Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Curious Discussions At The Planning Commission Meeting

At the Costa Mesa Planning Commission meeting Monday night the small crowd - 22 people at the high point - had a chance to hear some curious conversations.

Early in the meeting Chairman Jim Fitzpatrick was clearly having difficulty staying awake.  I really did expect him to nod off during the discussion of the proposed new car wash on 17th Street.  He didn't, but it was close.

On that subject, after longer than anticipated conversation the commission approved the plan, 4-0 - commissioner Tim Sesler was AWOL.  The only controversy was the fact that commissioner Colin McCarthy didn't like their roof line!  Yep, he didn't like the appearance of it - a kind of "S" shaped canopy in the front of the building.  Other commissioners joined him and it seemed like they might actually ask the applicant to abandon it - his brand identification - for the approval to proceed.  In the end common sense prevailed, but they will ask him to work with the staff to lower the feature to a level that will still permit trash trucks to drive under it.  And, there was some serious discussion about the volume of traffic that is anticipated to be routed out the back of the facility, through what was described as an alley, but is really the parking lot of the strip mall on Irvine Avenue.

Then came the final item on the agenda, the proposed development of 11 fee simple homes on Tustin Avenue at the corner of Ogle Street.  This one seemed like a no-brainer - replacing 14 old apartment units with 11 brand-new homes that would sell in the $900,000 and up range.  The developer, Chad Brown of Melia Homes, had good answers for all the questions and also managed to fend off most of the angry protests by the eleven speakers who challenged it.

As it wound down to the end Vice Chairman Rob Dickson seemed very hung up on the fact that this project, which fell under the recently-approved Small Lot Ordinance, failed to meet the requirements of that ordinance because the front set back requested was only 12 feet instead of the minimum 20 feet required.  The conversation went 'round and 'round, with Fitzpatrick lethargically suggesting that Dickson take a little more time to think about it.  He said he didn't need to think about it, so the vote was called and it passed, 3-1, with Dickson dissenting.

This was a very interesting test for the Small Lot Ordinance, which was designed to eliminate the morass of administrative adjustments, deviations, variances and other modifiers of the then-current codes that made life difficult for developers.  This ordinance was hailed by many of those developers as the key to infill developments in Costa Mesa.  Well, as it turns out, it's not quite that easy and I wouldn't be surprised if someone appeals the decision to the City Council later this week.

That was it for the evening.  Many of the speakers interested in that project left the auditorium shouting at the commissioners over their shoulders.  It was as raucous a crowd I've seen at a Planning Commission meeting in many, many months.  The next Planning Commission meeting is Monday, September 8th.

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Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

Everyone knows the PC is "rigged." After Jimbo is defeated this infestation must be addressed.

8/26/2014 05:38:00 AM  
Blogger Honeyman said...

Dickson is kinda like the Joe Besser of the Stooges. Not nearly a Moe, Larry, or Curley...and not even a Shemp.

If you can stomach reading Righeimers website, look at his endorsement page: http://www.jimrigheimer.com/endorsements/ They even spell his name.....Dixson! Here's a guy who has donated hundreds of dollars to the campaigns of both Riggy and the fool Ramos, has served as a loyal, goosestepping soldier behind the Fuhrer for years, and they can't even spell his name right.

8/26/2014 07:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Teresa Drain said...

The neighbors brought forth many good questions, and a willingness to work with the developers.  However, the neighbors were denied the opportunity to review the plans at the city even after they were noticed of the development.  They were finally allowed to review the developer's plans only a couple of days prior to the meeting.  

The neighbors' concerns are based on their years of experiencing the changes in their neighborhood.  About a dozen of these neighbors shared their REAL LIFE experiences about the parking, and these concerns were acknowledged by Commissioner Dickson, as he had lived there and has his own experiences.

My concern is that there may be too much reliance on the developer's studies and an architect's manipulation to "mostly" comply with the ordinance.  Also, not enough consideration is given to the unique conditions which apply to each neighborhood.  Costa Mesa, unlike "master planned" cities, has unique neighborhoods.  When a dozen of the neighbors come out to appeal to the Planning Commission, that should indicate to them that there is a strong connection among these neighbors.  We should all be so blessed to have such a connected community.

I think the basis of the approval was that the development was within "allowed parking ratio" in Costa Mesa which is "better than other cities".

These ordinances are in place based on historical Costa Mesa citizen input to the General Plan.  Variances by developers are in essence a request to deviate from the citizens of Costa Mesa's expressed wishes.  When variances are allowed, especially when it is  done to "ease the load" on staff, it sends a poor message to the citizenry.

The Planning Commission is supposed to be an appointment of connected citizens... so that we are able to speak to our neighbors about concerns about maintaining quality development in our city.  They are not "elected" and therefore should not have any alliance with a developer.

In a perfect world, this works.  In this real world, it is not working.  Why?

8/26/2014 01:33:00 PM  
Blogger Honeyman said...

Perhaps it's just coincidence.....but I don't think so. Dicksons name is now correctly spelled on Riggy's endorsement webpage. The enemy must read A BUBBLING CAULDRON daily as the good guys do!

BTW, the mouth should change the name of his blog to "No Comments" considering that is the way every column seems to end. In recent weeks, it seems that he is also getting even more racist and anti-semetic if that's even possible.

8/27/2014 01:45:00 PM  

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