Monday, October 28, 2013

Of Design, Problem Motels and I-405 Extortion

The Costa Mesa Planning Commission, led by their "dynamic" chairman, Jim Fitzpatrick, will again tackle some interesting issues during their final meeting of the month on Monday, October 28th beginning at 6:00 p.m. in City Council Chambers.  By the way, help me out... I'm going to try to keep track of the number of times Fitzpatrick utters the words "Cool!" and "Excellent!" during the meeting.  Thanks for your help.

The first item of special interest is Public Hearing #1, HERE, which, if approved, will make significant changes to the Residential Design Guidelines dealing with second floor side yard setbacks and the second floor to first floor ratio from 80% to 100%.  In my view, both of these changes are long overdue and will make building or remodeling homes less costly and more practical.  It's about time!

The other VERY interesting item is New Business #2, HERE, which deals with so-called Extended Occupancy Motels.  This staff report requires no action by the Planning Commission, but will "provide a basis for forthcoming matters the Planning Commission will be considering regarding extended occupancy motels."

As you scroll down through the fairly short staff report you'll see some pretty graphic images of rooms at some of our motels around town.  Recently Code Enforcement has been clamping down on so-called "problem motels" in the city, nailing them with fines in the thousands of dollars to encourage them to clean up their businesses.  You may recall that Mayor Jim Righeimer has stated repeatedly in the recent past that he wants to force some of those businesses out of business by making life so difficult for them from an enforcement standpoint that they will re-consider their valuations of their properties.  His goal is to have them sold on the cheap to developers who would replace them with apartments.  In fact, at one time Righeimer said the city might have to buy up some of those properties at market rates, then sell them at a loss to developers!  I don't know about you, but I sure don't want MY tax dollars used to line the pockets of his developer buddies.

In any event, this report is one more step to lay the groundwork for the expulsion of those businesses from our city. 

On Tuesday, October 29th, at 6:30 p.m. the seven so-called corridor cities who oppose the latest scheme by the Orange County Transportation Authority to widen the I-405 Freeway and impose High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes on us will hold a Town Hall meeting in Westminster.  As I wrote HERE, the meeting will be in the Westminster Community Services Building, 8200 Westminster Blvd. in that city.  I've provided you with a copy of the announcement and two maps to help you find your way.

It's important that we have a large turnout to this meeting to show our displeasure for the OCTA's move to disregard our clearly-stated wishes on this very sensitive subject.  As we understand the issue, if the OCTA does NOT build this expansion of the I-405 to include HOT lanes, then CalTrans will take over and impose them on us and use the toll fees throughout the state.  Please attend and speak out on this issue.

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Blogger Unknown said...

By changing the 2nd floor massing from 80 to 100% we are just looking at more boxes. Ug.It's not just aesthetics, it's a health issue related to light exposure, mainly for those who can't move much.

As for the motels, they have no empathy from myself or many I know.

10/28/2013 06:42:00 AM  
Blogger Gericault said...

Page 28 has the city playbook for which type of motel owner it is looking to squeeze out.

The City has already committed $500,000 to Wakeland and Mercy house to move forward with this, now they need to get the planning commission to make such tighter restrictions as to strangle the profitability of these Motels and then make them an offer they can't refuse. They have already sent out The Code Enforcement Stormtroopers, so the owners are under tremendous pressure to "be reasonable" and take the best offer.

Here's from their "playbook".

"The first, and
preferred, strategy is to acquire and renovate an existing motel, ideally one with a track record of
crime and police calls so that the project can provide multiple benefits to the community. The second
is to build a new development on a vacant or underutilized site. Each approach is discussed in more
detail below.
Approach # 1 Motel Acquisition and Renovation
This strategy would meet two city goals: creating permanent supportive housing and
eliminating a problem property. The ideal motel for conversion would meet the following
1. High volume of police calls
2. Private ownership (i.e. not part of a motel chain, for acquisition purposes)
3. Ten years of continuous ownership (necessary for obtaining tax credits)
4. Design that lends itself to conversion to permanent supportive housing and meets all
city and funder requirements for supportive housing, including:
a. Minimum and maximum unit sizes
b. Number and location of baths
c. Cooking area requirements
d. Service space needs
5. A location that minimizes community opposition (i.e. not overly residential)
6. Able to obtain 9 percent tax credits based on location and amenities
7. Minimal environmental or physical hazards or constraints
Our initial analysis from applying these criteria to the list of Area 1 and Area 2 Target.
Once an agreed-upon target list has been formed, Wakeland will utilize local resources to
contact the owner and determine the feasibility of a sale."

10/28/2013 07:35:00 AM  
Blogger Bruce Krochman said...


Does your "playbook" have a better option for dealing with these motels?

Geoff doesn't want his tax dollars going toward a redevelopment (term used loosely) option. I wonder if he prefers his tax dollars just being flushed down the drain as the city has to spend more to "service" these motels.

Wouldn't a higher quality facility at these locations increase revenue to the city while lowering service costs? By not acting, aren't we just lining the pockets of the motel owners?

10/28/2013 09:24:00 AM  
Blogger Gericault said...

I have a problem with it. It's something I'm struggling with. I'm fully supportive of the city putting up the $500,000 in federal and state HUD funds to address homelessness and affordable housing. I'm having some reservations towards their tactics. Especially when targeting long term privately owned business concerns that have operated in the city for decades. It seems wrong to me. If they want to just go after them, declare eminent domain, and force them out , it would seem more honest in a way. All this maneuvering with Aggresive code enforcement, and new planning restrictions to try and strangle their revenues, and make them more amenable towards selling out to developers, it troublesome. When they try to force more and more shorter stays for motel residents it will force more and more people out onto the streets. What also concerns me is the same attention being focused on motels is also being turned onto mobile home parks. I feel like they are using this issue to ramp up draconian re-development powers that could later be abused.

10/28/2013 10:24:00 AM  
Blogger Bruce Krochman said...


As we all know, this isn't new (the motel issue) and I thought you might be interested in reading through The Newport Blvd. Specific Plan from 1996:

10/28/2013 04:43:00 PM  

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