Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A Little Surprise At The Planning Commission Meeting

The Costa Mesa Planning Commission met Monday night and presented us with a little surprise.  More on that in a minute.
All the new commissioners were present and Chairman Stephan Andranian is getting the feel of running the meetings.

During Public Comments only two people spoke - the crowd was sparse, perhaps 20 people at the most during the evening.  There were three of us remaining for the final public hearing.
The first speaker, Mary Spadoni, questioned the value of the Small Lot Ordinance - all the public hearings on the agenda fell under that category.  She strongly suggested that the ordinance at least be reviewed.
A second, unidentified speaker agreed.  She then asked that the council no longer approve residential projects that front on alleys.  She also addressed a problem site on Newport Boulevard and gave Andranian a group of papers to review and return to her.  She also mentioned that the 99 Cent Store on Harbor will soon be selling alcohol and that Mayor Katrina Foley has requested a review of the Zoning Administrators decision in that regard.  She also wondered, based on a recent Los Angeles Times article about private jails, whether we are housing prisoners for pay in our outsourced jail.  She also drew the commissions attention to a problem with new construction at 231 Flower Street, in which she felt he wall was too close to the alley.
During Commissioner Comments, Isabell Kerins commented on the excellent information she had received at the recent Planning Commission training.
Carla Woods observed about educational experiences available at Fairview Park.
Byron de Arakal addressed the Newport Boulevard Specific Plan, citing what he called as great opportunities for bringing it up to 21st Century views of land use.  He also addressed South Harbor Boulevard, indicating that it's a 1950s configuration that needs to be reviewed in light of e-commerce impact on our community.  He also spoke of the groundbreaking for Fire Station #1 last Saturday.
Stephan Andranian indicated he will look at the documents presented to him by the unidentified speaker, up top.  He also agreed with de Arakal that the Newport Boulevard Specific Plan needs freshening.  He acknowledged that Mayor Foley had requested a review of the Dollar Store issue, which will be heard within 45 days.
Jeffrey Harlan reminded the commission of the joint meeting with the City Council and Parks and Recreation Commission regarding the new Library/Community Center project on March 28th at the Costa Mesa Country Club.

The Consent Calendar was passed, 5-0, without comment.
Public Hearing #1 is the first of three (3) Small Lot Developments on the Eastside of Costa Mesa to be heard that night.  This one is for a 4-unit development at 353 18th Street.  This project had been heard previously by the Planning Commission - the old commission - in November, 2016.  It was rejected and the applicant was advised to return with one that properly parked the project.  The difference is shown on the image provided.  The only issue with this project now is the narrow, 2 foot, space along the driveway - the code calls for 3 feet.  The discussion, including public comments in which resident Richard Huffman called for a review of the Small Lot Ordinance because, more often than not, variances are granted on such projects, took an hour.  Several commissioners observed that the Small Lot Ordinance requires a separate discussion.  The commissioners passed this item, 5-0.
Public Hearing #2, another Small Lot Development at 391 La Perle Place, replaced an aging single story home with 2 two-story homes on a 7200 square foot lot.  The discussion on this one, which included three neighbors criticizing the project as being out of character with the neighborhood, went on for nearly an hour.  In the end, guided by comments from Commissioner Harlan - who observed that the design didn't respect the neighborhood very well - the commission denied the request without prejudice so the applicant can bring back a more satisfactory project within 6 months.
Public Hearing #3 was another Small Lot Development at 326 E. 16th Street.  This one breezed right through with high praise by several commissioners on a 5-0 vote.  The commissioners were pleased with the presentation and the use of open space.

During the Public Services Department report City Engineer Bart Mejia observed that the City Council had recently approved renovation of Bristol Street near the SOBECA area and construction may begin in a couple weeks.  He also said he will provide periodic reports on the progress of the construction of the new Fire Station #1.
In the Development Services Department report Interim Director/Consultant Jay Trevino again reminded the commissioners they will have back-to-back meetings in two weeks.  Their regular meeting on March 27th will have a discussion on Group Homes and a couple requests for Conditional Use Permits.  The next day, on March 28th, they will attend the joint meeting with the City Council and the Parks and Recreation Commission, where the new Downtown Community Center and the Library will be discussed.  This will take place at the Costa Mesa Country Club.  The meeting ended shortly before 9:00 p.m.

A word about this meeting.  Based on comments from commissioners and residents, it appears there will soon be a discussion of the controversial Small Lot Ordinance.  That's a good idea.
And, this commission is showing great promise.  Chairman Andranian is getting his arms around the process and conducting a good meeting.  The other commissioners - all rookies in the role - are beginning to get their sea legs and spending sufficient time on the staff reports and at job sites to present good questions - and even some answers.  It's going to be interesting to watch them work. 

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Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

Geoff, you didn't mention if the project at 353 18th Street was granted a variance for the 2 foot strip on the driveway, where a 3 foot was called for. I understand the need for small lot development of multiple homes but it now has become the norm. It should not be the norm, but rather an exception. I understand the cost of development of a property is very high, but cramming multiple homes on a single lot really does detract from a neighborhood feel. Is this what Costa Mesa really wants? Or is this what the developers want? I think its time to find out.

3/14/2017 07:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Byron de Arakal said...

We really need to find a photo that doesn't make me look like I just got 'D' in spelling.

3/14/2017 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Sorry pardner. Maybe you just burped. 😃 Will try to do better. Just working with what I've got. 😞

3/14/2017 10:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Atlas Shrunk said...

The small lot ordinance was never needed. It should be scrapped as soon as practical.
Standards and set backs make character.
The City of Newport has some very good residential height, massing, and set back requirements that we would do well to look at for clues as to how to deal with over crowding. http://www.newportbeachca.gov/Home/ShowDocument?id=650

3/14/2017 04:21:00 PM  

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