Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Funny Thing Happened...

Yep, a funny thing happened on the way to a neighborhood community meeting on the proposed expansion of Orange Coast College -  a "Jim Righeimer For City Council" campaign stop broke out!  Well, that's what it seemed like, anyhow.

Beginning at 6 p.m. sharp a crowd of around 60 Costa Mesa residents gathered on the driveway at 222 Hanover Drive to hear Mayor Righeimer expound on the planned expansion of our local community college, bemoan the lack of outreach, the probable increase in traffic and acknowledge that there is really almost NOTHING the City can do about it.  And yet, there he was, smack-dab in the middle of his run for re-election, surrounded by a handful of senior city staffers for moral and technical support, complaining about something he can do nothing about. This was less than 24 hours after he and his cronies crashed a campaign event for Katrina Foley, Jay Humphrey and Wendy Leece the night before, HERE, and HERE.

In addition to Righeimer and his pal, Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger - who lurked and smirked  around the perimeter of the crowd like a Secret Service body guard - the attendees included Chief Executive Officer Tom Hatch;  Public Services Director Ernesto Munoz; Transportation Services Manager Raja Sethuraman; Development Services Director Gary Armstrong; Communication Director Bill Lobdell; Assistant Development Services Director Claire Flynn; Management Analyst Dan Baker and Hatch's Executive Assistant, Kelly Shelton.  Plus, councilwomen Sandra Genis and Wendy Leece were also present.  I'm not sure whether having 4/5 of the City Council present constituted a Brown Act Violation or not.  Only three of them spoke - Righeimer and Genis spoke on the issue and Leece had to verbally slap Righeimer upside the head once to remind him that he shouldn't be campaigning.  It made me smile.

Also present was former mayor Mary Hornbuckle, currently President of the Coast Community College District Board of Trustees, which administers Orange Coast College, among others.  She has served on that board for nearly a decade.

As I cruised through the College Park neighborhood where the meeting was to be held I couldn't help but notice the Jay Humphrey For City Council campaign signs that peppered many of the lawns.  His were the only signs visible, including right next door to the home where the meeting was to be held and right in the line of sight of Righeimer as he spoke.

Also in his line of sight was a large banner held by activist Cindy Black, shown here with Righeimer supporter and candidate for a seat on the Mesa Water District Board, Ron Amburgey, as he admired the sign.  I suspect Righeimer was not happy with that banner being so clearly visible to him and certainly was not happy when Black occasionally flashed another smaller sign which said in bright, bold, red letters - "I DON'T BELIEVE YOU!"
Here are three graphics that were posted for all to see.  They present an image of the changes proposed, a city-generated synopsis of the impacts of the changes and a list of OCC representatives to contact.  Additionally, you can read the Draft Environmental Impact Report HERE.  
During the meeting Righeimer told us he would be meeting with OCC President Dennis Harkins next week to discuss this program and its impacts. He spoke of the planned increase of students - he mentioned 6,922 additional folks attending within the next few years.  This will still be short of the highest levels attained a few years ago, but the planned infrastructure changes will put a serious crimp on traffic flow and tax other infrastructure elements, as well.

He complained that OCC needed to define the reason for these changes to justify the $700 million bond issue.
He and Munoz reminded us of the probable traffic impacts of this project at full build-out - more than 17,000 daily vehicle trips.  That's much more than the 13,500 trips associated with the Banning Ranch development if it is completed.
More than two dozen residents - a mixture of College Park residents who walked or rode bicycles to the meeting and "regulars" at council and commission meetings -  asked questions and made comments covering a wide range of issues.  They  dealt with the presumption that this expansion was to accommodate an increase of foreign students because they pay a higher fee to attend.  Some speculated that the college was being prepared to convert to a 4-year university.  Others worried about parking throughout their neighborhoods.  Presently there are signs posted indicating that the on-street parking is for permitted residents only.  Several speakers pressed Righeimer for alternatives - which he didn't have.

One very young fellow spoke, complaining about the proposed traffic and the failure of the college to build a Science Center on the Fairgrounds space.
Speakers mentioned the shortage of police officers and the impacts this expansion would have on the CMPD and the Fire Department.  There were no members of the CMPD or CMFD present.

During his frequent postulations he used the phrase "come from", as it "What's your come from?"  I assume he meant, in the context of the college, what's your goal?  Sometimes he speaks in tongues.  He directed Hatch to have the City Attorney look at the issue.  Do you smell even MORE legal fees?  I do!

Early in the discussions one speaker observed that Righeimer frequently said The City should be run like a business, and this move by OCC seemed to be following that philosophy - running it like a business.  He quickly denied making that observation about the City.  I glanced around and saw many folks who follow these issues just shake their heads because we all have heard him time after time expound on how the City SHOULD be run like a business.  For him to deny it only adds fuel to the belief that you just can't believe anything he says.
A little later Righeimer tried to fold into the conversation his campaign rant about the previous council "blowing through" $35 million in reserves.  That's when Leece spoke up and corrected the record and told him to stop campaigning.  She reminded him that the previous councils had actually built-up those reserves and found it necessary to spend them during the economic downturn the end of the last decade.  For once he didn't have any kind of a snappy retort - because he was just flat-out wrong!
Near the end Righeimer asked Hornbuckle, who had been quietly and intently listening to each and every speaker,  to say a few words.  She stepped right up and told the crowd about the process that was being followed.  She said the whole issue is being reviewed and that the Environmental Impact Report is being revisited, and that nothing is going to happen until the first of the year.  She said everyone will have a chance to observe the new plans and comment upon them BEFORE any final decisions are made and the proposal are passed on up the line to the State.  She told us that the State has encouraged colleges to become more "entrepreneurial" because funding is so tight.  She calmly fielded every question asked with a steady demeanor that has marked her tenure in public life.  Watching her in action made me long for the good old days, before mindless partisanship took control of our city government and decisions were made by the elected leaders that were best for the city without consideration for individual political careers or party edicts.  At one point, as she explained her views, she observed that she hoped those running for office this year would NOT make the OCC situation part of their election platform.  Righeimer knew what she meant.  She made me smile.
So, the evening ended as the sun had already set and this glorious moon was about to rise, with Righeimer's instruction to the staff to stay on top of this issue and to communicate with the attendees on any changes/progress that's being made.  Keep in mind that the City has very limited authority to do ANYTHING about any of this.  It's going to be very interesting to see what kind of changes are made to this plan by the college district and college officials as the fall moves on in this election year.

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Anonymous Mike McNiff said...

So expanding OCC would create more traffic and is bad, but expanding that car dealership in the exact same neighborhood, on top of all the high density development just up the road on Harbor, is good?

I'm so confused! 'Promises Made. Promises Kept' was the slogan I saw on Riggy's most recent campaign e-mail. What a bunch of horse manure.

9/10/2014 06:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

An educated public is dangerous to dictators. Shut up and buy another car.

9/10/2014 08:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Skeptical in Costa Mesa said...

I'd bet that if one of der rigmister's developer friends were involved in either the OCC construction or building a few "live work" units near by, he's be dead silent or telling us all how great the build would be.

9/10/2014 08:12:00 AM  
Blogger zennymoon said...

Mary Hornbuckle gave a calm and measured reply and it appeared the map being used by the city, was not the current OCC plan. I would have been better served as a resident, if, their outrage would have been based on current plans and info. It was explained by Mary H this is a 20 year build out and nothing will be ready before Jan., 2015, so Riggy won't have to worry about it....he will be sittng in the resident seats watching Katrina and Jay hearing matters....Victory in NOvember

9/10/2014 08:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Terry Koken said...

Didn't prevaricate
didn't lie
didn't tell an untruth
didn't dissimulate
didn't make a disingenuous statement
didn't scam his audience
didn't tell a whopper
didn't fail to tell the truth

Remember Gene Wilder's last line in The Frisco Kid?

"Vill somebody please show dis esshole de vay oudt of town?"

9/10/2014 09:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Teresa Drain said...

OCC did a better outreach than the City for their General Plan. I got notice by mail and door drop. They listened to the few residents at the first meeting, and scheduled another meeting. They improved their outreach for the second meeting. I also recieved a follow up letter this week. Although it did not contain much new information, it was a nice change to see: FOLLOW UP and ACKNOWLEDGEMENT.

Jay Humphrey attended these early meetings. We support him, and a return to normalcy.

9/10/2014 09:08:00 AM  
Anonymous xyn bohemia said...

did righeimer try to take credit for the super moon?? ya know, in the "interest of costa mesa"?

9/10/2014 09:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Teresa Drain said...


Harbor at Merrimac is going to be 33 detached units on 3.7 acres (application PA-11-06).

Yes, they approved a double deck car lot that abuts R1 - and Multi Family across the street, next to the car lots.

9/10/2014 09:42:00 AM  
Anonymous lovemygarden said...

It would have saved time to just have Mary Hornbuckle speak. She is eloquent and knows what the timeline and issues are. Righeimer did not. This was obviously a campaign event for him, but he didn’t help his cause by appearing uninformed and the material presented by the City outdated. He wanted to drum up support by getting the residents riled up, but there are plenty of us who are already (and not just about the college's plans). Why he is so outraged by the 17,000 increase in daily trips generated by OCC, and not the nearly 92,000 additional daily trips generated by the proposed changes to our General Plan is puzzling. I guess if your developer friends are causing those trips, versus the college, then that is okay.

If anyone has a comment about the college plans, you can email Jerry Marchbank at The City should have had emails on its poster for treehuggers like me.

9/10/2014 09:55:00 AM  
Anonymous David on Lorenzo said...

Were all these city staffers getting paid overtime for this spectacle?
Even if not, it's nice to know that they are wasting time working on something over which they have no control.

9/10/2014 09:56:00 AM  
Anonymous lovemygarden said...

Righeimer's comments about "the Chinese" and "two thousand students from Shanghai" made some of us very uncomfortable. Add xenophobia to the list of his irrational fears.

9/10/2014 10:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Teresa Drain said...


Thanks for noticing those uncomfortable statements... He used that phrase more than once. Xenophobia:
"...I know it when I see it."

9/10/2014 02:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Disgusted Republican said...

LMG - the Shanghai comments made me cringe too; that's not the first time he's said that either. Another very telling comment out of the RIGmeister's mouth last night was when he referenced the planned planitarium and that it would draw elementary to high school kids (field trips, educational experiences) and he said "I guess that's a good thing." Really? Tell us how you really feel about education, "mayor". And then complaining that there are too many schools out there. (An interesting side note to consider is that when Hitler invaded Poland, one of the first things he did was to shut down ALL schools and universities. He wanted to use Poles as forced labor and didn't want an educated population. Not saying the RIGmeister wants to use us all as forced labor; that bit of info just came to mind thinking about how educated citizens are NOT good for the RIGmeister!)

9/10/2014 03:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Robin Leffler said...

Woulda been nice if the mayor had bothered to get his facts up-to-date and straight. OCC is already reworking plans in response to resident concerns, something our Righeimer-led city council has little regard for. Compare Righeimer with Mary Hornbuckle and Jay Humphrey.

Jim is a "politician" who embodies all the cynical stereotypes that word brings to mind: slick, facile, plays on fears, goes off before he knows the facts because the facts don't matter anyway, the sound bites do.

Jay Humphrey and Mary Hornbuckle personify, respectively, a stateswoman and statesman. They are statesmanlike in that they are well informed, calm, forthright, and truly want to serve the people, although both can politic pretty effectively as the need arises.

9/11/2014 12:51:00 AM  
Anonymous It has to be said...

Ron Amburgey is standing creepily close to Cindy Black...

He has no clue about "open space"....

9/11/2014 08:36:00 AM  

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