Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Short, But Illuminating, Meeting

The Costa Mesa Planning Commission meeting Monday night went about as anticipated.  In a 90 minute session - one of the shortest such meetings in recent memory - the commission dealt with the few issues before them briskly.

They approved a request by a resident to allow their porch to remain although the original plans called for it to be smaller.  The completed project, which apparently got botched up due to a confluence of events, would have likely been approved in any event, so this really was a non-issue.

On a 5-0 vote they approved the request in Public Hearing #1, HERE, in which certain segments of the Residential Design guidelines were modified.  The only speaker on the issue was a developer who is doing business in the city and will be a beneficiary of the changes.

The final item on the agenda, New Business #2, was a long discussion of Extended Occupancy Motels, HERE.  The staff report was advisory, requiring no action on the part of the commission.  It was, however, a bellwether of things to come.  The commission will soon hear about new ordinances and other policies designed to "correct" the problems at several of the motels in our city.  Squalor, calls for public safety - fire and police - services that are deemed to be excessive were all discussed at length by the commissioners.

We learned, too, that due to the departure of many senior staffers, institutional knowledge of issues is sorely lacking.  Gathering historical information for the commissioners takes longer and the context is sometimes missing.

We were told by Vice Chair Rob Dickson that this issue is not new, and he cited reports from 1996 during which current council members Sandra Genis and Gary Monahan, as well as iconic names like Mary Hornbuckle, Joe Erickson and Peter Buffa, were all on the council at the time and described conditions nearly identical to the current state of affairs regarding "problem motels".  Unfortunately, not enough has been done in the intervening years to resolve the problems.

Dickson then went on to criticize the critics of the current city council - those who accuse them of trying to feather the beds of developer buddies.  That, of course, was aimed directly at me.  I have long been a critic of the methods Mayor Jim Righeimer and his fellow-travelers are trying to use to "fix things" in our city - problem motels are one of those issues.  Righeimer has said during public forums that he was going to put the motels out of business - to force them, through intense, aggressive code enforcement and law enforcement actions - to re-consider the value of their properties and accept more moderate offers to buy them.  In fact, Righeimer said the city might be forced to buy some of those properties, then SELL THEM AT A LOSS to developers!

Early into his term Righeimer said, during the Council Member Comments segment of a Council Meeting on June 21, 201l, the following:
"Another thing that we have in this community that causes crime is we have a lot of motels that are problems.  We all know that.  It gets to be like a running joke about the motels.  In fact, if you need an arrest you just run to a motel and hit it get all the license plates and you'll find somebody.  The city needs to remove these motels.  I'm not talking about condemning them, I'm talking writing a check and buying it and making a pocket park out of it.  That's how you take care of crime issues."

That seems to have been the kernel of his ideas about how to dispose of so-called problem motels.  It's going to be very interesting to see how this plays out.

The next meeting of the Planning Commission will be held on a Tuesday, November 12th and, according to Chairman Jim Fitzpatrick, will have nine (9) Public Hearings!  Yikes!  That promises to be a long one.

Speaking of Fitzy, in my last post I asked for some help keeping track of how many times he uttered his pet annoying, immature and inappropriate words,  "Cool!" and "Excellent!" during the meeting.  Well, I tried to keep track and here's my results:

Cool! - 1
Excellent! - 5
And, he also threw in "Awesome!" for good measure - 3

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Blogger Unknown said...

If it were me, I would have said "Sweet" 50+ times.

10/29/2013 05:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

With Fitzpatrick, don't forget:

"Robust"- 10 times;
"These boots taste so good"- 100 times.

I remember Righeimer talking about pocket parks taking the place of motels. Thanks to the influence of the mayor pro tem, this is an antiquated idea.

Pocket parks are for weirdos. Real men build granite, golf cart, football, or anti-vernal parks.

10/29/2013 06:34:00 AM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

That's nine shots I have to drink? I can already feel the headache...

10/29/2013 09:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

Pocket parks are merely a place for homeless to gather. See Santa Ana, i.e. Third Street for a prime example of a nice "pocket park" gone bad.

10/29/2013 09:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Eileen Truxton said...

Righeimer may want to refrain from ever saying "running joke."

10/29/2013 10:15:00 AM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

Rob Dickson has been very aggressive lately.
He needs to remember that the current council majority are extremely pro-developer, more than previous city councils.
So yes, we can criticize the council majority when they side with developers against the will of the residents of Costa Mesa.
Our last council meeting was a perfect example of that with the rejection of a rehearing on the proposed turnaround at Fairview Park.
We also got a great lesson then on why a city charter is a bad idea while the current council majority is in power.

10/29/2013 08:36:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Aren't all parks places that homeless can potentially gather/sleep? Pocket parks, or slightly larger ones, are direly needed in the Westside. Pretty much all they have are alleys and driveways, which is risky. I saw some kids playing small field soccer on a grass easement and the ball popped out onto the street when I drove by. Nice. I'm sure that ball popped out many other times.

10/30/2013 06:57:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

I suspect you are correct - neighborhood parks where kids can just gather and boot a soccer ball around are important, particularly on the Westside. However, tearing down a motel on Harbor or Newport Blvd. doesn't solve that problem. Those balls you saw kicked accidentally into the street would now end up on our two busiest roads!

10/30/2013 09:53:00 AM  
Anonymous xyn bohemia said...

i never received an email for the planning commission meeting with this "design element" change. how can the city planning commission vote to change this (pretty major) building code for bigger houses with much less setbacks from neighbors?
i guess i should stop complaining as i've been told recently.
the level of apathy from city hall is beyond me. i wish i HAD NOT spent so much $$ upgrading my home and yard to expect privacy issues. then i could get the hell out of here.
thanks for that costa mesa

10/30/2013 10:07:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

You have to sign up for the agenda notifications.... OR, just keep reading here and we'll provide the info to you. ;-)

Don't let the boneheads stifle your comments. That's what they want, as witnessed by a comment today by the newest mouthpiece for the power elite in our town. He suggest that folks with opposing viewpoints should be barred from council meetings so things could "get done". Guess his societal model is that of Nazi Germany. Not surprised...

10/30/2013 10:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

"....comment today by the newest mouthpiece for the power elite in our town. He suggest that folks with opposing viewpoints should be barred from council meetings so things could "get done". Guess his societal model is that of Nazi Germany. Not surprised..."

That guy is either a dunce or an unabashed shill. When one begins their 80th decade, you assume they've acquired some knowledge, if nothing else than by osmosis. I think he's been promised things like committee appointments, perhaps more, and will continue to try and be Costa Mesa's "Anti-Geoff West."

Good luck. As GraniteBoy Mensy shows, you can't buy IQ.

10/30/2013 10:47:00 AM  

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