Monday, February 27, 2017

Planning Commission Complete - Gets Down To Work

The Costa Mesa Planning Commission filled its roster Monday night when Jeffrey Harlan was sworn-in by City Clerk Brenda Green and took his place on the dais.  It didn't take long for us to realize he was an excellent choice.
During Public Comments the following folks spoke:

Richard Russell wondered why so few items appeared on the last couple of agendas and suggested that some kind of a report to the commission from staff listing the pending issues being handled by Planning now - an exercise in data collection the commissioners might find valuable.
Cindy Brenneman criticized the selection process that produced Commissioner Woods on the dais and suggested it should not happen again.
An unidentified businessman spoke about 2560 Newport Boulevard - which he observed was about to become a 70 bed facility for parolees.  He observed that the proximity of Vanguard University - which he inaccurately described as an all-girl school - is problematic.  He also told of a recent incident when he visited City Hall and was treated badly by the staff and City Manager Tom Hatch.  He spoke of the police being called and said it happens every time he shows up.  Hmmm...

An unidentified woman wondered about the status of group homes in the city, then pointed out some new ones she had discovered.  She also expressed concern about liquor being sold at the 99 cent store on Harbor Blvd.
Barrie Fisher encouraged the commissioners to not lump all sober living facilities into one group - as bad operators.

During Commissioner Comments Commissioners Isabell Kerins and Carla Woods had nothing to say.
New Commissioner Harlan said he was honored to serve the community and looked forward to the future.
Commissioner Byron de Arakal asked Interim Development Services Director Jay Trevino for a status on the sober living issues, who responded that the City Council is "deliberating" about what to do about our ordinances, and that he thought we might see something within the next 45 days.  He observed that there were a number of pending items in December and will report back on that next time.  de Arakal also welcomed Harlan to the group.
Chairman Stephan Andranian also welcomed Harlan and reinforced his interest in a report from Trevino on the sober living home status.  he wondered about some kind of guidance from staff regarding continuances since this is the second meeting in a row when such an item appears before them.  He also thought a report on Planning Department status could be interesting, suggesting a breakdown between Commercial and Residential projects would be good.  He also wondered about a comparison to previous years.  He told us that the ground-breaking ceremony for the new Fire Station #1 will be held on March 11th.  He then, responding to Brenneman's criticism, observed that the selection process for commissioners was not within the purview of the Planning Commission, and that such comments would be better directed there.
The Consent Calendar - two sets of minutes of previous meetings - was handled without discussion and passed on a 5-0 vote.

Next up was Public Hearing #1, the request for a one year continuance for 585 and 595 Anton Blvd - a project by landowner George Sakioka, who spoke to the issue and gave a brief history of the project and the reason for the one-year extension request.  After a short discussion and one public commentor who urged the commission to be fair, the commission passed the request on a 5-0 vote.
The final item on the agenda was Public Hearing #2, the request for a minor conditional use permit for a take-out ice cream parlor - no seating will be provided - at the commercial center at 891 Baker Street.  One person spoke to the issue - Cindy Brenneman - who observed that during peak meal time parking is a problem at the center.  The only real point of discussion was condition of approval #5 on the staff report which involved any future conditions of approval for parking in the center and was viewed as redundant.  When the issue was moved for approval that item was deleted from the requirements.  It passed, 5-0
Before the adjournment Trevino reminded the commission of the joint meeting with the City Council and Planning Commission on March 28th to discuss the Lions Park development.  The next meeting will be March 13th.  The meeting was adjourned at 7:15 p.m. - a refreshing change.
A couple thoughts... all the commissioners are getting their sea legs.  All participated in the discussions and all had done their homework.  There is enough diversity of background and education among them that I suspect we'll get some good, solid deliberations from this group as we move forward on some very controversial issues - sober living homes, small lot ordinance, Harbor Blvd and Newport Blvd. Overlays and more.

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