Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Planning Commission Meeting Turns Into Fitzpatrick Love-fest

Monday night the Costa Mesa Planning Commission meeting turned into a big love-fest for outgoing, "retiring" Chairman Jim Fitzpatrick.  I'm not quite sure how one "retires" from an appointed position.  Now, most of you already know that I don't hold Jimmy Fitzy in high regard, but I smiled when the little ceremonial vignettes took place.

Right off the bat Linda Kirkpatrick of the "Nothing But Bundts" store on 17th Street led us in the Pledge of Allegiance, then did a quick promo for her business.  She brought a huge box of little cupcakes for "us" - I didn't get one, as it turned out.

Then, the very first speaker in Public Comments, Richard Russell, praised the commission and Fitzpatrick for their work on development of the city.  That one tested my gag reflex.

Then, as part of the Commissioner Comments segment, Vice Chair Rob Dickson dragged Fitzpatrick down to the speaker's podium where he read a proclamation honoring his service and gave him a plaque.  Then each of his compatriots on the dais took their turns to effusively praise his leadership, friendship, and on and on and on.

Then it was Fitzy's turn, so he thanked practically everyone in the room, by name - including his buddy and benefactor, Mayor Steve Mensinger, who was sitting near the front for the entire meeting.  Fitzy referred to him as his "relentless friend", and described their drives around the city, looking for violations.  He introduced his lovely family, who stepped to the speaker's podium and chatted.  His wife thanked everyone for being so nice to her husband.  It was 6:45 before they finally got around to the business of the City.

Consent Calendar Item #2 was pulled for separate discussion. That was the resolution officially denying the request for reasonable accommodation by Yellowstone Recovery for their operation of a larger-than-permitted rehab home.  It passed, 5-0.

Next up was Public Hearing #1, the request for a two-year extension modified, previously-approved plan on Avenue of the Arts.  That discussion took five minutes and was approved, 5-0.  I smiled when David Lurker, the representative of the developer,  stepped up.  Jimmy Fitzy and I have recently sparred about "lurking" - he accused me of lurking with my camera and myself and others reminded him of his own "lurking" background.  So, Mr. Lurker's presence made me smile.
Next came a similar request, Public Hearing #2, for a project at 580 Anton - a two-year extension.  That one also took five minutes, start to finish and resulted in a 5-0 vote affirming the extension.

Next up was Public Hearing #3, the modification of the Small Lot Ordinance.  This image shows the proposal by staff.  Much of the discussion by speakers on this one suggested that if it was passed no further exceptions, variations or deviations be made to future developments using this plan as the foundation.  After a half hour of discussion the item passed, 5-0.  Click the image to enlarge it.

Public Hearing #4 was the development of an unusual project at 530 Hamilton.  This one involved an existing residence and two proposed new residences with 4 bedrooms and 4 1/2 baths and slightly less than 3,000 square feet each for the two - a duplex unit.  It had significant variances requested.  Eventually the commission, guided by staff recommendations, voted, 5-0,  to "continue it off calendar" to permit the architect to, literally, go back to the drawing board to fine-tune the project to lose some of the requested variances.  A couple of us thought this project seemed ripe for a group home - eleven (11) bedrooms between the three attached units and the same number of bathrooms.  And, it was "vague" as to whether this would be owner-occupied or rentals or what?  So, back the architect goes and the next Planning Commission will deal with it downstream.

The final item, Public Hearing #5, practically sent the commission into a nearly-orgasmic state.  This is the proposed vintage automobile museum/cafe on Farad.  Now, I'm a car guy myself and appreciate what this applicant is trying to do.  The cafe' will be open to the public, who will be able to sit up on the mezzanine and observe classic cars while having a meal.  It was universally agreed that this is a nice project.  Fitzpatrick's last official vote was to second Dickson's approval of this project.

The meeting ended with Assistant Director of Development Services, Claire Flynn, praising Fitzpatrick for his diligence during his tour on the commission.  So, the meeting ended as it began - as a big group hug for the outgoing Chairman.  What is NOT clear is why he chose to abandon this gig.  Clearly, it was his for the asking.  There has been lots of speculation about what he will be doing with his time now.  Mention was even made in passing of a "job".  One wonders if he will parlay his tenure on the commission into come kind of a lucrative development-related consulting gig, as some former City employees have done over the years.  I guess we'll see.  Stephan Andranian, who was in the audience for maybe the first time last night, will be the new fifth member of the Planning Commission when he's sworn in at the meeting on February 9th.

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Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

This dunce should never be on a Costa Mesa board or commission again. He shamelessly acts as a hand puppet for others, and will do or say anything to curry favor from those who control him.

1/27/2015 06:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Mary Ann O'Connell said...

Geoff, Since her franchisor is my client and a friend - it's Nothing Bundt Cakes and they NEVER sell a cupcake. What you had was either a bundtlet or a bundtini - a pure delicioushness!! ;-)

1/27/2015 08:20:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

I stand corrected. I believe it was a box of bundtinis.. teeny little things I saw Fitzy's girls take with them as they left the auditorium following their time at the podium.

1/27/2015 08:29:00 AM  
Anonymous it has to be said...

did anyone else see the irony of Geoff's "whole lotta lovin going on" elephant seal picture along with the Fitzpatrick lovefest plaque presentation picture?

Can't. unsee. irony.

1/27/2015 02:05:00 PM  
Blogger zennymoon said...

I didn't get a "bundette" either because I couldn't stay any longer and left after the small lot ordinance was tweaked. Stand by soon the small lot ordinance will have no perameters and they will just give the developers a rubber stamp, they can keep in their top desk drawers.I saw one commissioner writing furiously when a speaker mentioned the new monstrocities on 17th and Superior would be hearing Trade Joes semi trucks unloading every morning at 3 a.m along with skiploaders, six days a week...hmm residential overlay? A good idea?

1/27/2015 09:08:00 PM  

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