Thursday, December 22, 2016

Blockbuster Council Meeting Begins The New Year!

If the agenda for the January 3, 2017 Costa Mesa City Council meeting, HERE, is any indication, it's going to be a VERY interesting first few months for this new council.
Right off the top, this council will hold a Special Closed Study Session commencing at 3:30 p.m. in Council Chambers.  Following the opportunity for Public Comments of the ten (10)! items on the closed session agenda the council will recess to Conference Room 5A to complete the closed session.

This is an extraordinary closed session.  I cannot recall ten items being discussed in any past closed session.  As you scroll down through the agenda for that closed session you'll find the full gamut of legal actions, including so-called "problem motels", individuals, Sober Living Homes, and an ambulance service.  Plus, there are a couple unidentified potential legal actions at the end.  This is part of the legacy of the outgoing City Council and their arrogant heavy-handedness - something we, the taxpayers, will be paying for in the years to come and issues the incoming council will have to deal with for months - at least.

The regular City Council meeting is scheduled to commence at 5:45 p.m. in Council Chambers, presuming that two hours for that special closed session is enough time to deal with all those issues.  Following Public Comments, Council Member Comments and the City Manager Report there will be the Consent Calendar - items that, in theory, are of such a routine nature that they can be considered on one vote.  However, council members, staff members or members of the public may "pull" an item for separate discussion and vote.  There is no mention of trailing items pulled for discussion as has been the practice in the past, so one presumes that any pulled items will be discussed immediately and not trailed to the end of the meeting.

Item #2, HERE, is the Warrant number 2568, which represents the expenditure of more than $7 million in city funds for various items.  I won't attempt to comment on all the items - you can scroll down and find all the consultant charges and legal fees.  I will observe that Jones & Mayer were paid $,153,634.66 on this warrant for a long list of legal activities.  PLUS, there is an additional charge further down on the Warrant $64,452.09 for Yellowstone - there was also a Yellowstone charge in the first one.  That means this Warrant contains legal charges to Jones & Mayer of more than $244,000!  We also paid Kimley Horn & Associates, Inc $36,244.56 for Community Improvement Consulting through October.

One thing that caught my eye was a charge for $24,741.71 to Westminster Press, Inc. for mailers for the various city-initiated  issues on the November 8th ballot.  You know, the Marijuana Initiative, the Voting District Mailer, the Anti-Smart Growth Initiative and the Anti-Save Fairview Park Initiative.  I must confess that these charges just ripped the scab off a festering wound.  This was a bogus expenditure of taxpayer dollars.

We also forked over $253,065.68 to Travel Costa Mesa, which represents their cut of the BIA receipts for October, 2016.  We paid Jim Jordan $8,250.00 for consulting fees for December and Management Partners $6,130.75 for one week service for our contract Assistant Development Services Director, Sheri Vander Dussen.  You can read the remaining four items on the consent calendar by clicking on my link above and scrolling down.

Public Hearing #1, HERE, is an Urgency Ordinance to the Municipal Code areas dealing with the cultivation of Marijuana and/or Medical Marijuana.  Read the staff report, but the key phrase in it seems to be the following:
The proposed amendment to the Zoning Code is intended to preserve the status quo and prohibit all marijuana related uses within the City to the extent allowable under state law. 

I suspect we'll see a pretty good turnout from the folks in the Marijuana business at this meeting to address this urgency ordinance.
Public Hearing #2, HERE, is a review of the Planning Application for HOLIDAY, the club formerly known as Lion's Den and Maison, at 719 West 19th Street.  This establishment has been an ongoing source of controversy for the past couple years and, most recently, the concerns about noise coming from the establishment expressed by neighbors has been significant.
Public Hearing #3, HERE, is the Annual Review of the Citywide Traffic Impact Fee program.  The Traffic Impact Fee Ad Hoc committee, following an analysis, recommended a continuation of the current fee, $181.00 ADT (Average Daily Trips).  The staff recommends approval of that recommendation.
New Business #1, HERE, is the amendment to the Municipal Code changing the title of Chief Executive Officer back to City Manager, and the title of Assistant Chief Executive Officer back to Assistant City Manager.  This is a barnacle from the past administration that needs to be scraped from the hull of our city government.
New Business #2, HERE, deals with modifications to the Order of Business, Public Comments and Consent Calendar on the City Council Agenda and setting the Commencement Time for Closed Session and City Council Meetings.  Mayor Katrina Foley has suggested the following changes to the order of business and related issues:
(a)        Closed Session - 4:00 p.m. (as needed)
(b)        Call to Order Regular City Council Meeting - 6:00 p.m.
(c)        Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag
(d)       Moment of Solemn Expression
(e)       Roll Call
(f)       Closed Session Report
(g)      Announcements
(h)      Special Presentations
(i)       Public Comments
(j)       Consent Calendar
(k)      Items Removed from the Consent Calendar
(l)       Public Hearings
(m)    Old Business
(n)     New Business
(o)     Council Member's Reports, Comments and Suggestions
(p)     City Manager's Report
(q)     City Attorney's Report
(r)     Adjournment

And, speaker cards are only required if a person pulls an item from the Consent Calendar for further discussion.  All other speaker cards are purely voluntary.
New Business #3, HERE, is a biggie!  Foley has requested that ALL commissioners be released from their appointment and every position on the three commissions, Parks & Recreation, Planning and Senior, be advertised for recruitment.

She also requests special meetings be held on Tuesday, January 24th to interview the applicants and on Tuesday, January 31st to complete the interviews and make the appointments.

Here's my take on this... I understand the interest in starting afresh in each of the commissions.  However, I hope any current commissioner who chooses to apply again will be given consideration.  It is important, for the purpose of continuity and transfer of institutional knowledge, that some consideration be given to placement of current commissioners on the new commissions.  If it's up to me, I'd probably want Rob Dickson and Stephan Andranian on the Planning Commission again.  And, I'd want to have Byron de Arakal's leadership and Kim Pederson's steady hand on the Parks and Recreation Commission.

As I've said before, I see NO need for a Senior Commission.  We should thank those folks who have served and disband the commission.  That's just my opinion and doesn't reflect in any way on the contributions the commissioners have made and their dedication to their assignment.  I just think we have a thoroughly competent city staff who can manage the Senior Center affairs of this City.

New Business #4, HERE,  deals with Fire Station #6 and Related Staffing issues.  Times have changed since the old council recommended closure of this site - our newest Fire Station.  The staff report goes into great detail about the reasoning behind this new recommendation.  The staff recommends abandoning the plan to close Fire Station #6 and to immediately commence full operation without using overtime, which will require the addition of 3 Fire Captains and 3 Firefighter positions.

 If this agenda is any indication, the next few months are going to be humdingers!  To say that "change is in the air" dramatically understates the obvious.  It's going to be interesting to watch.

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Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

Disagree, Mr. West:
deArakal, Andranian ,and Dickson are proven rigbots and should be excluded from a position on any commission. We just can't trust them to put the interests of residents and business owners above that of outside contributors and the Newport bosses.

12/23/2016 08:49:00 AM  
Anonymous lovemygarden said...

With respect to the removal of all the planning and parks commissioners, the loss of institutional knowledge can be avoided by appointing people who have education and/or experience in the field and have served or are serving on other committees. Most of the current planning commissioners work in other fields, such as Andranian who is a trial lawyer and seems to specialize in contract, tort, eviction and personal injury law. He’s not a land use, environmental or municipal attorney. I don’t think we will lose anything should he or most of the others depart.

The passage of Measures Y and AA was a big indicator that residents don’t trust the city council and commissioners to always act in their (the residents) best interests, but it doesn’t mean officials shouldn’t work to regain that trust. A clean sweep of the commissions would go a long way towards restoring the trust that was lost over the past eight years. It may appear to be a political move, but would bring these commissions back to a position of being representative of the voters versus the smugness we’ve seen in recent years. All these city officials should be serving those who voted the council into office, not just those who paid into their campaign fund. Perhaps anyone who contributed more than $200 to a councilperson should be disqualified.
There are a number of individuals who regularly attend or watch these meetings who are very qualified to serve. They have provided informed and carefully weighed comments on proposed projects and code changes that have, or would have, benefitted the City (the car dealership on Harbor abutting the College Park neighborhood being one example). We need commissioners who look after the needs of the city. That doesn’t mean picking away at every project so it can be rejected, but rather being in the driver’s seat when it comes to approving projects and not completely waving off the concerns of the public as trifling.

Finally, while I appreciate the work City staff does, as of late it has only being doing a sufficient job of informing the council and commissioners, and their reports often have had a favorable slant to the side of developers. For example, a project that uses stucco and siding on the façade has been classified as an “exceptional design.” Really? I guess my ‘60s tract house falls in that category too (of course I am being sarcastic). The staff reports should not editorialize on projects, but should provide enough information to officials so they can decide if they are truly exceptional. There have been instances of staff reports not containing adequate information, but the comments and questions from the public, commissioners and city council elicited information that surprised everyone in the chambers. I’m hopeful this will improve once we bring staffing up to normal levels, but commissioners and council members need to be knowledgeable enough to question staff so they can best serve us.

12/23/2016 02:23:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I have to agree with Arthur Nern. Institutional knowledge and continuity exists at the staff level. Commissioners would be lost without those briefing books prepared by staff for each meeting.

Meanwhile, Costa Mesa Public Square minions are doing a slow burn about mid-term commission replacements, opining that it breaks with tradition. Already talking about recall of newly elected council members. No Christmas spirit on CMPS, for sure.

12/23/2016 07:03:00 PM  
Blogger mesa verde madman said...

Recalls by the CMPS crowd? You mean all 10 of them that chirp away? That would be hilarious and sad, all at the same time. They couldn't find their way out of a wet paper bag. Good riddance to all of them.

12/24/2016 06:54:00 AM  
Anonymous big boy pants said...

The old guard cracks me up. Not political and they were fair. Righeimer it's not normal. Wow. When they did it it was totally not normal. Hypocrites. Look at all the knowledge and experience they replaced with inexperience and payback. Hypocrites again. Clean house all the way. Here is from Geoff's blog a few years back.

Then came the nominations for the Parks and Recreation Commission. No incumbent whose term was up was returned to the commission! Leece nominated incumbent Terry Shaw, but received no second. Monahan nominated newcomer Dan Vozenilek, who was appointed 5-0. Mensinger nominated newcomer Dean Abernathy, who was appointed 4-1, with Leece voting no. Bever nominated Gary Peacock but received no second. Finally, to nobody's surprise, Righeimer nominated his campaign aide, Ethan Temianka, who was appointed with a 4-1 vote - Leece voting no. Vozenilek, Abernathy and Temianka will join Mathews and Kim Pederson on the commission. That means that former chairmen of the commission Mike Brumbaugh and Kurt Galitski join Shaw without a seat on the commission. So much for setting politics aside. It sure looks to me like the big Righeimer broom is sweeping aside anyone who might oppose his initiatives in the future.

1/03/2017 11:26:00 PM  
Anonymous big boy pants said...

There is plenty of wonderfully experienced people and other qualified newbies to fulfill replacing all the commissioners. Galitski and Shaw come to mind and would not only fill those roles of experience but also bring common sense and fairness back to the stacked myopic Parks and Recreation Commission. Planning? Who better than Elanor Egan, Sam Clark and others for the Planning Commission. This can be done so easily and without any loss of experience etc. But the experience thing used by the old guard is a red herring. They want their myopic soldiers to remain in power. Get rid of them all, start with a new commission of thinking, honest and reasonable people and not the lock step with Riggy and Mensy commissions we have had. Seriously it's a joke listening to the claims, they were not political, not lock step minded blah blah. Too funny listening to these people.

1/03/2017 11:38:00 PM  

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