Thursday, January 12, 2017

Measure Y Gets The First Test Tuesday

The Costa Mesa City Council meets on Tuesday, January 17, 2017 in City Council Chambers at City Hall beginning at 6:00 p.m. per the revised rules.  This meeting will be preceded by a Closed Session that begins at 4:00 p.m. in Council Chambers to take Public Comments, then moves to Conference Room 5A for the closed session.  Three items are on that Closed Session agenda, including the lawsuit between Yellowstone Women's First Step House, Inc and Sober Living Network, Inc v. City of Costa Mesa.  The full agenda for the entire meeting may be found HERE.
When the open meeting begins at 6:00 they will follow the new agenda format.  Following Public Comments there will be Council Member's Reports, Comments and Suggestions, but each council member will be limited to only 4 minutes at this point.  If any council member has more things to talk about there is time reserved for that at the end of the meeting, before the City Manager and City Attorney reports.
The Consent Calendar has another load of items on it - 13 to be precise.  In theory these items could be voted upon in one vote without separate discussion on them.  However, it's unusual for that to happen.  Any member of the council, city staff or public may pull an item for separate discussion and vote.  I won't cover all those items - you can read them when you click on that agenda link above.  However, there are some that require comment.
Item #2, Warrant Resolution #2569, HERE, represents the expenditure of right at $4 million in city funds.  You can scroll down through the list to see if anything catches your eye.  Some items that caught mine are:
  • City of Huntington Beach - $23,100.00 - Helicopter Svcs, Nov. 2016
  • Clean Street - $60,590.98 - Street Sweeping Svcs Nov. 2016 Plus Power Wash Harbor/19th
  • G4S Secure Solutions, Inc - $50,823.18 - Jail Svcs Nov. 2016
  • Heroes Hall Veteran's Foundation - $25,000.00 - 2nd Grant for Vets Museum
  • Johnson Favaro LLP - $285,859.00 - Library/NCC Architecure 11/16-12/15
  • Jones & Mayer - $132,449.62 - Legal Svcs, various
  • Keyser Marston Assoc. - $4,774.00 - Nghd Improv/Homeless Nov. 2016
  • Lilley Planning Group - $9,720.00 - Planning Consultant Nov 2016
  • MPS Consulting, Inc - $9,666.25 - Planning Consultant, 11/1-11/22
  • Management Partners Inc - $8,631.00 - Consulting Svcs DS 11/16-11/30
  • Permit Management Solutions - $2,665.00 - Interim Permit Tech 11/21-11/23, 11/28-12/2
  • Scott Fazekas & Assoc. - $6,022.84 - Bldg Plan Check Svcs
  • Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth - $10,787.50 - Legal Svcs, various
  • The Code Group Inc. - $1,440.00 - Bldg Inspect. Svs 10/30-11/26
  • Interwest Consulting Group, Inc. - $22,960.00 - Bldg Ofcrs/Bldg Inspect Oct 2016
  • Kimley Horn & Assoc. - $40,548.00 - Group Home Consulting
  • Rutan & Tucker LLP - $83,285.35 - Legal various (No Growth & Fairview Park)
  • CSG Consultants Inc - $11,055.47 - Plan Check Svcs Nov 2016
  • Kitchell Cern - $3,990.00 - Const. Mgt.Svs 10/31-11/27
  • Liebert Cassidy Whitmore - $5,973.10 - Legal various
  • Vincent Benjamin - $5,960.07 - Temp Staff, Treas. & Purch.
As you can see, we spent more than $230,000 on legal fees and more than $60,000 on various consultants.
Item #3, HERE, is the modification of the Police Department Tow Policy.

Item #6, HERE, is a $1.6 million Safe Route To School Project on East 19th Street from Church Street to Irvine Avenue and will involve so-called "traffic calming" measures the over that length.
These "enhancements" will slow the traffic on a busy residential street and almost certainly force traffic on adjacent streets - Costa Mesa Street, 20th Street and others - as traffic, like water, will find a way.  It will also include a new monument sign on a new median near the intersection of Fullerton and 19th Street.
Item #7, HERE, is a bundle of Bristol Street Projects totalling nearly $5 million.
For you numbers people, Item #8, HERE, is the Fiscal Year 2015-2016 Independent Financial Audit of the Costa Mesa Housing Authority.
The first Public Hearing, HERE, is the 2016 California Residential Code Wind Speed Revision.  Yeah - I asked the same question - What the heck is that?  The staff report is short and this item may take a whole 5 minutes, max.
Public Hearing #2, HERE, is the elephant on the agenda, for many reasons.  This is the proposed project at 440 Fair Drive - the one the short-handed Planning Commission rejected.  According to the staff report, this one, if approved, will likely require a vote of the public before proceeding due to the requirements of Measure Y - the Smart Growth Initiative passed by the voters on November 8th.  The discussion of this item should be very interesting.
Old Business #1, HERE, is the second hearing of the change of the CEO and Assistant CEO positions to City Manager and Assistant City Manager.  This one will take about 2 minutes unless Jim Righeimer decides to launch off on a rant again.
Old Business #2, HERE, is an amendment to the Professional Services Agreement with Dudek for Environmental Services for the West 19th Street Bicycle Trail Project.

New Business #1, HERE, is the resurrection of the Mobile Recreation Program, abandoned a few years ago due to budget constraints.  If the council supports this idea the staff will develop a funding plan for the 2016/2017 mid-year budget report.  For some history, HERE'S the 2004 staff report for your recollection.
The council will adjourn to a special meeting on Tuesday, January 24, 2017 during which applicants wishing to be considered for positions on the Planning, Parks and Recreation and Senior Commissions will be interviewed.  The deadline for applying for these positions is 5:00 p.m., Wednesday, January 18, 2017.  Go HERE for more information.

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Monday, January 09, 2017

Study Says Chicago, New York Worst Financial Shape - Irvine Is Best!

A study by The Fiscal Times, HERE, titled City Fiscal Strength Index 2017, tells us that among the 116 large American cities with a population greater than 200,000 studied, Chicago is in the worst financial shape, with New York City the next worst.  And, in this study, Irvine is rated best!  In fact, there are several southern California cities near the top of the list.  Following Irvine, Fontana and Moreno Valley are at 2 and 3, Huntington Beach is 4, Santa Ana is 5 and Glendale is 6.
This is a fascinating study, particularly since it deals with how those cities manage - or don't manage - their pension and other post-employment benefits.  It's not a long report and has a link to an informative chart for your review.
Five Factors were used for this study:
1 - The ratio of a city's general fund balance to its expenditures (40 percent weighting).

2 - The ratio of its long term obligations (including OPEB but excluding pensions) to total       
government-wide revenues (30 percent weighting).

3 - The ratio of actuarially determined pension contributions to total government-wide revenues (10 percent weighting).

4 - Change in local unemployment rate (10 percent weighting).

5 - Change in property values (10 percent weighting).

It's informative to note that Chicago - the worst - currently has a crime rate that is astronomical.
Take a few minutes to read through this report.  Specific details of each city included in the study may be of interest to you, as will related reports for which there are also links.

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Subscribe to City Hall Snapshot

Today in my email inbox this arrived - the latest edition of the City Hall Snapshot, a compendium of interesting, positive things that have been going on at Costa Mesa City Hall.  I received this because I subscribed via the "e-Notifications" section on the City website homepage - way up a the top of the page.  Click on that link and you'll be taken to a page that allows you to subscribe to a whole raft of interesting things - like council and commission agenda and meeting schedules, etc.  This is a recent addition and the handiwork of Tony Dodero, Public Information Officer.  I've provided you with a shortcut, so, click HERE to go to that subscription page.

And, by the way, as you will see below, congratulations are in order to my friend, Raja Sethuraman for being named Public Services Director.  Raja is a smart, hardworking guy with a big job ahead.  He was a good choice.

City Hall Snapshot
January 9, 2017
A rundown of what's happening in and around Costa Mesa as city leaders work to solve issues and create a welcoming and thriving environment for residents and business owners alike.
CEO's Office
Snoopy House racks up lots of family fun during its 50th Anniversary run
The city's annual Snoopy House celebration is over and only the last bits remain at City Hall.  

As always, it’s fun to reflect on how much the event touches the community. This year a safe bet would be to say that 30,000 to 50,000 Costa Mesa and Orange County residents visited City Hall and the display.  

One of the main features this year was the City, in concert with Travel Costa Mesa, provided 50 tons of snow for children and families to play in.  

The City also provided for free to the public, over 2,000 holiday antlers, over 3,000 cups of hot cider and over 2,000 free pictures with Santa Claus. And that doesn’t even include the amount of free train rides, smiles and lifelong memories the City provided to all. Special thanks to the Jordan family, the Public Services Department and City Manager office staffers, Kelly Shelton, Dan Baker and Jennifer Christ and all the volunteers for an amazing event!        
Work schedules are a changing at City Hall
Beginning this week, City Hall employees will start working a 9/80 work week.

While City Hall hours will remain 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday for now, employees beginning their work day before 8 a.m. or working after 5 p.m. will answer their phones and provide service to the public even though the official hours are not changing.

Also, staff members will work staggered schedules to ensure that City Hall continues to provide quality service five days a week.  
Volunteers and training still needed to help with countywide Homeless Point in Time Count on Jan. 28
Every two years, 211 OC takes a count of the county's homeless population during a 24-hour period. This effort, known as the Homeless Point-in-Time Count, is congressionally mandated for all communities that receive U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funding for homeless programs. HUD’s requirements include a count of both sheltered and unsheltered people. The count will take place Saturday Jan. 28, 2017. Below is information about volunteer training:

DATE:               Jan. 21, 2017 ( Saturday)
TIME:                1:00 - 4:00 p.m.
LOCATION:      Newport Beach, Our Lady Queen of Angels      
                          2046 Mar Vista Drive
                          NB, CA  92660
ROOM:              Parish Center, Conference Room. The Parish         
                          Center is across from the church.
CONTACT:        Jeanne Baran, Cell # 949-241-6978
City is reviewing effects of new Measure X ordinance 
Currently, city staffers are developing processes for several key areas having to do with fees, taxation, Livescans, Business Permit process, CUP process, and the application process related to the city's recently passed Measure X, regarding medical marijuana distribution businesses.

Appropriate staff have been assigned to lead each major area. We have made significant progress in each area and we expect to be able to go live in mid February and begin accepting applications. The City Council will need to pass a fee resolution and adopt a new CUP rate for this specific activity at an upcoming council meeting. We are also in the process of scheduling a meeting with experts on taxation.
We have placed a FAQ sheet on the City website that addresses many of the routine questions we have received.  Click here to read the FAQs.

Costa Mesa in the News
Costa Mesa police presence on New Year's Eve helps keep the peace on an otherwise busy night
CMPD implemented mandatory field staffing on New Year’s Eve to address the pending workload that often arises out of the traditional NYE celebration, such as loud or unruly party complaints, incidents involving intoxication persons, and an expected rise in drinking and driving throughout the city.  Officers remained extremely busy throughout the night. However, that presence contributed to a noticeable lack of serious issues or crimes during peak celebration hours.  A great win for the community! 
Explorers hand out awards at year-end banquet
Just before the holidays, Costa Mesa Police Explorer Post 198 hosted its year-end banquet. The Explorer Post is comprised of high school kids and college-aged young adults, 14-20 years old, who must be enrolled in school and maintain at least a 3.0 GPA.  

Every year, one Explorer is awarded a $1,000 academic scholarship.  This year’s recipient was former Explorer Lt. Catherine Pimentel, who now holds the part-time position of Police Aide.

Also recognized for their years of service with the Explorer Post was former Explorer Lt. Kimberly Velazquez and former Lt. Celia Quijiuix, who both now work as part-time Police Aides with the Department. The Explorer Post advisory staff is comprised of full and part-time CMPD members who all donate countless hours to help manage the Explorer Post.  

Fire & Rescue 
Tiller truck and captain training is underway
Costa Mesa Fire & Rescue closed out 2016 with focused training on our Tiller Truck at our recently refurbished Station 4 training center.

The Tiller Truck is a crucial front line tool for the department and as it has multiple functions such as being used as an anchor for high angle rescues, for vehicle extrication and trench rescues.

The year-end training is designed for those members of the department who don't use the Tiller Truck on a regular basis but who need to stay familiar with its capabilities and limitations.

First of the year fires keep department busy
Costa Mesa Fire responded to a residential fire on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017 where all occupants were able to get out of the house safely.  One firefighter was treated for smoke inhalation and transported to the hospital for evaluation.  He was later released and is back to work.  

Unfortunately, the house suffered major damage due to the fire.  One day later, we responded to a small fire in the cooler at the new Water Grill restaurant. Fortunately, the fire was quickly extinguished and the Health Department arrived to determine a course of action to minimize down time for the business.
Public Services 
Raja Sethuraman named Public Services Director
After a short stint as the interim Public Services Director, Raja Sethuraman has been promoted as the department's new director, overseeing Administration, Engineering, Maintenance and Transportation Services divisions of the Public Services Department.  

Sethuraman brings over 26 years of private and public sector experience to the City, with the past 16 years with the City of Costa Mesa in the Transportation Services Division. He served as Transportation Manager for over eight years prior to his role as Interim Public Services Director.

Sethuraman managed several complex projects, including the Harbor Boulevard I-405 Widening, the Fairview Road – I-405 Interchange improvements, the Susan Street offramp construction, Newport Boulevard Improvements and improvements along Harbor Boulevard and Adams Avenue.  

Economic Development 
Costa Mesa soon to get its first four-diamond hotel
The first four-diamond hotel in Costa Mesa was approved in November.  The exceptionally designed tower in North Costa Mesa will add a 150-room expansion  to the Avenue of the Arts Hotel (former Wyndham Hotel) located at 3350 Avenue of the Arts. In addition to the luxury guest rooms, the expansion will include state of the art amenities and banquet facilities. With proximity to the Segerstrom Center for the Arts and South Coast Plaza, the Avenue of the Arts Hotel will be another ideal destination spot for Costa Mesa visitors.
We still want to hear from you about Costa Mesa
There is still time to take the Happiness Survey being conducted by Development Services. This survey takes about 4-5 minutes to complete. Responses are anonymous!

Please participate and invite neighbors and coworkers to fill out the survey too. Click here to take the survey.
Parks & Community Services
Winter Break Camp finishes with a flourish
For the first time in nearly a decade the Winter Break Youth Camp was filled to capacity. Staff utilized social media, cross-City Advertising and a new marketing strategy that utilized important community partners to reach a larger audience to fill the 100 spaces available across two weeks of organized trips, teamwork and activity. 
City fields get a well-deserved rest after busy season
Both the TeWinkle Athletic Complex and Jack Hammett Sports Complex are currently undergoing their winter rest and renovation after an extremely busy and successful Fall 2016 season. Both facilities host play for thousands of youth, adult and senior participants on an regular weekly basis for sports that include soccer, softball, football, baseball and lacrosse.  Parks maintenance staff work diligently to assure that all areas of high use concern are addressed to allow for the safe, ongoing use of City facilities by nearly 20 sports organizations.
Downtown Aquatic Center pool reopens
After nearly 100 days of closure, the outdoor pool at the Downtown Aquatic Center reopened to the public. A full deck replacement was a welcomed noticeable upgrade and behind the scenes upgrades include a new filtration system and heating system. Long-time patrons of the facility were appreciative of the upgrades and staff welcomed them back with decorations and healthy snacks.
Internal staff promotions complete new Parks and Community Services Department reorganization
Congratulations to the following staff that earned internal promotions that complete a reorganization of the Department:
Ashley Ocasio- Promoted to Recreation Supervisor (City Hall). William Lund - promoted to Assistant Recreation Supervisor (Balearic Community Center). Christian Hernandez promoted to Assistant Recreation Supervisor (City Hall). Marianna Pena promoted to Recreation Coordinator (FT-Senior Center).

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