Saturday, July 30, 2016

Remembering My Friend, Again...


A GREAT FRIEND
Today, July 30, 2016, would have been the 75th birthday of my friend, Larry Moore.  If he was still alive we and our families would find a way to celebrate this day together as we did so many times during the 57 years he and I were best friends.  Instead, we simply remember what a wonderful man he was, and what a great friend he was to so many people.
I MARK THIS DAY EACH YEAR
I've written about his each year, marking his birthday and also marking the day he passed away in December, 2003.  Last year I wrote about him HERE.  This year, with all the tragic loss of police officers lives across the country, I think of him more than ever.
THOUSANDS OF FRIENDS
Larry was a member of the Los Angeles police Department for 31 years and he spent the last half of his career as the Athletic Director at the Police Academy.  This plaque is mounted at the Police Academy in his honor.  He had tens of thousands of friends around the world from his law enforcement activities.  I knew many of them and considered them my friends, too.
 HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AMIGO
Today my wife and I will mark this day with some special quiet time and remember all the wonderful times we spent with Larry.  I hope each of you are fortunate to have such a great friend in your lives.

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Friday, July 29, 2016

John Stephens Fundraiser Sunday

IT'S CAMPAIGN SEASON!
Just a reminder that Costa Mesa City Council candidate John Stephens is holding a fundraiser on Sunday, July 31, 2016.  It will be held at 1503 South Coast Drive, Costa Mesa, 92626 - In The Atrium.  There is plenty of parking available.
GET TO KNOW JOHN STEPHENS
Stephens is an outstanding candidate to fill one of the three positions that will be contested in November.  I encourage you to find your way to this event, spend some time getting to know John, and contribute to his campaign.

DETAILS BELOW...
Here's the flyer announcing this event.  Click on the image to enlarge it for easier reading.


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Parks & Rec. Commission Tweaks The FUAP, And More


IMPORTANT ISSUES CONSIDERED
The Costa Mesa Parks and Recreation Commission met again last night and dealt with a couple important issues.  You can read the agenda HERE.

ABOUT MS. MERCURIO
Before we get to the important parts of the meeting, let me report to you that rookie commissioner Julie Mercurio - she who recently withdrew from the City Council race - attended this meeting, although you wouldn't know it if you depended solely on audio for your information.  During the entire 2 plus hours of the meeting, with the exception of when she started the meeting by leading the Pledge of Allegiance, she was not heard to utter a single word.  Even then, we couldn't tell if she spoke or lip synched it.  In fact, it looked like she didn't even turn on her microphone the entire evening.  We presume she can actually speak, since she looks like she's whispering in Commissioner Kim Pederson's ear in this image.
SHE CONTRIBUTED NOTHING!
During Public Comments two speakers criticized Mercurio's selection.  In fact, Cindy Black presented a slide show of all the applications for that appointive position to demonstrate how unqualified she was for the position.  A couple of the commissioners, including my friend, Byron de Arakal, angrily defended her selection, citing the fact that she was a mother as reason enough for her appointment.  I almost choked when he said that!  Since this was early in the meeting he probably had no idea that she would become the invisible woman, offering not a single thing to the proceedings.  It was clear at the time that her appointment was solely to give her some visibility during her council campaign.  Last night she demonstrated just how unprepared she is for this assignment.  The two items on the agenda were pithy enough that every commissioner should have had something to contribute to the discussion.  All the others did.
STEP DOWN, JULIE!
So, enough with this charade... I'm asking Ms. Mercurio to simply step down - resign from the commission and let one of the other applicants be appointed to fill out Don Harper's term which expires in February.  If we're going to pay her $100 a month for her service, she should at least try to provide some.  Her continued presence on the dais is a constant reminder of the partisanship that rules our city.
PUBLIC COMMENTS
During Public Comments Beth Refakes reminded us that the Military Affairs Team is, once again, collecting lightly-used cocktail dresses, ball gowns and accessories for the wives of the men of the 1/5 Marines at Camp Pendleton for the Marine Ball.  Donations may be left in the lobby at City Hall.

Rocky Evans again asked the commission to consider extending the operating hours of the Skate Park.
Mark Arblaster, who runs a club soccer organization, announced that his group is helping a struggling  recreational soccer group with their expertise and financial aid.
Kim Hendricks asked that the rope barriers for some of the vernal pools in Fairview Park be re-installed.  She also offered criticism of Mercurio's appointment
Cindy Black reminded the commission of the proximity of Banning Ranch to Talbert Park and then offered criticism of Mercurio's appointment.

CONSENT CALENDAR
Back to the meeting.  The commission passed the Instructional Class Proposals on the Consent Calendar - they were all Ice Skating-related - without discussion.
FUAP REPORT AND MODIFICATIONS
The first item on the agenda was the spring Field Use Allocation Report (FUAP) and amendments to the existing policy.  Recreation Manager Justin Martin led the discussion.  You can read the staff report HERE.  This is the completion of the first year this new FUAP has been in existence and, based on the report, the results are quite positive.  The staff and the users had some tough going sorting out the residency requirements.  Only one user - Newport Mesa Friday Night Lights - failed to produce sufficient numbers of verifiable residents to retain Group 3 status, and will have limited use of fields.
APPROVED WITH MODIFICATIONS
After lengthy discussions the commission, led by Chairman Brett Eckles, approved the Field Use Report and recommended modifications to the changes to the FUAP, including tightening up the definitions of what constitutes a "strike" against a group under the new Code of Conduct section.  The staff will tinker with it following the direction provided by the commission before this issue is presented to the City Council for approval.
TALBERT PARK
The other item on the agenda was the Review of Talbert Regional Park Final Habitat Restoration Plan, HERE.  You can plow through the 168 pages if you wish.  City Engineer Bart Mejia led this discussion and had assistance from Susan Brodeur from Orange County Parks.  The commissioners heard the report and heard from members of the public, each of whom expressed a desire to keep Talbert Park as natural as possible.
BOB'S IMAGES
Vice Chair Robert Graham provided some photographic information to demonstrate some things that could be done to make that area more accessible.
MOVING IT FORWARD...
Eventually the commission moved to partner with OC Parks to search for and apply for grants and other funding opportunities to fulfill the estimated $22 million necessary to complete the plan as presented.  They also recommended Alternate 1 and segments of Alternates 2 and 3 for future consideration.  Both de Arakal and Graham suggested that we should think big in this process - it's going to take quite awhile because of the many governmental entities that will have their oars in this water.
HIGH PRAISE FOR MARTIN AND STAFF
The evening finished with Martin providing his report on recent activities - none of which was included in the online staff report.  Suffice it to say that things in the Recreation Division are looking up, with enhanced activities at the Senior Center and throughout the city.  Several commissioners, including Kim Pederson,  praised Martin and his staff for their outstanding work.  The next meeting is August 25th.
BYRON WANTS SECURITY AT FUTURE MEETINGS!
One last thing... at the very end of the meeting de Arakal said he was going to ask CEO Tom Hatch and Police Chief Rob Sharpnack to assign a Sergeant-at-arms to all future Parks and Recreation meetings!  This is very strange!  I've attended most of these meetings and the crowd (a generous term for the few people normally attending) have NEVER been rowdy - EVER!  I don't know what was going on at that meeting last night, or why he felt it necessary to take that step, but he mentioned safety.  Maybe with Ms. Mercurio comes a more rowdy crowd... who knows?

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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Parks & Rec. Commission Tackles Meaty Issues

SOME HEAVY STUFF ON THE AGENDA
Chairman Brett Eckles and the Costa Mesa Parks and Recreation Commission meets again on Thursday, July 28, 2016 beginning at 6:00 p.m. in City Council Chambers and will deal with some pretty meaty issues.  You can read the full agenda HERE.

NEW ICE SKATING-RELATED CLASSES

On the Consent Calendar there is one item, HERE, in which the commission will be asked to consider and approve eight (8) new Instructional Class Proposals, all of them ice skating-oriented.


FUAP REPORT
There is no Old Business on the agenda, but there are two New Business issues for the commission to consider.  The first is the Spring 2016 Field Audit Report and Amendments to the Existing Field Use and Allocation Policy, HERE.  This one could include some dicey discussion.  It seems that all user groups met the requirements of the program - except one, Newport Mesa Friday Night Lights (NMFNL).  That group reported less than half the required local residency requirement.  That will relegate them to a Group 5 status and severely limit their opportunities to use fields covered by the plan.  Extensive documentation, including graphics, are included in the staff report.

CODE OF CONDUCT ADDED
Also included is the staff recommendation for inclusion of a Field Use Code of Conduct in the FUAP.

TALBERT PARK RESTORATION
New Business #2, HERE, is a review of the Talbert Regional Park Final Habitat Restoration Plan.  The staff recommends that the City partner with OC Parks to search and apply for grants and other funding opportunities and recommends the implementation of Alternative 1 with select elements of Alternates 2 and 3.  The staff report is comprehensive - long, for you slow readers - and will require the commissioners to pay attention and do their homework on this issue.

WILL JULIE SHOW UP AND HAVE DONE HER HOMEWORK?
It's the middle of summer, so I wonder how many commissioners will attend this meeting.  I'm particularly interested to see if rookie Commissioner Julie Mercurio shows up, since she bowed-out of the City Council race last week and the apparent sole purpose of appointing her to this commission was to give her visibility for that race.  And, I wonder if she will actually do the heavy lifting required to understand and make an informed decisions on both the New Business items listed above.  I guess we'll see tomorrow night.


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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Two Projects Approved By Short-handed Planning Commission


DICKSON ABSENT, MATHEWS RAN THE MEETING
The Costa Mesa Planning Commission met again Monday night although Chairman Rob Dickson was absent so Vice Chair Jeff Mathews conducted the meeting.

DONATIONS OF DRESSES FOR THE WIVES OF THE 1/5 MARINES
During Public Comments Beth Refakes reminded everyone that the Military Affairs Team is accepting donations of cocktail dresses, ball gowns, and accessories for the wives of the 1/5 Marines.  Donations may be dropped off in the City Hall lobby.  She also expressed concern about the blocking of the right-most northbound lane on Harbor Blvd. between Newport Blvd. and 19th Street and asked for someone to investigate it.
SOBER LIVING/MONAHAN/EPISCOPAL CHURCH
An unidentified person drew the commission's attention to a Daily Pilot article by Laurene Keane.  She also expressed concern about our "stack-a-shack" building.  She also addressed her concern about the relationship between the operator of Yellowstone Recovery, the pastor at the Episcopal church at Bay Street and Orange and lame duck councilman Gary Monahan.  She stated that the neighbors are concerned that there may be a scheme to put a sober living facility at that site.

GO TO THE FAIR
During Commissioner Comments Colin McCarthy expressed the view that folks should attend the Orange County Fair and also support local businesses.
GRATEFUL TO REFAKES
Stephan Andranian thanked Refakes for all the good work she does with the Military Affairs Team, and for her frequent updates.
Commissioner Tim Sesler and Vice Chair Mathews had no comments.

ANOTHER SMALL LOT PROJECT ON 23RD STREET
Public Hearing #1 is the small lot subdivision for four units at 127 23rd Street.  It's pretty straightforward, with no variances.  Three members of the public spoke and expressed concern about overflow parking.  This project will be conditioned to require parking in the garages.  McCarthy affirmed that it meets all requirements.  The commission approved it, 4-0, in very short order.
56 UNITS REPLACING STORAGE SITE AT 929 BAKER STREET
Public Hearing #2 is the removal of a 30-year-old public storage facility directly adjacent to the Newport Mesa Unified School District Headquarters.  The property in question is at 929 Baker Street and was zoned for Medium Density Residential many years ago  .  The plan is to replace the storage facility with a common interest development with 56 detached homes.  Although this project requested some deviations, it exceeds the parking requirements.  It included a 1 acre private park.

DEVIATIONS
One of the deviations requested is a reduction in the setback adjacent to the Paularino Channel, from the required 20 feet to 12 feet.  They also requested a reduction of space between units in order to provide more common open space, and that space should be 40% but they are requesting 39.5% to accommodate the additional 13 parking spaces.  The density of this project meets code.  Former senior city staffer Peter Naghavi represented the developer.
TRAFFIC FLOW
Transportation Services Manager Raja Sethuraman addressed the trips into and out of the project.  There will be an increase of more than 300 daily trips over the current use.  He addressed the issue of traffic flow into and out of - no left turns would be permitted out of the project.  He also addressed the resident-only permit parking petition submitted by the neighboring street - Milbro.  That petition will be heard by the City Council in September.  The project will NOT be a gated community.
RESIDENTS CONCERNS
Eight members of the public spoke on this issue and most of the concerns involved overflow parking and the possibility of the extension of Post Road into this project site.  Several agreed that this use would improve the neighborhood.  Rick Huffman reminded the commission that this project would NOT trigger a vote of the people under the Smart Growth Initiative.  Others, including Milbro resident Brian Valles, expressed concern about traffic flows, the loss of privacy and shade as existing trees are removed.  He wrote a lengthy letter to the commission outlining his concerns.
APPROVED!
After a short discussion the commission approved this project as conditioned on a 4-0 vote.

TAXI/UBER PICK UP LANE ON HARBOR
Sethuraman addressed Refakes concerned about the loss of a lane at The Triangle on Harbor.  He affirmed that it is currently permitted on certain nights of the week from 7 p.m. - 1a.m. for taxi/uber pickup.  He will investigate. 



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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Another Small Agenda For Planning Commission Monday Night


ONLY TWO ITEMS ON THE AGENDA
The Costa Mesa Planning Commission, guided by Chairman Rob Dickson, meets again on Monday, July 25 2016 beginning at 6:00 p.m. in City Council Chambers for what may be another short meeting.  The agenda may be viewed HERE.
A FOUR-UNIT SMALL LOT DEVELOPMENT ON 23RD STREET
Public Hearing #1, HERE, is yet another small lot development, this on at 127 East 23rd Street.  The commissioners will hear the request to construct four units on this lot.  This project has no deviations from the Municipal Code.
REPLACING STORAGE WITH HOMES
Public Hearing #2, HERE, is the proposal to replace a public storage facility at 929 Baker Street, behind the headquarters of the Newport Mesa Unified School District, with a 56-unit common interest residential development.  The timing of this proposal is interesting.  Recently the Planning Commission heard a request to replace existing businesses along Bristol Street just east of Red Hill with a new storage facility.  The applicants in that project cited the demand for storage in Costa Mesa, yet here were are, trying to replace an existing storage facility with more homes.  Curious, no?
MORE SOBER LIVING APPEALS COMING UP
Apparently this short meeting will allow the Planning Commission to get some rest in advance of what we're told will be an avalanche of sober living appeals, to the extent that Director of Development Services Gary Armstrong told them in a recent meeting to expect an accelerated schedule - more meetings per month - for the next few months.  That should be fun.

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