Monday, June 09, 2008

An Interesting Day In Costa Mesa

A few interesting things will happen here in our little neck of the woods over the next 24 hours.

Tonight, during its regularly scheduled meeting, the Costa Mesa Planning Commission will consider how to deal with the numerous bootleg buildings around our town. This pimple of an issue festered to a head recently when a neighbor on Costa Mesa Street was planning to remodel his home. His property included an outbuilding
constructed in the 1960s without the benefit of permits. Apparently this is not the only such structure in our town. Big surprise!

Our city, established in 1953, was a collection of communities before it was incorporated. It was remote enough from the county seat in Santa Ana that, when a guy whose property backed up to a bit of agricultural land, decided he wanted to build a shed for his tractor or tools or his model train set he just built it.

Progress has created a whole new cadre of scofflaws - usually older folks who have lived in their home for 50 years or so. Now those folks are moving on - one way or another - and younger folks are buying those big lots with bootleg buildings tucked back into a corner hoping to build the home of their dreams. Unfortunately, they're going to
have to deal with the building before building their castle.

Based on reading the staff report, it looks like you'll finally be able to get even with your neighbor - just call Code Enforcement and report a "problem" with your neighbor's outbuilding. They'll be over lickety-split to cite your offending neighbor and require him to "fix" the problem.

I find myself wondering if there are not many more important things for our municipal bureaucrats to be worrying about. You can "credit" carpetbagger Jim Righeimer for this one - he wants to make Costa Mesa look like Irvine and getting rid of the bootleg buildings is a good place for him to start.

Dr. Humber
to Caspa will appear on radio station KPCC (FM 89.3) with Larry Mantle Tuesday, June 10th at 10:30 a.m. to discuss his recent book, "Terror in the Latino Barrio: The Rise of the New Right in Local Government". He will also appear in person at two events at Libreria Martinez in Santa Ana this month. He will appear on June 12th at 6:30 p.m. (English) and on the June 22nd at 1:30 p.m. (Spanish).

It is assumed by those who are watching this situation closely that tomorrow, Tuesday, the Orange County Board of Supervisors will finally select a new Sheriff to replace the disgraced and indicted Mike Carona. The nearly 50 candidates have been distilled down to tw
o - Santa Ana Police Chief Paul Walters and retired Los Angeles Sheriff's Department Division Chief Sandra Hutchens. This is going to be very interesting. Walters has the local profile while Hutchens has a resume and command experience in a very big department that was second to none among the candidates. Some folks in Santa Ana are already lining up to find a Latino replacement for Walters, feeling that the predominant demographic group - 75% of Santa Ana residents are Latino - has not been fairly served for the more than two decades Walters has been their top guy.

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Blogger Jim Righeimer said...

Geoff-Trust me, I do not want Costa Mesa to be Irvine. My wife and I chose to raise our three girls in Costa Mesa because of the unique neighborhoods. Regarding illegal apartments. The issue is not the illegal units built when this area was part of the county. Those are considered legal non-conforming. The concern is bootleg apartments built in single family neighborhoods well after the city was incorporated in 1953. We have cases of property owners taking a single family house and breaking it up into three and four units with kitchenettes added to each unit. These single family homes have been converted into apartment buildings. It is not right for the neighbors to have to put up with the extra people, cars and activity in what was once a quiet neighborhood. The city should protect the homes values of people who bought a home in a single family neighborhood.

One last issue in the city is property owners in commercial an industrial areas in town who have taken parts of their property set aside as required parking and constructing a building over it with no permits whatsoever. They then rent it out and force more parking out into the street and into residential neighborhoods. Botton line for me is; if we have laws we should respect them. If we do not like the laws. Change them. But we must have respect for the law. Thanks Geoff.

6/09/2008 09:51:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Jim, I agree that the example you gave in your first paragraph is correct. However, the scene is now set for neighbors to peek over their fence and see a shed, built 40 years ago and harming absolutely no one, then call out the code enforcement guys to investigate it.

Your example of a single family house and breaking it into three or four units does tax the neighbors and the services. How does that differ, though, from that big lot being scraped and a six unit common interest development built in it's place. You swap 1000 square feet with one bathroom and, maybe, two cars for six units of 2000+ square feet each, with four bedrooms, three baths and four cars for each unit. Those kind of things are all over the Eastside. It's no wonder our water, sewer other utilities are taxed on this side of town.

I do not disagree with you that we need to pay attention to the existing laws and enforce them when the violations are creating problems. I don't see the wisdom of simply harassing a homeowner with an old shed on his property that is causing no problems for anyone.

6/09/2008 10:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

how big is your shed, Geoff?

6/10/2008 09:33:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Sorry to disappoint, Commissioner Jim, but no dilapidated, termite-ridden shed to discover here. Neither is there a garage full of illegal aliens. I guess that means you won't have to bother skulking around my neighborhood, peeking over fences, right? That will give you more time with your City Council campaign...

6/10/2008 10:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was no shed, Geoff. This was a full, separate apartment built so close to the side property line that it couldn't be legalized without a variance, and there was no basis for a variance. We can't just grant permission for a new main house while allowing an illegal unit that violates the zoning ordinance to remain, unless we treat everyone the same: "anybody can build anything anywhere and use it as they wish, and to heck with the neighbors." Surely you can see that's not the Planning Commission's job nor the job of the City staff, and it's certainly not what the public wants in their own neighborhoods.

6/10/2008 06:02:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...


Yes, I know the story of the structure in question. I watched all the proceedings as it bounced back and forth between Planning and the Council and back again. I understand why the Planning Commission and the City Council cannot establish a precedent to ignore such structures when their presence clearly complicates the approval for the modification of the residence, as was the case in that situation. What I'm concerned about is a neighbor or other malcontent filing a "complaint" which generates a visit by code enforcement which then results in a fine and/or demand to demolish an inoffensive structure that harms no one. You and I both know the groundwork is now in place for that to happen.

Part of the eclectic nature of Costa Mesa, particularly on the Eastside of town, is the fact that there are many really old homes, some with outbuildings built decades ago that harm no one. I understand the interest in "improving" our city, but it's sad that "improvement" in some folks mind means replicating Irvine.

By the way, I'm still puzzled by the Planning Commission's recent decision to require the car repair operator to remove the roof from his shed where cars are simply parked. That was a weird one. I find myself wondering what he's going to do when it rains - if it ever does rain again - and water becomes trapped in his roofless garage.

6/10/2008 06:21:00 PM  

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