ANOTHER MARATHON COUNCIL MEETING AHEAD
LOTS OF CONTROVERSIAL ITEMS ON THE AGENDA
The Costa Mesa City Council meets again on Tuesday, April 18, 2017 for what appears, based on the agenda report, HERE, to be another barn-burner of a meeting. The public meeting begins at 6:00 p.m. and is preceded by a Closed Session at 4:00. The Closed Session contains four (4) items - two labor negotiations with Fire staff and two items of existing litigation. Those wishing to address the council on closed session items can present themselves before the council at 4:00 and have three minutes to speak on those issues. Warning: It's going to be a long night.
Following the Public Comments and Council Member Comments segments the council will consider the Consent Calendar - ten (10) items that might be considered on a single vote without separate discussion. It's unlikely that will happen this time due to the nature of some of the items.
MORE BIG BUCKS SPENT
Item #2, HERE, is the Warrant Resolution #2575. This one lists more than $3.6 million in expenditures. As is usually the case, Legal Costs leads the way, accounting for more than $200,000. Jones & Mayer accounts for $168,951.82; Liebert Cassidy Whitmore for $32,685.38 and Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth $11,311.00.
SELLING BOOZE AT THE SENIOR CENTER
Item #5, HERE, is a request for Sale, Service and Consumption of Beer, Wine and Liquor beverages at the Senior Center. I know, images of tipsy seniors just flashed before your eyes, too. I suspect there may be a few comments on this one. Theoretically, this is just a temporary measure, while the Lions Park Project is being completed. Again, I suspect we'll hear from some folks interested in this issue.
CANCEL JULY 4TH COUNCIL MEETING
Although it may not get pulled for discussion, Item #8, HERE, is a request from the City Manager's Office to cancel the regularly scheduled City Council meeting of July 4th.
YES... DO IT!
Item #9, HERE, is a request to replace an antiquated, non-functioning Fire Department Alerting System to the tune of $369,497.78. I doubt anyone will pull this for discussion, but it's good to know that we may finally get a system that actually works.
APPROVING MANAGERS SALARIES AND BENEFITS
The first public hearing is the COIN ordinance second hearing for the new salary and benefit resolution between The City and the Costa Mesa Division Managers Association (CMDMA), unrepresented executives and confidential employees. This won't take long.
CHANGING SOBER LIVING ORDINANCES
Public Hearing #2 is actually two hearings combined for discussion, HERE. This is going to take some time because the Planning Commission massaged it with a virtual meat-axe during their hearing, so it will be interesting to see how the City Council responds to those recommendations. The first amends the municipal code relating to group homes, residential care facilities and reasonable accommodation, and the second amends the code regarding operator's permits for group homes of seven and more located in the City's multi-family zones. I expect this one to take a couple hours of discussion, comments and negotiation. In a related matter, see New Business #4, below.
MEASURE X MEDICAL MARIJUANA PROCESSING FEES
Public Hearing #3, HERE, addresses the Fees to Process Applications for Medical Marijuana Businesses Allowed via Measure X. You may recall my entry about the Stakeholder's Meeting recently on this subject. Here's an exhibit that shows the proposed fee Schedules. This one may generate some serious discussion by many of the proponents of the businesses proposed for that little section of town north of the 405 Freeway where such businesses are permitted.
URGENCY ORDINANCE FOR PEG FEES
New Business #1, HERE, is an Urgency Ordinance necessary for The City to be able to continue to collect a public, educational and government access fee (PEG Fee) from ATT. It is possible that because the authorization for the collection of this fee expired 3/31/17, the city will be prohibited from continued collections unless and until it is re-authorized.
NEW AMBULANCE MODEL PROPOSED - AGAIN
New Business #2, HERE, is the most recent iteration of Fire Chief Dan Stefano's plan for Ambulance Transportation in The City. This issue has been batted around for several years, beginning with then Interim Chief Tom Arnold's first proposal. This proposal asks the council to review and approve the updated option of the public/private partnership ambulance transportation model. It also asks the council to authorize the City Manager to allocate an amount not to exceed $100,000 for the comprehensive administration and facilitation of the Request for Proposals (FRP) process for both the ambulance and billing services. It also asks for the approval to annually utilize the billing rate structure that is consistent with those identified through the Orange County Health Care Agency EMS Policy and Procedures.
WHAT ABOUT DEPLOYMENT?
Here's my problem with this report... not enough specific data about how this new - and it appears to be new - proposal will impact staff deployment. In the previous, two-year-old, report there were charts and graphs showing deployment models. And, this model slices more than a half-million dollars of cost recovery money from the previous "Model #3". While these questions and many more may be answered during Chief Stefano's presentation on Tuesday, it would be helpful if that information also appeared in the staff report. And, the new Finance and Pension Advisory Committee DID NOT hear this report last week, even though it was on the agenda. It seems to me that this subject required a Study Session environment during which council concerns could be fleshed out in a less formal setting before being brought to the council for a final approval. We'll see how this plays out late in the agenda on Tuesday.
REINING IN ILLEGAL FIREWORKS - WITH MORE FIREWORKS
New Business #3, HERE, is rookie Councilman John Stephens' multi-pronged plan to mitigate the impact of illegal fireworks throughout the city over the Independence Day holiday. It involves:
- A centrally-located July 4th Celebration at the Orange County Fair and Event Center.
- Allocation of $50,000 in new revenue and expenditures for FY 16/17 to cover event costs.
- A proactive campaign announcing the city will vigorously enforce the prohibition against illegal fireworks and seek a maximum penalty for such violations.
- No changes in current sale or discharge ordinances regarding safe and sane fireworks.
SAFER, LEGAL, FUN
I guess you could say the objective is to have a safer, legal holiday marking Independence Day while generating a more community-oriented major event at the Fairgrounds. Stephens held a community forum on this issue recently, and the staff report includes a summary of comments from that event.
A LOT OF FLASH, NOT MUCH BANG
The staff report provides great detail of the event as Stephens perceives it, including the kind of entertainment and the kind of pyrotechnic - not concussive - display planned. We're told there will be no "bombs bursting in air" - unlike what typically happens over several days in most of our neighborhoods in recent years.
IMPOSES MAXIMUM PENALTIES
And, the plan includes the imposition of a maximum penalty of $1,000 and/or six months in jail for the discharge of illegal fireworks - not the $150 fine that's been imposed in the past.
AVALANCHE OF WORK AWAITING PLANNING COMMISSION
New Business #4, HERE, presumes that the modifications to the municipal code regarding group homes mentioned in Public Hearing #2, above, will be approved. This item remands back to the Planning Commission previous decisions for reconsideration. It involves decisions involving:
2 Conditional Use Permits
4 Special Use Permits
1 Denial of a Conditional Use Permit
21 Applications for Reasonable Accommodation for CUPs
1 Special Use Permit back to the Director for Further Consideration
It's unclear what happens if the City Council does not follow through with the recommendations in Public Hearing #2. The discussion will be lively on this issue.
TREVINO WAS RIGHT - PLANNING COMMISSIONERS NEED SOME REST
One thing is clear, though - we now know why Interim Development Services Director Jay Trevino admonished the Planning Commission at their last meeting to get some rest even though their next meeting will be canceled.
LETTER OPPOSING SENATE BILL 54 - LAW ENFORCEMENT DATA SHARING
New Business #5, HERE, is the final item on the agenda, which may actually be heard Wednesday morning. This is a request by Councilman Allan Mansoor for the City of Costa Mesa to send a Letter of Opposition to SB 54, which involves repealing a segment of existing law involving sharing of data on certain offenders who may be subject to immigration enforcement action. This bill is opposed by most major law enforcement organizations. I'm not going to address whether I think this is a good bill or not - the text of the bill and an analysis is available as attachments to the staff report. I do find it ironic that Mansoor, whose previous tour on the City Council was marked by controversy involving the Latino community in our City and who became the face of intolerance during that time, is the one putting this forward. We'll see how this one goes.