Tuesday, December 13, 2016

New Council Seated - Foley Elected Mayor, Genis Mayor Pro Tem


PACKED HOUSE SEES THE CHANGE IN COMMAND
Well, it was a glorious evening in the Costa Mesa City Council Chambers Tuesday evening and a packed house enjoyed the proceedings.  I missed the event, dealing with my Christmas cold.  Darn!  So, my sweet and also sniffling wife and I watched the event on good old CMTV.
ADIOS, STEVE AND GARY
Mayor Steve Mensinger and Councilman Gary Monahan were given an appropriate sendoff in their last official acts in those roles.  Monahan is termed out - again - after serving sixteen years on the council.  Mensinger was defeated in his run for re-election after serving six years - two as an appointee and four when he was elected in 2012.

PRESENTATIONS
Among the nineteen speakers was Tim Whitaker, representing Vice Chair Michele Steel of the Board of Supervisors.  He made presentations to both Mensinger and Monahan.
POLITICIANS
Assemblyman Matt Harper also stepped up to the speakers podium to praise both men for their service, and to acknowledge the winners in the election - particularly Allan Mansoor, who preceded him in Sacramento.
NINETEEN SPEAKERS
During Public Comments most of the speakers thanked Mensinger and Monahan for their service to the community and also congratulated the winners - Sandra Genis, John Stephens and Mansoor.  Some of the speakers tip-toed right up to the edge of being disrespectful to Mensinger, who must still be smarting at his defeat, where he didn't even come close to retaining his seat on the council.

There were a couple obvious partisan Mensinger fans who spoke, and more than a few who are not his fans.  That's OK.

BETH COLLINS
Beth Collins is a Mensinger fan, and didn't much like it when some in the crowd reacted to her praise of him.
 JAY HUMPHREY
Jay Humphrey, who ran strong race for City Council and has been a tireless volunteer, thanked all those who supported him and congratulated the winners.  He also thanked all those who worked so hard for Measures Y and AA.
CINDY B.
Cindy Brenneman was nearly giddy with the results of the election.  She thanked Monahan, citing their long relationship, and also thanked Mensinger, but was less cordial.  There was clearly a "don't let the door hit you in the butt" vibe then.  Can't blame her.

WENDY
Former councilwoman Wendy Leece referred to the "In God We Trust" motto hanging on the wall behind the council members, acknowledged all the hard work it takes to be a council member and thanked Mensinger and Monahan for their dedication to the city.  She quoted from Shakespeare, Henry V.
TERRY CROONED
Terry Koken crooned a tune.
TAMAR AND DAN
Tamar Goldmann congratulated Genis for being the top vote-getter, again.  She hoped for a more cooperative relationship with law enforcement personnel. She praised Jay Humphrey for his good run and his tireless dedication to the city.  She also praised Leece for her continuing work on behalf of the residents.
Dan Goldmann thanked Mensinger and Monahan and observed that we all need to participate going forward.
BANNING RANCH
Steve Ray, Executive Director of the Banning Ranch Conservancy, offered congratulations to the winners and hoped his organization might be of help to the council in the future.
CM4RG
Robin Leffler stepped up as the President of Costa Mesans For Responsible Government to thank all the volunteers who worked on the many campaigns.  She observed that it took the efforts of hundreds of volunteers to push to victory, not only for the candidates, but for Measures Y and AA.  Clearly, she was happy.
COSTA MESA FIRST
Cynthia McDonald thanked all who supported Measure Y and mentioned Eleanor Egan specifically for her defeat in court of specious lies on the ballot measure argument.
FAIRVIEW PARK PRESERVATION ALLIANCE
Kim Hendricks, speaking as a member of the Fairview Park Preservation Alliance, thanked the voters and the volunteers who supported Measure AA - an overwhelming 70.9% of the votes cast were in favor of that measure.
STEVE, THE HUSTLER...
Richard Russell, a Mensinger fan, stepped up last and praised him for his efforts.  At one point he observed to him that , "you have been a hustler" - meaning he was always on the go, getting things done.  I smiled when I heard that, because that phrase isn't always a positive description.  Russell and I might agree that it fits Mensinger, but probably don't agree that it's a favorable term.
ELECTION CERTIFIED
City Clerk Brenda Green asked the outgoing council to certify the election, which they did, 5-0.

STEVE SAYS GOOD-BYE
Mensinger and Monahan were given a chance to address the audience.  Mensinger thanked the City Ctaff for their efficiency.  He praised CEO Tom Hatch and his strong right arm, Kelly Shelton, for their support.  He thanked both Police Chief Rob Sharpnack and Fire Chief Dan Stefano... and he thanked the citizens of Costa Mesa.  Then, kind of out of context, he said, "Governing is one thing, criticizism is another."  I don't know exactly what he meant, but he probably didn't like the ongoing criticizm he'd received during his terms.
SO DID GARY, KINDA
Monahan already said his good-byes at the last meeting, so his comments were very brief.

GOOD-BYE GIFTS
Both Mensinger and Monahan then received proclamations and memory books from the City and they were done by 6:45 p.m.
JUDGE ROBINSON ADMINSTERED THE OATHS
Then the administration of the Oath of Office was administered by former Mayor and current Judge Karen Robinson.  That was a VERY special moment for all.  Mansoor lugged his youngest child with him.
FOLEY BECOMES THE MAYOR, GENIS MAYOR PRO TEM
Then came an interesting moment.  It was time to elect a mayor, so Righeimer nominated Genis.  She, in turn offered an alternate nomination - Katrina Foley - which was seconded by Stephens.  Genis then asked that her nomination be withdrawn.  When the vote was taken to elect the mayor the result was 4-1 - Allan Mansoor voted NO!  So, it didn't take long to see how this is going to go with him.  When Genis was elected Mayor Pro Tem the vote was 5-0.
THANKING GRANDMA
Each of the new members made short speeches.  Foley thanked her family and, in particular, her 90 year-old grandmother, who was sitting down front.
LOOKING FOR VOLUNTEERS
Genis was grateful for the large turnout and hoped many would continue to be involved in city issues.
STEPHENS' STAND-UP ROUTINE
Stephens took his time and polished up his stand-up comic routine as he thanked his family, business associates, all the volunteers who supported him.  One thing is very clear - this is a VERY different council than the previous one.
MANSOOR
Mansoor thanked his family, specifically his wife, Jannifer and his mother-in-law who cared for their children during the campaign events.  He thanked the city staff for being so professional and supportive.  He thanked Chief Sharpnack for his help and observed that it may be time for another sweep of vagrants in Talbert Park.
FOLEY SETS NEW RULES AND AN AGENDA
Foley observed that the next meeting will be January 3, 2017.  She asked Hatch to amend the agenda so all speakers during Public Comments are permitted to speak early in the meeting - no more trailing them to the end.  She also observed that she wanted to do away with speaker cards.  She also wants to trail Council member comments to the end of the meeting.  That's a GREAT idea, since Righeimer used to speak for 15 or 20 minutes, spewing his mantra and sucking up valuable time.  She also told Hatch that he would be City Manager henceforth, not CEO.  She also asked for a presentation on how to get Fire Station #6 open and fully staffed without overtime.  That's going to mean more firefighters.  She also asked that Chief Stefano bring back early in the year a plan for implementation of the new staffing model that integrates the rescue ambulances for transportation of victims.
IT'S GOING TO BE INTERESTING
It's going to be a VERY interesting first few months.  Righeimer seemed collegial enough.  Mansoor is clearly not in step with the majority, so his presence and his inability to clearly articulate his position on issues will complicate the business of the city getting done.  We'll see.
CONGRATS...  NOW LET'S GET MOVING!
Congratulations to Katrina Foley and Sandra Genis on their new leadership roles.  Congratulations to John Stephens on his election and to Allan Mansoor to his election.  Time to move forward...  I thought it was time to present this for your listening pleasure... it seems very appropriate.

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Planning Commission Meets For Final Time This Year

SHORT MEETING - LESS THAN AN HOUR
The Costa Mesa Planning Commission met Monday night for the final time this year and dealt with a very abbreviated agenda.  Only two items were discussed and processed.  At least they all were present this time.
SOBER LIVING HOMES ON HIATUS
At the beginning of the meeting Chairman Rob Dickson advised those in the audience that all sober living issues that had been tentatively scheduled for this meeting actually never made it to the agenda.  According to Interim Development Services Director Jay Trevino, the incoming City Council has determined that it wants to evaluate our process and the issues facing them before proceeding with any more sober living issues.
SOBER LIVING AND PROBLEMS AT THE GMC DEALERSHIP
Only two members of the public stepped up during Public Comments - a rarity these days.  Jay Humphrey suggested that WHEN sober living items are agendized and notices be sent out, those notices be sent to a 650 foot radius of the facility in question instead of the normal 500.  He chose that number because that's the space between facilities required in our ordinances.  He also expressed concern that the vehicles being delivered to the recently rebuilt GMC dealership at the corner of Harbor Boulevard and Merrimac Way were being done in the middle of Merrimac, making for a very dangerous traffic situation for cars and bicyclers.  He also expressed concern about the so-called "Green Wall" at the dealership, shown, which is anything BUT green so far and, from the looks of the plants being used, it's going to be several years before anything resembling a true "Green Wall" is evident.  He wondered about the conditions of the conditional use permit that authorized the Green Wall.
TRAFFIC ON VICTORIA AND MORE SOBER LIVING ISSUES
An unidentified woman stepped up and complained about traffic along Victoria Street and about sober living homes.  She complained about those near her Westside home and the fact that she's come back to meeting after meeting and had not been able to speak because issues had been deleted from the agenda, or re-scheduled because of the late hour.

COMMISSIONER COMMENTS - SUCH AS THEY WERE
During Commissioner Comments all the commissioners wished everyone a happy holiday.  Colin McCarthy also expressed concern about the Green Wall at the GMC dealership, as did Chair Dickson.
ANOTHER SMALL LOT DEVELOPMENT ON THE EASTSIDE
Public Hearing #1, a small lot ordinance no the Eastside, caused Vice Chair Jeff Mathews to recuse himself because he lives nearby.  This project takes three units - a single family home and a duplex on the rear of the property - and converts them to two larger single family homes using the Small Lot Ordinance.  The rear unit is a so-called "flag lot" - it is connected to the street by a long driveway that runs along side the front lot.  The applicant was asking for a variance along that driveway.

SMALL LOT ORDINANCE DIDN'T DO THE JOB
Jay Humphrey stepped up and opined that the Small Lot Ordinance was supposed to have taken care of all those ordinances - but it apparently didn't.  He also opined that, while this is a nice project, it's too big for the lot.

NO UNDERGROUNDING, BUT ABOUT THAT POLE...
During the brief commission discussion brief mention was made of undergrounding utilities, but City Engineer Bart Mejia said because it only involved two units undergrounding was not necessary.  I did notice one thing that is likely going go become problematic - the power pole sits squarely in front of the driveway, making maneuvering more than a little tricky.  Nobody said anything about it... so...  The item passed, 4-0, with Mathews absent.
UNDERPARKED STRIP MALL GETS APPROVALS
Public Hearing #2, is for two conditional use permits for shared parking and a massage parlor at a strip mall in the 1900 block of Harbor Boulevard.  Although it is underparked by a significant number - a fact affirmed by speaker Beth Refakes, who says she uses that venue a couple times a month when she hauls her cat to the animal hospital.  The fact that folks park parallel to the street creates problems for those in parking spaces.  The commission ignored those facts and approved the requests on a 5-0 vote.
THAT'S ALL FOR THIS YEAR
Dickson adjourned the meeting to their first meeting in January - on the 9th.  Some folks around town are wondering about the future for this commission after the installation of the new City Council.  Two have terms that expire early next year, but there are rumblings about a clean sweep.  I guess we'll see.


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Sunday, December 11, 2016

Fun Times At Snoopy House Kick-off


HAPPY 50TH, SNOOPY HOUSE!
The 50th celebration of the Snoopy House kicked-off at City Hall last night and it was a rousing success!
A GREAT TURNOUT
Hundreds of people visited the site, which included a pile of real, for goodness snow, hot cider and popcorn plus some entertainment and a few politicians - of course.  The new city council majority shown below.
 HATCH AS MASTER-OF-CEREMONIES
The event was launched by City Manager (no longer CEO) Tom Hatch, who introduced the local elected officials - Councilwomen Katrina Foley and Sandra Genis, Assemblyman Matthew Harper and councilman-elect John StephensTim Whitaker represented the Board of Supervisors.
JORDAN'S RECOGNIZED
The centerpiece of Hatch's presentation was the recognition of Jim and Linda Jordan, who made the Snoopy House available to the City.  For decades this display appeared on the lawn of the Jordan's Eastside home over the Christmas holiday.

LIGHTING IT UP!
The assembled dignitaries counted down the lighting of the City Hall lights.
TRAINS
Kids enjoyed the train rides.
SANTA
The line for Santa this first night was long.  He will be there every evening from 7-9 p.m.
ENTERTAINMENT
Young Miss Hayden Curteau serenaded the crowd.
ESTANCIA CHEER SQUAD STRUTTED THEIR STUFF
SNOW, SNOW, AND MORE SNOW
  
 STAFF ORGANIZATIONS CREATED CHRISTMAS TREES IN COMPETITION WITH EACH OTHER.
 Fire Department creation
Police Department tree was clever
YOU JUST NEVER KNOW WHO YOU'LL SEE WANDERING AROUND
 Katrina Foley and ace videographer Barry Friedland.  His Costa Mesa Brief was on the case and will soon have his coverage up on his YouTube Channel.
 Foley, Staffer Dan Baker (Snoopy House is his baby) and City Manager Tom Hatch
 Sandy Genis wandering past John Stephens and his wife, Amy
 Workout mates Sue Lester and Stephens
 Lovely and very patient wife, Sue, chatting with activist Cindy Black and Elizabeth Harper, spouse of Assemblyman Matt Harper.  The pooch getting her chin scratched is Cindy's Nana.
One of the hundreds of children being entertained by all the festivities.
And then there was this old fella, obviously in the right spot, but not the right time.

OPEN FROM NOW THROUGH THE 23RD
Be sure to visit the Snoopy House.  It's open every night from now through December 23rd beginning at 5:30 p.m.  Santa will be in the house from 7-9 p.m.  This is great family fun and one of my personal favorite city events each year.

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