Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Surprising Lack Of Unity Marks Planning Commission Meeting

The Costa Mesa Planning Commission met Monday night to a full agenda and, to my amazement, they actually found an issue that split their vote.  More on that when we come to it.

During Public Comments Beth Refakes, representing the Military Affairs Team, gave an update on the success of the gown drive for the wives of the 1/5 Marines and announced the current candy drive - Trunk or Treat - for the children of that organization.  Individually wrapped candies may be delivered to the lobby of City Hall for this drive.
Mary Spadoni announced the Firefighters event supporting candidates Sandy Genis, John Stephens and Jay Humphrey on Saturday, October 1st at TeWinkle Park at which the firefighters will serve pancakes in the morning and roasted brats for lunch.
An unidentified woman took Commissioner Colin McCarthy to task, citing his recent commentary in the Daily Pilot praising the current council majority.  She also asked Vice Chair Jeff Mathews where he lived - south county?  Mathews was REALLY peeved at that question and said he lived on 20th Street and "don't ask me that question again!"  Hmmm... struck a nerve, did she?  As a matter of fact, she can ask him anything she wants and Mathews can do nothing about it.  Methinks he doest protest too much.  Hmmm...
During Commissioner Comments Stephan Andranian praised his alma mater, Newport Harbor High School, for their good behavior while losing the Battle of the Bay last weekend.  He was obliquely refering to some bad behavior by students from Corona Del Mar High School at the event.
Tim Sesler was peeved at Spadoni's announcement.  He, of course, mispronounced her name - SPANDONI - and suggested she ask firefighters about their high pay.  It was hard to hear him on the CMTV feed - I think he sometimes speaks with marbles in his mouth.
McCarthy also used his time to campaign from the dais, speaking about his personal experience ten years ago with alleged firefighters going door-to-door.  He launched in to a lauditory screed about how lucky we are to have the current council majority because they are responsible for our $11 million surplus.
Chairman Rob Dickson spoke briefly about how lucky he had been to have purchased a former rehab home on the Westside and how the property has doubled in value.  Again, campaigning from the dais.
The only item on the Consent Calendar was the minutes of the September 12th meeting and resident Steve Chen pulled them for discussion.  He presented some specific items on the minutes that he said misrepresented the actual facts and asked that they be corrected.  The commission decided to have the staff review the entries and bring the minutes back for approval at a future date.  I think this is the very first time I've seen anyone from the public challenge the minutes.  It was refreshing.
Then, instead of taking the Public Hearings in order they decided to pull #4 to the front, apparently because the applicant showed up with small children.  So, the commissioners took a couple of minutes to hear the staff report and hear from the applicant for 788 Center Street in which an old single-story home will be demolished and two units built.  It was approved, 5-0.
Then we went back into the normal order and heard Public Hearing #1, the General Plan Amendment and Rezone at 2850 Mesa Verde Drive East.  This one is curious - and I don't mean that in a good way.  It seems this is out of sequence because the City Council, during a Special Meeting in June to hear the General Plan Update, somehow managed to approve, 4-0 (Gary Monahan was absent) that this issue would be included in the motion.  Normally, there would be a separate hearing in which a Tentative Tract map would be considered.  So, Peter Zehnder - who has build several small developments around town, including one right next door to this proposed project - presented it for the commission's consideration.  The plan is to demolish two existing office buildings and replace them with low density housing.  Zehnder provided a potential project layout.
Several prople spoke out against this plan, including Reverand Jim Terrill, who has had an office in one of the buildings for 28 years.  He spoke about the disruption of him and 20 other tenants and those who used the services provided by those businesses.
Robin Leffler, a Mesa Verde resident, spoke about the loss of this "business community" and how it would negatively impact the nearby residential community.
After a discussion in which McCarthy shrugged off the claims of this business complex would be a loss to the community by telling us that his dentist used to be there but he didn't like the shabby buildings, so he changed dentists - as if that had ANY relevance to the issue at all!
Commissioner Stephan Andranian said he sympathized with the business owners, the City Council had apparently provided direction that this is the way they wanted to go with this proposal.  So, the commission passed it along, 5-0.
An observation - low density developments are pretty rare these days in our city.  It's more than curious that two of them are now going to be done back-to-back in Mesa Verde - where McCarthy and the Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem lives.   Just sayin'......

That brought us to Public Hearing #2, the required action bringing the recent changes to the General Plan Update for the SoBECA area into compliance with the General Plan.  This took less than 10 minutes and the commisson passed it, 5-0.
Then came Public Hearing #3, the proposal to convert the existing Pierce Street Annex, a bar at 330 East 17th Street, into a restaurant to be called The Country Club.  The applicant, Mario Marovic - owner of the Wild Goose a block to the East - also wanted to have operating hours of 6 AM to 2 AM.  We've seen Marovic in action before - when he pitched his ideas for The Wild Goose.  He's a very polished operator and, lest you forget that, he comes prepared with slides and charts telling you what a great guy he is.
One thing that happened during the discussion was the revelation of a couple things.  One, the current operation was already permitted to operate starting at 6 AM if they wished to. And, contrary to a section in the staff report, the current use already includes live entertainment.  That surprised the commissioners.  Marovic didn't want to give either of those up.  There was also some haggling over the facade in the front of the restaurant - the City wants more "transparency" in the front wall and Marovic didn't.  The staff could find no record of a live entertainment permit having been issued - but this place has been open for business under one name or another since 1959.  After nearly 90 minutes the commission eventually passed it, 5-0, with some changes regarding the facade - more light showing - and deleted the reference to live entertainment.
After a short break they tackled Public Hearing #5, the conversion of a bank building at the corner of 17th Street and Orange Avenue into a restaurant called Crack Shack - a place that specializes in chicken and egg dishes.  This one seems like an interesting concept, but parking was an issue.  The applicant, Mike Rosen, brought with him a "parking consultant" who proceeded to tell the commissioners why our parking standards are all wrong for this use - at least, that's what I think he said, because we couldn't hear a word of his presentation.  He had stepped away from the microphone to be able to read his slides, so those of us watching at home have no clue about what he said, except what we could attempt to interpret from his slides.
Beth Refakes and Chuck Perry - both Eastside residents - expressed grave concerns about the parking issue.  It seems our requirements for this use is 75 spaces and the applicant's solution only provides for 62, but does include a valet option.  Round and round the discussion went.  McCarthy observed that in EVERY case involving this kind of a situation the applicant will present a parking expert to find a way around our parking requirement and the result is severely underparked projects like this one.  He specifically cited 17th Street, where parking is terrible.
Andranian suggested that the applicant find a nearby business to negotiate a shared parking arrangement.  The applicant said that was in the works, but balked at the requirement because of the unknown of the future of the business in question.  He was adament that his project met the city requirements via the use of valet parking.  After a little more than an hour the commissioners voted, 3-2, to REQUIRE the applicant to find shared parking for 13 more cars.  Dickson and Sesler voted NO.  That was VERY interesting.
The final item, Public Hearing #6 - a Conditional Use Permit for the Pizza Press at Metro Point to operate past 11 p.m. with the onsite sale of alcohol.  The hours would be 11 AM - 1 AM.  The commission took only 10 minutes to approve this one, 5-0.
Dickson adjourned the meetin at 10:10 p.m.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,


Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

I wonder if Puppet Perry and the "No Voters" were so instructed because not enough campaign contributions have been made or received yet.

And there are good reasons why people call McCarthy by his nickname "Colon."

9/27/2016 09:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

Good for the unidentified woman. McCarthy knows better than what he wrote in his commentary. So disjointed one could not comment on it. There is no $11 million dollar surplus. There is no surplus until our debts are paid, and the accounts that were emptied in order to show a surplus are healthy again. We also owe millions to the Fireside Fund as well as our self-insurance account. One cannot have massive debt and a surplus. Sadly, this city is in bad debt due to poor management by our city council majority. But we can buy rocks.

Why does Matthews not want anyone to know if he lives in the city? That’s all he had to say. Makes me wonder now also.

“Sizzler” can get peeved all he wants. Just makes us chuckle. If he were a halfway decent attorney, he could also be making money. Instead he hides behind a corporate defense firm that will insure he will never make anything but a salary. Jealousy is unbecoming, Sizzler.

Hate to break it to McCarthy, but firefighters are allowed to walk door to door. Same as he is. He wants us to believe that our property values rebounding after the recession had anything to do with our council? Delusional.

I have to agree that I am glad to see someone checking and rechecking the minutes that are from these meetings. I hope he is successful in stopping yet another booze hole from being put in a very badly neglected area. All we need .. more bars in the problematic part of town.

I’m not sure how I feel about the development on Mesa Verde Drive and Adams. I know some of those building are pretty old and probably could be redeveloped. Low density homes would fit the neighborhood. I hate to see churches being eliminated but at least these homes seem to meet the general plan. If you don’t own the property, there really isn’t much one can do. This is, after all, a residential area. As to McCarthy’s dentist? Who cares? Again, bizarre.

Pierce Street Annex is another one that needs updating. Parking is an issue and needs to be dealt with, but revitalization is good for the business as well as the area. As long as it remains within the general plan without 150 variances.

9/27/2016 10:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Mr. Verbose said...

(1961) Orange County population. 700,000 . Costa Mesa. Approx 37,550. $22,000 average home price.

Sitting in the little corner restaurant, looking out the window across Newport Blvd., through the massive eucalyptus trees that lined the road, having been a windbreak for all of the farms, you could see the driving range at the Fairground’s. The Fairground’s maintenance yard and Facility Manager’s home, sitting between the rows of greenhouses, was one of the most peaceful places in all of Orange County. There was talk that the SR 7 highway may be extended through Costa Mesa, up in the area where the new country club had been built around 1958 on the Verde. There was also talk of turning Route 43, better known as Newport Blvd/Ave., into a highway, from Newport Beach all the way up until it tied in with Santa Ana Canyon Road on the other side of Orange. There was construction going on around Gardena to bring SR 14 into Anaheim and replace the canyon road, renaming it SR91. Nonsense talks of course. Who would ever destroy the silence of the citrus groves and hundreds of thousands of acres of agriculture growing as far as the eye could see? Santa Ana Canyon Road was becoming a real problem, as the small road led the way to San Bernardino and the traffic signals were creating long backups and serious congestion. Getting to the cabin across the road from Gray’s Landing on the North Shore of Big Bear Lake was becoming an all day drive. Palm Springs took even longer.
Looking out on the horizon, you could see a brown haze at the base of Mount Baldy. What is that brown stuff out there? Someone called it smog, a mixture of smoke and fog.
Well it will never reach Costa Mesa, thank God.

Charlie the Ape (Chisney) had been shot to death on 20th Street in Costa Mesa while sitting in his white 1975 Cadillac Eldorado convertible, in 1978, and the old mob lost its leader, and the new mafia took over weeks later. Hard Times would never be the same, since most of Charlie’s business was done from the secret room in the walk in cooler of the billiard room.

(20_ _) Orange County population. 3,000,000 Costa Mesa. Approx 115,000. $690,000 average home price.

Sitting in the same little corner restaurant, buried in the rear dining area, away from any prying eyes, ears or law enforcement, with a view of the Country Club across Mesa Drive, the Chairman of the planning commission laid the hard bound set of plans on the table. The Chairman’s, face although crimson and puffy from a hard night of drinking, had a tell about it that was easy to read. Having spent many years dealing with the mobsters in Vegas that required a cash payment to do any type of construction that required a permit, it was how this would go. “No project that was going to be built in Costa Mesa, would be approved or move forward in any way, until I personally approved it first, period, pandered the Chairman.”
The meeting in the little restaurant was where the exchange would take place and the approval would be granted. The payoff would cement the deal, and the vote for approval would be a done deal, when the time came in a few months, as history had proven..
The meal was decent, and the room was empty, with the exception of the waitress dropping in on occasion. The hostess kept the area clear, as the tip would be outrageous from a waitress’s point of view, seating patrons in the front of the place, so the made guy could finish his business.
After the meal and goodbyes to the restaurant workers, the Chairman made his way to his vehicle. The developer was parked in the adjoining space to the Chairman’s vehicle located directly behind the restaurant, hidden from view of all but each other. The exchange was done between the vehicles, with each opening the rear door to overlap each others SUV rear doors. Standing between the open rear door and the open front door, the bowling bag exchanged into the other vehicle. They said their goodbyes. The Chairman with $70,000 in $100 and $500 chips from 4 of the most luxurious and busy casino’s in Vegas. Vegas anyone!

9/27/2016 10:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Ken Nyquist said...

Mathews lives in Costa Mesa. Try Tustin Av in the 2000 block, on Multi-Family property. He may still live in the 300 block of 20th street, also Multi-Family, but the Tustin address is the most currently listed address.
He was a real estate agent at one point.
He held the rank of 3rd Dan Black Belt in Karate at one point.
The guy needs a haircut in more ways than one....
Andranian and I instant messaged back and forth at one point a few years back, and I found him to be a real guy.

9/27/2016 11:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Casual Viewer said...

Colin misled the public and his fellow commissioners when he said the city council had given the greenlight to the zoning change in Mesa Verde. Jim tried to slip it in at the last minute, but Katrina and Sandy told him it would not be legal to do so at that point in the process. It was not approved as part of the General Plan. Maybe Jim forgot to tell Colin that his ploy didn't work.

9/28/2016 12:59:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home