Wednesday, November 17, 2010

City Council Meeting Wrap-up

The Costa Mesa City Council meeting last night had some highs and lows. I already posted my thoughts about the rejection of Wendy Leece's proposal to replace her, Leece, with Arlene Schafer on the Orange County Vector Control Board on my previous entry. There were lots of other interesting things, though.

For example, early in the proceedings during Council Membe
r Comments, Allan Mansoor took the opportunity to thank many people who have helped him over the past 8 years, barely making it through his comments without a full-on cry. Last night was his final meeting as a council member - he'll be sworn in as the State Assemblyman for the 68th District on December 6th. The crowd in the auditorium gave him a standing ovation, which I'm sure he interpreted as recognition of his contributions to the city. I was not there, but I suspect at least a few of those folks were cheering because we won't be infested with his brainless mutterings and robotic following of the directions given him by Orange County Republican Party overlords.

Actually, Mansoor leaving is a mixed blessing. On the positive side we "lose" a council member who has not been very smart and not very effective. On the negative side, we replace him with at least one new member, depending on whether Katrina Foley actually resigns her seat, with the same lock-step ideology in the person of the cunning, well-connected and finally-elected Jim Righeimer. Righeimer is no dummy and has the potential to do much, much more damage to our city than Mansoor had on his worst day. It will be even worse if Foley does, in fact, bail out and one of Righeimer's cronies - frat boy Steve Mensinger, for example - is appointed to replace her. I'm going to be one busy guy trying to keep track of potential Brown Act violations!


I will also miss the sparing between Foley and Mansoor - she who can
craft an argument with precision and he, who has a hard time even reading the words he's written. She continued to yank his chain right up to the very end last night - and it made me smile. So, without a tear in my eye, I bid Allan Mansoor a not-so-fond adieu and hope he enjoys the utility room assigned to him by Assembly Speaker John Lopez as an office.

The council decided to yank the conditional use permit for Garcia Recycling, forcing that business out of business unless they can find a satisfactory place to relocate within 90 days. I understand the problem - the business has grown beyond all expectations over the last 20 years and has apparently made the lives of neighbors very difficult, with noise and overflow traffic. Based on what Garcia's lawyer said - and the way he said it - I'm sure we're going to see legal action on this decision.

(Thanks to a loyal reader for this photo - his vision of the "New" TeWinkle Park Lake)
The council also voted to make feeding fish and fowl at TeWinkle Park a "disorderly conduct" offense. They were between a rock and a hard place on this one. The staff report and presentation made it clear that something simply had to be done to fix the problem. Because folks overfeed the critters there is an over-abundance of "fecal matter" in the lake. The water circulation system that was installed to help resolve the problem has been severely damaged by folks fishing in the lake - fish lines snag on the PVC pipes, which are then broken when the lines are yanked. People wade in the water and break the lines, too. The pumps get clogged by plastic bags and other debris and it recently cost over $40,000 to repair them. The City has over $1 million invested in restoring the lake and there are few inexpensive options to keep it operating.


Based on what I heard last night, the City failed to communicate the nature of this problem to the neighbors in Mesa Del Mar. Foley called for a cadre of volunteers - docents - to patrol the lake and advise visitors not to feed the critters and/or fish in the lake. She suggested installing feeding stations with coin-operated dispensaries to provide small amounts of food and forbid folks from dragging bags of stale Wonder Bread to the lake to feed the critters. Mansoor rejected that idea - he likes the idea of folks bringing leftover pastries and moldy bread to the park and the wrappers fouling the pumps.

The council "continued" the items dealing with the Administrative Services budget - th
e Downtown Pool and Youth Flag Football among them - until its meeting of December 7th.

One of the fun parts of the night for me was the discussion of the process by which Foley, if she leaves, will be replaced on the City Council, which extended to the replacements on the Planning and Parks & Recreation Commissions, too. Mansoor was almost apoplectic on this issue, accusing Foley of refusing to commit right then and there to her departure plans, or lack thereof. She just let him rant and bluster, but didn't ever answer the question about whether she will actually give up her council seat when she's sworn in to the School Board on December 14th. Regardless, we know there is at least one vacancy, Righeimer's, on the Planning Commission and others will expire in January. Same with the Parks & Recreation Commission. Mansoor wanted the council to include in it's agenda item a discussion of combining both commissions. The meeting of December 7th is going to be a fun-packed affair because City Manager Allan Roeder reminded the council at, upon seating Righeimer, the council will then elect a Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem. Foley will get to participate in that process because she will still be on the council. Ya gotta love it!

And, those of you who have inoperable cars parked on your driveway - your days
are numbered. The council majority - Leece and Foley voting No - has decided that you are terrible persons, contributing to the blight of your neighborhoods and your irresponsibility in doing what you wish on your own property is unacceptable in Costa Mesa. Now that piece of junk (or family treasure) under that tarp on your driveway will have to go into your garage or in your back yard, behind a 6 foot fence. Get ready, folks... this is just the beginning. This issue was generated by the Jim Righeimer Planning Commission and he's jumping up to the big seat next month, probably dragging along one of his cronies. They will not be happy unless they completely remake Costa Mesa into a pseudo-Irvine - except without all those darn liberals! I suggest you make a list of the rights you have now that makes this city the place you wish to live, work and play, then watch to see how many of them are stripped from you in the next four years.

The next council meeting, on December 7th, will be the final one of the year. It will include the seating of Righeimer, the election of a new mayor and mayor pro tem and we just might have some indication of where we stand budget-wise. I want to think 2011 is going to be a better year, but...

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Anonymous Chinabeach45 said...

A few questions, keeping in mind I know I am preaching to the choir...

1. What constitutes an inoperable vehicle? I could not find this information on the report linked to the agenda, only what is excluded from the RV category. Is there a time limit on a vehicle being inoperable. Is a car with a flat tire inoperable? Dead battery? Missing engine and tranny? Or does it have to be up on jack stands with stripped tires and wheels to be obviously inoperable? How will this be enforced? Code enforcement knocks on resident's door and asks them to "please start the vehicle in the driveway that appears to be inoperable"...?

2. How can these planning commissioners of our city think that one "inoperable vehicle" could possibly be more of an eyesore than 5-10 operable but undriven vehicles at one residence? I would rather look at one inoperable vehicle in someone's driveway than the 4 camaros, 4 suburbans, 4 impalas, and 2 caprice wagons that dwell in my neighborhood, and rotate through various stages of use.

Any insight welcome!

11/17/2010 05:57:00 PM  
Anonymous OCLonghair said...

If the Shafer nomination had of been one of the three stooges ideas, the vote to seat her would have been so fast there would have only been only a blur on the monitor when votes were cast.

Another thing, I was a bit confused; is the Tewinkle Lake problem from over feeding the ducks or are the ground squirrels doing their business in the lake and wiping with plastic bags; Mansoor got me so confused on this.

When watching Foley and Big Al argue last night I got a bit misty eyed (not to be confused with stinky eyed) thinking how boring council meeting will be without their snide, arrogant, loud voices rudely interrupting each other; seeing which one could speak over the other the loudest.

I shed a tear…

11/17/2010 09:21:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Chinabeach45, you present two interesting questions. The council and staff bounced around the issue of what constitutes an "inoperable vehicle" last night and didn't ever really answer the question. The closest Kim Brandt came was a car with flat tires and/or on blocks. However, that could be a temporary situation - replacing suspension components on a project car, for example. This will be one of the saddest parts of Mansoor's "legacy" as he departs for Sacramento. And, my friend, the worst is yet to come with Righeimer on the council. wait and see.

11/17/2010 09:25:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

OCLonghair, I agree - it's going to be very boring come January! With Foley gone there will be no REAL voice of opposition on important issues.

As far as the TeWinkle Park lake is concerned, I think the photo provided by a very talented and loyal reader established the tone - gun towers to, as he put it, "keep those sh*tty ducks under control, not to mention the juvenile delinquents out of the fish'n hole." :-)

11/17/2010 09:30:00 PM  
Anonymous OCLonghair said...


I like this guy's sick humor, looks like he has found a home; he will fit here just fine.

11/17/2010 10:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Joe R. said...

"BC", is there anyone on this entire blog that does NOT think that Steve Mesinger will be the next Councilman? I heard from a friend of mine over in Mesa Verde that Riggy's kids call Mesinger "Uncle Steve." I think we're past cronyism and straddling the line of nepotism. Watch, the other Commissioners will not even apply for the position. This stuff makes me sick. Can someone file a legal challenge or something?

11/18/2010 08:38:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Joe R., Your story doesn't surprise me at all. Righeimer and Mensinger ARE good friends. When you watch the Planning Commission meetings and see the banter between them it's clear that they have a special relationship. They each were the President of divisions of SunCal Companies at the same time. I have ABSOLUTELY no problem that they are buddies.

However, I DO have a problem with the way Mensinger tries to micro-manage projects being heard and his willingness (eagerness?) to bully applicants before him.

Mensinger receives credit from many in town for single-handedly resurrecting the Estancia High School football program and Pop Warner football. He certainly deserves kudos for his participation in those programs. He's a guy who "gets things done", which is dandy unless you trample people's rights in the process.

11/18/2010 09:34:00 AM  
Anonymous flyonthewalll said...

I know you admire Foley but don't you think she is playing a silly game about whether she is resigning her seat or not? I could care less if she stays or she goes but quit the games, very juvenile. If she does not take the school board seat she really did a disservice to the district and Michael Collier especially. All in all it is very interesting to watch.

11/18/2010 09:45:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

flyonthewalll, you are correct - I do admire Foley for her tenacity, intelligence and willingness to stand her ground on issues even though she would be the lone voice of her positions. Her independence and perspective will be missed if she leaves the council.

No, I don't think her actions are "juvenile". She announced in advance of the election that she planned to leave the council if elected to the school board. Some have suggested that she should have actually resigned BEFORE the election - not a possibility until she was actually elected, for goodness sake. Her actions have prompted the council and staff to move forward with a procedure to replace her and Righeimer promptly. Clearly, she and others on the dais Tuesday had a different recollection of the proceedings during their ethics training session. I have not watched that session, but it is available on the streaming video at the city web site so will do so shortly. It's just under 2 hours, but should be interesting viewing.

The simplest solution to filling her vacancy, of course, would be to select Chris McEvoy. Since more than 25% of the voters thought he was a good choice, his selection would not be controversial. If Foley HAD resigned before the election we wouldn't be having this discussion - Chris would be seated on December 7th. Politics being what they are in this city, his selection is highly unlikely.

11/18/2010 09:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Vicki said...

People living in Costa Mesa want change. That's why Jim Righeimer was overwhelmingly elected.

Chris McEvoy would not bring about a positive change. Given a chance, he would bring marijuana into our midst (like we don't have enough problems to start with!). That kind of change is not what we need.

Chinabeach45: Sid Soffer fought the good fight with regard to inoperable vehicles, ..... and lost. That dead horse is not worth beating. Besides, who wants to look out their window at a used car lot ... with covers?

11/18/2010 02:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Alex said...

Garcia Recycling too brown for you? Maybe you'd prefer Johnson recycling... I still think you're a racist bigmouth.

11/18/2010 03:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Rich said...

Pot Stirrer, I can't believe you are jusrifying the close relationship between Mensinger and Righeimer as a proper justification to make him a Councilmember. This IS cronyism, not democracy. Their relationship alone should exclude Mensinger from consideration. We live in a democratic society, not an elitist oligarchy! As Righeimer himself stated in the paper last week, we are a City of 100,000+ residents. We should be looking for some terrific outside talen for this position!!

11/18/2010 03:37:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Rich, please read what I wrote again. I DID NOT use Righeimer's friendship with Mensinger as a justification for placing Mensinger on the City Council. Quite the opposite - I don't like the idea of Mensinger on the council for a variety of reasons as stated above AND the fact that he and Righeimer are buddies. Those close relationships make for the strong possibilities of city business - which is supposed to be conducted in an open forum - being discussed and resolved at football games or birthday parties. I think Mensinger would NOT be a good choice for the potentially open seat on the council. Clear enough?

11/18/2010 04:38:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Alex, that's a curious comment! Where in the world did that come from, or are you just a lunatic?

11/18/2010 05:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Chinabeach45 said...

@ Vicki - I am not beating a dead horse by trying to clarify a grossly vague new policy. There are simply way too many details that are missing. I happen to look down my street at a used car lot, (without the covers,) of vehicles that are still operable but never leave their parking spots! I would rather look at one car with a missing wheel than the lot down the street. And coming from someone who has owned a project vehicle for many years, this is saying something. Car ownership comes with maintenance, and maintenance comes with temporary inoperability. So all I ask is some definition of the term.

11/19/2010 07:39:00 AM  
Anonymous In CM said...

As mentioned in an earlier post, several months ago code enforcment forced me to remove an inoperable vehicle from my driveway in costa mesa or force fines. The vehicle was clean and besides a bad transmission was in working order. I don't see how this is anything new.

11/19/2010 09:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Rob Dimel said...

I agree that the term "inoperable" is vague. Probably 10 years ago, I received a letter from Code Enforcement about the "inoperable" vehicle in my driveway. The vehicle was a third vehicle we owned, a 1987 Toyota pick-up. It looked brand new til the day i sold it and was completely drivable. It was driven often. So, what made it "inoperable"?

I picked up a nail in the right rear tire. It went flat while parked in the driveway. I filled it with my compressor, and drove my other truck until the weekend, so that I could deal with the bad tire. Code Enforcement happened to see it when the tire had gone flat, and fired off the letter. I do appreciate that they want to keep from having people's homes look like the lot from Sanford and son. The irony was that by the time the letter arrived and I was aware I had drawn their scrutiny, the tire was fixed.

Nobody wants to have an eyesore in their neighborhood, but a little common sense needs to apply. I look at it kind of like the "disturbing the peace" statute. A peace officer's "peace" can not be disturbed. A cop can't drive through the neighborhood and say "hey that music is too loud", unless a citizen is complaining and that citizen is having THEIR peace disturbed.

Apply that same standard. Unless it is an obvious violation (up on blocks etc) then unless someone is complaining, leave it be. Perhaps a time limit that it can be parked inop. As mentioned, some folks have project cars, it's their hobby. It's kind of a shame to put up a barrier to father/son project or budding shade tree mechanic. It's kind of an American tradition.

I guess the bottom line is; I get the intent of the statute, but let's apply it with some common sense.

11/23/2010 10:40:00 PM  

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