Saturday, August 13, 2016

Feet To The Fire Forum Thursday Night



IT'S THAT TIME AGAIN!
Well, all you politics-watchers, it's that time of the year already.  Yep, the irrepressible Barbara Venezia will present her latest iteration of the Feet To The Fire Forums next week.  She's doing them back-to-back at the Robert B. Moore Theater on the campus of Orange Coast College on Wednesday and Thursday.

HOPING FOR ALL THE CANDIDATES
Thursday is the Costa Mesa gig, where Barbara will be joined by Tom Johnson, former publisher of the Daily Pilot and currently the President of the Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce.  They will interrogate candidates for Costa Mesa City Council in November.  We don't know exactly who has turned in their papers to complete the process - the deadline was Friday, August 12th - but if everyone that was invited shows up there will be six candidates sitting there awaiting the grilling.
SIX, MAYBE SEVEN
We imagine current council members Sandra Genis and Steve Mensinger will be there.  We also expect former council members Jay Humphrey and Allan Mansoor to show up, plus newcomers John Stephens and Lee Ramos.  It's unclear whether "dog park" Al Melone will attend.  As most know, Julie Mercurio dropped out of the race recently.

SCHMOOZING, THEN THE SHOW, COVERED BY NBTV AND KOCI-FM
The event begins with a "meet and greet" opportunity with the candidates from 6-7 p.m. and the taping of the forum begins at 7:15.  Barbara tells me that Newport Beach TV will be doing the taping for later replay.  You will recall that the Costa Mesa City Council majority, in an amazing display of anti-public service, forbade Costa Mesa Television to cover any forums this time around.  Also, radio station KOCI-FM - 101.5 on your dial - will take the audio portion and replay it several times at a schedule as yet undetermined.

NEWPORT BEACH THE NIGHT BEFORE
If you're interested in Newport Beach politics - which is beginning to look more and more like Costa Mesa's recently thanks to political king-maker Dave Ellis - Barbara will host a similar forum for the Newport Beach candidates - except for those that are part of the Ellis stable.  Those candidates have apparently chosen to avoid the Feet To The Fire Forum format, so will sit it out - just as some did in a recent roundtable moderated by termed-out councilman Keith Curry.  Makes you wonder why, doesn't it?  Don't get confused and show up at the wrong evening!

 SEE YOU THURSDAY - AND MAYBE WEDNESDAY
Anyhow, we Costa Mesans expect to get the full contingent on Thursday night.  I hope to cover this event and will report back to you my impressions.  Here's a map of the OCC campus.  The Robert B. Moore Theater is near the Arlington Drive entrance to the parking lot.  There is plenty of parking available both nights. Click on image to enlarge it.


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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Final Open Space Workshop Plays To Small Crowd


FINAL MEETING HAS DISMAL TURNOUT
The final community workshop for the Open Space Master Plan was held Wednesday evening at the Costa Mesa Senior Center and played to a disappointingly small crowd.  Fewer than a dozen people showed up although the room was set to accommodate five times that many.  And, of those in attendance, fully half had attended previous meetings.  Parks and Recreation Commissioner Kim Pederson attended this meeting - he's been at most of them - and helped provide perspective for us.

CONSULTANTS LED THE WAY
City Engineer Bart Mejia introduced consultant Zach Mueting of RJM and his assistant, Tamara, again conducted this meeting.  He provided us with a brief history of the scope of his work and the results of the previous three workshops.  I attended two of those and wrote about them HERE and HERE.
PRIORITIZING
We then broke into two groups and went through an exercise prioritizing "Programs" and "Facilities", then further distilled them down and the results were presented to the group as a whole.  As you can see from the images, the two groups had different ideas.
A REPORT IS PENDING
The results of all these efforts - the four workshops, telephone survey, outreach to the sports community, all of which represented more than a year's worth of work - will be compiled, blended and presented to the Parks and Recreation Commission at its September meeting and to the City Council in October.
NOW WE WAIT...
This meeting wrapped up around 8:30 after a couple hours of discussions and completing those exercises.  Concerns were expressed by some about how the results of this effort might be interpreted by members of the City Council - it is an election year, after all.  Personally, I'm eager to see the report from the consultants, and to hear how it is received by the Parks and Recreation Commission and the City Council.  Stay tuned.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Eastside Neighbors Picnic Sunday



TIME FOR NEIGHBORHOOD FUN
The Eastside Costa Mesa Neighbors Group will host it's annual picnic from 1-4 p.m. on Sunday, August 14, 2016 at Harper Park, on Tustin Avenue between 18th Street and Cabrillo.  In years past this has been a terrific, community-oriented event with fun for all.  You can read all about it on the flyer below.  Click on the image to enlarge for easier reading.




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Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Final Open Space Master Plan Workshop

OPEN SPACE WORKSHOP WEDNESDAY
The City of Costa Mesa will hold the final Community Workshop for the Open Space Master Plan on Wednesday, August 10, 2016 from 6:30 - 9:00 at the Costa Mesa Community Center, 695 West 19th Street, Costa Mesa.

LAST CHANCE TO PARTICIPATE
This is your last chance to actively participate in the creation of the Open Space and Recreation Master Plan.
(Click on the images below to enlarge for easier reading)


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Monday, August 08, 2016

Planning Commissioners Push Back! What?!

FIRST AUGUST MEETING WAS INTERESTING
The Costa Mesa Planning Commission held their first meeting of August (while their benefactors on the City Council took the rest of the month off) and it actually turned out to be an interesting, although brief, meeting.
SOBER LIVING APPEAL OFF THE AGENDA
Right off the bat Chairman Rob Dickson reminded those in attendance that Public Hearing #3, the Appeal of the Decision of the Economic and Development Services Director to Deny a Request for Reasonable Accommodation by a sober living home on Victoria Street had been removed from the agenda at the request of the appellant.  There is no date for a future consideration.

"REBELLION"?
During Public Comments an unidentified person jumped right into that issue, providing background only gleaned from personal investigation, and criticized the City for failure to enforce our ordinances designed to manage those type of businesses.  She said it was "asking for rebellion".
GOWNS FOR THE MARINE BALL
Beth Refakes again reminded us that the Military Affairs Team is collecting lightly-used cocktail, prom and ball gowns for the women of the 1/5 Marines at Camp Pendleton for the Marine Ball in October.  Donations may be dropped off at City Hall.  She also reminded the commission that members of her group recently repainted the airplane at Lions Park.
MORE SOBER LIVING CONCERNS
A Costa Mesa property owner, but Laguna Beach resident, also complained about the proliferation of sober living homes in the City, and waved a copy of what looked like the map created by Take Back Our Neighborhoods (TBON) showing locations of such businesses in the city.  He expressed concern for the safety of his tenants, who apparently live near some of those places.
DON'T LIKE CRITICISM
During Commissioner Comments Colin McCarthy, Jeff Mathews and Tim Sesler all angrily took exception to the representation by speakers that the City is not doing enough to managed these businesses.  McCarthy reminded us it's an election season and that "snake oil salesmen they can solve the sober living home problem", and invited them to step up and do so.  We presume he's referring to council candidates opposing his pals currently on the dais.  His backhanded slap at unnamed candidates was not unexpected.
DON'T BLINK!  ONE YEAR EXTENSION
Public Hearing #1, the request for another one-year extension on Anton Boulevard was quickly dispatched on a 5-0 vote.  The commissioners were in love with the project and were only too happy to see it receive yet another extension.
THEY DIDN'T LIKE THIS ONE!
Public Hearing #2, the project at 752 and 756 West 19th Street at Wallace Avenue was quite a different story.  The current owner, Michael Alladawi, took a previous project and tweaked it.  Unfortunately, most of the commissioners were not buying what he was selling because of the large numbers of deviations.  This project falls under an amagamation of plans - the Small Lot Ordinance for the purpose of creating fee-simple properties, and 19 West Urban Plan and the Mesa West Bluffs Urban Plan.  Even planner Ryan Loomis admitted confusion when he inherited this project.  Problems with parking, setbacks, undergrounding utilities and much more created unease for the commissioners.  Their solution was to kick the can down the road.  They voted, 5-0, after consulting with the applicant, to continue this issue to a date uncertain to allow the applicant time to step back and work on the issues troubling the commissioners.  The alternative would have been to deny the project.
PARKING AND MISUSE OF SPACE
During the public comments segment of this item several members of the public spoke.
Jay Humphrey was concerned about parking and the potential for the lower floor "work" area to become a defacto rental unit.  He was also concerned that, although our plans call for a minimum of 1 acre lot size, this project is only one quarter of that size.

BUILDING "SLUMS"
An unidentified person showed a painting of the slums of Rio and told the commission this is what they are approving.  She referred to some of the new Westside developments as "stack-a-shacks".
GAVE AWAY RIGHT-OF-WAY BEFORE
Cynthia McDonald, a member of the Bikeway and Walkability Committee, reminded the commissioners that there was a right-of-way deeded to this project which likely has created a problem for future bike-oriented infrastructure.
"RUINING THE WESTSIDE"
Rick Huffman was also concerned about parking and indicated that builders are being allowed to abuse our plans and the commissioners are "ruining the Westside".
GENERAL PLAN REVIEW
New Business #1, the review of the previous General Plan only took a couple minutes.  McDonald pointed out an error that will be corrected before the General Plan is forwarded to the City Council.
DEL MAR AVENUE BEAUTIFICATION PROJECT COMPLETE
City Engineer Bart Mejia announced to the Commissioners that the Del Mar Avenue Beautification Project at the corner of Newport Boulevard is now completed.  He showed us this photo, but didn't tell us how much it cost.  It's taken awhile.

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