Wednesday, November 07, 2007



Last night's Costa Mesa City Council meeting may have been the most surreal event I've observed in nearly a decade of paying attention to what goes on
in our city. This meeting, which dragged on past midnight and actually ended at 1:10 this morning, demonstrated the wisdom of the council policy to not try to conduct city business past midnight.

Mayor Mansoor, who looked like he was well
off his game all night, made the decision to move forward with one of the most contentious issues on the agenda - the debate of whether or not to re-open the Fairview Park Master Plan to consider placement of a dog park and/or skate park within it's boundaries - at midnight! Dozens of speakers stood to address the issue and very few spoke in favor of such a move. Most pleaded with the council to retain Fairview Park in it's "natural" state, citing potential damage to fragile habitat and danger for the indigenous critters that call it home. This was after the council decided earlier to approve placement of a temporary building near the model trains to house a donated train exhibit and to move forward with plans to seek grants to build a larger building that is included in the current master plan.

One of the truly strange pa
rts of the Fairview Park debate was the fact that several dog lovers, including a couple officials from the Costa Mesa Bark Park Foundation that oversees the operation of the TeWinkle Park facility, stood and told the council that the site proposed by staff for a dog park at Fairview Park was not acceptable. They encouraged the council to look for a different venue. I can't remember when an advocacy group rejected an opportunity for a facility before. It was actually kind of funny when former mayor Sandra Genis - a dog lover herself - stood at the podium and warned the council about the inappropriateness of the proposed site, citing the potential danger from errant golf balls from the adjacent golf course. I know she was serious, but I couldn't help but chuckle.

Earlier, the subject of a skate park at Lion's Park took three hours to debate. The staff h
ad provided the council with five different sites within the boundaries of Lion's Park, including the incendiary suggestion to place it on the infield of the baseball diamond at Davis Field. At the end, none of the sites presented - which represented virtually every inch of open space available at the park and then some - were found to be acceptable. The result, much to the chagrin of the men on the dais, was that the ladies on the council voted to not place a skate park at Lion's Park. They, instead, directed staff to return soon with an analysis of each of the other parks throughout the city with an eye on possibly placing small skate venues in several of them to serve the neighborhood skaters. They also directed staff to continue to seek opportunities to purchase land in the city for another larger skate park. I imagine there's a certain diminutive bar owner who is not happy this morning.


The issue of the possibility of closing Park Avenue north of 18th Street, a strange idea proposed by Linda Dixon, was combined for discussion with the skate park at Lion's Park. It was clear from early debate that no one was interested in closing the street - rightfully so. That idea was rejected along with the skate park.

In a night of strange events, the most bizarre was the behavior of Mayor Pro Tem Eric Bever when, at the end of the debate about Lion's Park as a possible site for a skate park - even before the vote was taken - he blew a gasket. He petulantly told his peers on the dais that he was "ashamed to be up there with them" and that they should let him know the next time they planned to discuss a skate park because he would just stay home. I found myself wanting to make him go stand in a corner for his infantile outburst. That display of childishness occurred just before midnight, reinforcing the wisdom of closing the meetings before the calendar flips over.

Curiously, a man who has been beyond just merely vocal on the subject of the preservation of Fairview Park and not placing a skate park at Lion's Park - he posted at least 8 blog entries on his "little newsletter" in the past few weeks, posted innumerable comments of the various Daily Pilot blogs under several of his pen names and his own, too, and had a commentary published in the Daily Pilot on the subject yesterday - failed to speak on these issues last night. In fact, I don't know if he was in attendance or not, which is also very strange, since he almost never misses a meeting in this city. Perhaps he felt his "direction" to the council had been clearly stated and his ideas were a slam dunk - which it turns out they were. Costa Mesa politics is a strange business.


It was good to see Katrina Foley back in the saddle after her recent convalescence from cancer surgery, about which she spoke briefly at the beginning of the meeting. She brings focus to the debate of most issues. Perhaps that's why our young jailer/mayor looked like he was dealing with a bad toothache all night.


So, every tree hugger in our town can breathe a little easier today because the insects, birds and other critters in Fairview Park have been given a reprieve. And, the skateboarders in our city - who waited a generation for the first skate park - will have to wait a little longer to see just how the City Council will resolve their frustrations and pent-up demand for more skate facilities in our city. Based on some of the testimony against a skate facility in Fairview Park and the photos presented by some speakers, I guess those little "terrorists" will just have to continue damming up the flood control channel to make a skate venue and using every wall, curb and raised planter in the city as a grind rail while they wait.

On the brighter side, the council did direct staff to aggressively pursue the possible acquisition of the recently abandoned Air National Guard site behind TeWinkle Park. That process is in it's early stages, but could provide some interesting opportunities for future open space/recreational facilities. Actually, that site has lots of possibilities. Things that immediately come to mind include another much needed high rise senior living facility similar to Bethel Towers on the Westside, more athletic fields like The Farm Sports Complex or maybe just acquire the space, then swap it with another land owner for a site or sites elsewhere in the city where recreational venues are in short supply. Heck, maybe one of those "nasty, polluting businesses" on the Westside Bluffs so reviled by the "improvers" in our city would want to swap - that could be fun.

Life is never dull in Costa Mesa.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

did you notice at public comments that Bunyan again wasted the publics time with a commercial for his pals new business? He spoke and then the two of them spoke. Probably nearly 8 minutes of wasted time. Bunyan has done this before to promote another business. I think it's time to put a stop to these commercials during public comment time. I know, I know, I said I was a realtor three or four times two years ago up on the planning commission but that was to explain my expertise on the subject I was addressing. (BTW the city attorney, Barlow, said it was very proper to mention where my knowledge came from). But is it proper to do what Bunyan has been doing. What if all business started doing this? Maybe I should go into detail on the amenities of new property I am marketing?

11/07/2007 03:07:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Hey, Commissioner Jim, welcome back. It's always good to hear from you. Yes, I saw Chris Bunyan's comments, and those of the men who followed. I really don't have a problem with them announcing their new business during public comments. The owner of the place has spoken before the council before. Granted, it could get pretty old if every single new business that opens in Costa Mesa does the same thing. I have this image of guys in suits announcing the opening of a new 25 story office and residential tower, followed by a guy in grungy pants and a sweaty t-shirt announcing a new gardening service. It's not really the same as you repeatedly announcing your credentials though, is it? Besides, I just tease you about that because you make it so easy. Between you and Jim (I'm a developer) Righeimer, it's almost too much fun. Your point is well-taken, though. Perhaps you should suggest a solution to the council.

By the way, did you see the segment in public comments where Valerie Torelli and others complained about the proliferation of real estate signs - and showed a photo that included one of Larry's? What's your view on that?

11/07/2007 03:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I missed a great deal of the meeting and have not yet watched the video. I was impressed with Mayor Mansoor's response to Councilman Bever's outburst. He seemed almost amused! As you know he has had his own petulant moments on the dais, so I found it refreshing that he was giving the Mayor Pro Tem a lecture on civics!

11/07/2007 09:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Torelli brought up an interesting subject. The majority of her photos were of Veranda Realty signs, a company started by one of her ex employees that is taking away a lot of her business. Found it interesting that another speaker talked of first flags on signs and now balloons making it look as if there was a constant party in Mesa Verde. Torelli uses the balloons and her sign was shown. I guess it comes down to the question of the blight of signs from Friday to Sunday vs. the needs to sell homes and stimulate the economy. There are open house signs and also home for sale signs. Larry was a trail blazer for the home for sale signs on the weekends and it yeilded good results, taking more business from Torelli. Others have copied on a more modest level but with all the homes for sale on the market it can cause a glut of signs. As long as we all follow the same rules, I am ok with whatever is decided. I think flags on signs are needed to make them more visible. Maybe limit the number of signs. Many homeowners are not aware that the little stip of grass between the curb and sidewalk are public property and they complain about signs there as if we were putting them on their lawns. When they do, I refrain from putting them there in the future. Realtors are not out to make enemies, those homeowners may be future clients. Our signs cost about 90 dollars each and the flags and poles about 10. Many of them are stolen or vandalized or turned around by people during the weekend and it gets quite costly. I think enforcing our current laws for placment would be a good place to start. Many realtors break the rules and those signs should be confiscated. BTW, I took your and Millards remarks to heart and have not mentioned I am a realtor for the last two years so I am not repeatedly saying it. I may in the future if there is a good reason for it but most likely not saying the word realtor but maybe "in my profession I see a lot of parking problems in underparked condos...". People may wonder what profession do I have that I know this but at least I won't anger at least a couple people. I enjoy the teasing also.

11/08/2007 08:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Valerie Torelli doesn't have anything to worry least not in the Mesa Verde area. There is a large contingent of homeowners who would not hire, refer or recommend a realtor who lives here but does not support our neighborhood schools. This is a relatively small community, and it is a well known fact that the guys who started Veranda and the Weichmans drive their children to an elementary school in Huntington Beach. I often wonder what they say to prospective buyers when they ask them about the schools. If they are not lying through their teeth, "Oh they are great! Just please don't ask me where my kids to school"...then when potential buyers find our their own realtors don't use our public schools, that has to be having an effect on the number of buyer's willing to buy, which in turn results in a large inventory of homes for sale - which ultimately drives down property values.

11/08/2007 12:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoa there Tommie! Larry's kids go to school in HB and our home values decline? Quite a stretch there- as is your whole posting since the subject was signs, not schools. Your enthusiasm for schools is fantastic. But carrying it further and spreading the word to the community as to where certain Realtors send their kids to school and encouraging a boycott of all Realtors who work in Larry's office, no matter how those individuals serve the community, is a little over the top. Your passion is schools it appears. Do you realize that others may serve the community in other ways and that service may help children in the long run by making a nicer city (and higher home values?). Larry has served on a city committee for many years, his partner Kurt is vice chair of the Parks and Rec Commission and I have been on the Parks and Rec Commission and am now vice chair of Planning Commission. Should someone not use me because I don't have a kid, much less a kid in school in CM? Or not use Larry or Kurt because they serve the community in a different way than you? While Torelli was handing out pumpkins we were working with Costa Mesa United and raising dollars for Estancia. Do what you need to do to build up your contingent of boy-cotters to get your revenge for whatever damage we seem to cause to this city. Sorry our community service, which far outpaces any other local realtors, does not count.

11/10/2007 07:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoa Jim…backatcha there neighbor. Talk about stretching just stretched what I said from here to New York City! I NEVER SAID I was trying to organize some kind of "boycott" of anyone's business and the people who work for them. I was well aware that you live directly across the street from me, AND that you work for Weichman Realty when I made my post. I was NOT talking about YOU or anyone else who works for the Weichman’s for that matter! Nor was I questioning ANYONE'S civic contributions for cryin’ out loud! YOU were the one who opened the dialog about the Veranda guys and the Weichman’s taking business away from Torelli. I simply posted an observation that I have made through MY work in the community, on the subject. I am sorry if you did not like it...but it IS a fact. As a realtor, you of all people should know there is a large inventory of homes for sale in the Mesa Verde area of Costa Mesa. And there are many people who feel part of the problem is the perception of the neighborhood schools. And as a realtor, you should also know that when there is a high inventory of homes for sale (for whatever reasons)...that by definition…makes it a "Buyer's Market"…which DOES drive down housing prices. I think I told you I was an Escrow Officer for 20 years and my husband is a part-time broker/investor, so we are very interested in real estate. I was not implying for one second, that the reason for the current state of the market, was because the Weichman’s and the Veranda Guys drive their children to a public school in Huntington Beach...I am not THAT stupid and they are not THAT powerful. Realtors, especially ones who actually live here in the community, can and do have influence over the public's perception of a community and the schools play a huge part of that. There are not a lot of buyer's out there who can afford to pay $800K for a home AND pay for private school. All I am really trying to say is that, if the local realtors REALLY supported our schools…by sending their own children to them, rather than just writing a donation check every now and then…thereby helping to make them true neighborhood schools…we would ALL benefit. If you do not agree...that is your right,and I respect that - however it is also my right to post my opinion on issues whenever and wherever I choose, and I hope you would respect that as well...and not assign inaccurate motives to my comments. Let's talk about it further in the cul-de-sac okay?

11/11/2007 11:06:00 AM  

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