Friday, November 18, 2016

Measure AA Immediately Impacts Parks Commission Business

The Costa Mesa Parks and Recreation Commission met Thursday night to discuss a small agenda.  Chairman Brett Eckles was absent, so Vice Chair Bob Graham conducted the meeting.  It didn't take long for Measure AA, the ballot measure that is passing overwhelmingly, to impact this meeting.
Resident Kim Hendricks spoke during Public Comments addressed the problems at Fairview Park regarding the illegal filling of an arroyo, provided historical photos to illustrate the issue.  She asked that the arroyo be restored to it's natural state.
During Commissioner Comments Byron de Arakal addressed his admiration for both Steve Mensinger and Gary Monahan.  Regarding Mensinger he said, "Whether you like him or don't like him or you don't like the policies he's advancing or you do, there's nobody that's ever sat on this council that's cared more or worked harder than he has to improve the City of Costa Mesa."  He went on to further praise his work in youth sports and also thanked Mensinger's family.  He then went on to state that he, de Arakal, owed his career in public service to Monahan, who asked him to serve on the Parks and Recreation Commission back in 2003.  He said, "No one has achieved more for this city as a councilman or woman than Gary Monahan."  He closed by wishing Sandra Genis, John Stephens and Allan Mansoor all the best on the City Council.  As most of you who read these pages know, Byron de Arakal is my friend and the reason you're reading this.  We don't always agree on issues, but we can always talk about them.  In this case, while I appreciate his loyalty to his friends and views on Mensinger and Monahan, I think they were over the top when you consider the long list of outstanding municipal leaders this city has had in more than 60 years of existence.  Just sayin'...
Commissioner Julie Mercurio thanked Assistant CEO Rick Francis for his role in defusing some kind of a  unity  protest gathering scheduled at Wilson Park today, Friday.  She spoke about how "the community" - I'm thinking she was referring to the denizens of her Costa Mesa Public Square Facebook page - "reached out" to the organizers and made it clear that such an event wasn't appropriate for Wilson Park, so they decided to move it to Civic Center Park, across the street from the Police Headquarters.  This, apparently, is where Francis became involved following contact by "the community" with city officials.  She went on at length to explain his role in getting the event cancelled.
Commissioner Kim Pederson also congratulated the successful candidates, then used his time to complain about critics of public officials.  He cautioned the public to drive safely over the upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday.
Graham also congratulated the successful candidates and thanked the staff.
Commissioner Byron de Arakal moved to continue the item on the agenda regarding the modification of a Cell Site at Shiffer Park until their meeting in January, 2017.  That passed, 4-0.
Next up was the tree removal request at 360 Bucknell Drive.  This is the second consecutive meeting the applicant has requested this removal.  This had been pushed off so the staff could ascertain the property lines and setbacks at this location to determine if the City or the applicant owns that tree.  Turns out the City owns the tree.  After a short discussion it was moved to deny the removal request and direct the staff to work with the applicant to firm up pruning schedules and the possible application of a pre-emergent herbicide.
Before City Engineer Bart Mejia could present the remaining issue, the Fairview Park Annual Report, de Arakal advised the commission that he was going to move that this item be continued until at least January.  He launched into a long explanation about why - that Measure AA may impact plans for existing projects planned for the park, so he wanted the City Attorney to review and provide direction.   (See below)
Public Comments were heard before a motion could be presented.  Bill Bowman spoke to the commission about a problem he's having with the bluff erosion at his home above Talbert Nature Preserve and Fairview Park.  He spoke at length about the work he's had to do - lugging 46,000 buckets of dirt and sand bags to stabilize his slope for fear it would fail.  His area is part of the West Bluff restoration project, so it will be reviewed as that project proceeds, if it proceeds. (see below)

Kim Hendricks again spoke, reminding the commission that residents want the vernal pools restored, wants the city staff to go after grants and that the residents have spoken loud and clear with Measure AA.
Following discussions about these items de Arakal reiterated his motion.  Specifically, here's the complete text of his motion: "To continue this item to our January meeting.  That we recommend to the City Council that they ask the City Attorney to provide a legal opinion on which projects listed in the Fairview Park Annual Report dated November 10th, 2016 would fall under the provisions of Measure AA and report back to us at that January meeting on that legal opinion.  And then recommend to staff to reconvene the Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee as soon as possible.  Have them examine the work they've done to date and the work they need to do to complete their work with respect to the provisions of Measure AA and provide their report to the commission on their recommendations for Fairview Park Master Plan at our April, 2017 meeting." Julie Mercurio seconded it.  We're presuming that the legal opinion must precede any meetings by the committee and it's highly unlikely that the committee could be brought back together before the year-end holidays.  And, how many of them are left?  Will they have to add members.  Will Steve Smith be in charge?  So many questions...

Before a vote could be taken Commissioner Pederson launched into a mini-rant, criticizing speakers before them - he was looking directly at Kim Hendricks at the time - who purport to speak for all residents of the city.

The vote was then taken and it passed, 4-0.
Bart Mejia and Tom Coughlin(sp?)then provided a report on parks and maintenance of them.
Recreation Manager Justin Martin provided an overview of the recreation programs and upcoming events.  One thing he mentioned was that the Neighborhood Community Center will be closed the end of the year in preparation for the $30+million complete renovation of the Lions Park - new library, re-purposing the existing Donald Dungan Branch Library building as a community center and major landscaping changes.  He said all the existing users have been able to find meeting spaces elsewhere for the duration of the renovations.

The 70 minute meeting was adjourned to January, 2017.

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Anonymous Steve Chan said...

It would sure be nice if "the Community" would further reach out and ask their friends at both the City and the bar Holiday to turn it down to the legal limit imposed by the licensing agency (Dept of Alcoholic Beverage Control)

11/18/2016 08:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

de Arakal is very fortunate to have a loyal friend like Mr. West, who still calls him "friend" at this late date.

That still doesn't get old Byron off the Sell Out list.

11/18/2016 09:36:00 AM  
Blogger Marquis said...

I used to have some degree of respect for Byron de Arakal. He seemed in the past to have a little more level-headed perspective. But he either was never really that middle-ground guy or he's lost it. Anybody who thinks Gary Monahan has achieved more than any other council person is clearly delusional. Wonder what accomplishments he's thinking of?

11/18/2016 10:20:00 AM  
Anonymous lovemygarden said...

I love my garden. I love Fairview Park. I love trees over concrete, but I realize that sometimes concrete has to win the battle for the sake of safety (just replant a tree that doesn’t heave the sidewalk but provides shade for pedestrians and cyclists).

We don’t need to reconvene the faux Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee. The public has spoken time and time again about what they want done with Fairview Park. If we had a Parks Commission that truly represented the citizens, it would be preserving and restoring that park. The park fees from all the new development must be piling up, so why not identify some other land that might be made into a playing field?

With respect to the Battle of the Kims, Hendricks does speak for the residents. If Pederson didn’t get that picture by the number of residents that voted for AA and voted down BB, then he needs to resign. In fact, if all of the Parks Commissioners quit, I’d do my happy dance.

Mercurio's version of "reaching out" is what the rest of us call a public shaming.

11/18/2016 10:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Casual Viewer said...

What park fees? The increase in park fees for new developments were only approved in August of 2015 and do not apply to anything that was approved prior to that.

11/18/2016 02:50:00 PM  
Anonymous lovemygarden said...

@ Casual Viewer The change in park fees in August 2015 was to start assessing them on apartments. Prior to that time the fees were assessed on for-sale housing, so we do have a fund that has been building up for some time.

11/18/2016 04:07:00 PM  

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