Saturday, May 28, 2016

Observing Memorial Day


WHY?
As I type this we're half way through the Memorial Day weekend and I suspect most of us really have not given this holiday much thought - except that it gives us another day "off" from whatever it is we do to spend time otherwise.

THANKS FOR THE REMINDER
So, thanks to Fox News and Bret Baier for this short primer on what this holiday is supposed to be - remembering those who have given their lives for our country in defense of our freedoms.

THIS IS WHY...
And, to help us understand just WHY we need to be reminded, here's a clip that demonstrates it for us all.

FOR THOSE WHO GAVE ALL
Several years ago we visited this American Military Cemetary just south of Florence, Italy.  This hallowed ground is the final resting place of more than 4,000 Americans who gave their lives for our freedoms during World War II.  I will never forget that visit and the feeling I got walking among those pristine grave markers.  Remember those who gave everything for our country sometime this weekend.

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Friday, May 27, 2016

Parks & Rec. Commission Wrap

 SHORT CREW, PACKED AGENDA
The short-handed Costa Mesa Parks and Recreation Commission met again Thursday night and plowed through a full agenda caused by the cancellation of their meeting last month.  No replacement has yet been named for departed Commissioner Don Harper and that vacancy made itself apparent during the evening.  You can read the full agenda HERE.  Click on any of the images below to expand them for easier reading.
SMALLER KIDS NEED SPACE TO PLAY
Only one resident addressed the commission during Public Comments.  Dan Goldmann opined that there are few places for small children to play in our parks, and cited Wilson Park - he described it as closed - and TeWinkle Park.  He suggested that something akin to the dog park, where critters are separated by size, be established so smaller children can play without being "run over" by larger ones.  He cited Redondo Beach and Newport Beach as good examples.  Commissioner Byron de Arakal suggested he present his views at one or both of the upcoming workshops for the Open Space Master Plan (see previous entry).

COMMISSIONER COMMENTS
Byron de Arakal observed that, with the lessening of watering restrictions, we should immediately begin to try to salvage and rehabilitate playing fields - both city and school district.  He also reminded us of the two workshops mentioned above. (see that link)
Kim Pederson acknowledged Goldmann's comments and also suggested he attend the workshops.
Vice Chair Bob Graham suggested that, because of the controversy about the 3-story condos, we should go see them before they're all sold out.
Chairman Brett Eckles observed the tragic loss of a young boy's life in Newport Heights Wednesday when he was hit by a trash truck.  He also observed the recent announcement that Costa Mesa United had contributed over $900,000 to youth sports activities in Costa Mesa over the past fifteen years.  He also reminded us of the Daily Pilot Cup next week at the Jack Hammett Sports Complex, and cited Kirk McIntosh's great job of producing the event.
PLAYFUL CITY USA
Next came a presentation of Playful City USA - an award presented to Costa Mesa for the second consecutive year.  Recreation Coordinator Christian Hernandez showed a few slides about what it takes to qualify, then showed a video that was part of our presentation for qualification.
TWO TREE REMOVAL REQUESTS DENIED
Following the approval of the Consent Calendar the commission dealt with two tree removal requests and denied both after short discussions.  de Arakal and Pederson observed that neither applicant appeared before the commission, so it's hard to understand their argument for removal.
CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM
Acting City Engineer Bart Mejia then presented information on the Capital Improvement Program as it applies to areas relevant to the commission.  The following slide array will provide you with that information.  Resident Jim Kearins - a member of the Bikeways and Walkability Committee - spoke to this issue and asked for an alley near Royal Palm to be considered for enhancement to make it more bike and stroller friendly. 
SHIFTING DOLLARS
Following Mejia's presentation the commissioners discussed the program generally and more specifically made suggestions for changes.  de Arakal suggested that the $625,000 earmarked for more bleacher seats at the Costa Mesa High School field be removed and that money be used elsewhere next fiscal year.  After much discussion the vote was 2-2, with Eckles and Pederson voting no - so the motion failed.  Later Eckles moved to shift that money to the next fiscal year and that motion passed, 3-1, with Pederson voting no.

JACK HAMMETT PARKING
de Arakal moved to expand the parking at Jack Hammett, which passed, 4-0.

WIFFED
Graham made several motions, none of which received a second.

VETS MEMORIAL DISCUSSION
Eckles asked that the discussion for a Veteran's Memorial at Vista Park be moved to the 17/18 fiscal year.  It passed, 4-0.

MOTIONS PASSED
Pederson moved the two required motions - passage of the 16-17 CIP as amended and the 7-year CIP as amended.  Both passed, 4-0.

ARLINGTON AVENUE BIOSWALE MOVES FORWARD
Next came the discussion of the Arlington Avenue Bioswale project by consultants Lea Kabarra and Roger Kobota.  The following slides show some of that information.
Following a discussion about a few of the plants on the palette - based on input from Maintenance Services Manager Bruce Hartley a few were changed - the commission voted to remove the 118 trees and approve the plant palette as amended on 4-0 votes.

AB2496 - DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME DEMISE (MAYBE)
Next came the discussion of AB2496 by Interim Recreation Manager Justin Martin - a bill that has apparently stalled in the State Assembly, but may not be forgotten.  This bill would make Daylight Savings Time year around and cause all kinds of havoc with playing field use.  Eckles described the impact of that change as the end of youth sports as we know it because there would be no practice time available.  After a discussion the commission, on a 4-0 vote, recommended that correspondence strongly opposing this plan be crafted by the appropriate city official body - commissions may not prepare nor deliver position papers to the legislature.  There is an appropriate group in city government made up of the CEO, Mayor and one other...  I suspect de Arakal may have a hand in the preparation of that document since it was his carefully-crafted motion that was passed.
GRAHAM AND PEDERSON APPOINTED
The commission then appointed Pederson and Graham as representatives to the Streetscape &  Median Development Standards Committee on a 4-0 vote.

MAINTENANCE MANAGER'S REPORT
Hartley presented a long list of recent accomplishments by his organization and upcoming events as demonstrated on these two slides.  He told us of renovations of cabinetry at the Baelaric Center; replacement of the Senior Center Great Room flooring and significant renovations of the Dog Park, among other things.


RECREATION REPORT
Martin gave us an overview of the accomplishments of the Recreation Division, but they were not included in his written staff report.

NEXT MONTH...
The commission meets next on June 23, 2016.  Hopefully, by that time there will be a new commissioner appointed to replace Harper.

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Open Space Master Plan Workshops

A GREAT CHANCE TO PROVIDE INPUT
The city of Costa Mesa invites residents to participate in public workshops intended to obtain input on the Open Space Master Plan of Parks and Recreation.
These workshops will be offered at two different locations to allow the greatest number of residents to attend and provide their input. Additional, future public workshops are also being scheduled for later in the summer.
(CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE)


 *****



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A Hostile Takeover Of The Costa Mesa Sanitary District?

IS MESA WATER PLANNING A COUP?
According to informed sources, rumor has it that the Board of Directors of the Mesa Water District may be planning to attempt a hostile takeover of the Costa Mesa Sanitary District.
PUSHING FOR A QUICK REPLY
Apparently officials of Mesa Water have approached the Costa Mesa Sanitary District with a proposal for Mesa Water to absorb the Costa Mesa Sanitary District and have asked for an early response from the CMSD Board on this issue.  It's my understanding that no discussions by the CMSD Board have taken place yet and it's not clear whether the Mesa Water Board has held official discussions, either in open or closed sessions.
NOT SURPRISING...
This is interesting, but not surprising.  It would represent a further expansion of the sphere of influence by certain city politicians over all segments of our lives - and not for the better in my humble opinion.
AN ODD MOVE
Normally, if a special district attempts to take over another it's because that district is in financial difficulty.  That's what makes this so curious, since both Mesa Water and Costa Mesa Sanitary District are on solid financial footing.  In fact, the CMSD is currently negotiating the sale of their current facility on West 19th Street and is purchasing a newer, larger facility near John Wayne Airport.
IS MONAHAN INVOLVED?
There could be many things at play here.  For example, it is presumed that Gary Monahan will, once again, try to land a seat on the CMSD board since he's termed out on the City Council again for the second time.  He's already apparently spouting off about what he will do when elected to that body.  Could this be the first step to attempt to discredit incumbent candidates?  Seems likely.
HE'S STAYED TOO LONG AT THE TROUGH
On that subject, it's my opinion that Monahan has spent much too long at the public trough.  For the past five years he's demonstrated a willingness to just "phone it in" -  go with the flow of the council power couple, Jim Righeimer and Steve Mensinger.  Because he's virtually a guaranteed third vote, the council has had few study sessions at which controversial and important issues could be fleshed out by the council and public before an official vote is taken.
IT'S ALL ABOUT POWER
Mesa Water has a similar unbreakable troika, with Shawn Dewane, Jim Fisler and Ethan Temanka controlling the agenda.  All three are tight with the council majority.
STAY TUNED...
It will be interesting to see how this plays out.  It would seem that the Costa Mesa Sanitary District has no reason to consider such a move.  Stay tuned...

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