Monday, June 23, 2014

Planning Commission Votes To "Zero-Out" Long-Term Stays

The Costa Mesa Planning Commission, on a 4-0 vote, (Vice Chair Rob Dickson was absent) decided to pass the staff recommendation that will make it virtually impossible for Costa Mesa motel operators to house folks for long-term stays on to the City Council for further action/codification.  If the council passes this measure motels will no longer be able to use up to 25% of their rooms for long-term stays without a conditional use permit.  Unless they qualify, their allocation would be dropped to ZERO!

The staff report, HERE, provides the details of their decision.  As I mentioned in my previous entry about this issue, in order for a motel operator to qualify for a conditional use permit for long-term stays at their establishment they must meet very specific criteria.  Those are:

1 - The motel must have a minimum of at least seventy-five (75) rooms.
2 - Fireproof safety deposit boxes must be available to all occupants of the motel.
3 - Each guest room shall be serviced daily with central maid, mail, and room services.
4 - Each room shall be a minimum of three hundred seventy-five (375) square feet.
5 - The motel shall maintain on-site laundry services.
6 - The proposed use is compatible with the surrounding neighborhood, uses, zoning and general plan.

As they were about to take the vote they added one additional proviso - that there be some capability to prepare meals in units earmarked for long-term stays.  The staff will cobble together some verbiage for the presentation to the City Council - sometime next month.

As that issue evolved Chairman Jim Fitzpatrick told his fellow-commissioners, the staff and the handful of folks in the audience that he thought it was important because he had gone through a situation where he spent some time in a motel and really needed cooking facilities.  One had the impression that his experience was recent...

Commissioner Colin McCarthy said this ordinance seemed quite rudimentary and was surprised there was any opposition to it at all.  He told us that if businesses don't want to follow these minimal standards to help folks who are down and out then, "I don't want them doing business in our city".

As part of the discussion Kathy Esfahani - a member of the Costa Mesa Affordable Housing Coalition - spoke to what she referred to as the misrepresentation of a letter from her on the subject written a year ago that formed part of the foundation of this move to oust long-term residents from motels.  To his credit, Fitzpatrick gave her much more than 3 minutes to present her views, then gave her a little more time to further clarify the issue.

Among the speakers on this subject was Mike Lin, owner of the beleaguered Sandpiper Motel.  He opined that the fact there are people who NEED long term housing is not a result of actions the motel operators take - it's the result of actions those folks take.  His words fell on deaf ears.  The commission certainly appears to be completely unsympathetic with him on these issues.

Former City Councilman and current council candidate Jay Humphrey told us that there are only two motels that might qualify now, then spoke on the need for affordable housing, and pointed out to the commissioners that NONE of the many projects they and the city council have approved recently had ANY affordable units included.  He implied that was very short-sighted of them.

Tamar Goldmann, as she spoke on this issue, may have captured that sentiment more precisely when she referred to it as a "let them eat cake" attitude.  Uh, huh...

The only other item on the agenda was the request by operator Eric Jones for another tattoo parlor in town, at 1145 Baker Street.  Surprisingly, this request got a luke warm reception.  McCarthy said he wouldn't vote for it at the planned location because it was across the street from a residential neighborhood.  The issue passed on a 3-1 vote, but you got the impression from the almost complete lack of enthusiasm for the business that it could easily have gone the other way.  McCarthy had made a motion to deny the request, but received no second to it.  So, those of you in the north part of town will soon have your own tattoo parlor for your inking pleasure.

An interesting sidebar - McCarthy was the first to politicize this issue by mentioning the "silly season" is upon us - campaign season.  Then, during his little discussion, Tim Sesler mentioned Humphrey's presentation and referred to him as a council candidate - completely ignoring the fact that Humphrey is a regular attendee at most important city meetings and a regular presenter of facts and questions and offers solutions, too.  Indeed, the "silly season" is upon us.

Oh, yes... before I completely forget... the woman that Mayor Jim Righeimer stiff-armed at the last council meeting when he prohibited her from addressing the council during Public Comments - I'm sorry, I missed her name -  had another shot at it when she and her husband addressed the Planning Commission at the beginning of the meeting about the poor condition of their street in front of their home.  They complained about lack of responsiveness from City Staff.  Fitzpatrick jumped right on it - referred her to Bart Mejia who was standing in for Fariba Faseli in the meeting.  One had the impression this problem would be solved rapidly.  Too bad she had to wait another week to be heard.

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Blogger Joe said...

The fact remains that this planning commission is a stacked group created to carry out a developer agenda.

After Das Rigmarshal is defeated and a sane council majority is in place, the PC will need fixing.

They will have done lots of damage. We'll have plenty of affordable housing though- all the glitzy stuff being touted as part of "the brand is strong" will eventually be strong cheap rentals.

6/24/2014 06:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

Actually, if the planning commission and council don't want to help the businesses in town, they I want them to get out.
This is exactly why McCarthy was not and will not be elected to anything. His attitude. He acts like a privileged prick with his stupid smirk. We all know its not about the motel. Don't insult our intelligence, Planning Commission. We know Rig wants that property because it has access to the mobile home park behind it. He wants to develop it. Plain and simple. That motel could be the most viable business in town and they'd face the same ordinance changes, just to force them out, which is what they are doing. They did it to the Motor Inn and they are doing it to the Sandpiper to get at the property behind it. They make me sick.

November can't come soon enough.

6/24/2014 07:24:00 AM  
Anonymous lovemygarden said...

If the motels cannot afford to stay in business, they, along with adjacent mobile home parks (some of which are not senior housing), will be sold to developers who will put up three story with rooftop decks or four story condos/apartments. Forget about needing to satisfy the affordable housing requirement of the RHNA, because the Mayor needs to fill the pockets of the out-of-town developers so he can dip into them at campaign time. We will just keep telling the State of California that we have a plan (like they did when they told them the parcel on 17th/Superior/Pomona would have affordable units).

Like density? Like traffic? I hope so, because it is coming your way. Oh, and the new residents will use our parks and place a greater demand on police and fire. Want liveable streets and a vibrant downtown? Sorry, this Planning Commission and Council majority don’t have time for that nonsense. But if you want to tear up the median in Mesa Verde again, they will jump right on it.

6/24/2014 09:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Mike McNiff said...

I remember a big issue a few years back was how out of balance the homeowner-to-renter ratio was, with an overabundance of renters.

I guess they fixed that...said nobody ever.

6/24/2014 10:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Mike McNiff said...

To clarify my previous remark, it merits mentioning that 'renters' was kind of a code word for 'Latinos,' what with Mansoor's ICE fiasco, closing of the work center, etc.

But I guess 'renters' is fine when they are young, urban (white) professionals...that can work from home in their three-story, one-parking space live-work loft...and potential voters for the council majority and developer-friendly Planning Commission!

6/24/2014 10:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Ken Nyquist said...

Very interesting watch on CMTV last night during the staff presentation by the senior planner and assistant city attorney.
Apparently there is some confusion on the interpretation of laws that apply to how you become a tenant in California by city staff and commissioners, and how that applies to transient occupancy.

The proposed ordinance obviously is based on portions of existing California state codes, cut and pasted into a document for the commissioners to approve.

McCarthy inquired many times into the legality of this ordinance…He wanted to know why mail service…Why maid service…Why a fireproof safe…Obviously he has zero clue what state law actually is…No one seemed to get it…No one up there knows the law that applies to all of this?
Sure…John Mitchell did not have any cash in his clothes closet either…

Reading the state laws that actually apply to the 30 day rule (1940.1 Civ) in California as it applies to transient occupancy, meaning hotels/motels in this instance, should have occurred, before this hearing.

As I listened to the assistant city attorney and the senior planner annihilate the actual state laws that exist, and deny that there were any conflicts with this proposed ordinance with state law, is in my opinion, is disingenuous at best, and a foundation for this ordinance to be overturned in the courts once it is actually tested, based on the inacurate testimony of these individuals.

There is a particular reason that the state codified how TOT is not a perpetual tax, and has codified the illegality of requiring a guest to vacate a room after 30 days, changing the guests status from a TOT requirement to the city coffers, to one of a non TOT paying tenant, while continuing to live in the same motel room.
My test is simple….I think 14 rooms all with guests who stay past the 30th day after the ordinance becomes effective, and let’s all go to court for an eviction brought on by the city, against a now tenant, protected by state law from passing from codified transient motel law to codified tenant law…Big difference.

I have no problem operating a motel for a profit with no long term stays at all, we did it at the Sandpiper for years until the 55 destroyed Newport Blvd business forever…Neither should any of these smaller operations…There are so many ways to get around this ordinance to begin with…It is obviously written as a precursor to condemnation and re- purposing the properties for private profit.

Here is a very simple question…If you rent your duplex as income property, where in the law are you required to notify the local government officials, the names of your tenant, a copy of their identification, make of their automobile etc.?

Where are you required to do any of that as a tenant.

You won’t……

Part of the testimony by officials last night, was that the Neighborhood Task Force had input into this decision…

Even if the city fines an owner or wants to jail an owner for allowing someone to reside after the drop dead date , it will be tested in the courts…Guaranteed…

6/24/2014 10:36:00 AM  
Anonymous David on Lorenzo said...

I think that there is a lack of morale - a general malaise - with many city employees. I am trying to get a tree trimmed correctly in front of my house, and the whole process is a run-around. Residents shouldn't have to go down to city hall to complain in order to receive basic city services.

6/24/2014 11:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

Is it just me or is Colon looking more like Jimbo every day?

6/24/2014 12:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Terry Koken said...

Seventy-five rooms at 375 square feet per room... plus one 10x15 parking space per room... add in an owner's suite/cubicle, and you are talking about an acre, with no common area, no swimming pool, no kiddie toys.

How many Costa Mesa Motels have that much of a footprint?

Naw, man, dis jus predidis.

6/24/2014 02:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Heart for Costa Mesa said...

The city used to have their own arborist trimming trees who was a real expert. The city used to have enough employees to provide good, timely customer service. No more. Yes David, it's true we have a demoralized workforce, and we also don't have enough employees to cover the work. Some contractors have pride of workmanship, but honestly, many don't give a rip. Contract employees put in 8 hours, get a paycheck, go home, and the profit goes to the contactor while the ones doing the job get low wages. I've seen trees looking like they were trimmed by a Marine Corp barber.
Some of the outsourced services are turning out to cost more than in-house employees did, especially the maintenance services. The workers don't stick around after hours and spend money in CM shopping or getting a bite to eat, getting a haircut, dropping off the dry-cleaning, contributing to our tax base...because they can't afford to and don't care the way city employees did. The City emplyees we have left still do because we still have dedicated hardworking municipal employees who have a heart for the city they serve. A big thanks to the ones that are still be here, and still providing great service.
The City has $600,000 to spend on outside contractors to redo the medians in Mesa Verde that don't need redoing, but won't hire a few employees who will be vested in providing quality services for residents of the City. Something is very wrong with the Council Majority's spending priorities.

6/24/2014 11:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

Heart, we are spending $600,000 for medians that were just barely completed once, and now they want them redone again. We were going to spend $600,000 for lights in a dawn to dusk park. Equally as stupid.

Our fire station on Royal Palm needs an air conditioner. The city hall has an air conditioner. Its pathetic that we cannot repair our service buildings as we should. It will cost twice as much to repair the dilapidated building if we wait. Problems only get worse, not better. Is unconscionable.

I'M CALLING YOU OUT, COUNCILMEN. We all know you read this blog. Fix that fire station. You have a list of "to do" jobs that are all more important than those stupid medians.

LET'S VOTE THESE GUYS OUT IN NOVEMBER and get this city back on track.

6/25/2014 06:55:00 AM  

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