Tuesday, March 29, 2016

General Plan, More Development Move On

The Costa Mesa Planning Commission met again Monday night and things went about as anticipated, although not without some interesting twists.
To begin with, Vice Chair Jeff Mathews and Commissioner Tim Sesler were absent, so that left only three commissioners to consider the issues before the commission.

During Public Comments four (4) residents spoke.  Beth Refakes gave a report, with slide show on the recent Easter Egg event at Camp Pendleton for the children of the 1/5 Marines.  She and her compatriots on the Military Affairs Team have been collecting plastic eggs, toys and candies for the children and last Thursday was the event.  According to Refakes, it was a rousing success, with more than 2,000 eggs collected, packaged and delivered.  The Easter Bunny was present to spread the joy.
Former council candidate Chris McEvoy stepped to the podium to chide the commissioners for perpetuating the density/traffic problems in the city.  He asked them how they "fix a problem by adding to a problem."  He accused the commission of bending the rules to accommodate developers.
Kim Hendricks addressed the commission on the Fairview Park Initiative and encouraged folks to sign the petitions being circulated.
Resident 47 (who prefers to remain anonymous) told the commission about an effort by a San Clemente group that is organizing to fight the impact on sober living homes in their community, much like Costa Mesa's Take Back Our Neighborhoods (TBON) has tried to do in recent years.  She announced the existence of an online petition, assessable via the TBON website at www.tboncostamesa.com by clicking on the red "alert" section at the top of the home page.  The goal is to spread this movement state-wide.  She also spoke of a March 18, 2016 meeting in Irvine at which this issue was discussed by many elected leaders, including Congressman Dana Rhorabacher, who apparently feigned ignorance of the issue until that very moment, and others.  She complained that few Costa Mesa officials were present - only Sandra Genis was present among our elected officials.

During Commissioner Comments Stephan Andranian commended the volunteers for their efforts on behalf of the kids of the 1/5 Marines.
Colin McCarthy expressed surprise that the City Council recently overturned one of the commissions decisions - on a religious/cultural center near John Wayne Airport, and stated at one point, he "takes orders from our elected leaders."
Chairman Rob Dickson, responding to a critic who accused commissioners of "taking instructions via cell phone on the dais", said "I don't take orders on how to vote."  OK, so he doesn't and McCarthy does, right?
Public Hearing #1 was the second cut at the General Plan Update and the Draft Environmental Impact Report.  There was no formal staff presentation.  The hearing was to, once again, gather public comments and observations from the commissioners.  Minoo Ashabi guided the discussion and reiterated that formal written comments are due no later than close of business on April 18, 2016.
McCarthy asked about the relationship to the General Plan Update and Fairview Park and was told that there is NO land use change to the park in the General Plan Update.

Nine people spoke on this issue.  Former councilwoman Wendy Leece observed that the writing was better in the update, then asked several questions about a survey that was conducted, Cultural Resources section and more - and asked for more details.
Former councilman Jay Humphrey observed that it appeared there was a cumulative effect on density bonuses, and that the prior height restriction on development south of the I-405 was being abandoned.
Christine Nolfe, Linda Ting and Kathy Esfahani each spoke representing the Costa Mesa Affordable Housing Coalition and asked for greater density zoning - 40 dwelling units per acre instead of the 20 proposed -  for the Fairview Developmental Site, which is a perfect place for much-needed low income housing.
Kim Hendricks again observed that Fairview Park should not be considered for unnecessary Sports Fields, calling the so-called need for sports fields a myth.

Rick Huffman asked several questions about specific statistics in the Land Use Element.
Parks and Recreation Commissioner Bob Graham observed about some of the recent projects built on the Westside - multi-story with rooftop patios.  He said they needed 1) a dumb waiter system because hauling groceries and other objects is too difficult; 2) Each such unit should include a central vacuum system and 3) Each should include a rooftop patio.
Resident 47 observed that the Small Lot Ordinance should be eliminated, that old traffic studies were being used to make decisions, that infrastructure like sewers should be replaced before more dense development is approved and that the Banning Ranch will have a significant impact on the city.

The commissioners thanked all the speakers for their comments.  McCarthy asked consultant Laura Stetson about sports fields and dragged from her that the numbers include school district fields that fall under the Joint Use Agreement, and that the agreement could be changed or cancelled at any time.  The commission continued this item to the Planning Commission meeting on April 11, 2016 on a 3-0 vote.
Public Hearing #2 is the development of six units at 592 Hamilton Street.  The developer, Nick Louis, is a small developer - this will be his biggest project.  He asked the commission to waive the requirement for undergrounding the utilities - he said such an effort would actually involve eight (8) properties.  Following about 40 minutes of discussion the commission passed it on a 2-1 vote, with Andranian voting NO.  However, the decision left in place the requirement for undergrounding utilities, so - as McCarthy observed - it was probably a deal-killer because of the cost.  It will be interesting to see if the applicant appeals the decision, hoping that other recent projects where the undergrounding requirement might impact this decision.
Public Hearing #3 is the project at 522 and 526 Bernard Street.  This is resurrection of a long-dormant project that had received approvals back in 2013.  This is a new developer, Patric Lynam, who changed the project from a condominium project to detached individual homes.  There was much concern about the ratio of enclosed to open parking spaces - the ratio seemed reversed to McCarthy.  In the end the project was approved on another 2-1 vote, with Andranian again voting NO because of the parking issues and the fact that the developer apparently did not comply with the City Council recommendation that he find alternate parking solutions.  This project also required undergrounding utilities, but the developer didn't bat an eye at that requirement.

After a short break Public Hearing #4, the 33 unit development on 3.71 acres at the corner of Harbor Blvd. and Merrimac - 2626 Harbor - was discussed.  This project met every requirement and more.  For example, it has over 50% open space, including a dedicated private park.  It is less dense by 25%.  Former City Director of Development Services and Deputy CEO Peter Naghavi is the consultant on the project and he presented a lengthy, detailed presentation.  One of the requirements is for lighting along Harbor Blvd and Merrimac - a requirement not seen in the city before.  When the vote was taken the resolution was crafted to not REQUIRE the lighting, but for both Development Services and Public Services to work with the developer to determine IF such lighting is really necessary.  Concern was expressed by staff that because street lighting along Harbor is in the center divider it may not meet the minimun illumination standards.  Shortly afetr 9:15 the  item passed on a 3-0 vote and the meeting was adjourned.

It was an interesting night for development in the city.  We saw two projects not passed unanimously and one of which, despite being passed, may be Dead On Arrival due to the requirement to underground the utilities.  A couple of the developments were resurrected projects with new developers.  And, we are seeing the beginning of the metamorphosis of Harbor Blvd. from a commercial corriedor into a mixed bag of residential and commercial and I'm wondering just how this is going to play out.  The development at Harbor and Merrimac is directly across the street from the recently rebuilt Cadillac dealership - a project that continues to give neighbors on the other side fits due to light spillage.  It's going to be interesting to see how that new housing development works out, since it's located on one of our busiest commercial streets and has commercial operations on two sides of it.  And, so, the development stampede through Costa Mesa continues.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,


Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

Geoff, the council's plan is to line development on Harbor and Newport Blvds on both sides from Hamilton down to 19th St. No more commerce. Its just my opinion that Harbor and Newport Blvds should be commerce for the residents. Banks, deli or some type of eatery, ice cream, etc. Much is there now but does need upgrading, but not to take it all away. This is where commerce should be, and easily accessible. This will bring thousands of people to Costa Mesa on those two already crowded boulevards. I sure don't see many lights on at night in the huge apartment complex next to the Toyota dealership. How's that working for ya, guys?

Its funny that Dickson doesn't take direction from his bosses. What a laugh. At least McCarthy admits it. These meetings are completely contrived and directed via text messages. Same with the city council meetings. Mensinger is also on the phone the entire time. He requisitioned a charger for his phone to keep his phone working through the meetings.

I'm curious how the small lot projects are going to work with 10 homes crammed into a small space. Without even parking, there obviously will be no place for children to play, which leaves only a driveway. The noise will cause resentment among neighbors. I've seen it before. Too many rats in the cage. Children need space. AND THEY NEED PARKING!!

So the rush is on to get the development approved before our council changes. I believe they fear they will not hold onto their majority. Let's hope not. This madness needs to stop before we don't have a town left.

Remember in November.

3/29/2016 08:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Ken Nyquist said...

All six men took their seats during the meeting. The other four members of the governing bodies were not invited and never had been, as they were not members of this secretive group. There were laws that were designed to prevent a meeting of the type that was about to begin. There was no law that said a meeting of “The Six” was illegal at all, it was the content that would be discussed that made it illegal.
The leader of this group closed the outer soundproof door, locking it behind him. The leader walked through the massive vault door to the inner chamber and turned to spin the large wheel to engage the two inch cylindrical slide rods into the steel, twelve inch thick vault door frame. He smiled to himself at the genius of owning a property that had once housed a bank and was out of the jurisdiction of the Police Department of the governing body that he controlled. The property had taken the place of the old room behind the walk in cooler at the restaurant. It had been compromised accidently during an undercover sting that had been exposed.
Changing the location of the meetings for “The Six” had been the idea of a former soldier that had used the tactic in a bank building in Vietnam that had been seized during an American offensive, then modified for further soundproofing and electronic countermeasures, to ensure that the eyes and ears of the Soviet Komitet gosudarstvennoy bezopasnostiand, the Cambodian Santebal and the Chinese Juntong had no chance to know what the content of the meetings may have been, although the outcome showed up weeks down the road.
The meeting started right on time, with a PowerPoint presentation on the latest cash infusion from……

3/29/2016 08:44:00 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

I don't believe Dickson. It is refreshing, however to hear puppet "Charlie" McCarthy finally come clean.

3/29/2016 08:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

Why is Stevie apparently using high school kids to distribute his propaganda on Facebook?
Glenn Scobey "Pop" Warner would be disgusted.
The Boy Mayor needs to stop the nonsense and go back to speaking through his buddy the little dicktator.

3/29/2016 08:56:00 AM  
Anonymous lovemygarden said...

The General Plan update includes lining Harbor and Newport Boulevards with 4 story apartment buildings (5 stories if they get a “density bonus”) and 5 or 6 story parking structures. Go look at the buildings near Hella Terra in Huntington Beach and tell me if that is what you want all along these boulevards. Where will the traffic go since it doesn’t move faster than 15 mph during rush hour? Oh, that’s right! Cut through the adjacent neighborhoods.

What happened to trying to fix the imbalance of home ownership to rentals in this city? Are we discarding that notion because the Mayor is an apartment manager? And if we are adding all these new residents, what about the park space we will need to add to increase our resident to public open space ratio? Mr. Huffman is right and the City’s math is wrong. The number of multifamily housing units in the City’s report is false or someone used some creative math to get to a lower number.

I want to encourage everyone to read the existing General Plan and compare it to the proposed General Plan. It takes time, but it is well worth it. Look at what was deleted. I’ve only been through the first 50 pages or so, but over and over I see that the City will no longer be responsible for the protecting or promoting the health and safety of its residents. This is why the bicycle and pedestrian plan was neutered. And why we aren’t seeing new park land purchased. But developers will get all the help they need to plop down massive buildings before they run off to Beverly Hills or hillside homes with ocean views. Thanks Mensrigger for screwing up a cute little town and cutting off the ocean breeze we appreciate on hot summer days.

3/29/2016 11:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

What is proposed in the new General Plan is absolutely frightening. Harbor Boulevard and Newport Boulevard will be lined with 4-5 story units, with 6 story parking structures, much like the one now on Harbor across from the Toyota dealership.

As you drive down the street you will not have a view of anything but walls. This is something the residents needs to be made aware of. Most don't know or read about General Plans. Its imperative that the Smart Growth Initiative passes in November. This city will not recover from the damage that is being done.

3/30/2016 08:18:00 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home