Thursday, May 16, 2013

General Plan Update Process Underway

As I told you recently HERE, the process of updating the Costa Mesa General Plan is now officially underway.  We're told that this updating process should take place every ten years.

Last night more than four dozen residents, plus a dozen city staffers and consultants, met at the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to kick-off the process with the first of a series of meetings, cleverly titled "Great Reach", designed to elicit input from members of the community.  The schedule for the remaining meetings is included in that earlier post linked above.

Council member Wendy Leece was the only member of the city council present last night.  There were, however, many other familiar names in the audience, including former councilman Jay Humphrey and Costa Mesa Sanitary District Director and long time coach at Estancia High School, Art Perry.  The list of activists who also attended is too long for me to provide here - and not forget someone.  They included a mix of folks who support the current power elite in the city as well as many who do not, plus some folks not identified with either side of issues.  Some folks were relative newcomers to the city while most had resided in Costa Mesa for decades - as many as six in some cases.  A breadth of views was represented in what I would describe as thoughtful, spirited discussions.
In a meeting that was scheduled for 90 minutes but stretched to two full hours, Assistant Development Services Director Claire Flynn kicked off the meeting, then handed it off to consultant Laura Stetson from MIG/ Hogle Ireland, the organization that is facilitating this process.  She guided the group through what she referred to as a General Plan crash course.  She told us the General Plan is a "constitution for development" - a blueprint for the future of our city.
She guided us through a discussion, using as starting points these issues:
  • Land Use Revitalization Opportunities (Westside, Newport Blvd., Motels)
  • Homeownership/Rental Imbalance
  • High Density Residential Land Uses
  • Lot Configuration, Size
  • Vacant Land Availability
  • Traffic Limitations Related to Land Use
When asked for their thoughts on what should be considered when creating this General Plan update, members of the crowd spoke of the following issues and more:
  • The ratio of homeowners to renters
  • Motels
  • Affordable housing
  • The need for libraries
  • A vital "Downtown" - too many alcohol servers and less desirable businesses
  • Open Space and the animals that live there
  • Better restaurants (less fast food stores)
  • Quality of our schools
  • Vacant lots that could become community gardens
  • Auditory assists for Seniors at city intersections
  • Attention to the time it takes those less mobile to cross streets
  • Mass Transit
  • The need for narrow roads in residential areas to slow traffic
  • Rapid Bus transportation on arterials
  • Retention of mobile home parks as affordable housing
  • The need for premiere bicycle system - safe routes
  • Retention of the Westside industrial base
  • Plans for the expansion and retention of the action sports businesses
  • Better adherence to development standards - fewer variances
  • Concern about misuse of the Westside overlays resulting in more rentals
Guided by consultant Veronica Tam, 30 minutes was dedicated to the Housing Element, which apparently is all but completed now and is due to be submitted to the State by October.  Many members of the crowd expressed concern that they had been precluded from offering timely input to this particular part of the General Plan process due to the tightness of the schedule.  She did mention that, based on the most recent census, Costa Mesa's home ownership ratio to renters has improved slightly - it is now 57% renters, 43% owners.  That should make Colin McCarthy happy.

According to Tam, the Housing Element contains:
  • Current and future housing needs assessment, Special needs populations - Elderly, disabled (including developmentally disabled), homeless, large  households, female-headed households and farmworkers
  • Future residential growth opportunities
  • Housing constraints - Governmental, market, environmental, and infrastructure
  • Housing programs to address housing needs - With quantified objectives for new construction, rehabilitation and conservaton of housing
In fact, as was explained by Flynn, in years past the state had mandated that Costa Mesa plan for upwards of 1,500 housing units in the Housing Element update as part of our contribution to the regional demand for housing.  This time around, of the 412,000 units being required for our region, Costa Mesa is only required to provide two (2) to meet the minimum requirements!  At that point I stopped worrying about the Housing Element.

In the subsequent discussion period attendees expressed interest/concern for a "visioning" session - a part of the process discussed early-on.  In response to that feedback, Flynn decided on the spot to change the agenda for the June 19th meeting from "Land Use Alternatives" to "Visioning".

Others worried about how this process had been advertised beyond the mentions on the city web site.  Concerns for those in the community - seniors, for example - who don't have access to computers nor read a daily newspaper so wouldn't have known about this series of meetings.

Some concern was expressed about the apparent lack of outreach to the large Spanish-speaking segment of our community.

As the meeting progressed a staffer created a contemporaneous bit of graffiti that chronicled the discussion that took place.  If you look closely you can see those elements in the image below. (click image to enlarge)

Tuesday, May 28th, the Planning Commission - as part of their regularly scheduled meeting - will hear a discussion of the Housing Element.  The City Council will hear it on June 4th.  The next meeting in this series is the above-mentioned one on "Visioning", to be held in the EOC on June 19th at 6:00 p.m.

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Anonymous Eleanor Egan said...

One person remarked to me what was on all our minds: After we have spent so much time and effort on this GP update, will the Council just ignore our input and do whatever they want? This CC majority seems to believe they were anointed rather than elected. Even those who voted for Righeimer had no clue that he was going to run roughshod over the citizens and carry out orders issued from out-of-town politicians. Will the three Councilmen pay any attention at all to the citizen input?

5/16/2013 07:02:00 AM  
Anonymous honesty said...

I would prefer an opinion that simply says "until these guys agree with me, I don't like or rwspect them"

5/16/2013 08:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Mike McNiff said...


5/16/2013 10:00:00 AM  
Anonymous barb otch said...

exactly "honesty". egan and husband are always hypothetically blaming the ELECTED councilmen of something. Tom the crow hunter is especially out of it . Eleanor does occassionally make some excellent points but her mean spiritness doesn't help her words to be heard. The majority of voters agree with the boyz on most of their agenda items. Leece, 6 years of proposing nothing will soon be gone. She may end up with one legacy if she hurries: raising taxes on businesses.

5/16/2013 10:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Bill S. said...


Sorry to post an irrelevant item but I don't know how else to ask.

Recently you said:

"Yep, it doesn't take long for gutless anonymous commenters to hijack a comment thread. Maybe we should just refuse to post any comment that is submitted without proper identification of the writer. I'll have to contemplate on that."

Can you tell me if you have made any decisions on this subject?

5/16/2013 04:25:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Bill S.
Not yet. It will probably be more trouble than it's worth. I'm irritated when anonymous folks on both sides of the issue choose to demonstrate their pettiness by derailing otherwise good, meaningful comments on important issues and turning them into junior high school name-calling matches. That seldom happens when posters choose to identify themselves.

Of course, I can always just turn off the comments feature - my previous blog host didn't offer it and we did just fine for 18 months using it.

I much prefer to have a discussion of issues here... still contemplating. Thanks for asking.

5/16/2013 05:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Mary Ann O'Connell said...

barb otch: Before you sling mud at someone, know them. There is not a mean-spirited bone in the Egans. They are passionate about their city and Eleanore has done something that (I think I am safe in saying) neither you nor I have done - been in service to the city.

There is a flaw in your logic.
1) When Mr Righeimer ran he never mentioned the liability, Association busting, layoffs or anything like that (see his election website).
2) His actions were so radical that it drove many of the people who voted for him to fight him. That was the gensis of the grass roots organization, CM4RG.
3) The true test of a politician is whether or not he can be re-elected. We don't know that the majority still support him (as you assert) because there is no election to tell us that, and it reasonable to believe there won't be, as he eyes the County Board of Supervisors.
4) If he and his supporters are legion, where are they in support of the proposals and changes? They are invisible these days and that should indicate - something.
5) Ms. Egan is speaking a truth when she expresses her concern for leadership over dictatorship (my words, not hers). This city defeated the charter 60/40 but the mayor insists on spending human and financial capital on getting what HE wants, not what the majority of his constituents wanted.

So, sling what mud you want, but realize that when the target is armed with fact, logic and truth,and is squeaky clean, it will slide off. You will have accomplished nothing but hurt and making yourself look foolish.

Argue the facts, not the personalities.

5/16/2013 06:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Faye D said...

I'm happy that the ration of homeowners to renters is being addressed, and it sounds like the City might start to make some efforts to improve the Westside which is encouraging.

What I am really hoping for is that this is not just talk and planning with no action. There are too many apartments that are completely run down which does not encourage the renters to take care of them and there are more renters than the City needs. It is an issue we can all come together on.

5/16/2013 08:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Tom Egan, reality whisperer said...

To “honesty” and “barb otch”

There you go again, trying to derail a legitimate discussion. The giveaway is when you resort to the ad hominem attack on a commenter. It’s even more obvious when you gratuitously spill your bile on other people.

In this case, is it that you are afraid to discuss real issues? If not, let’s hear some reasoned discourse from your side.

We’re all grownups, so I think the whole world would like to hear something from your side other than attacks on the person, rather than the ideas, of the people you don’t agree with.

5/16/2013 09:12:00 PM  
Anonymous honesty said...

We think it is reasonable to point out that many that challenge and disparage city council, not Wendy of course, because she will take up their cause, whatever crazy idea it is, that group does not like city council.

And unless you agree with this group, you are labeled as not "listening".

In the very first council candidate forum, Righeimer called out the unions in the back of the room. So, please do not say no one knew.

The comment was "will the three Councilmen pay attention to all the citizen input?" We think it is on point to call out that what it is really being said is that we do not like anyone who does not think like us and vote our way.

Did Wendy and Sandy vote for any of the "boys" nominations, NO. Is Sandy out of control with her public challenges of city staff? Is anyone calling them out? NO

Let's say Katrina Foley and John Stevenson win next. Will all these council detractors step up and comment that this voting block is out of control ruining our city? NO. They will be at the podium, and on the blogs saying what a good job they are doing.

Unless of course they have a one car funeral that Geoff West is certain to enjoy some day.

5/17/2013 07:00:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Actually, there will be at least two cars in that procession, but thanks for the kind thoughts.

I suspect the group to which you refer just doesn't like the WAY this council goes about attempting to implement some of their schemes. It's not a matter of "liking" the council or not - it's what they are trying to do and the way they are trying to do it.

5/17/2013 07:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymously here said...


You know that requiring commenter ID will eliminate all of the public figures (elected and appointeds) and city employee comments dramatically.

Maybe that would be a good thing!

5/17/2013 11:08:00 AM  
Anonymous STILL anonymously here said...

You could also actually moderate.

5/17/2013 11:09:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

STILL anonymously,
Actually, if you're talking about "moderating" the comments before publishing them - that is not an option. The host, Blogger, doesn't give me that choice. It's a go or no go situation.

If your talking about me moderating my views... Bwhahahahaha! Not a chance! They are what they are based on the facts as I understand them and my observations of the players in this municipal drama.

If you don't like what you read here simply stop reading. And, you could visit one of the other sites operated by other old guys who post comments only when they agree with the opinions on the blog - or nor at all - then whine about it incomprehensibly later.

Your choice... visit a site where the emphasis is on black on white crime and the dilution of the white gene pool or another one that simply parrots (badly, in a boring kind of way) the party line of the power elite in a style that attempts to copy mine and almost NEVER posts comments. Or, you can continue to visit me here, read what I post and express your views here, too.

5/17/2013 12:51:00 PM  
Anonymous 3 man council rules cm said...

Its funny to see people wasting their precious time to attend any city meeting or volunteer to get involved

Its all a dog and pony show. Piggy, Messy and midget skirt will simply do whatever they want to do.

5/20/2013 01:51:00 PM  

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