Friday, August 17, 2007

Stealth Skate Park Plans

According to the agenda for the Costa Mesa City Council meeting on Tuesday, August 21, 2007, there will be an item on the Consent Calendar to fund the design of a new skate park at Lions Park. This is a curious turn of events, since no official determination has been made yet as to the location of the new park. It's made more curious by this item being placed on the Consent Calendar, where - like a stealth bomber sliding under the radar - it might have slipped past unnoticed and been voted upon with all the other items on the calendar. I suspect now that it's very likely that someone will pull this item for separate discussion.

Almost everyone in town knows that former (and maybe future?) mayor Gary Monahan has be
en lobbying hard for the new skate park to be constructed at Lions Park, right on the spot where the Fish Fry is held each year. I wouldn't be surprised by a healthy turnout by members of the Lions Club to address this issue on Tuesday. After all, the Fish Fry is a tradition in this city going back more than a half century - one in which you can eat, have fun and see municipal leaders splattering hot grease on themselves while wearing those ego-busting fish hats!


I know there have been conversations among some of the movers and shakers in this town about relocating the Fish Fry, perhaps to Fairview Park. There has also been talk of resurrecting the parade that was once the high point of the annual event. Sure, there's plenty of space for the festivities at Fairview Park, but that location lacks some critical facilities necessary for the Fish Fry - like a kitchen to prepare and clean up for the meals being served, for example. I'm sure there are no problems that cannot be resolved, but the cost might be prohibitive.

Regarding Lions Park, do we really want to place a skate park at a venue presently inhabited by homeless, drunks and other derelicts to the extent that young mothers are reluctant to take their childr
en to the park? It's always struck me as curious that such a large number of those folks infest a park with a police sub-station right across the street.

I realize that simply authorizing a preliminary design of a skate park at Lions Park doesn't ne
cessarily mean one will be built at that location. However, with this expenditure of nearly $80,000 of taxpayers dollars by our "conservative" majority, it sure does look like a done deal to me. Of course, if you've got an unbreakable majority, you don't really have to worry about approvals in the future, do you? The least Mansoor and his pals could do would be to make it look like an above-board deal, for goodness sake. Hopefully, our young jailer/mayor has been practicing his skate boarding skills in the two years since the dedication of the Volcom Skate Park. Stiff legs don't get it.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Bever - Master Architect - Strikes Again

The question for today is, "How much government is too much government?"

What brings this particular question to mind is one of the agenda items addressed by the Costa Mesa City Council in their study session on Tuesday, August 12, 2007. That item was entitled, "Standardized Plans For Freedom Homes Room Additions", which can be read in it's entirety here.

According to the staff report, this item was requested by Mayor Pro Tem Eric Bever, a man known for the occasional odd flight of fancy. This appears to be yet another one of them.

The first paragraph of the staff report states, "Pursuant to the Mayor Pro Tem's request, staff prepared a Request for Proposals (RFP) to create standardized plans for the most popular building additions to the Freedom Homes. The purpose of the standardized plans is to create a valuable resource for homeowners by providing basic design drawings that, homeowners may use or customize to suit their needs. In doing so, homeowners could reduce time and cost associated with planning/building room additions to their Freedom Home."

Further on, in the text of the Request for Proposals, under Scope of Work, the following statement is made, "The plans do not need to be structurally engineered, but should consider the zoning and structural issues relative to a typical existing property."

The RFP goes on to describe three distinct types of projects to be considered and provides specific guidance to the bidders as to what is expected as a work product. The staff estimates the cost of this project to be $10,000 - $15,000.

It seems to me that this is micro-managing of the worst kind. Why in the world should the city be involved developing specific plans for specific homes in a specific section of town? It's clear from reading the staff report that the plans anticipated will not be adequate for the homeowner to circumvent the need to hire an architect to create appropriately engineered plans for city approval. Basically, what will be produced under this plan is a set of architectural renderings - very much like the one shown at the top of my previous post about Triangle Square.

Yes, the Freedom Homes are, for the most part, cookie cutter homes - all have similar floor plans, or did when first built. They are fairly typical of homes built following World War II throughout Southern California. They were intended to provide affordable housing for our returning warriors and their families, where emphasis was placed on providing basic shelter and lots of space outside to play. Times have changed and the emphasis a half century later is to larger homes with smaller outside areas. Now the only exercise many kids get today is on their thumbs as they text message back and forth.

It seems unlikely to me that any Freedom Home homeowners intent on performing a major remodel of their homes would choose to perpetuate the cookie cutter approach by utilizing a government sponsored "look". If they wanted that they could have moved to Irvine, for goodness sake.

If this is a good idea for the Freedom Homes, what about College Park or Mesa del Mar? Do we really want our government to design our homes for us? I think not! There are already plenty of constraints on homeowners who wish to remodel or rebuild in our city. City government should not be in the business of designing home remodels.

I think this pipe dream steps way beyond the boundary of government intrusion and is a waste of government funds. For such a proposal to come from a man who touts himself as a "conservative" is astonishing. Quite honestly, it sure looks like Bever is pandering to his core constituency in that section of town in anticipation of a re-election campaign next year. Many folks in his "improver" base live in that neck of the woods. I guess I shouldn't be surprised at such a blatant move - such poor judgment is typical of Bever and displays yet another reason he shouldn't be re-elected.

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