Thursday, August 01, 2013

Righeimer Meets, Listens on Rehab Homes

For the second Thursday evening in a row Costa Mesa Mayor Jim Righeimer met with Eastside residents in one of his "Meet the Mayor" gatherings to hear what they had to say and attempt to provide encouragement and answers.

The most recent meeting, held on the front lawn at the home of Carrie Renfro on the corner of Orange Avenue and Buoy Street, found more than sixty (60) residents and other interested parties gathered to tell Righeimer of their concerns about the proliferation of rehabilitation homes in the neighborhood and to hear him speak of the City's strategy for managing the problem.
About a third of those present spoke out, expressing their concerns.  For the most part they went away encouraged, but unfulfilled.  I'm not going to attempt to present you with a word-for-word account of the hour or so Righeimer spent with a very effective question and answer event, but I'll give you my take on it.  You can read Bradley Zint's coverage of the event in the Daily Pilot, HERE.
In addition to Righeimer, the meeting was also attended by Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger, Planning Commission Chairman Jim Fitzpatrick, Planning Commissioner Tim Sesler, Assistant CEO Rick Francis, Communication Director Bill Lobdell, Head of Code Enforcement Willa Bowens-Killeen, Code Enforcement Officer Mike Tucker (his responsibilities include rehab homes), City Inspector Randy Buck and Costa Mesa Police Sergeants Matt Grimmond and Vic Bakkila.
More than two dozen residents spoke with concerns ranging from fear for their safety because of the influx of rehab home residents concentrated in their neighborhood; health issues caused by plumes of cigarette smoke; noise and foul language emanating from the homes; safety of their children; crowds of as many as 25 men just wandering the neighborhood; large group meetings at the homes; thefts from vehicles; vandalism and more.
Most wanted to know what the City could, and will, do about these issues.  Righeimer explained, in a nutshell, that the City's options are limited by the restrictions placed by state and federal regulations, but that we, the city, are working on solutions.
He explained that all group homes must be treated uniformly or we could be accused of discrimination.  He told the crowd that right now Costa Mesa has 104 rehab homes, which represents 23% of the total in Orange County, and that 50 of those are state licensed.  When asked, he confirmed that the number does NOT include group homes for the elderly.
He explained that the city needs more tools to combat the problem and that a revised Nuisance Ordinance is on the way - it may be presented to the council at the meeting on September 3rd.  Some will recall that an earlier cut at a Nuisance Ordinance was pulled off the table for modification.
He also said we need regulations in place regarding the configuration of group homes so city staff can enforce the rules.  When a resident asked him if we had the staff necessary to enforce the new ordinance and regulations Righeimer said, "We will add whatever staff it takes - you can count on it!"  This, if true, marks a very significant shift in his views as practiced since he took a seat on the council a couple years ago.  During that time he has refused to budge on requests to increase public safety staff to meet the barest of minimal standards as recommended by consultants and prior chiefs of police.  We can only hope this is not another one of his "I didn't really mean it" moments - like when he recent told the audience in a council meeting that the charter committee would decide whether we need a charter or not.  It turns out that he didn't mean that - he just blurted it out.
I give Righeimer credit for putting this meeting together so quickly, responding to an issue clearly very important to many Eastside residents, but the broader community as well.  He came prepared to listen to complaints and concerns knowing that he didn't have solutions to offer, yet.  He referred interested parties to visit the City web site to express concerns, or to call him directly on his cell phone - one of his lovely daughters passed out his business cards to members of the audience.  He also referred us to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page on the City web site, HERE.
He was on a roll at the meeting, mixing light banter with sincere concern and attentive listening.  He managed to hold it together -  except for one incident, when he reverted to type.  As he asked the audience to attend council meetings and ask questions and express their concerns, he referred to folks who speak regularly at the meetings - he described them as "nice people" - but told the crowd that they, the council, don't hear enough from other members of the community.  He said those "nice people", for example, include some who support the employee groups who stand and complain about high legal fees after they sued the city which caused the fees to increase.  He conveniently, again, forgot to mention that it was the malfeasance of the council - and his leadership specifically - when they neglected to follow their own rules that caused the employee group to sue the city to protect their rights.  Nobody called him on that, so the crowd left assuming he was right. Too bad.  And he hasn't even officially declared his run for re-election yet, either.

Thanks to Carrie Renfro for hosting this useful event, and to the five dozen of our neighbors who turned out to express their concerns and asked questions.  I hope to see them at council meetings in the future.  The next one is next Tuesday, August 6th at 6:00 p.m. in City Council chambers.  It will be one of those "don't blink" meetings, with nothing at all on the agenda, HERE, except the Consent Calendar.  Plenty of time for Public Comments...

Before I forget, one person asked when the next General Plan Update meeting was scheduled.  It's August 21st at 6:00 p.m. in the Emergency Operations Center adjacent to the Police Department headquarters building at 99 Fair Drive.  That was an excellent question because these kind of issues should be considered in the General Plan update.  Mark your calendars and bring your questions in three weeks.

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Blogger kwahlf said...

It's good to hear that Righeimer is listening to the concerns of CM residents.
But he did revert back to the old OC GOP script with the overt implication that "nice people", for example, include some who support the employee groups.
Translation- those "nice people" are union sympathizers,and by association union thugs as well.
This tactic reminds me of the trials in the House of UnAmerican Activities how?
In every way possible.
How convenient that he forgot to mention that his actions brought on the lawsuit from the employees association. Like I said before, he never takes responsibility for anything that goes wrong.
We are a ways off from campaign season and already the McCarthyism has taken root.
It's only going to escalate now.

8/02/2013 12:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Bored with Righeimer' said...

This is the same diatribe that he was spewing 2 years ago. ..were looking into it...needed new restrictions...need to know what the rules are...etc. They were putting Fitz in charge of the motels also, if I recall. Same story. Nothing. I wish I felt encouraged but you're right, Geoff, more of nothing. But you're right, I have to give him credit for trying to encourage residents while in an attempt to make himself look good. Isn't half a truth (the lawsuit) the same as a lie?

8/02/2013 06:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Kevin is fed up said...

Riggy worries more about being accused of discrimination than cleaning up the rehab homes? oh brother...

There are 2 rehab homes in our neighborhood, one has been there for at least 5 years that I am aware of (probably more). It backs up to Estancia High School, there has been a murder in there, and multiple police calls. Yet...there it sits.

There is no "rehab" about this house, its a drug house. Flat out drug house. People go in and out of there 24/7 to collect drugs and go back to the parks. One woman rides a bike up and down the street in the middle of the night screaming. This goes on maybe 4 nights a week. And yet...there it sits.

I personally think this problem is larger than our council, who really is ill equipped to deal with much, and probably should bring in some advisers. They managed to get the pot shops gone, albeit temporarily from what I'm seeing, so maybe that would help.

8/02/2013 06:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Letter to the BlogMaster said...

Dear Mr. West:

As you know, animal rights have come a long way in the last 30 years. Animal abuse is finally being looked at and punished.

Therefore, I'm writing to let you know that it is completely wrong and offensive to link horses' butts to Riggy, like you did in your post.

For future analogies, may we suggest cartoon characters like Fred Flintstone.

Costa Mesa Animal Rights Taxpayers

8/02/2013 07:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Eastside Resident said...

Righeimer has done more as Mayor in less than a year than our previous five mayors did during their entire tenure. Tackling the big issues, liket his one. This is what being a Mayor of a major City is all about. About time we had a model like Jim's. The residents should be pleased. We are.

8/02/2013 08:30:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Fellow "Eastside Resident",
if, by "done more", you mean ignoring council rules which has mired us in a seemingly endless law suit (which he blames on the employees because they had no recourse to protect themselves!); ignoring the best professional advice available on proper police staffing levels which has resulted in a rising crime rate; stubbornly refusing to allow the fire department to staff appropriately which caused thousands of hours of overtime - for which he then loudly criticized specific members; creating such a hostile workplace that senior staffers bail out at the first available opportunity, taking with them decades of experience and institutional knowledge and fabricating "truths" on the dais, then, YES, he has "done more". Is that REALLY what you want in the mayor of our city?

8/02/2013 08:51:00 AM  
Blogger Gericault said...

Eastside.....I think Righeimer has done more "to" the city than "for" the city....but he has taken credit for everything the city does,...even when he has had nothing to do with it. Kudos to Jim for his 24/7 campaign strategy,.it's effective. Caution to the citizens easily distracted by the shiny objects, that "hook"is sharp when you swallow it.

8/02/2013 09:43:00 AM  
Anonymous MV said...

Now that Mensinger has taken his beloved Estancia football team to the shooting range to teach 'how to shoot in pressure situations,' according to the OC Register, how far are we from him sending them over to the East Side to go on volunteer patrols of the rehab homes? Maybe they can start by camping out in front of that house that "Kevin is fed up' mentioned behind the school. Zany hijinx would certainly ensue.

8/02/2013 10:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Pancho said...

The thing I wannna know is... Where did Santiago Righiemer get that shirt? I think I saw that shirt hanging next to the velvet paintings the last time I was in Tihauna on business.

8/02/2013 12:42:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Don't make fun of that shirt! I think he may have been going for that stylish "Hollywood" look. I think the last time I saw that shirt it was worn by Kramer on "Seinfeld".

8/02/2013 12:49:00 PM  
Anonymous I pay taxes and I vote said...

What has Righeimer DONE? He's talked a lot, spent lots of money, but what has he actually done that's positive for the City? He blew through the budget and the surplus like water, like we are in the middle of the boom years again. He’s got no foresight.

I have to speak up instead of just reading everybody else comments this time. I’m not political. I see individuals with some kind of agenda and it’s made the City Council act real stupid.

I see a lot of preventable problems. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Righeimer refused to hire police when we needed them, two years ago. The City hired consultants to tell us what we needed and he ignored it. If we had the force now we would be ready to deal with parolees and burglaries, prostitutes and community calls. Triage is all they can do now. A Council with a crumb of foresight would have been prepared.

He still tries to blame the big lawsuit on employees, but he is the one who ignored the City Attorney’s advice about outsourcing. That’s a fact, I watched the meeting with my neighbors when Council voted to go ahead with outsourcing. If Righeimer and his buddies listened then the Council could have taken care of business without big drama, like our neighboring cities have had to do. We would be saving millions if he had any understanding of planning ahead and the concept of collaboration.

Now he’s using another avoidable situation to get publicity and make himself look good. How long have we been complaining about the group homes? Why is he just now coming up with a plan? He is again proposing solutions that he said will get the City sued. We can’t afford it. He seems to love lawsuits in both his public and personal life. No foresight again, proactive planning when we first started to squeak about group home abuses would have avoided the need to be reactive now that it’s epidemic.

If he’s going to help he better find a legal way to do it, or it will hurt the City as much as help. Pardon my cynicism. I appreciate he finally listened to us, but Righeimer came across as more opportunistic than sincere.

8/02/2013 02:20:00 PM  
Anonymous mensyneedsajob said...

Is it just me, or does Steve Mensinger need to get a job. There's another story with him in it in the paper. He is clearly spending too much time nitpicking things in our City. Same with Fitzy. A few years of unemployment for these guys and all they do is drive around our town looking to cause problems. Please, someone offer these guys a job!

How are they paying their bills? City stipend and benefits? Must be nice!

8/02/2013 02:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Fashionistas said...

Thanks for going to the event and writing an excellent post about it.

In response to media inquiries, the President of North Korea won't confirm or deny that he has the same exact shirt as Righeimer. He did, however, invite Jimbo to visit soon and help solve "union problems."

8/02/2013 03:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Lindsay Lohan's New Asst. said...

Since 1 out of every 4 rehabs in the OC are un-proportionately operating within our city limits many of us long-time CM residents really want to know just exactly where all these (104 Rehabs by Riggy Math) facilities are located.

Apparently, he acknowledged "50 licensed rehabs" within the City, but somehow, they are not conveniently "listed" for residents to review on the "FAQ website" page, specifically within question number ten.

I can understand why the "unlicensed" Group Homes are not listed due to the legality of CA State Regs. But why do residents need to research all the State websites in order to obtain basic information regarding the fifty officially State & City "licensed" Rehabs which have already been granted their "Conditional Use Permits" to operate? Which are most likely on some "official" list or City "Staff Report" generated by the new Code Enforcement Czar, Mike Tucker, to Riggy et al.

So much for the City's A+ Grade in "Transparency". I give you a solid D for skirting the question, but at least listing the two State websites, thanks.

Unfortunately, CM residents must learn of "unlicensed GH" by word of mouth since they cannot be City regulated, and they are considered residential homes just like yours and mine due to having only one less "resident" than the "licensed rehabs". No wonder there are 54 unlicensed rehabs vs. 50 licensed rehabs, again calculated by Riggy Math.

Anyways, somehow I managed to find this official State list of problematic "licensed facilities" which are no longer permitted to operate as "Recovery Centers" in our once fine city as of March 19, 2013.

Morningside Recovery, LLC
DBA Morningside Recovery, LLC
1769 A & B Orange Ave.
1777 Orange Ave.
2558 Orange Ave.
License Suspended: Nov.11, 2011
License Revoked: Sept. 20, 2012

First House, LLC
DBA First House Recovery Center
653 Joann St.
647 Joann St.
1199 Boise Way
License Revoked: Sept. 20, 2011

By the way, I unfortunately happen to live nearby two of these State mandated "closed" Recovery Centers, which apparently, still have some of their residents just "visiting".

So much for any real effective "enforcement"...

8/02/2013 03:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Chongs Bong said...

Maybe Riggys next preemptive strike should be the pot shops that are in the town. You know the ones that the City shut down, but still allow and still offer up new business licenses for new pot shops.

8/02/2013 09:19:00 PM  
Blogger Gericault said...

Crocodile tears....Righeimer is extremely sympathetic and listens to the residents. Because he knows that there is legally very little the city can do. It costs him nothing.
Same goes for the mobile home owners.....poor people,....they are called " mobile homes". That's why the city has a map with just the "M"'s targeted on it. Mobile Homes and Motels. He will listen sympathetically to every elderly low income resident being kicked out of the city, and do nothing to act on it. Don' t hold your breath for a mobile home ordinance from this crowd.
Actions speak louder than words....and on these two issues, he's all talk. He just wants to make sure Everybody is listening .

8/03/2013 07:26:00 AM  
Anonymous Gravy train ride is over said...

Righeimer's comments about legal fees are just the beginning. The unions have been trading votes for increased compensation for years, bleeding the taxpayer and creating unsustainable economics all over the state. Now, the unions are complaining. Well, welcome to the real world, union folks! Time to get a dose of what the rest of us have had to deal with for decades because we don't have a union that bribes politicians with votes.

8/03/2013 09:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Show me your hands! said...

Gravy train ride... "Welcome to the real world union folks! Time to get a dose of what the rest of us have to deal with".

Really? Is that the world where you have to deal with people high on drugs and be exposed to physical injury and desease. The world where they shoot at you and you get to experience hand to hand combat with criminals as a part of the job.
Is that the "real world" you've had to deal with? Or is it some other union folk world you're refering to?

8/03/2013 10:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Money through Riggy's fingers like the sands of time through an hourglass said...

Its a little known fact that the City of CM has filed a lawsuit against one of the pot shop owners. No other reason than that she opened a pot shop and filed to run for city council. Now there is some quick money in legal prosecution fees down the drain....But hey, the more he pays the law firms, they more they "reimburse" him at campaign time.

8/03/2013 04:16:00 PM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

Maybe privatizing mental health services in CA wasn't such a great idea, after all.

8/03/2013 04:23:00 PM  
Anonymous sk said...

Karen, I agree with you! Addiction is a brain disease. There is an epidemic occurring across the nation due to freely handed out prescriptions of highly addictive drugs such as opiates. Once addicted to the prescription meds patients go to street drugs because they are cheaper to buy than script drugs on the street. A change in prescribing highly addictive drugs is a first solution that needs to happen. Treatment for addiction should be handled by the medical field and covered by insurance the same as cancer and diabetes.

8/04/2013 07:23:00 AM  
Blogger Gericault said...

Odd isn't it? The Fairview Developmental Center is basically uninhabited, being slated for community development, and the community is dealing with 104 homes, of groups of sick and addicted people, living as or neighbors.
Just pointing that out....

8/04/2013 02:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Build Build Build said...

Gericault said:

"Odd isn't it? The Fairview Developmental Center is basically uninhabited, being slated for community development, and the community is dealing with 104 homes, of groups of sick and addicted people, living as or neighbors."

Not odd when our mayor and junior mayor are a developer and a property manager. Prime CM land must be sold to other developers. This is a developer town. Get used to it.

Fountain Valley wised up in time. Maybe a lot of its voters didn't like the Developer's silly project over by Costco or just didn't want their entire city covered with such structures.

8/04/2013 06:40:00 PM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

Excellent observation, Gericault!

sk- Thank you. I agree with you!

8/05/2013 05:59:00 PM  

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