Friday, January 06, 2012

19th Street Bridge Meeting Wrap-up

If you thought some of the "outsourcing" City Council meetings in Costa Mesa last year were raucous, you should have been at the meeting about the 19th Street Bridge at Eader Elementary School in Huntington Beach last night! Holy Cow! Once the meeting got underway the crowd was noi
sy and impatient, alternately cheering and jeering and shouting out at speakers. It was a lot of fun!
I arrived very early - before 6:00 p.m. - for the 7:00 meeting because I wanted a chance to get the lay of the land before the festivities began. Even at that early hour opponents of The Bridge were busily setting up tables outside the meeting room and handing out anti-bridge literature.
Members of the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) staff were present with hand-outs, sign-in rosters and stickers to be used to express preferences.
The room, which has a capacity rating of 460 people, was set up to accommodate 200 in chairs, with standing room behind the rows of chairs. As it turned out, the facility wasn
't even close to being able to handle the crowd. Five minutes before the schedule starting time all the chairs were occupied and there was a growing standing-room-only crowd in the rear. I estimated that a few minutes into the meeting there were nearly 500 people in the room PLUS another 300 or so outside. And no one in the crowd was happy. By the time the meeting ended the crowd had thinned, but there remained at least 200 concerned residents who stayed to the bitter end.A SPECIAL COUNCIL MEETING
Huntington Beach Mayor Don Hansen kicked things off by taking roll of the members of the City Council present - the meeting had been agendized as a special council meeting. At one time or another throughout the evening six of the seven Huntington Beach city council members were present. He also, tongue-in-cheek, expressed gratitude for there being no torches and pitch forks in the crowd.MOORLACH THROWS ROSANSKY UNDER THE BUS
He handed off the early part of the meeting briefly to Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach, who promptly answered the #1 question on everyone's mind - why are we here? He told us that lame duck Newport Beach City Councilman Steve Rosansky - who was present - had approached Moorlach earlier last year to get some help with "a few things" that he had hoped to accomplish before he left office - he's termed-out the end of this year. One of those things was getting the 19th Street Bridge approved. The reaction by the crowd was noisy and very unhappy. Still, to his credit, Rosansky stuck it out to the very end of the meeting and was still lingering, answering questions from residents and members of the media at 10 p.m. Moorlach also stayed until the very end.OPTIONS
Hansen then took a few minutes to give the fidgety audience the options they could consider, but also emphasized that the official position of the Huntington Beach City Council is in opposition to a bridge. He stressed that many times over the evening. He gave a PowerPoint presentation of the options - the most popular, by far, was to do nothing at all. Huntington Beach councilman Joe Shaw remarked that he would press his fellow council members to re-assert their official opposition to the bridge at the next meeting on January 17th.

Hansen emphasized that it will take unanimous consent by the city councils of Huntington Beach, Newport Beach and Costa Mesa to get the bridge removed from the County Master Plan of Arterial Highways (MPAH) permanently, and that didn't seem likely since it appeared the Newport Beach City Council was in favor of the bridge to enhance traffic flow coincident with the proposed Banning Ranch Development.


Wendy Leece, the only Costa Mesa council member present, told the group that our city's official position was in opposition to the bridge. The crowd cheered.
(Leece with Rosansky on the right)
After an overview of the options Hansen gave the crowd a half hour to mingle and look at the displays made available by the Orange County Transportation Authority staff, then re-convened the formal part of the meeting for Public Comments. Eighty-five minutes and 52 speakers later he called the meeting to a halt. The number of speakers from Huntington Beach and Costa Mesa was about evenly split, with a few others from Newport Beach filling it out.TWO DOZEN COSTA MESANS SPOKE
While I don't have nearly enough space to list all the Costa Mesans who crossed the border to express their concern on this issue, those familiar with Costa Mesa council meetings would have recognized many of the speakers from our city, including former council members Jay Humphrey and Sandra Genis. However, several Costa Mesans that spoke were not "regulars", just very concerned residents who became energized by this particular issue. Not a single person spoke in favor of the bridge, including Rosansky, who had been blindsided by Moorlach earlier.COSTA MESA STAFF WELL-REPRESENTED
Several Costa Mesa staffers were in attendance, led by CEO Tom Hatch. I saw recently appointed Director of Economic Development/Community Improvement, Peter Naghavi, Interim Public Services Director,Ernesto Munoz and Transportation Services Manager Raja Sethuraman all huddled at the side of the room, listening intently to the questions and comments. Planning Commissioner and Westside resident Rob Dickson was also present.
The upshot of the meeting was a clear statement that, while Huntington Beach does not support the bridge, it will also take unanimous support from the leaders of Costa Mesa and Newport Beach to remove the bridge from the MPAH forever. So, it's likely that this issue will just never go away and another group of very concerned residents will be re-visiting it again sometime in the next decade or two. That's a very depressing fact of life.

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Anonymous Where was Riggy? said...

Did Wendy forget that the ONLY one who represents Costa Mesa is Jim Righeimer? How DARE she?

Wendy is gonna have some 'splaining to do!

1/06/2012 05:28:00 AM  
Anonymous RickandJenn said...

Again, who supports this thing? Has Righeimer said he supports it? If so, he is CRAZY. Glad to see so many people share opposition to this terrible idea. I have yet to meet ANYONE who supports the bridge, not a single person.

Good recap. Sounds likes a fun meeting.

1/06/2012 08:18:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Well, Righeimer says he's in favor of it and Bever implied he would be in favor of it at the last council meeting. The City of Newport Beach is in favor of it because it solves some of their traffic problems, current and future with Banning Ranch.

I'm told he was on vacation with his family, hence his absence from meetings all week.

1/06/2012 08:26:00 AM  
Blogger Angry White Man said...

Do we know for sure exactly which of our coun-sell memebers are in favor of this bridge?
Do we believe it a coincidence that Peter Naghavi (the cities very own expert on the bridge and traffic mitigation from banning development)was recently promoted?
Will this bridge and the widening of 19th street along with the destruction of all of those homes on 19th be considered a "capital improvement" ?

1/06/2012 10:27:00 AM  
Anonymous OCLonghair said...

Geoff, it’s always good to see you in the flesh. I hope my close propinquity to you at the meeting doesn’t get you removed from the “Most Favored Non-Partisan” wall at the Costa Mesa Senior’s Center.

In my ‘oh so humble opinion’, believe that we will never get the 3 City arpeggio to come together and remove the 19th street [and the Giesler] bridges from the 1958 MPAH, because whether or not it gets built it CAN and IS being used as if they exist.

Whether or not these brides ever get built, development around these two sites will be allowed to build and build and build and build... well you get the point.

Just think, if we as voters could somehow get these two bridges off the MPAH forever:

1. The Banning Ranch project would be limited to nearly half the size projected at present.


2. As HB Mayor commented on last night, “This [bridge] issue gets visited every ten or so years”, wouldn’t again be an issue.

One can only dream...

1/06/2012 10:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Mike M said...

So Riggy couldn't make the first meeting about the charter, or the one about the bridge? His own pet projects? Hmmmmm....

1/06/2012 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger Colin said...

Sweet !! :) Very happy to see the HB residents totally not in favor of this horrible project. I wonder if Moorlach read the vibes in the room and threw his buddy under the bus as to not look like the bad guy. I mean if the guy you are saying wants the thing, turns around and says no I don't, then why call this meeting ? NB (or probably more frankly, the NB city council) can't bully us into getting what they want.

1/06/2012 10:58:00 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

As I thought, Moorlach is a robot built by the OCGOP:

1/06/2012 11:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Tamar said...

To all , but especially to RickandJenn,

I also oppose the 19th Street Bridge. It will not affect me personally, but I know that it will have terrible impact on people near the route. I oppose access to Banning Ranch through Costa Mesa, commercialization of Tewinkle Park, and all the other concessions that are being made to cronies for the same reason. No intrusion on a single neighborhood directly affects a majority of residents, so it is our duty to protect each other.

While the current group of councilmen can do plenty of damage to our quality of life now while we are a general law city, they can do much more damage much more easily with a charter. They can change election procedures, weaken public notification even more, change zoning more easily, and in fact take many unnamed powers that aren’t expressly forbidden in the charter.

Even if you were to agree with everything Mr. Righeimer has done so far and even if you were to trust these councilmen to act in the best interests of all residents, remember that a charter will outlast them, and a new council with a different agenda could wreak havoc on your way of life. In another post, you asked for criticism of the charter itself. I’ve just given you a summary.

1/06/2012 11:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Just curious said...

Out of curiosity, who put together and owns the County Master Plan of Arterial Highways (MPAH)? OCTA? SCAG? BOS?

1/06/2012 11:36:00 AM  
Anonymous RickandJenn said...

Tamar, why are you comparing the Charter to the Bridge? The two are unrelated. I fully support a Charter. In fact I wonder why it has taken the City this long to get one. Most other cities around us have them.

Hate the Council all you want, they will be uknowns in a few years. We will still have OUR Charter and our City. Villifying the current majority has no impact on me in supporting a Charter. Stop trying to connect the two. Based on the public comments I just saw from the City, sounds like lots of folks like the idea.

1/06/2012 01:07:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Great piece. Do you mind if I lift about 80% for my column? :-)

1/06/2012 01:47:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Jack Wu,
Fine with me... write to me at the email address on this blog...

1/06/2012 02:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Tamar said...

Rickand Jen, please don’t confuse the notion of “a” charter, which can indeed be a good thing with the actuality of any specific charter. You can have a detailed, respectfully developed charter like that of Irvine, or you can have a charter that permits all kinds of misdoing such as occurred in Bell and Vernon. The connection with the bridge is that a charter can make it easier for city councils to slip undesirable policies and projects by the public because state-imposed protections are missing.

Regarding the 19th Street Bridge, my guess is that you don’t have to worry too much because many Costa Mesa as well as Huntington Beach residents are affected. As long as you or your neighbors are willing to raise a stink every five years or so, you might be okay. However, projects like access roads through Costa Mesa to a huge, traffic-generating development in Newport Beach will be harder to stop.

You’re right that these councilmen will be gone in a few years. However, if the next group’s agenda is less to your liking, you might then begin wishing for the carefully vetted protections provided by the general law of California.

1/06/2012 04:51:00 PM  
Anonymous historymystery said...


LOL, you probably were followers of the fascist governments of the 1930s in another life.

How can you be so blind? This charter is a Teapot-Dome scandal all over again. (Yes that was a real scandal involving public official corruption for those non history buffs on this blog) On that subject, does everybody else know history repeats itself?

1/06/2012 05:10:00 PM  
Anonymous dumbocrats said...

Tamar don't use Irvine's charter as an example. Everyone knows the big democrat thugs drafted that charter and look what it got them.

Oh, they are arguably the safest city in America, the most fiscally sound city in Orange County, and the example used for all planned communities... plus they just gave every employee a holiday bonus!!! No, we wouldn't want that.

1/06/2012 07:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Ron said...

It's not going to happen without a shooting War!
Costa Mesa is Costa Mesa...and H.B. is H.B. we have good definition at Adams and Victoria where the Police monitor the influx of Costa Mesans...Clear?

1/07/2012 11:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Westside Mom said...

It was great to see such a big turnout. My big concern is that unless we can get this bridge off the master plan, Banning Ranch developers can use it to over-build, with just as adverse an effect on the westside as the bridge would cause. In fact we would need the bridge to alleviate the extra traffic, but there's no money to build it. Why on earth do developers get to make a project in NB that results in increased traffic to CM, that they don't have to pay for? If NB can stop the bridge from being removed from the Master plan, then CM should be able to block the development of Banning Ranch.

1/08/2012 10:09:00 PM  

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