Thursday, February 27, 2020

Byron de Arakal - "We Should Repeal Measure Z"

At their meeting on Monday, February 24, 2020, the Costa Mesa Planning Commission considered, under Public Hearing #3, the discussion of creation of a new development fee and a committee to administer it per the only conditions of the onerous Measure Z that survived the vote.  You can read the staff report on that issue HERE.
In case you've forgotten, the voters voted heavily in favor of Measure Y, the slow growth measure.  It also passed Measure Z by a smaller margin.  As a result, only the elements of Measure Z that applied were those NOT included in Measure Y.  Here's what the votes looked like back in 2016.
Following the lengthy discussion, just prior to the vote being called, Chairman Byron de Arakal took a few minutes to explain why he was going to vote no on this issue.  I think it's important to understand just why he thinks Measure Z should be repealed, so here's a transcription of his entire explanation.

“I will not be supporting the motion and I’ll kinda give some reasons why. 

Principally, I think this fee and the ordinance that created it and the committee structure that it also created are wholey duplicative of fees we already have in place, and processes we have in place to administer park fees.  

As I mentioned in the meeting two years ago about this ordinance that a seven member, or seventeen member, committee to recommend to the council how these fee revenues should be spent should be a job that, if they are going to do it, should be recommended to the Parks and Recreation Commission and not the City Council.  We have a Parks and Recreation Commission for a reason.  

And, so this ordinance creates this big committee, and then it creates a new park fee - we already have essentially two or almost two, and now were gonna have three.  

Measure Z was created to chase voters away from Measure Y, and the only thing that could be placed in that measure to make it amenable to the voters to give them the notion to chase them off Measure Y,  is to say, “You know what, we’ll raise a bunch of money for your parks and your open space.”  - didn’t tell anybody that there are already thousands of dollars  per door for parks fees that get applied to these residential developments.  And so, it was really kind of a ruse, it was, you know, a magic show and I hated Measure Y, and still hate Measure Y, and I hated Measure Z, as well, because it was disingenuous.  It’s motive was disingenuous and how it was constructed was disingenuous, in my opinion.  

Now, having said that, we’re about to foist another fee on the development community, at a time when we’re about to have to figure out where we’re going to place 12,000 more housing units, principally, I think, in the area that just so happens to be in this area where this fee’s gonna be charged.  

Now, don’t think for a minute there wasn’t a motive for placing that fee just on this area, because there were people in this community that wanted no residential development north of the 405, west of Harbor and Fairview.  They didn’t want it, so they put a fee in place to chase the development community away because you’re just adding another fee on top of a park fee we already have.  
And so, ideally for me, I would love to see this commission recommend to the City Council that they place Measure Z on the ballot for a straight up or down vote on whether or not to repeal it - but that’s not gonna happen tonight.  

So, I’m gonna vote no on this motion because I think Measure Z was disingenuous from the beginning, I think it adds another fee to the development community, a development community we’re gonna need to meet our RHNA obligation in our new Housing Element.  And, ah, I just think it’s a big mistake.  And then we create this seventeen-member committee, that, who knows how political that could get?  And it cuts out the Parks Commission’s ability to make recommendations in it’s Capital Improvement Budget review because they’ve got this seventeen member committee who’s deciding now what happens to whatever pot of money comes out of this.  So, I’m going to be voting no." 
When the Chairman said "...there are people in this community that wanted no residential development north of the 405...", we know who he meant - the sperm donors of Measure Z.
And, this issue got curiouser and curiouser as the commission voted.  Commissioner Tourje was absent, but, as you can see from the image below, only three (3) commissioners voted "Yes" - Perkens, Russell and Zich.  Chariman de Arakal voted "No" and Commissioner Colbert and Vice Chairman Harlan abstained after consultation with City Attorney Tarquin Preziozi.  Fun fact - Harlan actually seconded the motion.
So, now this issue will go before the City Council for consideration after the thinnest of votes to move it forward.  This should be interesting.

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