details - like how
the money would be spent, for example. I can tell you, the sentiment I
saw last night was to NOT
hand Jim Righeimer $20 million for
some amorphous scheme that might result in affordable housing. And, I
don't think he thinks the voters will pass this measure, so he can then
just spit in the eye of affordable housing advocates.
WHERE WERE THE AFFORDABLE HOUSING ADVOCATES?
thought it was interesting, by the way, that not one of the many
members of the Costa Mesa Affordable Housing Coalition - the major
advocacy group in the City - were present in the auditorium. That's
hard to figure out, unless they saw through Righeimer's scheme and
realized their thoughts would fall on hostile, deaf ears.
NEW BUSINESS #3
up was the latest version of a project at 3350 Avenue of the Arts,
which modifies a previously-approved plan for a condominium development
in a 23-story building into a 15-story building with 150 more units, all
hotel rooms, which will generate large amounts of Transient Occupancy
Tax revenue. The goal for it to be a 4-Star hotel. After a brief
discussion the council voted to approve the plan on a 3-0 vote at 10:18.
CONSENT CALENDAR #5
Leffler spoke on Consent Calendar item #5, the Placentia Avenue at 20th
Street illuminated crosswalk project, expressing concern for the
slippery nature of the product. The council voted on it at 10:20 and
adjourned the meeting.
THE WOMEN WERE MISSED
meeting really needed the voices of Katrina Foley and Sandra Genis.
While the discussions would have certainly been longer, they would have
been much more balanced. Without their presence it was clear that the
remaining council members - the boys club - knew they could operate with
impunity, with nobody to challenge them.
WHAT A CLOWN!
And, Jim Righeimer demonstrated again what a schemer he is, particularly with his "I'm going to show them!
" Bond issue. The city deserves much, much better - but we're saddled with him for another two and a half years. Woe is us!
Labels: affordable housing, Boys and Girls Club, Coast Community College District, Lighted Fields, Medical Marijuana, Smart Growth Initiative, Sober Living Homes, Solid Landings