Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Two Developments And Car Dealership Remodel Approved

Last night the Costa Mesa Planning Commission stretched its meeting out until after 11:00 p.m. and actually had quite a bit to show for it.  More than 60 people gathered to observe what looked to be a fairly short agenda  play out.  It wasn't short.

However, in a bit of theater I've not seen before, the commissioners "honored" high-priced consultant Jerry Guarancino for his work standing in for Assistant Development Services Director Claire Flynn while she was on a medical leave.  She returned to work last week.  I don't recall any hired gun - consultants who perform as an expensive temporary employee - being so recognized in the past.  And, what made it even stranger is the fact that Jerry's not going anywhere - except up a couple floors at City Hall.  At the last council meeting the contract that brought him and another contract planning employee to us was extended for the second time and will now result in a $480,000 expense.  And, Jerry will now apparently take his expensive paycheck to the 5th floor, where he will manage the Code Enforcement effort to get a handle on the infestation of group/sober living homes in the city.

The commission approved a 15-unit live/work project on Placentia Avenue on a 5-0 vote.

They also approved a 19-unit condominium project on Paularino.

The biggie of the evening began at 8:20 p.m. and the final vote was cast nearly three hours later when the commission approved the expansion - basically, a complete re-build - of the Buick-GMC-Cadillac dealership on Harbor Boulevard at Merrimac.  This was contentious and ten residents spoke with serious concerns about the project, which had been heard earlier this summer.  Since then, the consultant for the applicant, former Costa Mesa senior staffer Peter Naghavi, had been attempting a community outreach effort to assuage their apprehensions and to seek ways to mitigate their concerns.  Based on the tone of the comments by residents, he was only marginally successful.   And, unfortunately, he was unsuccessful in hiding his frustration late in the discussions.

The applicant trotted out a Vice President, Ron Maceachern, from headquarters in Michigan - a career automobile dealer operator - who tried to sell the neighbors in the audience of his sincerity about their plans to be a good neighbor to them and an asset to the community.  He was persuasive and I found myself wondering if I'd buy a car from the man.

The applicant had re-vamped their original plans to satisfy many of the concerns expressed by residents at earlier meetings but there was obviously much bad blood as a result of pretty shabby treatment some had received during the demolition process.

Near the end of the deliberations there was plenty of frustration to go around.  Chairman Jim Fitzpatrick, getting weary of the whole discussion, became edgy as his Vice Chair, Rob Dickson, attempted to summarize what he had heard that evening to help himself and the other commissioners gather their thoughts before voting on the issue.  Fitzpatrick prodded him a couple times, unnecessarily in my view, but Dickson continued and produced a valuable summation.

Commissioner Tim Sesler, who sometimes seems to speak in tongues up on the dais, attempted to congratulate the participants but botched that up.  Sometimes he doesn't speak into the microphone, so it's virtually impossible to understand what he's saying.  It usually doesn't make any difference.

In any event, eventually the commission approved the project on a 5-0 vote after tinkering with some of the terms and conditions.  None of the thirty or so residents who attended for that item seemed satisfied in the least.

So, one meeting down this week - at least three more to go.  More on those later today.

Labels: , , , ,


Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

If the Costa Mesa residents don't vote these guys out of office, they're nuts and can only blame themselves. I don't mind them trying to enlarge the car dealership but when it backs up to residents, its push comes to shove. This is what is going to happen with the high density crap being built next to businesses all over the city. I don't know why a dealership can't show cars at one location and store them at another, such as our mainly empty industrial area. Perhaps the repair facility should be in that area also.

9/09/2014 07:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Casual Viewer said...

People who have lived in gthe area for many years remember when there was a home on the corner next to the dealership and that property was R-1. The dealership bought the property and tore down the home, but left it vacant, promising that it would not be developed. No wonder residents are mad.

9/09/2014 08:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Mike McNiff said...

I'm thinking about tearing my house down and building four live/work units on it. Should fly through the PC and CC approval process.

9/09/2014 09:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Casual Viewer said...

to Mike - It might fly through easier if you let a friend of you-know -who be the listing agent when you sell them.

9/09/2014 10:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Teresa Drain said...

All of the 50+ residents WANTED this dealership to get open for business. We approved the plan last year.

Since then, they got approved for changes with an amendment passed through administratively (residents not involved).

Then they came back again: with a 80% increased size, including a ROOFTOP PARKING STRUCTURE adjacent to R-1. Not a single commissioner wanted it to pass the first time we spoke to the PC in July. They stayed their decision, and the dealership hired Ex-employee Peter Naghavi to approach us, and listen to us, and make the changes. The plan didn't change but for a couple light poles were moved and shortened. And plants added.

He added a green wall (with an vine that will become a hot mess of red flower litter into their new cars) and a bunch of trees packed too close for their root system. It won't be set in a "natural" pattern. The trees will someday grow to hide the monstrosity...

By the way, NO answers to our concerns about the double decker ramp being right benind our neighbors back yard.

Get ready for more, Costa Mesa, they just set a new precedent: ROOF TOP PARKING! Enjoy!

Oh, and more hi density apartments going in at Merrimac and Harbor.

9/09/2014 11:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

Well, Rig did say he was going to develop the hell out of Costa Mesa

9/09/2014 01:16:00 PM  
Anonymous It has to be said...

Great picture of Sessler...

GAWK! Timmy wants a cracker! GAWK!

9/09/2014 03:04:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home