Wednesday, December 07, 2016

A Short-handed Council Took Awhile Last Night

The Costa Mesa City Council met last night for what will likely be the final time for the current council to all sit on the dais together, and even then they didn't get a full house.  When the meeting began Mayor Steve Mensinger and lame duck councilman Gary Monahan were not present, so Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer conducted the meeting.  Monahan showed up about 35 minutes later - Mensinger never did show up, so we may have seen the last of him since there's no reason for him to appear next Tuesday at the Special Meeting when the new council is sworn-in.
As previously announced, the planned presentation to Jim Jordan was pulled from the agenda.  Jordan wrote to me later last night to say that business issues kept him from attending, but that he would be at the kickoff for the Snoopy House celebration on Saturday, December 10th, beginning at 5:30 p.m.
Public Comments was interesting.  Beth Refakes inquired about the status of the planned Council Chambers renovation project, citing recent technical glitches.  She also asked that the city involve itself in the current concerns with John Wayne Airport - plans are for all air traffic in the Los Angeles Basin to be tweaked by the FAA, and it might place more air traffic over Eastside Costa Mesa.
Tamar Goldmann complained about high density housing and the parking pressures it places on nearby neighborhoods.
Ralph Taboada reported on his attendance at the recent ACC-OC Sober Living Home Town Hall, indicating the officials there said not much could be done.  He also praised Jeff Arthur, Chair if the Pension Oversight Committee who passed away last Saturday after a long and very debilitating illness.
Dorothy McNiff complained about the impact the Beach Pit BBQ restaurant has on her Eastside home since it lost the shared parking on which the operating permit was based.  She wondered about some kind of collusion.
Robin Leffler also praised Jeff Arthur, describing him as a fine and decent man.  She then praised Monahan as "one of the best mayors", citing that he "really knew how to run a meeting."
Steve Chan played a video clip from a recent Planning Commission meeting, then asked the City Attorney to investigate the State sound laws so it can be discussed when the Holiday Nightclub is discussed in January.
Mary Spadoni praised Costa Mesa residents for their responsiveness to the plea for materials for the folks at Standing Rock.   She said clothes, large pots and pans, tables and chairs and more are needed to get the demonstrators through the winter months.  She also announced the homemade dog biscuits - $10 per jar, with all profits going to the Standing Rock folks.
Reggie Mundakis advised the council that the OC Fairgrounds still owes the Orange County Sheriff's Department over $129,000 for the Trump Rally earlier this year.
Flo Martin showed a presentation of Merrimac Way, citing the plan for a new housing development to be entered and exited off Merrimac.  She showed the lack of sidewalks and the danger to bicyclists.
Terry Koken observed that Mensinger was absent and took some of the credit for his defeat.  He then closed with another of his trademarked ditties.
Cindy Black advised that there is a California Coastal Commission meeting in Ventura at which new drilling on Banning Ranch will be discussed and suggested staffers attend.  She reminded us there will be 100 wells on the ranch.
During Councilmember Comments Katrina Foley addressed many issues.  She spoke about the success of the recent Home Tour and advised the next one will be held on December 7, 2017 and will also include Heroes Hall again.  She told us she recently met with new Santa Ana councilman Jose Solorio, who discussed mutual interests between our cities, among them homelessness.  Regarding John Wayne Airport, she observed that the "working group" apparently has gone by the wayside and encouraged staff to get involved.  She spoke of the Sober Living Town Hall and advised that cities and the state need to get on the same page on this issue, and that she'd like a briefing on pending legislation.  She also praised Arthur, then asked about the reinstatement of the Circle of Service.
Sandra Genis attended an Economic Summit recently and observed that lots of jobs will likely be lost to automation.  She also told us that, while she had not attended the Sober Living Town Hall, she had attended a similar meeting with many of the same attendees.  She also suggested we find a way to work together with "that party that seems to get things done in Sacramento."  She also spoke of the Ventura Coastal Commission meeting, citing that if you attend and don't wish to speak you may be permitted to donate your time to another speaker.  She observed about the 75th Anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack today.
Gary Monahan said more than he has in a year.  He thanked Robin Leffler for her praise.  He said he didn't attend the Sober Living Home Town Hall, but he does know John Moorlach and Dana Rohrabacher... what?  So, what?  He also expressed great displeasure at the fact that the attorney for all the applicants before the Planning Commission Monday failed to show up causing all items to be continued.  He said we are trying to do everything we can do, and gave a hat tip to the Planning Commissioners for their efforts.  On the subject of Homelessness, he told us he is collecting goods for Costa Mesa homeless, so folks can drop things off at his pub and he will get them to the homeless.  Then he said, "You've heard we need more police and fire, yada, yada, yada", then launched into praise for Police Chief Rob Sharpnack and Fire Chief Dan Stefano, indicating they're providing great leadership.
Righeimer briefly spoke about parking in neighborhoods, and said we have the highest parking standards in the county.  On the subject of Sober Living Homes, he said, "The good news is that the ordinances are starting to work."  Really?  Since when?  He complained that the Affordable Care Act provided a lot of money and that there's a lot of gaming going on.  Uh, huh...
CEO Tom Hatch actually had a few things to say at this meeting.  He told us he will follow up on the issues raised by speakers and councilmembers.  He also praised Arthur.  He said the staff is working on a report regarding the airport and will finalize that and get it to the council shortly.  He then announced that Interim State Fire Marshall Mike Ridgewine was in the room to make a presentation of a "Fire Chief Certificate" to our Fire Chief, Dan Stefano.  According to Ridgewine, Stefano is the most recent member of Fire Service Management to go through the rigorous process and is the 32nd person state-wide to receive this certificate.  Stefano made an excellent acceptance speech in which he praised the City management team and their support for his organization.  He told us that on January 2nd we will take delivery of two new fire engines and that they will be hiring eight (8) new firefighters next year.  He received a standing ovation when he finished - correctly so.
Items 5,6,13 and 14 were pulled from the Consent Calendar for later discussion.

Promptly at 7:00 Old Business #1 - the only item on the agenda - was heard.  This was the second reading of ordinances applying new State Building Codes.  It took all of 3 minutes for the council to hear and approve this item on a 4-0 vote.

The council then heard the previously-pulled Consent Calendar items.  #5 - emergency hiring of professional staff - was pulled by Leffler, who opined that we should accelerate our efforts to fill existing city employees for these jobs.  The council passed the item, 4-0.
...AND #6
Item #6, was the issue involving the construction of the new Fire Station #6.  Beth Refakes pulled this one to inquire about the funding, and opined that it shouldn't come from previously-approved projects - like the Council Chambers renovation.  Righeimer told her it was coming from a budgeted amount and the remainder would be borrowed.  They passed it, 4-0.
Item #13, was the Mesa Verde Medians.  Leffler pulled this one to advise the council that most of the attendees at the community meeting on this subject didn't care for the current plan.  She also observed that the noticing was insufficient for that meeting.  After a very brief discussion the council passed it, 3-1, with Genis voting NO.
Then, at 7:15, came #14, the Cooperative Agreement for the Bicycle Corridor Improvement Program - the West 19th Street Bicycle Trail, HERE.   This one took  a surprising 40 minutes to flesh out.  Several speakers addressed this issue.

Wendy Leece was concerned about the proximity to Newport Beach and wondered if the Bicycle Committee had discussed this issue.
Jay Humphrey observed that the people have spoken via the recent election and was concerned about the hard paving planned.
Cindy Black observed that the planned route will impact protected species.
Kevin Nelson cited the specialness of this place and it's relationship to the corridor of wilderness along the Santa Ana River Trail.
Steve Ray, a member of the Banning Ranch Conservancy, observed that they will soon own Banning Ranch and offered to be of assistance to the city as they plan this infrastructure change.  He observed that the Coastal Commission will be involved in this plan.
Foley wondered if there might be a way to split the project up and proceed only with the segment involving 19th Street until other agencies have signed in on the remainder.  Interim Public Services Director Raja Sethuraman advised her that the grant involved is for the single, large project.  She was concerned about how we will manage this project since Sethuraman has 12 or 13 vacancies in his department right now.
Monahan asked a similar question... and was given the same answer.

Genis observed the unlikelihood of being able to build this project in 2017 because of the bureaucracy and approvals involved, including the Coastal Commission.  She suggested that Sethuraman call the resource agency involved first thing in the morning to see where we stand, and not spend another penny until those approvals are received.

Righeimer suggested that he didn't really want to walk away from $1.7 million in grant money, but that he agreed with Genis.  In the end the commission approved the project with the caveat that Sethuraman make the appropriate contacts before proceeding. It passed, 4-0.

Then, before the City Attorney could provide a report - he didn't have one - Monahan said his goodbye's.  He said it's been a long 20 years, then proceeded to thank former staffers and every staff member in the room for their help.  He closed with a tearfilled "God Bless You All."
Righeimer closed the meeting at 7:55 in memory of Jeff Arthur with a tear in his eye.

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Blogger Honeyman said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12/07/2016 08:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

We live down in SE Huntington Beach and have observed a significant increase in traffic congestion, particularly at the Brookhurst and Hamilton/Victoria intersection. My wife who drives home and exits at Victoria to make the journey into HB from the 55 has also noted that since the addition of many of the HD projects, a marked increase in her commute time. I can't imagine the impact that the "Banning Ranch Development" would have in our neighborhood, with several of these intersections along these routes requiring that you wait through two to through light cycles before getting through an intersection.

I'm not against property owners having the ability to sell their property to a developer who then will turn around and build new homes or projects. However, I am against the deny, deflect or defer tactics and shiny brochures where we are assured that there will be no issues with traffic, congestions or impact on resources. As I left for work early in the morning, I noticed that there are several wheel out containers for refuse, recycling, etc sitting on the curb. This forces the trash trucks to take up one of two lanes in order to empty these receptacles further impacting, severely, the flow of traffic. Who in their right minds allows variances that won't allow for trash pick up off of the major thoroughfare, or for the safe entry and exit of emergency vehicles.

I hope the new council takes a hard work and actually spends time studying the impact these and other projects have not only on Costa Mesa, but also their neighbors, and make the appropriate adjustments to the Planning Commission or provides them with direction that reasonable development is fine, but approving projects full of variances to cram in a few more dollars of profit is no longer acceptable. Your neighbors are eagerly looking forward to seeing a positive change in the right direction.

12/07/2016 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger zennymoon said...

Mensinger absent....Monahan late.....Mansoor came for a out 40 mn and left with his adirable daughter in tow....the audience did a stand up and clapping salute to Chief Stefano, last one to stand??? Righeimer lol..... Oh this is better than Netflixs....every episode unique and full of surprises.
2017 we welcome you ans our new council...solidarity n Costa Mesa...πŸŽ„πŸŽ„

12/07/2016 11:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Disgusted Republican said...

Unless Gary has gotten even shorter and he was standing throughout the entire meeting, he was the only one on the dias who didn't stand up to recognize Chief Stafano's great achievement. Was that his last "official" f-you to the fire chief? Classy to the end😜. What happened to Mensinger? Was his absence the action of a petulant, pouty, sour grapes, spoiled, immature, poor sport loser? Will he have pay full price now for his new McMansion?? Perhaps the planning department should revisit the plans and permits for both his and the RIGmeister's new houses along with physical inspections of these properties. And the city should bill Mensinger for all costs incurred by the city for HIS illegal dg path in FP!

12/07/2016 04:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Muffin Top Bob said...

The reason that Mensinger wasn't at the City Council meeting was because he was getting fitted for his custom made Grinch suit that he's going to wear for the rest of the year as he sulks around town.

12/08/2016 02:30:00 PM  

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