Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Early Meeting? Not A Chance!

Silly me!  I thought, after looking at the agenda for the Costa Mesa City Council meeting scheduled for Tuesday night, that it was going to be a cake walk and that we'd be out of there before 10:00 p.m.  Wrong!  Well, actually, I was partially correct - I was exhausted and starving so I bugged out at precisely 10:00 and went home to watch the rest of the meeting - that finally wrapped up at 11:35.
In fact, if it had not been for the contentious Public Hearing on a 17-unit development on the far west end of Victoria Street that lasted for three hours we'd have all gone home really early.

The meeting began on a couple positive notes when Mayor Jim Righeimer bestowed his latest Mayor's Award on Walter Gaynor - the man behind the development of the Mesa Verde section of Costa Mesa, including the Mesa Verde Country Club.

The second positive item was the recognition of the team that saved a gentleman's life at the 24 Hour Fitness shop at The Triangle not too long ago.  Members of the staff of that club and the Fire Department first responders were honored and received official "thanks" from the man himself, who credited their fast action and the competence of the staff at Hoag Hospital for saving his life.  It was a wonderful, uplifting moment.

Public Comments brought more than a dozen speakers, many of whom spoke on the closure of the Anchor Trailer Port.  The main theme was the apparent capriciousness of the application of "moving bonuses" - speakers gave examples of the inconsistency of the administration of those dollars.

As has been the case in recent council meetings, a small cadre of Newport Harbor High School students stepped to the podium and pleaded with the council to pass an ordinance against the use of Styrofoam cups and plates in restaurants in Costa Mesa.

Council Member Comments began just after 7:00 and I thought we were on our way to an early night.  Ha!  Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger again regaled us with his "Costa Mayberry Walks", oblivious to the fact that many Costa Mesa residents find it extremely offensive when he compares their town to Mayberry - the hick town of Andy Griffith fame.  Like many men who never outgrew their frat boy days, he's clueless about that kind of stuff.

Sandra Genis reminded us that the second installment of our property tax is due next week, and gave us a primer on how little of those taxes are actually returned to the city - she used 17% as a number and suggested we all look at those tax bills before paying them.

Wendy Leece had a large bag of things to discuss, including the 60th Anniversary celebration; trash along the freeways; darkened car windows; the Bark Park; Anchor Trailer Port; the need for a Veterans Hall to replace the one demolished two decades ago; AQMD issues; the upcoming presentation at the Historical Society on Sunday, April 14th and her concerns about massage parlors around town.  Whew!

Gary Monahan thanked Public Services Director Ernesto Munoz for the excellent street work presently underway on the Eastside.

Mayor Righeimer, once again, painted a gloomy picture of our pension situation, telling us that the CalPERS board recently voted to increase the pension rates by 50% over the next 6 years, indicating that our pension costs - presently around 20% of our budget - will rise to 30% by that time.  That, of course, presumes no increase in revenue beyond what we receive now.  He referred to the City of Stockton, which was permitted to move forward with its bankruptcy this week and told us that Costa Mesa is in good shape so he doesn't anticipate the need for bankruptcy.  It's curious, because when he first took office he was constantly dredging up that specter to frighten residents.

CEO Tom Hatch told us about a Study Session next Tuesday that will include a discussion of CDBG funds and labor negotiations.  He turned the conversation over to Finance and Information Technology Director Bobby Young and lawyer and labor negotiator Richard Kreisler for a quick primer on Mensinger's COIN scheme.  You can find it all laid out in detail on the City web site, HERE.  He also told us there will be a special Charter study session on April 23rd.  He also told us that The State of California sent The City a letter dealing with a loan between The City and the now-defunct Redevelopment Agency implying that they want it - all $10 million of it!  He, Young, lawyer Celeste Brady and Assistant Finance Director Colleen O'Donahue are flying to Sacramento on Thursday to meet with State officials to explain the situation to them.  That would be a huge kick in the pocket book for our city!

The Consent Calendar brought a brief discussion by Public Affairs Manager Dan Joyce of the current plans for the launch of the 60th Anniversary celebration after Wendy Leece pulled it for discussion.  The staff report includes plans for road closures, which will certainly require some serious coordination.  We also saw a nifty 3D graphic presentation - a virtual "walk through" of the proposed venue for the launch event that will be held on June 28, 29 and 30th in front of City Hall on Fair Drive.  It sure sounds like this is going to be a terrific celebration.

Righeimer juggled the agenda and they spent five minutes discussing the second reading of the Camping and Personal Belonging Storage ordinance - and passed it, 5-0.

Finally, at 8:15, they got to that public hearing mentioned briefly above.  Staff made a thorough presentation and the applicant also made a lengthy pitch.  Council members peppered both with questions throughout.  Several residents of homes nearby stood to oppose the project for one reason or another.  In fact, by that time Righeimer was beginning to morph back into his intolerant self and almost refused to let Robin Leffler - the final speaker - say her piece just because he could.  He gets that way near the end of meetings.  He lets his guard down and the new Jovial Jim kind of just disappears.  The upshot of all the conversation was that the two developers - Righeimer and Mensinger - and a compliant Gary Monahan voted for the project and Genis and Leece - both of whom made solid, fact-based arguments for denial - voted against it.  Once again we are seeing that old, "Any project is better than no project" attitude coming through.  Just wait... it's going to get worse.

At 11:20 Righeimer excused himself because the final item - the selection of the team to identify supportive housing for the homeless - involved Mercy House, where he is on the board of directors.  The discussion of this important issue took less than 15 minutes and was approved on a 4-0 vote.  It seemed quite anticlimactic for such an important issue involving so many people and, potentially, so many City dollars, to be given such short shrift.

So, that's it until the next Study Session on Tuesday, April 9th.

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Anonymous sippincherrycokefrontporch said...

I Love Mayberry !!
How the hell is it "extremely offensive to some"? Those who are extremely offended, key word , extremely need to learn tolerance. I know frogs are offended by anything repugs do, but extremely?

4/03/2013 07:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Opie Taylor said...

Make believe Mayberry is full of country bumpkins who don't have a care in the world, are a little slower, and don't have to deal with the everyday problems that happen in the real world.

Costa Mesa is NO Mayberry. It has real problems, such as crime, drug and alcohol problems, homeless, illegal pot clinics, dirty massage parlors, seedy hotels/motels, gangs, and a few politicians who don't care about anything except screwing the good people and making a name for themselves.

If this is your Mayberry, you can have it.

4/03/2013 11:16:00 AM  
Blogger Gericault said...

I'm still shocked that they went ahead with the project on Victoria with only a six inch separation between the buildings.
The code requires ten feet for detached dwellings. The developer stated reasons why he doesn't want to build condos and for those reasons thats why he's separating the buildings. Well and good but that still doesn't explain why they are only six inches apart. Obviously you want to maximize your profits, but you can't just skirt codes to do it. With these foxes running the hen house obviously you can.How do you clean or maintain a six inch . hundred foot long, thirty foot high crevasse, of which there will be many throughout the project? How do you make sure kids don't get stuck in there? How do stop mold, or rodents, or bees, or possums and other wildlife from breeding in there?
The planning commissioners and the council are so developer friendly they don't even think these things out anymore. It's pathetic.

4/03/2013 11:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Riggy's Gameplan said...

"Government of the developer, by the developer, and for the developer."

4/03/2013 01:35:00 PM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

Six inches between the buildings? I don't think so!
Maybe the State of California, Housing and Community Development, Division of Codes and Standards will have something to say about that.

4/03/2013 01:51:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Yep, it's true, but legal. That six-inch space is totally boxed-in, including a roof that covers it. Outside observers would never know it's there. Siding will cover the ends. It's a gimmick to permit the developer to sell them as individual units and still maximize the space (profit).

4/03/2013 02:07:00 PM  
Anonymous all style no function said...

if all stated above is true, that 6 inch gap is CRAZY. Lets see, since its between buildings thats 3 inches per home. 7.5 feet per home per level just dedicated for NOTHING

Anybody looking at them will think "no this is attached" and wont sell for what detached units sell for Boggles the mind. Just wait until termites get into that space and they bicker between themselves with who will cover the work to be done. You cant tent an attached 'detached' unit unless you get them all to agree to do it.

4/03/2013 03:11:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Yep, but the developer won't care - he'll be long gone with the profits and leave the HOA to deal with those "little" issues.

4/03/2013 03:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Jiffy Lube Can Do It!!! said...

I liked the part when Sue Lester asked about the city sending out our city vehicles out to other cities for repairs/work. Our city yard is in dire need of help. Positons have been eliminated and people have been promoted, but with no new hires to fill these spots City vehicles are falling apart left and right.

She should have asked about the fire truck that sat at the yard for a month because nobody could work on it, and then it was sent out for repairs that took nearly 2 months. Great way to take care of the high priced vehicles in the fleet.

4/03/2013 04:33:00 PM  
Anonymous outsourse to save money said...

Hey Jiffy,

With all the expertize in our city and it still took 2 extra months to get it back in action?

It sounds like it had major problems that our city staff weren't able to resolve.

Thankfully, it was sent out to someone that could fix the problems!

4/04/2013 01:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Tow Mater said...

@ outsource-- you're right, the guy that usually changes the oil in the police cars probably wasn't able to figure out all the unique and complicated problems with that big fire truck and for that it was sent out and returned with a huge bill for service taped to the side.

How many of these fire trucks does the city have? Are they just going to send them out to Riverside County every time something goes wrong?

4/04/2013 09:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Outsourcing- yes! said...

Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem are mostly ceremonial. Let's outsource their tasks to a couple homeless and put the 60K toward fire engine maintenance!

4/04/2013 01:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Jiffy Lube Can't Do It said...

The City website shows that they are hiring for a mechanic III, and under the duties it states---
The work requires the performance of highly skilled work in repairing electrical malfunctions, installing various types of electrical components and accessories, repair work on automobiles, trucks, police motorcycles, street sweepers, fire apparatus, ambulances, emergency generators, construction vehicles, sewer vehicles and other mechanical equipment.

Seems like alot areas for a mechanic to cover.

4/04/2013 04:10:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Yep, it is, but that's what the now-retired Billy Folsom was doing - and more. It doesn't even address the role he had as "expert witness" for some crime scenes. May take a couple people to replace him...

4/04/2013 04:23:00 PM  
Blogger just wondering... said...

What people don't seem to remember, was that back, back, back in the 70s or 80s, these jobs were outsourced, and it was very much more expensive than doing it in house. When an officer would complain about the back wheel, lets say, they'd take it to Champion and it would be fixed. If the officer didn't like it, they'd to it again, maybe add bigger shocks and a different type of tire, and bill again even though nothing was needed or done.

In house, they fix it according to regulations. Period. No room for modification because the liability insurance won't allow it.

So...this isn't anything new, wasn't cost efficient the first time, and doubt seriously it will be the second.

4/04/2013 05:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

@ Just Wondering, their answer to "if the officer doesn't 'like it'..." Is to say tough, learn to 'like it' or find an officer that already 'likes it' to replace the one that doesn't. They don't care about your preferences. Just as when Care ambulance didn't want to provide paramedic service, Righeiers answer is to get another ambulance provider.

This is about their ideas, what their vision is. Our personal druthers are irrelevant. You were right about the rest of it, I just wanted to make that point.

4/05/2013 11:19:00 AM  

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