Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Planning Commission Wrap

Tuesday evening the Costa Mesa Planning Commission met for its first meeting of the month.  As anticipated, it was a short meeting due to a short agenda and one of the more controversial items was shoved off to the meeting of June 24th.

One of the items on the Consent Calendar, the modification of the Planning Commission bylaws, took a curious turn.  This issue, which included a "Mission Statement" for the Planning Commission that included a dozen items - read it HERE - evoked such euphoria on the part of its primary sponsor, Chairman Jim Fitzpatrick, that he completely forgot to permit Public Comments before having the commission vote on it.  They did, and it passed 5-0.  Then staff reminded him - after some outcry from the audience - that he had neglected to permit public comments.  So, he invited anyone from the audience who wished to speak on the issue to do so.  Long time resident and activist Beth Refakes stepped up and told them that the list was too long - more a list of goals than a short mission statement - and she was correct.  Fitzpatrick and the other commissioners agreed and directed staff to return at the next meeting with a condensed version, then they re-voted on the remainder again, which passed again, 5-0.  Part of that vote included a decision for the Planning Commission to begin meeting twice a month again, which it will.  Ironically, this decision came at the shortest meeting in months.  We were out of there by 7:40!

Perhaps the most interesting part of the meeting was the report by Assistant Chief Executive Officer Rick Francis and Costa Mesa Police Lieutenant Mark Manley of the Neighborhood Improvement Task Force Update.  This item was moved to the front of the agenda because, according to Fitzpatrick, Francis and Manley had busy schedules. (?)  You can read the staff report HERE.  As you read through that staff report you'll find some very interesting information.  Francis and Manley focused on a couple of them - the "troubled motels" and sober living/rehabilitation facilities.

Manley quantified the impact of having to police the motels.  He told us that a dozen motels throughout the city are serious problems, accounting for extraordinary numbers of calls for service.  He told us they accounted for 1,835 calls for service in 2012 and that those calls, plus the 440 other reports taken, were responsible for over $104,000 in costs.

Vice Chairman Rob Dickson asked how many parolees reside in those motels, to which Manley responded that it's a moving target.  They come and go and that the redistribution of inmates due to Assembly Bill 109 (thank you, Governor Brown!) make isolating a specific number on a specific date difficult.  He did stress the excellent relationship the CMPD has with Orange County Probation in managing this issue.  He frequently used the term "awesome" when referring to the current enforcement climate - something he'd not seen during his long tenure on the CMPD.

In response to a question by commissioner Colin McCarthy about the relationship of the 2nd floor code enforcement folks to the 5th floor operations, Francis told him that the two code enforcement officers that work on the 5th floor executive offices have specific targeted responsibilities, including parolees and the sober living/rehab. homes.  Costa Mesa presently has 26% of all such facilities in Orange County - much more than our fair share.

Manley emphasized the effectiveness of the Neighborhood Improvement Task Force and suggested that it could/should be the model for other cities to follow as they all grapple with similar problems.

Included in this discussion was a mention of the improvement of Lions Park from a homelessness standpoint.  Manley and Francis - and commissioners as well - commented on how much things have improved there lately.  It was attributed to new tools available to them - the fact that there is now a place for homeless folks to park their goods safely and the availability of a mental health worker a couple days each week, for example - and the hard work of Sergeant Vic Bakkila and Officer Julian Trevino and others.  Beth Refakes related how the homelessness problem has diminished around the Historical Society building in Lions Park.  Ironically, as I drove home from the meeting I noticed a half-dozen homeless enclaves along Harbor Boulevard - shopping carts piled high with plastic bags of belongings.

Tuesday brings a full agenda with the City Council, beginning at 4:30 for a Special Study Session and followed at 6:00 by a Special Council Meeting.  It's going to be a long week.  NOTE:  Both meetings will be televised LIVE this afternoon/evening on CMTV, Channel 3 on Time Warner Cable and Channel 99 on ATT U-Verse.

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Anonymous James Rivera said...

I thank the PD for the work on the homelss issue. I wonder how the police deal with the suppliers of the drugs for the miscreant population, homeless or otherwise. I haven't seen much progress on that front.

6/11/2013 09:05:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

How do you measure progress, or lack thereof, in that area?

6/11/2013 09:09:00 AM  
Anonymous do the math said...

It only costs $104,000 for time spent at the motels. The 2 code enforcement officers cost well over $100,000 each with benefits and a PERS pension.

How much sense does it make to spend $250,000 extra for a $104,000 problem?

Come on guys...lets do some simple math here.

6/11/2013 09:16:00 AM  
Blogger Gericault said...

Oddly enough, I got a phone call last night from a neighbor complaining about the increase of homeless persons now in and around our neighborhood. They've been pushed out of the downtown park area and are now moving farther north into other areas. Just like the job centers"solution" where now the corner of Placentia and Victoria is the current day laborer hang out. All we've done is move the problem from one area to other areas. Harbor and Wilson, Placentia, Victoria, are all arees where there is a noticeable increase in homeless activity. On another note, I attended three different functions down at Lions park this last week and saw fewer homeless down near the library.

6/11/2013 09:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Mission Statement said...

"I attended three different functions down at Lions park this last week and saw fewer homeless down near the library."

If they're less visible, the council majority will claim "progress," and get to work buying up motels so their buddies can profit.

6/11/2013 10:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Wyatt Earp said...

James Rivera....It is very difficult to deal with drug dealers when the PD once had 12 plain clothes undercover detectives and officers working on that issue, and the PD now has only 4 detectives assigned to that duty because of the arbitrary and half brained staffing levels mandated by the council majority. Simple math. A 66% decrease means more drug dealers.

6/11/2013 11:35:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Is this true, Mr. Earp, from the mouth of PD, or just an assertion? The specific dealers I know of have been around since (1) 2002, and (2) 2006/7. Neither has been curtailed nor properly dealt with despite numerous requests. So from my experience, whatever the size of the force, nothing has stopped in this hood.

6/11/2013 12:50:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

do the math, I happen to think the "$104,000" problem is more than that due to lost taxes (hotels, good homes, sales of incidentals) from higher rent folks displaced by the miscreant population.

6/11/2013 12:54:00 PM  
Anonymous So turn in the drug dealers you claim to know said...

This city council isnt interested in less taxes. If they were interested, they would increase the business license tax to Nordstroms, Saks Fifth Avenue and bloomingdales. Business license tax has not been increased since 1960 and remains unchecked by this council.

At the end of the day, the council scumbag guys will do only what will help Piggys political agenda.

6/11/2013 01:38:00 PM  
Blogger just wondering... said...

They could increase the tax...OR, they could start to collect $200 from all the illegal gardening and landscape businesses in town. We'd be rich. There are approximately 7 per block on the upper Westside. Why shouldn't they be taxed when every other business in town is?

6/11/2013 02:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Wyatt Earp said...

James Rivera....I am making two official requests of you because I don't want you to take my word for it. First, call the PD right now and ask how many detectives are currently assigned to the Special Investigations Unit (CMPD's version of a narcotics unit). Then ask how many had previously been assigned to the Narcotics and Vice Unit and the Special Enforcement Detail. The numbers between those two units had always been between 8-12 at any given time.

Second, please report these drug dealers to the CMPD anonymous narcotics hotline at 714- 754-5656. You don't have to leave your name or any other personal information. But, please leave as much info on the hotline as you can including the crooks' name, address, vehicles, phone numbers, etc., if you have it. The timeframe of the activity is helpful also. If you don't feel comfortable doing this, give me your email address and I will take the info from you to see what I can do.

Further, in reference to your inference that nothing has been done, narcotics investigations are not like any other type because there never any witnesses willing to testify. So, the narc detectives have to witness everything themselves. Drug dealers are often very good at covering what they do. Given how many are out there, the detectives must prioritize their time to those investigations where there is the most usable information or the most chance for success, specifically when the numbers of detectives has been cut by 66%.


6/11/2013 02:40:00 PM  
Blogger just wondering... said...

I thought Fitzpatrick was making the motels his pet project. Where did that go? Oh yeah, he was too busy with the other planning commission members, voting themselves more meetings = twice the salary. Forget the work, they're too busy with mission statements.

6/11/2013 02:42:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Just wondering,
The commissioners don't get a pay increase for two meetings a month instead of one. They get $400 per month no matter how many meetings they are required to attend.

6/11/2013 03:38:00 PM  
Anonymous facts are friends said...

pot stirrer, why did you explain the pay of the planning commission to that dolt "just wondering"? He was looking more and more out of touch as he kept complaining about a fictional "raise". Well, at least we still have Gericault to post inaccurate numbers.

6/11/2013 04:24:00 PM  
Blogger just wondering... said...

Geoff, yeah, over $100/hour. Still way out of a realistic range. Thanks for the info though.

6/11/2013 05:10:00 PM  
Anonymous just wondering how lame camp piggy is said...

Im just wondering how much sense it makes to pay a code enf inspector $150,000 a year to chase after $25 license fees. Im just wondering if camp piggy chestbumper realize how moronic they sound by trying to spin the business license issue. Get real. It hasnt gone up since 1961!

6/11/2013 08:51:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...


Thanks. While I have not done everything you list in your request, I have definitely made calls to PD, AND left info on hte hotline. I hope you can email me, since my email is linked to my Google profile, yes? I also can do other things to help catch people, but in confidence.

6/12/2013 06:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Inspector Gadget said...

The City has been paying for about 70 high priced business license inspectors for years and nobody knew anything about it. Who you say--the Fire Department has been collecting info on businesses that have current or expired business licenses while conducting their annual fire inspections at all the businesses in the City.

6/12/2013 09:18:00 AM  

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