Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Long Night - Loaded With Drama

The Costa Mesa Planning Commission meeting "only" ran until 1:40 a.m. this morning, but it was certainly worth the wait.  What a night!  And, because it ran very long and I actually hope to get my head on my pillow before dawn, you're going to get an abbreviated report on this one.

Because there were several hot button items on the agenda, the City Council Chambers had more than 100 people in it as the meeting began.  As anticipated, three items were pulled from the Consent Calendar for separate discussion - numbers 3, 4 and 5.  Wendy Leece pulled #3, the drainage easement in Fairview Park at Pacific Avenue and cautioned about the possible environmental impact.  Jay Humphrey and Cindy Black expressed their concerns, too.  City Engineer Fariba Faseli explained that this project just formalizes an existing drainage and the item passed on a 5-0 vote.

Barrie Fisher pulled #4, the update from the Community Improvement Division, which should have been more accurately named.  It covers the history and current status of group homes in the city.  The discussion took about 35 minutes.  Community Improvement Division Assistant Director Jerry Guarancino explained the difficulty getting good information from The State and spoke about a trip he and other staffers made to Sacramento to specifically meet with the appropriate parties - and they still didn't get good information.  They explained their concerns about over-concentration of group homes in Costa Mesa and Orange County, but got no satisfaction.  We were left thinking that only pressure directly from the City to Sacramento MIGHT influence how many such facilities can open up here.... the numbers have increased dramatically in the past couple years.  The commission voted 5-0 to receive and file but expressed the hope that this information might be made available on the city web site soon.

#5, the Summary Matrix of High Density Residential Districts in Orange County Cities was pulled by Jay Humphrey.  It shows Costa Mesa's position relative to other cities and could be interpreted to reflect that we don't have as dense a designation than others.    Another 5-0 vote to receive and file.

At 6:45 Public Hearing #1, the appeal of the Zoning Administrators approval of a minor conditional use permit on parking requirements for 657 W. 19th Street at a rehabilitation facility operated by Solid Landings, commenced.  Resident Ann Parker, who has her teeth firmly into the issue of rehab homes city-wide, had paid the fees to appeal this decision and made her presentation assisted by former councilwoman Wendy Leece and activist Teresa Drain, and they nailed it!

The discussion went far-afield of the actual issue, with the lawyer for Solid Landings attempting to smooth things over, but after a half dozen speakers addressed the issue and the discussion went back and forth among the commissioners, after nearly two and half hours the commission voted, 5-0, to grant the appeal. That means Solid Landings cannot operate counseling meetings at that site because they were NOT fulfilling the requirements to which they had agreed.  This may be appealed to the City Council.

After a short break the commission took on Public Hearing #2, the two-unit small lot development at 1620 Orange Avenue.  This one only took about 15 minutes - the developer had tweaked the project since it was first heard a month ago -  and the commission passed it, 5-0.

Next up was another of the BIG items on the agenda.  At 9:35 the commission began hearing #3, conditional use permit for additional requests for an existing bar/lounge at 719 W. 19th Street.  This is Roland Barrera's operation that used to be called the Lion's Den, but will now be known as Maison.  You will recall that Barrera began renovating this property and also presenting live music without a single permit of any kind - no business license, no building permits, no fire inspections - nothing, zip, nada!  When caught his place was red-tagged and he's been forbidden to do business until all the problems were addressed satisfactorily.  Barrera's interests were represented by Lisa Salisbury, who guided the presentation, supported by Barrera - who made a pitiful, pathetic attempt at an apology to the commission and the community for his transgressions earlier. It clearly was contrived and was not effective.  Architect Bill Mason gave an overview of the progress being made.

Twenty-two people spoke to this issue, 5 of which supported it.  The remainder cited noise, smoke, wrong hours, precedent and more.  After a long discussion in which the pros and cons of giving the permit for live music or denying it, which would still allow recorded music and a disk jockey, the commission votes at 11:30 to deny it on a 3-2 vote.  Chairman Rob Dickson and Vice Chair Jeff Mathews voted NO.  I suspect we'll see this one appealed.

Finally, at 11:45, the commission began considering Public Hearing #4, the proposed Farmer's Market in the parking lot of St. John The Divine Episcopal Church at the corner of Bay Street and Orange on the Eastside of the city.  Commissioner Tim Sesler recused himself because it's his home church - and went home to bed.  This was another contentious item, with many people on both sides of the issue speaking out.  Several modifications had been made late in the day amending the original plan.  For example, no alcohol nor electronics or other non-food items will be sold at this Farmer's Market - only produce, locally grown. 

The commission had received 26 letters - 14 for and 12 against - on this project.  29 people spoke to it - 9 against and the other 20 for it.  Concerns were expressed about food-borne diseases, traffic in the immediate neighborhood and the frequency of these events - every Saturday of the year.  Most of those in favor were members of the church and stressed what a great community-building opportunity this would be, and the convenience for shoppers in the neighborhood.

Pastor Phil DeVaul made the presentations and answered questions.  In the end - at 1:40 a.m. today - the commission voted 3-1 to approve the item, with new commissioner Stephan Andranian voting NO.  The approval made several modifications to the proposal, including a sunset clause that requires this conditional use permit be reviewed before it is renewed two years from the date of approval, which will be June of 2017, which should provide plenty of time to see if this is going to work.

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Blogger Honeyman said...

You said Barrera got denied (!!!) by a 3-2 vote, but only cited Dickson and Matthews voting no. Who was the third?

6/09/2015 06:57:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

They voted against the denial. The motion was to deny.

6/09/2015 09:25:00 AM  
Blogger Honeyman said...

I see....(said the blind man).

Never figured on that. So McCarthy and Sesler saved the day?!? Did I just type that? Am I in a dream?

6/09/2015 09:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

I think the Dickson and Mathews "No" votes meant they did not want Barrera to be denied. Not sure. Geoff?

Barrera is an ocgop pet. He got lots of money from the 60th Celebration and it remains to be seen exactly what the city got for what was paid to him.

Also, Barrera's attorney, Salisbury, represents other ocgopers.

6/09/2015 01:48:00 PM  
Blogger Ocpublicsquare said...

Big kudos to Mary Spadoni on our team last nigh. She hosted our planning meetings, keptcus focused and got us all laughing!

6/09/2015 06:07:00 PM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

Excellent job from Teresa, Wendy and Ann!
They focused on the facts and did their homework.
A lot of work and preparation had gone into their
reports and findings.
Last night's CM PC meeting was one of the best
I've seen in quite a while.
The residents' concerns were not only heard,
they were acted upon. It was a refreshing change.
Kudos to Stephan Andranian. He asked very pertinent
questions and voted his conscience, keeping the
residents in mind.
I hope we see more of this at future CM PC meetings.
I was proud of all the great speakers and the
commissioners who represented us, the residents.
Thanks for the writeup, Geoff and Thank You for
hanging in there till the end.

6/10/2015 12:26:00 AM  
Anonymous breaking bad said...

Does anybody remember, not too long ago, the mayor's attempt and campaign to get everyone to think we were like Mayberry. "Costa Mayberry". Remember he and his pals actually had t-shirts made. I'm serious and not kidding. How funny and insincere does that look now?

I think it's sad that the current majority and their supporters are of the mindset to overdevelope and maximize the developers profits at the expense of residents and destroying Costa Mayberry. The elected leaders were suppose to do what's BEST for Costa Mesa and its residents. The operative word here is "BEST".

Even they and their supporters, in writings and in comments, admit they are not doing what is best for Costa Mesa but settling for the lessor of two evils. Colin McCarthy almost every meeting discussing these projects brings up the comment...what could go in there? So they deceptively try to say these not so good projects we are ramming down your throats are good for you because what could go in there is really really bad. Not that they are doing what's best or we tried to get what's best for Cosat Mesa but you should just shut up and accept these overdevelped properties because it could be worse.

We deserve planners and council members who want what's BEST and who try to get what's BEST for Costa Mesa and not those who settle for the lessor of two evils because it will maximiz the developers profits.

I'm not anti developing at all. I am for a good balance of reasonable developing that benefits Costa Mesa, it's residents and yes makes the developers some profits too. Jim Fitpatrick can try his lame label game all he wants and call those who oppose these mass developments, the anti development crowd, but his biggest concern should be some sort of anger management class. It's not anti developing its do it reasonable and don't just settle.

I think we actually have a better label and maybe a new t-shirt for the current majority and their supporters as they appear to be the "Anti Costa Mayberry Crowd" now or how about "Developers over Residents everytime?

6/10/2015 10:24:00 AM  
Anonymous lovemygarden said...

Congratulations to Ms. Parker. Thank goodness we have activists like her that are trying to protect all of the residents of the city. I am appalled that City staff did not do that themselves and it took a brave soul like her to bring this appeal to the Commission. Why was the MCUP approved in the first place and why has this property not been red tagged? Since the property owner was a campaign contributor to Councilmember Monahan’s campaign, does that mean he gets special privileges the rest of us don’t?

6/10/2015 10:32:00 AM  

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