Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Bikeways And Walkability Committee Meeting

The Costa Mesa Bikeways and Walkability Committee met again Wednesday night and got it's marching orders.  All the members were present except Jim Kerins, who was out of town on business, and he sent his wife to observe and take notes so he wouldn't lose ground in this process.  Member Kathleen Brown showed up late and left a few minutes later.  All the other members were attentive and actively participated in the discussions.

City Clerk Brenda Green provided the obligatory official Brown Act briefing so the members will not inadvertently violate the state open meeting law.  Special emphasis was placed on the dangers of social media "conversations" and the pitfall of the "Reply All" choice in email messaging.
Councilwoman Katrina Foley took a greater-than-normal role in directing the agenda to be sure that the committee understood their role and the urgency of the first part of their task.
Transportation Services Manager Raja Sethuraman, shown above with Foley and member Andrea Marr, guided the brief orientation of the General Plan and how the update of the Master Plan of Bikeways is integrated into it.  He provided guidance on their Mission Statement, which reads as follows:

The mission of this committee is to:
  • Focus on the review and update of the City's Master Plan of Bikeways and improvements to be made to bikeways in the City, and
  • Evaluate the bikeability and walkability of our City in order to make recommendations for improvement to the City Council.
This will be no easy feat, since the recommendations for the Master Plan of Bikeways must be ready for presentation to the City Council in early fall, which means they only have one or two more meetings to accomplish that task.  That's a very tight timetable.

Consultant John Holloway provided an overview of the task he and his associates have been working on regarding the definition of an East/West Crosstown Bike Plan.
Now the group, chaired by Ralph Taboada, must get started... it should be very interesting to see if they can actually pull this off in the short time available to them.  They will meet again on the second Wednesday of August - the 12th.

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FUAP (And Leinart) Passed - Painfully

Remember that Parks and Recreation Commission meeting the last week of June in which the new Field Use And Allocation Policy (FUAP) was discussed in what could only be described as a confused and disjointed event?  I wrote about it HERE.  Well, the Costa Mesa City Council did them one better (worse?) last night as the same issue came before them for ratification/enhancement.  The former happened, but I'm not so sure about the latter.  More on that in a minute.

The final item on the agenda - the appointment of Planning Commissioner Stephan Andranian to the Vector Control District - had been pulled.  We're not sure why, but later councilwoman Sandra Genis spoke about it, and the fact that she had been the alternate, but that nobody spoke with her about taking over for Gary Monahan.  As it turned out, Monahan apparently missed more meetings than he attended, but didn't alert anyone about it, so Costa Mesa had no representation on that board for several months.  I'm not surprised - he has showed up late or not at all to several meetings this year.

But now, taking it from the top, the meeting began promptly at 5:45 with both councilman Gary Monahan and councilwoman Katrina Foley absent.  Monahan showed up fifteen minutes later and Foley made it by 6:30.

Mayor Steve Mensinger presented the Mayor's Award to Project Independence - a nice and fitting recognition for an excellent organization.
Fourteen people spoke during Public Comments - which was NOT bifurcated again.  Mensinger has tried to keep all the speakers up front for the past few meetings, which is always a good idea.  Many of those speaking addressed Fireworks, with a couple speaking favorably and others very critical of this year's event.  Among those speaking against Fireworks was Flo Martin - long time resident who was in town for this year's Independence Day holiday.  She told the council that the Zero Tolerance policy was a joke, and gave an example of one of her neighbors only receiving a warning when shooting off fireworks earlier than the prescribed time - a warning which he promptly ignored.

Chuck Perry was one of the two speakers who praised the Fireworks and speculated that the various groups selling them made $250,000.  He also praised the council majority for ongoing street repairs.

Cindy Black wore a "Save The Banning Ranch" t-shirt and spoke briefly on that issue before taking on the costs and performance of Cognify - the vendor who installed the abysmal CAD-RMS system that is still not performing and to whom we paid significantly higher charges than bid.  Did we mention that the honcho of that company is a campaign supporter of Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer?

Robin Leffler criticized the recent budget, describing it as a "spendthrift budget", which was presented as a balanced budget but used significant amounts of reserves to achieve that level.

Jay Humphrey brought up the Orange County Register article on
the City of Tustin's recent wrestling with density issues, and compared them to Costa Mesa.
Mary Spadoni criticized the CAD RMS system, suggesting "the people" have a right to know what's
going on crime-wise in the city.  She then rattled off some recent crime statistics which showed dramatic increases in so-called Part 2 crimes.  She blamed it directly on the staff shortage and the inability to enforce our laws.
Beth Refakes reminded all that the Military Affairs Team continues to collect gowns for the 1/5 Marines upcoming pre-deployment ball at Camp Pendleton.  She also addressed the fireworks, which she described as a war zone.
Ann Parker discussed crime and mentioned that she'd seen a recent article which ranked California cities over 100,000 people from a crime standpoint.  The higher a city is on the list, the worse their crime situation.  Number 1 was Oakland.  Number 3 was Compton and snuggled between them - at Number 2 - was Costa Mesa.  Certainly, this is NOT a list you want to appear on...

Cindy Brenneman thanked staffers Dan Baker and Kelly Shelton for their support of the First Friday Road Show and mentioned the most recent one, on July 3rd.
Tamar Goldmann observed all the plaudits for new Police Chief Rob Sharpnack, and the praise he was receiving as a "home grown" product.  She spoke about all the various opportunities he had with the CMPD during his 20 year career, then wondered if new officers would have similar opportunities now that the staff is diminished and specialty units are depleted, providing fewer opportunities to broaden a career without leaving the department.  She suggested that the council was not doing it's job with a new contract for the CMPD, which has been working without a contract for more than a year.

During Council Comments Monahan discussed the PD negotiations, mentioned the difficulty scheduling all parties for negotiations and said that to state they were not doing their job was a "Bold Faced Lie".  Nice.  Of course, he's been busy pulling beer taps and playing softball - much more important than doing the job the people hired him to do.

Righeimer observed that people had called him to tell him that this year's July 4th celebrations were better, and mentioned that 10 Orange County cities sold fireworks this year.  He said we have to clamp down on the illegal fireworks or we could lose it all.  He said it's OK to turn in your neighbor.

He disputed the claims by a speaker that the budget was faulty - implying that she didn't know what she was talking about.  He said, "You just don't understand it."

He spoke about crime, blamed AB 109 for the increase, indicating that criminals were being released and they didn't have jobs and they have to eat, so they commit crimes.  He, once again, dredged up his old phrase, "Crime is caused by the people who live in our city."  He went on to blame motels, and cited an upcoming General Plan amendment that will slap an overlay on certain motels to "help them" decide if they want to stay in that business.  This is not the first time he's issued that not-very-veiled threat to businesses in this city.  Of course, he likely has developer-buddies salivating over the opportunity to snatch some of those prime pieces of property at bargain basement prices.

Mensinger spoke about a variety of things, including the fact that Director of Public Services Ernesto Munoz will be joining him on Sunday for his latest "Meet The Mayor" event from 2-4 p.m. at City Hall.  I'm sure Munoz - who already attends practically every late night meeting in the city - will really enjoy blowing off his entire Sunday with the Mayor and another campaign photo opp.

Mensinger also mentioned his "Walk with the Mayor event this Friday and said it will be his 322nd walk.  He also told us of a "private" version of the old Neighbors-to-Neighbors rehab event on 7/18 where two homes will receive freshening.

He spoke about the Fireworks in glowing terms and, at one time, said, "I haven't met anyone that doesn't like fireworks."  (Geez, right on cue at 2:18 Wednesday morning as I type this, another M80 was fired off in my neighborhood!  Perfect!)  Anyhow, when he said that I was waiving my arms in the back row and pointing to myself, because he HAS met me and I DON'T like fireworks.  Oh, well.

He then praised new Chief Sharpnack for his rapid replies to emails.  OK, but let's get those crime stats down, first.

Katrina Foley addressed the negotiations, indicating that they were making very deliberate progress - that they were not close yet, but getting there.

She also reiterated her request from CEO Tom Hatch for a report about the July 4th Fireworks sales.  She wants to know how much money each booth made, and how much each vendor made and she also wanted to know how much booths may have lost due to counterfeit bills being passed.

She discussed her request for  a review of the Westside Overlays and requested a joint study session with the Planning Commission to discuss it.

She also discussed the motel issues, observing that putting pressure on the motels would result in higher density dwelling units being built on those sites.

And, she reminded folks that if they're going to the Orange County Fair they might wish to park at Costa Mesa High School and provide financial support to youth groups at the same time.

Sandra Genis addressed the Fireworks and the stress on pets.  She suggested that next year consideration be given to waiving pound fees for those recovering pets who ran during the July 4th event.  She also mentioned the Vector Control issue.

Hatch, during his comments, told us that the City had recently received two awards for excellence in municipal issues by the Association of California Cities Orange County.  One was for our Small Lot Ordinance and the other was for Police activities at South Coast Plaza.  Kudos.

Three items were pulled from the Consent Calendar and were trailed to the end of the meeting.

Public Hearing #1 was the second reading of the amendment to the contract with the Costa Mesa City Employees Association (CMCEA).  Foley asked if, because the county COIN ordinance is now invalid, does it affect us?  Laura Kalty of the law firm handling our negotiations will provide a report.  Jay Humphrey was the only speaker to address this, and observed that the public would also like to know the results of that report.  Righeimer retorted, "You don't know what you're talking about.", to Humphrey - a former council member and regular observer of municipal affairs - then proceeded to chide him about the issue.  Sadly, it was not the most rude behavior we've seen from Righeimer - but close.  The issue passed on a surprising 4-1 vote.  Monahan voted NO.

Old Business #1, which dealt with expedited processing for residential rooftop solar installations which is required by the state, took only 30 seconds to deal with on a 5-0 vote.

Old Business #2, which was a clean-up of an ordinance dealing with Group Homes, also didn't take long.  Ann Parker spoke to the issue, observing that it was pretty shoddy staff work that required this change.  It passed, 5-0.

New Business #1, the exception to the waiting period to rehire a retired employee, took three minutes, flat and passed on a 5-0 vote.

New Business #2, the issue of closing pedestrian openings from cul de sacs bordering Victoria Street, took 30 minutes but passed on a 5-0 vote.

That brought us to the big event of the evening, New Business #3, the consideration of the new Field Use and Allocation Policy (FUAP) and consideration of certain status for some user groups.  This one DID NOT go quietly into the night.  In fact, watching this process must be kind of like trying to pass a kidney stone.... painful.

The discussion, which Mensinger failed to control, was all over the place, with micro-managing of phrases and practically reinventing the wheel.  Of course, the Matt Leinart Flag Football issue was a core part of the discussion and it took some interesting twists.  For example, one of the exhibits in the staff report - added at the last minute - described a repayment schedule of dollars the Leinart organization owed the city for being given fields at an improper cost based on information they provided last year.  Foley suggested that money be passed through and split between athletic programs at both Estancia and Costa Mesa High Schools, to be used for equipment.  That later was NOT acted upon because it was not on the agenda.

The discussion went on and on for 45 minutes before Public Comments began.  Nine people spoke, most of whom commended the staff for the good job they had done on the new policy.  Leece was critical of the appearance of rewarding groups for wrong-doing - the Leinart organization and Friday Night Lights.  Once again, Frank Albers spoke in favor of the Leinart designation as a Group 3 user, although this time he didn't really make it clear that he was actually an official spokesman for the group.  Nobody else from the Leinart organization was in the room - again. Very curious, to say the least.

One thread that persisted through the discussions was Righeimer's demand that we have a way to positively verify the eligibility of individual players to meet the requirements of participation.  That discussion took on a life of it's own several times.  At one point Foley suggested we just let the School District verify the names.  Monahan pulled that one up short, citing the massive amount of work that would entail.  At the end, it was left to the staff to demand the ability to audit the records anytime to determine proper classification.

It was just a couple ticks of the clock short of two hours on this issue when Righeimer began making motions to codify the many, many changes to the policy that the council agreed upon during their discussions.  At 9:52 they voted to grant permanent Group 1 user status to three organizations - AYSO 97; Newport Harbor Baseball Association and Newport Mesa Girls Softball.  That vote included granting a one year extension of Group 3 status to Matt Leinart Flag FootballChecked the tape.. Righeimer's motion DID NOT include Leinart.  He said the change to Group 3 rules would take care of Leinart.

Then began what can only be described as rapid fire motions, all happening so fast - with members speaking over each other - that it was virtually impossible to keep up with them.  It was like watching a Rugby scrum.  The first, made by Righeimer, was by far the most important.  It replaced the references to "Costa Mesa residents" with "Local residents" and defined it as follows: Local residents are defined as players that live inside the Newport Mesa School District boundaries or go to public or private schools inside those boundaries."  That, combined with a couple other motions, seems to have opened up Costa Mesa fields to youth groups from Corona del Mar and the Sage Hill High School.

Changes were also made in the percentage of "local residents" as defined above required for Group 3 status - 90%.  Group 6 - adult teams - were given a minimum number of "local residents" to be maintained - 25% - and it will include those who work in the city.

Other changes were also made, but my head was spinning at that time.  Watch the tape near the end to try to catch them all.

At the end of that process Genis expressed extreme disappointment in the behavior of some of the groups - organizations that were supposed to be providing positive role models for the kids, yet apparently attempted to game the system, as Parks and Recreation Commissioner Byron de Arakal had put it at their meeting.  It was because of that lack of confidence in some of the group leaders that such a big deal was made about verifying eligibility - and understandably so.

The three Consent Calendar items were heard.  Robin Leffler pulled #6 and suggested that we pause and take a look at the impact of developments completed and currently underway before proceeding with others.  Sandra Genis pulled #8, the storm drain at the end of Pacific Avenue at Fairview Park.  Flo Martin pulled #12, the Mercy House  housing issue, and said Costa Mesa needs transitional housing for homeless people.  All passed on 5-0 votes and we left the chambers at 10:20 p.m., missing my mark by almost an hour.  Darn!

Wednesday - today - is the next meeting of the Bikeways and Walkability Committee, at 6:30 in Conference Room 1A at City Hall.  HERE is the agenda for that meeting.  See you there.

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Monday, July 06, 2015

Leinart Part 2 And More Tomorrow

The Costa Mesa City Council meets in the first meeting of the new fiscal year tomorrow, Tuesday, July 7, 2015 beginning at 5:45 p.m.  You can read the full agenda for that meeting HERE.

Following a presentation, Public Comments and Council Member Comments the first order of business will be the Consent Calendar.  This, as you may recall, is supposed to be a collage of issues that, in theory, are "routine in nature" and can be voted upon without separate discussion on one vote.  If any member of the council, staff or the public "pulls" on or more of the items it will be trailed to the very end of the meeting and considered at that time.  As has been my practice, I will observe on a few of the current dozen items on the Consent Calendar.

I'll begin with Item #3, Warrant #2538, HERE.  There are usually some things on the warrants that I find of interest and think you might, too.  There is much, much more on this list of paid items, but you can look those over yourselves.  This list is taken from the top, in case you want to see more detail.
Costa Mesa Conference & Visitor Bureau - $197,618.23 - BIA receipts for April 2015
Costa Mesa United - $49,483.76 - Athletic Fac Imp - Estancia
Fatpot Technologies LLC - $24,995.00 - New Interface Implementation - CAD
Civil Source - $11,310.00 - Inspect & Constr. Mgt svscs
Enterprise Counsel Group - $6,121.25 - Succesor Agency March 15
FTOG, Inc - $2,650.00 - Specl Prj Cnsltng 6/26-6/4/15
Johnson Favaro LLP - $11,300.00 - Library & NCC Architect Plng
Jones Day - $7,053.75 - CMCEA
Kelemen Consulting - $12,000.00 - Training Services
Liebert Cassidy Whitmore - $14,596.65 - Legal, Various
RJM Design Group, Inc. - $8,026.40 - Open Space Master Plan Update
All City Management Services, Inc. - $30,539.89 - Crossing Guard Svcs4/12-6/6/15
G4S Secure Solutions, Inc. - $64,477.02 - Jail Facilities Svcs, May 15
Safe Moves - $17,956.00 - Bicycle Education Services
Lilley Planning Group - $10,800.00 - Planning Consultant Svcs 5/1/15
RJM Design Group, Inc. - $12,798.05 - Open Space Master Plan Update
Jones & Mayer - $130,085.20 - Legal Services, various
Randstad Technologies IP - $10,400.00 - Temp IT Support Staff
Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth - $8,160.00 - Legal Counsel

And, of course, there's much, much more.  Lots of temporary service bills.  And, this time around, the legal fees totaled over $170,000.

Item #4, HERE, is the request for authorization for furniture procurement for a "repurposing" of the Westside Substation into a Community Resource Center.  This is interesting because it provides a new home for Lt. Everett, who will manage the day-to-day operations.  Plus, staff from the City's Homeless Solutions group - ever hear of them? - will move from the Neighborhood Community Center across the street and will also house the Community Improvement Division.  This division consists of group home, motel/hotel enforcement and neighborhood stabilization staff members. I understand the idea behind this, but the last time I looked there was a whole room of surplus furniture in the old print shop/soon-to-be conference room.  I wonder what kind of consideration has been given to using that furniture?

Other items include a state required change to the sick pay policy and a resolution authorizing street closures for the 2015 Orange County Fair Cattle Drive next month.

Public Hearing #1, HERE, is the second required such hearing under Mayor Steve Mensinger's COIN Ordinance dealing with changes to the contract with the Costa Mesa City Employees Association (CMCEA).  I don't expect this one to take very long.

Old Business #1, HERE, is the second reading of the so-called Expedited Permitting Procedures for Small Residential Rooftop Solar Systems as required by AB2188.  This one will take about 5 minutes.

Old Business #2, HERE, is the second reading of a technical fix to an existing city ordinance that affects the Land Use Matrix and the Zoning Code regarding Group Homes.  Again, this one won't take long.

New Business #1, HERE,  is a resolution for an exception to the 180-day waiting period to rehire a retired employee, in this case Senior Programmer Analyst William Verderber, who retires July 11, 2015.  Again, a quick voter on this one.

New Business #2, HERE, is the request by residents to close off wall openings at certain locations along Victoria Street to preclude illicit activities that occur there. (Click on map to enlarge it)
New Business #3, HERE, is the biggie for the evening - the proposal for the New Field Use and Allocation Policy (FUAP) and the request for special status for specific youth sports organizations.  I wrote about this in my last entry, HERE.  As I said in my earlier post, this is going to tell us whether the rules will be followed or if a favored organization will get preferential treatment by this city council.  The Parks and Recreation Commission DID NOT vote at their recent meeting to extend the Matt Leinart Flag Football program Group 3 status, despite what the interpretation by the City Attorney might have been.  We'll see what happens at this meeting.  IF Leinart has managed to figure a way to present itself as a legitimate non-profit organization and IF they've managed to gin up numbers that show more than the 14% Costa Mesa residents participating - maybe, just maybe - the council can justify giving them preferential treatment.

The final item on the agenda, HERE, it the appointment of rookie Planning Commissioner Stephan Andranian as the City's representative on the Orange County Vector Control District.  Another 30 second item.

This could be a fairly short meeting.  Depending on how many folks show up to speak at the Leinart item, we could be out of there by 9:30.  See you there... I'll report on the meeting tomorrow night..

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