Leaders Get A Raise, Committees Filled, And More
The Costa Mesa City Council met last night in a meeting that finished before 9:30 - a rare occurrence - and accomplished quite a bit.
FOLEY LATE - TESTIFYING IN SACRAMENTO
Mayor Katrina Foley arrived more than an hour late to the meeting because she and Assistant to the City Manager, Dan Baker, had flown to Sacramento to testify on behalf of Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva's bill - AB 572 - which would place a State Enforcement Officer in Orange County to help manage the proliferation of Sober Living Homes. When she arrived and subsequently provided a brief report we were told that there are 108 such licensed homes in the OC and 82 of them are in Costa Mesa! She told us she actually offered office space in City Hall for the Officer if the bill passes.
Dan Goldmann thanked the City for their plans for a new Library, then bemoaned the lack of visionaries - like former Governor Pat Brown and President Dwight Eisenhower. He observed that we should be looking for a way to purchase the land where the Fairview Developmental Center is located.
A gentleman who's name I did not get observed that the homelessness is a regional problem.
Mary Spadoni, addressing the plans for the renovation of Lions Park, described it as "Disneyland", indicating that such an extravagance is unnecessary. She said she's OK with an improvement, but not a "Taj Mahal". She expressed concern for the cost and the fact that if and when the Fairview Developmental Center becomes available The City may not be in a condition to try to purchase some of it.
We're not a 3-piece band, we're an orchestra." I though it was amusing, since when he and Steve Mensinger ran they show the operated EXACTLY like a 3-piece band, showing no consideration for the minority on the council. His level of jackassery never ceases to amaze me - even after all these years. He also observed about Foley's trip to Sacramento, stating that "we are in Sacramento begging them to let us pay for one of their inspectors to come to Orange County." He then affirmed that Costa Mesa is a "rule of law" city and wondered to Hatch whether the City needs to affirm that in writing to someone in Sacramento.
Three items were pulled for separate discussion - #2, #4 and #7. Item #6 had been removed from the Consent Calendar earlier. The balance was approved, 5-0. (Foley had just arrived in time for that vote). Each of the pulled items were discussed by the unidentified person who pulled them and each was passed, 5-0.
COIN HEARING FOR SENIOR MANAGERS
Public Hearing #1, the COIN hearing for the proposed labor contract between The City and the Costa Mesa Division Managers Association (CMDMA) and salary and benefits adjustments for unrepresented executives and confidential management classifications was conducted by Assistant City Manager Tammy Letourneau. The staff report describes the recommended adjustments to salary ranges and changes in benefits. Only one person spoke to this. Al Melone said the "merit" element is missing. Letourneau advised that many are reviewed by the City Managers, but the Division Manager's raises are automatic, based on the contract. I've looked at this contract proposal and the changes they will mean. This is crucial for us to remain competitive and, in many cases, the "raises" are offset by the additional contributions to the CalPERS plan by the individuals. It was moved on to the second required hearing on April 18th on a 5-0 vote.
HELISTOP ON AIRWAY AVENUE
Public Hearing #2 is he request for a retroactive extension of the approval for a helistop on Airway Avenue, adjacent to John Wayne Airport. Foley and Genis had voted NO on this the first time around. The construction of the landing pad on the roof of an existing building was delayed due to the approvals necessary from all the various entities - the applicant described it as a "Catch 22" kind of situation. Concern was expressed about the potential proliferation of such requests in the future. Two members of the public spoke. Terry Koken said, "Give them their heliport!" An unidentified person said this is outside the airport footprint and could lead to expansion of John Wayne Airport in the future. She observed that Disneyland has been trying to get the airport expanded and had made significant campaign contributions - including $27,000 to Righeimer. Mansoor asked the applicant, "Why do you need it?" The applicant said it would make for more efficient use of the helicopter, since it could take him 45 minutes or more to get from his office onto the airport grounds to his helicopter. In fact, his helicopter is located a few dozen yards away from his office. Mansoor wondered to Senior Planner Mel Lee if we are opening up the door to more such requests. The applicant said he had no intention to sell his property to the airport. Yeah, well.... Anyhow, the council passed the request for an extension on a 5-0 vote. Righeimer asked staff to return with options for managing these type of requests - those involving multiple approvals from multiple agencies - to determine if some flexibility is necessary.
PROFESSIONAL SERVICES FOR FAIRVIEW PARK
New Business #1 involved the professional services contract with Endemic for a variety of services involving Fairview Park, including management in the interim until a Fairview Park Adminsitrator is hired. After the discussion commenced Righeimer recused himself because he is currently renting a home that backs up to Fairview Park while his mansion in Mesa Verde is being built. City Engineer Bart Mejia led the discussion, supported by the consultant, Barry Nerhus. They spoke about the scope of the assignment and the possibility of enhancing it with a so-called MAPS element wherein birds are tracked.
Four members of the public spoke on this.
Terry Koken observed that Barry is not perfect, but is the cheapest. He observed that he liked what he had to say.
Richard Mehren said Barry would do a great job and offered the volunteer support of his organization - the Fairview Park Preservation Alliance - to assist in any way they can.
Young Joshua Snyder observed that Fairview Park is not a Nature Preserve and wondered about the funding.
PLACENTIA AVENUE MEDIANS
New Business #2, was the discussion of the proposed Placentia Avenue medians from Adams Avenue to Wilson Street. Public Services Director Raja Sethuraman led this discussion, supported by landscape consultant Tom Munoz. The plan basically involves different kinds of plantings - trees and shrubs - along that stretch of roadway to enhance the safety. Drivers typically speed down that part of the road as it goes to and from Estancia High School. Genis expressed concern about the trees blocking the views of the park. Sethuraman suggested that, if that was a major concern, the number of the trees could be reduced by 50%. Stephens was concerned about the public safety aspects and asked Police Chief Rob Sharpnack to opine on the issue. He told the council that he was in favor of almost any plan that would calm the traffic in that section of roadway, observing that in recent years past they had officers assigned to ticket/warn drivers, many of whom were Estancia students. He said that got them a lot of "attention". I'm presuming he meant that officers may have stopped fast drivers that were known to some council members and they got grief for it. Don't know for sure, but...
Seven members of the public spoke to this issue.
Al Melone didn't like it one bit. He suggested, instead, the use of speed traps.
Robin Leffler didn't much like the use of the trees, citing the loss of views of the park which she described as "restful to the eyes and soul." She suggested, instead, low plantings in the median, and the use of plants that are, in fact, native to OUR area, not just southern California.
free money". He wondered how much money the City will contribute. Turns out, according to Sethuraman, the City will pay $650,000 for this project beyond the grant funding.
Cynthia McDonald, a member of the Bikeway and Walkability Committee, said safety is always a concern and slowing down traffic is always a good idea. She also suggested fewer trees be used.
The final item on the agenda was New Business #3, the Appointments to various committees. Amazingly, there were NO public comments on this issue! Foley decided to have each council liaison nominate applicants, which could be affirmed by the council or amended as they chose. I'll give you the shortest version of the results as I can.
Bikeway and Walkability Committee. (15 appointments)
Kari Nieblas Vozenilek
John C. Merrill
This passed on a 5-0 vote
Cultural Arts Committee. (7 appointments - 6 plus one alt.)
All Terms 2 years
Frank Guiterrez (alt)
This passed on a 5-0 vote
Note: Mayor Foley requested that this committee be expanded to 11 members. This requires a separate authorization so it will be brought back to the council at the next meeting. Current applicants will be encouraged to keep their applications in the mix, plus others will be considered.
Historical Preservation Committee (11 appointments - 9 plus 2 alt.)
David J. Gardner
Mary Ellen Goddard
Kristyn E. Kohut
Kari Nieblas Vozenilek
This passed on a 5-0 vote.
Note: Due to insufficient applications to fill all vacancies, this will also be re-advertised.
Finance and Pension Advisory Committee (11 appointments)
Lee "John" Hinson
This passed on a 4-1 vote, with Foley voting NO.
Note: This took three (3) slices at it before the agreed configuration was reached. It seemed like Foley was trying to exclude member Jim Fisler - a man who has viciously pillaged her on social media for serveral years. Genis supported Fisler's membership.
Senior Commission (1 appointment)
This passed on a 5-0 vote
FOLEY'S SACRAMENTO TRIP
Before closing the meeting Foley gave us a thumbnail report on her trip to Sacramento earlier that day. AB 572, sponsored by Fullerton Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, is moving forward based on a vote taken today. Foley testified in Sacramento in support of the bill and, as mentioned above, offered office space at City Hall for a state inspector for this program.
City Attorney Tom Duarte gave a report of a disposition of a pending lawsuit between Americare and The City. It was dismissed in both Federal and State court.
CLOSED IN MEMORY OF SHERRY SHELDON
Foley closed the meeting in honor of Sherry Sheldon, a local teacher who passed away after a battle with colon cancer.