Monday, September 14, 2015

Brief Planning Commission Meeting Yields Info

The Costa Mesa Planning Commission meeting Monday night went about as anticipated.  It started on time and finished just before 8 p.m. - a nice change.

During Public Comments Beth Refakes reminded us that the Candy Drive is underway for the families of the 1/5 Marines at Camp Pendleton.  There's a collection point in the City Hall lobby and every piece of candy must be individually wrapped.

Ann Parker asked for clarification about her appeal of the Solid Landings issue, citing the fact that Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer had called her a liar in a public forum.  It was confirmed that Commissioner Stephan Andranian was the only commissioner who expressed interest in appealing the issue, but changed his mind at the last minute, forcing Parker to dash to City Hall and post the fee to get the item appealed, which was successful.  She also address other sober living venues in the city.

Stephan Andranian said he was honored to participate in the Joint Study Session last week and complimented the staff.  He also responded to Ann Parker's comments, affirming he was planning to appeal the Solid Landings issue, but changed his mind at the last minute.

Tim Sesler chided Parker for her attitude at the speaker's podium, admonishing her that she'll get more accomplished with sugar than vinegar.

Colin McCarthy started off by saying he's hearing an undercurrent of criticism of the staff and he doesn't understand it.  Maybe he's hearing that on the Costa Mesa Public Square, because I don't hear it at all.  He told us he was proud of the Building Inspection group.  He praised the Joint Study session, calling it "illuminating".  He addressed the Westside Plans, saying that he was getting tired of hearing complaints about them.  He said, "I'm not interested in hearing discussions on Westside plans.  That ship has sailed."  Really, Colin?  So, one more exposition by a member of the folks in power that they don't want to hear a dissenting voice.  Well, tough!  You're still going to be hearing from folks if they don't like what you're doing.  Get used to it or get out.

Chairman Rob Dickson thanked Beth Refakes for the information on the Candy Drive and asked her to be sure another video of the event is produced this year.  He also praised the Joint Study Session and the staff for the work they put into it.  He also mentioned that, during the month of August, 11,000 building permits had been pulled - substantially more than a year ago.

Vice Chair Jeff Mathews had nothing...

The new Fire Plan Submittal Checklist and Guidelines presentation was pulled from the Consent Calendar and Fire Chief Dan Stefano and Fire Prevention Specialist Dave Hollister were ready to answer questions about this new, valuable document.  The whole presentation, including questions and observations, took about five minutes.  Kudos to Chief Stefano and Hollister for the production of this important guideline.

As expected, the first two public hearings were continued to a future, un-named, date.

#3, the design review and subdivision of  two new 2-story residences at 288 E. 15th Street, should have gone right through without much discussion but the developer was thrown a curve at, literally, the last minute.  Apparently, at 4:00 Monday afternoon, he was advised that the City wanted him to underground the utilities to his project.  Based on some quick investigation he learned it might cost $200,000 - something he had not anticipated.  At one point he said that, if forced to pay for the undergrounding, he might just have to walk away from the project.  It was anticipated that the two units might sell, based on his other projects in the City, from $1.1 - 1.175 million each.  In the end the commission moved the project forward without the burden of undergrounding the utilities.

#4, the 10 unit 2 and 3 story residential development at 527-531 Bernard Street, was a different story.  Most of the commissioners were also uncomfortable about the new undergrounding requirement, but they ended up passing the project WITH the requirement of the utilities being undergrounded with some qualifying language that went something like the utilities would be undergrounded "to the extent logistically feasible".  The Director of Development Services will determine the feasibility issue.

All the commissioners, during both discussions, expressed angst about having this issue sprung on them at the last minute.  Most expressed the need for more specific direction from the City Council on this issue.  Undergrounding is VERY expensive, which is the reason the idea has stalled.  However, to do it piecemeal like this - in 50 foot segments, as was described at the meeting - makes little sense.  IF there is an intention to enforce some kind of an undergrounding edict, there needs to be more formal discussions on the issue, including input from the public.  Both items felt very loosey-goosey - not the way business is normally done.

The biggest news that came my way Monday was word that former consultant and, theoretical, new city employee Jerry Guarrancino is no longer with The City.  Apparently this news broke in a special staff meeting last Friday, with no more information available at this time.  It's my understanding that his Code Enforcement staff will be folded into the regular Code Enforcement organization, at least temporarily, until a decision is made about whether, and how, to fill his slot.  You might recall that he spent more than a year working in various jobs as a consultant, including acting as Interim Assistant Development Services Director during Claire Flynn's absence - and being paid a lot of money doing so - before a position was created that seemed specifically crafted for him.  We don't know what prompted his departure, but the curiously quiet circumstances only adds to the speculation.  And, it's unclear whether he actually ever did become an employee, since his consulting gig was to have shifted from one vendor to his own consulting practice.  It's all very strange.

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Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

Undergrounding the power lines? Great. Sounds good, but very foolish to do small portions at a time. That is a project that if you can't do it right, at least one street at a time, is pointless. What a f*^%(ed up mess this bunch is creating. I hope that initiative is qualified for the ballot and passes in a vote. This piecemeal crap is costing everyone just too much in terms of quality of life, traffic, aesthetics, etc. The neighborhoods look like crap with low rise, next to high rise. Cramming people in like rats in a cage doesn't bode well for the quality of life these guys are creating.

As for Sesler, he really needs to be off of anything public. He is simply an objectionable person. He sneers, his disdain for the public is palpable. He needs to go back to his cubicle at AAA and stick to what he knows..defending fender benders. He and McCarthy are both just plain icky. So now McCarthy doesn't want to hear about the Westside project? So go back to your real job..pretending to be a lawyer. We need people that want to work with the city residents to move forward, not just sneer and jeer and make rude and stupid comments to them from the dais.

The entire planning commission should have backed Ms. Parker with regard to her appeal. I am ashamed of all of them.

As for Guarradino, good riddance. Hope the door doesn't hit you in the rather large target you provided.

9/15/2015 08:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

Did Andranian apologize to Ms. Parker for changing his mind about backing the appeal, therefore allowing her to incur this large expense? Like Foley, did he at least offer to pay part of the fee?

Agree with Coffee re Little Timmy Sesler. He's a sanctimonious lapdog, nipping at the heels of his masters like Righeimer. Which is why they call him "Toto."

9/15/2015 01:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

I hear the council also fired the female attorney because she said she agreed with the residents on the appeal. These guys are out of control. Geoff, I can't remember the term you used awhile back that upset them so much, but that was kind compared to what I would compare them to.

9/15/2015 02:39:00 PM  

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