Friday, November 21, 2014

The Grinch's Even More Evil Twin

HE DOESN'T HAVE IT IN HIM!
Well, it certainly didn't take long for recently re-elected Mayor Jim Righeimer to rip off that uncomfortable, ill-fitting facade of the conciliator, did it?  It only took a few minutes at the last council meeting for us to see the seams beginning to burst on that outfit.  Then comes today...

POLITICAL PETTINESS PERSONIFIED!
As described in a Facebook message to her "friends", recently re-elected council woman Katrina Foley - who will officially take the dais on December 2nd - told us the following:

"On 11/13/14 in the OC Register Righeimer pledged: "You want to find out what issues are important to them [me, the new council member] and see how you can get those things done.” First attempt: Kill Katrina's Annual Kids Coat Drive! BaHumbug! Due to his complaint, after 5 years, we can no longer place a collection bin in the lobby of the CMPD. I wish we could move beyond petty politics! Please let me know if your business or organization will host a bin."


WHAT A LOUSY MOVE!
That's correct!  This week Righeimer - who barely retained a place on the dais by 47 votes and who told us from the dais last Tuesday evening that he was meeting with Foley soon to find common ground - complained to CEO Tom Hatch that the collection barrels for the 6th annual Kids Coat Drive were political statements and should be banned from City buildings.  So - poof! - no more collection barrels!  

WHAT ABOUT THE REST?
As several commentors have observed on the thread that accompanied Foley's Facebook post, there are many other "collections" done on city sites and wondered if they, too, will be banned as "political statements".  I'm told that the official city position on the Kids Coat Drive collection was that it was not an official city-endorsed program.  What a steaming pile of manure!

THE WORST IS YET TO COME!
This is what we have to look forward to under the regime of now-lame duck Mayor Jim Righeimer!  He's termed out in 2018, so has nothing to lose by letting us see the real guy behind that pudgy, poorly-coiffed facade.  Now we'll see him at his worst - something that's pretty hard to imagine when we reflect on his first four years on the dais, when, among other things, we saw him attempt to layoff half the miscellaneous employees (Remember Huy Pham?); disembowel the police department; create such a hostile work environment that many staffers have departed and recruitment becomes very difficult; turn the city into a virtual dictatorship by changing the core form of government - twice! - to make it easier for him to rule;  take such capricious actions that our city has become a retirement annuity for many local law firms and on and on and on.  Now he puts a roadblock in front of one of the very positive events that has happened each year for half a decade and leave needy children shivering in the night!

WE KNOW YOU, MR. RIGHEIMER!
If he thought for one second that his Cheshire Cat grin and phony attempt to convince us that he's turned over a new leaf and has become a conciliatory member of a council team had us fooled, he's sorely mistaken.  Those of us who pay attention recognize what a dictatorial, self-serving political opportunist he really is and will continue to speak out.  This latest move is beyhond despicable and will be long-remembered.


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Humphrey Concedes - No Recount Planned

ZINT BREAKS THE NEWS
Confirming news announced by Bradley Zint of the Daily Pilot on his Facebook site a short time ago, in a telephone conversation with me former Costa Mesa councilman Jay Humphrey told me he has decided NOT to ask for a recount of the recent city council election in which he finished third, 47 votes behind incumbent mayor Jim Righeimer.

PRESS RELEASE PENDING***
Humphrey cited not only the cost, but the turmoil involved in a recount and the fact that chances are quite slim that he would pick up even a few votes as a result.  He has prepared a press release on this issue and will release it later this evening.  HERE is the Daily Pilot article on the concession.

HE'S GRATEFUL TO HIS SUPPORTERS
Humphrey expressed to me his extreme gratitude to those Costa Mesa voters who cast their ballots in his favor and, especially, to all those tireless workers who walked precincts, sent out fliers, made telephone calls on his behalf and otherwise worked tirelessly to support his candidacy.  He assured to me that he will continue to be actively engaged in municipal affairs and, as is quoted in Zint's Facebook entry, "be part of this community and continue to share the word of people who are not being heard."

A GOOD MAN RAN A GOOD CAMPAIGN
From a personal standpoint, I admire Jay Humphrey for the high road he took on his campaign.  There was plenty of controversy, particularly swirling around the endorsement he and Katrina Foley received from Costa Mesans For Responsible Government and the angry reaction by potential candidate Harold Weitzberg.  Through all that and the negative campaigning by his opposition, he held his head high, addressed important issues, answered every question, attended every meeting and continued to demonstrate what good citizenship is all about.  I'm sorry Jay didn't win a seat on the council, but know he will continue to be involved and be a voice of maturity and reason as he addresses important issues in the city.

***HERE IS THE COMPLETE TEXT OF HUMPHREY'S PRESS RELEASE, ISSUED JUST A FEW MINUTES AFTER I POSTED THIS ENTRY: 
This has been an exciting but challenging election and the time has come to bring it to an end.  My supporters and I watched the excruciating closeness of the ballot count between Jim Righeimer and myself, with Tuesday’s certification showing Mr. Righeimer leading by 47 votes—less than one-tenth of one percent of all the votes cast in Costa Mesa on November 4th. This count show the importance of "Every vote counts"

Since then, I have thoroughly reviewed the vote count as well as data on the history of recounts to consider whether to request a recount.  I owed a thoughtful review to the wonderful people supporting my campaign and the people of Costa Mesa I hoped to serve.  After consultation with the County Registrar, my supporters, and election experts and attorneys, I have decided to work for tomorrow and the future of all in Costa Mesa.

Accordingly, I have called Mr. Righeimer to congratulate him on his re-election to the Council, and to wish him well in his next term.

I also want to thank so much all the people who worked so hard and gave so much to support my campaign, as well as everybody who voted for me.  I especially thank the members of Costa Mesans for Responsible Government, who put heart and soul into this election.  They and I are committed in the future and We are not going to stop working for the values we fought for in this campaign.

I will continue to share the voice of the people of Costa Mesa who need to be heard.  I will continue working on issues critical to the future of this city—not just public safety, development, and City Council process, but the health of our economy and livability of the city and issues that affect them like the minimum wage, support for small business development, preservation of open space and the like.  I will work always to support the needs of the people of the city of Costa Mesa, to respect their voices, and to raise my voice whenever it can make a difference.
 
 

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Official Election Results Plus Recount Info

RECOUNT DEADLINE SUNDAY NIGHT
So, baring any recount requests, what follows is the "official" result of the November 2014 election.  I spoke with Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley earlier today about the recount deadline.  Any person who wishes to request, and pay for, a recount of any Orange County race must do so by midnight, Sunday, November 23, 2014.  Any request received after that time will be too late.  He provided a contact email address to be used by anyone requesting a recount - rovwebmaster@rov.ocgov.com.  I'm told that address will be attended throughout the weekend until midnight Sunday.

RACES
So, in no particular order except my personal preference, here's how several races that are of interest to me and a few others shake out at this point in time:

COSTA MESA
Katrina Foley is the clear winner.  Jay Humphrey trails Jim Righeimer by 47 votes.
Measure O, the latest iteration of a Charter scheme, was thoroughly thrashed at the polls.
Measure P, the unnecessary advisory measure with the messed-up ballot language is basically unusable.

COSTA MESA SPECIAL DISTRICTS
Incumbents Mike Scheafer, Bob Ooten and Arlene Schafer retained their seats, thoroughly thumping two candidates supported by the Riganistas, Peotter and Perry.
Jim Atkinson beat Ron Amburgey - another Riganista who lost.
LOCAL EDUCATION RACES
Incumbent, former OCC President and OCC coaching legend David Grant soundly defeated Joel Flores.
Charlene Metoyer thumped former trustee Michael Collier to fill the seat being vacated by Foley.
Incumbents Walt Davenport and Vicki Snell had strong showings to hold their seats.

OTHER SPECIAL DISTRICTS
Political king maker Dave Ellis failed to win a seat on the MWDOC board
Incumbents Steve Sheldon and Shawn Dewane beat termed-out councilwomen Leslie Daigle and Wendy Leece, respectively.
OTHER LEGISLATIVE RACES
Huntington Beach Mayor Matt Harper beat former Newport Beach Mayor Keith Curry in the race to fill Allan Mansoor's Assembly seat.
Carpetbagger Michelle Steel, with the overwhelming support of the OCGOP hierarchy, crushed Mansoor in the race to fill termed-out John Moorlach's Supervisorial seat.
Perenniel candidate Dana Rohrabacher crushed challenger Suzanne Savary.
NEIGHBORING CITY RACES
In Huntington Beach, long time City Attorney Jennifer McGrath was convincingly ousted by Michael Gates.
The Huntington Beach council race resulted in both incumbents - Connie Boardman and Joe Shaw -  being tossed out in races that were not even close.
In Irvine, Mayor Steven Choi held his seat.
The BIG news from that city is the rejection of Larry Agran by the voters in the City Council race.
FIREWORKS
Both Villa Park and Huntington Beach approved so-called Safe and Sane Fireworks.
MEDICAL MARIJUANA
The voters in Santa Ana passed both Medical Marijuana measures on the ballot.

COUNCIL RETIREMENT AND BENEFITS
Yorba Linda voters overwhelmingly voted to eliminate pension and health care benefits for future councilmembers.
FAMILIAR NAMES
Over in Westminster a couple familiar names appear on the ballot.  Former Interim Recreation Manager Penny Loomer and current Costa Mesa Building Official Khanh Nguyen both secured seats on the Westminster School District Board.
So, that's it for now, folks.  Now we wait for decisions regarding possible recounts in races important to us.  Elsewhere in Orange County there appear to be some very close races that just scream for recounts.  When I know I'll let you know.


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Parks & Rec. Commission Assigns Districts

FINAL MEETING OF THE YEAR
Last night the Costa Mesa Parks and Recreation Commission met for the final time this year and, before a small crowd, fulfilled chairman Byron de Arakal's goal of assigning each commissioner a group of parks for which they will have primary responsibility for oversight.  The agenda for the meeting is HERE.
A LONELY GUY...
I say "small" crowd because there was me and, well, me for most of the evening.  Former commissioner Mark Harris - 14 years on the dais - and his wife attended and Harris spoke twice to the commission.  The first time he stepped up during Public Comments to compliment them and the staff for the even-handed way the contentious tree removal request on Yukon was handled earlier in the year.  The second time was on the issue of the evening, the assignment of districts.  I did see recent City Council candidate Chris Bunyan pause briefly in the meeting - one of the few meetings he's attended lately.  Except for staff, that was it.  When you watch the tape and you see the commissioners talking to the audience, they were talking to me - way, way back there in the cheap seats.

PROPERTY OWNER A NO SHOW - REQUEST DENIED!
First thing off the bat was another tree removal request on Cork Lane.  The commission heard the thorough staff report, offered some views of the issue and seemed disappointed when the property owner failed to show up to speak to his request.  This happens often, which is peculiar, because from my vantage point it usually seems like some of the commissioners might be more sympathetic to the request if the property owners would actually take the time to speak with them at the meetings.  This one didn't and the request was denied.

A DILUTED PROPOSAL FOR DISTRICTS
Next came the aforementioned Park Districts proposal.  You can read that staff report HERE.   Instead of proposing that this plan become a municipal ordinance, de Arakal shifted gears and now proposed that it simply become a policy - which may be subject to some political tinkering in the future.  However, by doing it this way it can be implemented immediately, without City Council approval.

PARK RANGERS
During his comments, which stretched well beyond his three minutes, Harris stressed the value of the Park Ranger program, opined that there should be more of them and suggested they be returned to the Parks Department for management instead of being part of the Police Department.

POLICY, NOT AN ORDINANCE
In a nutshell, the new policy would have all 30 public park areas throughout the city will be divided nearly evenly and grouped into districts.  A Parks and Recreation Commissioner will be assigned as the primary liaison person for a specific district, to facilitate more focused attention to every park in the city.  The commissioner will have responsibility for reporting to the commission twice each year - April and October - on the status of each of their parks.  In addition, correspondence regarding issues involving each park would be shared with the appropriate commissioner, who would be the primary interface with residents to insure satisfactory customer service.  It was stressed that the commissioners would NOT have management oversight on the parks, and would NOT provide direction to staff on issues.  They would follow up on inquiries and requests, though.  They would also work with the staff to recommend future Capital Improvement Projects in relation to their assigned parks during the budget process.

PARK DISTRICT ASSIGNMENTS
The list of park districts and assignments attached to the staff report was incomplete.  The following is the complete list.  In the future Park Districts would be determined by a simple lottery process.

Parks and Recreation Commission
Proposed Park Districts and Neighborhood Parks Representatives


District 1: Chairman De Arakal
Civic Center
Ketchum-Libolt
Tanager
TeWinkle
Wilson
Hammett


District 2: Commissioner Harper
Estancia
Mesa Verde
Moon Park
Smallwood
Suburbia


District 3: Commissioner Graham

Brentwood
Heller
Jordan
Lindbergh
Pinkley
Harper


District 4: Vice Chairman Pederson

Del Mesa
Gisler
Paularino
Shiffer
Wakeham
Wimbledon


District 5: Commissioner Abernathy
Canyon
Fairview
Lions
Marina View
Shalimar
Vista


NEW SIGNAGE
Coincident with the new policy would be the installation of signage at each park that would be similar to this example provided in the staff report.  You'll note that it does NOT specifically name the commissioner assigned to the park, nor does it provide direct contact information to the commissioner.  Contact would be through the city email/telephone number.
SOME MASSAGING ANTICIPATED, SO TO SPEAK
I suspect this new policy will require some tinkering as it gets implemented fully.  I anticipate some overlap of contact by staff and commissioners that might become cumbersome.  Time will tell.  As a policy, it can be massaged to improve it without having to go through the lengthy process that would be involved if it was an ordinance.

HARTLEY'S REPORT
During his report Maintenance Services Manager Bruce Hartley mentioned that the Senior Center will be closed  beginning this Friday for two weeks for refurbishing.  Services will be transferred to the Neighborhood Community Center in the meantime.  He also addressed the recent ceremony at the Estancia Adobe in which the Sons of the Golden West presented a plaque recognizing the Adobe as the 2nd oldest structure in Orange County.  He also told us that the landscape contract was up for bid for the first time in 8 years, which might result in improved economies and service.
KARLEN, TOO
Recreation Manager Travis Karlen also mentioned the Senior Center shutdown and indicated the official ribbon-cutting of the new, improved facility would take place coincident with the Christmas Party on December 19th.  He mentioned that members of the Police and Fire Departments would participate in that celebration.

PARKS PROJECT REPORT
Parks Project Manager Bart Mejia provided two reports.  The first was his normal monthly report, which included an overview of ongoing and anticipated plans/projects.  This slide shows those items:
NEED FOR PUBLIC OUTREACH
de Arakal observed that he hoped the first one, the update of the Open Space Master Plan of Parks and Recreation, would include significant public outreach in the form of workshops.  He specifically mentioned outreach on the Westside to the Latino community - in Spanish.

HARBOR BLVD AND CANARY STAIRS
Mejia also mentioned the Harbor Boulevard Beautification project, the installation of the Canary Drive stairs into Fairview Park and other projects.  For the complete list of projects/accomplishments read the staff report HERE.
FAIRVIEW PARK
He also presented his annual Fairview Park report, HERE, which includes a list of a dozen accomplishments for the 2014 year and a list of goals for 2015.  de Arakal complimented Mejia for his guidance of the Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee and encouraged a continued steady approach to their task.  He emphasized the need to be cognizant of probable constraints that may be imposed by the United States Department of Fish and Wildlife on certain segments of the park, particularly where protected species are known to exist.
DARK UNTIL JANUARY
The commission adjourned to their meeting in January - it is dark in December.



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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Medical Marijuana And More

 
LAST TIME FOR THIS GROUP
The Costa Mesa City Council met for the final time in its current configuration Tuesday evening.  Councilwoman Wendy Leece is termed out and will be replaced by recently-elected returning councilwoman Katrina Foley, who was the highest vote-getter in the election two weeks ago.  You can read the agenda for the meeting HERE.  And, you can watch the streaming video HERE.  Be sure you use the "jump to" feature - click on the agenda item listed below the video to move quickly through the presentation. 

PURPLE HEART MONTH
The meeting began with a the presentation of a proclamation to Dannie Watkins, Commander of Chapter 752 of the Military Order Of The Purple Heart.  Mayor Jim Righeimer choked up as he presented the plaque named November as Purple Heart Month in Costa Mesa.  Watkins, during his speech, told us that every other city in the county has made similar proclamations, and that henceforth November will be Purple Heart Month in Orange County.

KINDER, GENTLER MAYOR?
Eleven (11) people turned in cards for Public Comment so Righeimer decided, arbitrarily, to violate his own rule and allow all eleven to speak without "trailing" anyone to the end.  This, apparently, is the kinder gentler mayor.  More on that later.   

NO MANDATE
Tamar Goldmann observed that the election demonstrated that Righeimer has no mandate, mentioned the recent Daily Pilot article about the loss of the DUI team and said something needs to be done about our diminishing police force.

HALLOWEEN WITH THE 1/5
Beth Refakes narrated a short slide show of her recent trip to Camp Pendleton with other members of the Military Affairs Team to participate in Halloween festivities with the families of the 1/5 Marine battalion.

GOLF AND MEDIANS
Chuck Perry mentioned the Brian Kapko golf tournament and complained about the new medians being installed along East 17th Street.   

POTPOURRI
Sue Lester thanked Leece for her service; hoped the council would put aside political posturing and return to their "normal duties"; suggested that Righeimer and Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger would abandon their lawsuit against the men and women of the CMPD - which she referred to as a political stunt - so serious negotiations on the new contract could take place; she wondered if the District Attorney would ever come to a resolution of the 60th Anniversary scandal; she complimented Costa Mesa Police Lieutenant Vic Bakkila for his recent promotion and did the same for staffer Dan Baker on his apparent new job.

LOW ELECTION TURNOUT AND CHARTER
Susan Shaw bemoaned the low turnout in the election - she quoted 33%, observed that the voters DON'T WANT a Charter City and suggested that, even though Mesa Water does a good job for us, we need to take more proactive water reduction positions in the City.

"THE MOUTH FROM MESA NORTH" RETURNS
A cadaverous old coot stepped up and praised Righeimer for his re-election.  This misguided old fella (who writes a pathetic, vile and race-baiting blog in town) stated that even a one-vote victory would be a "mandate".  As he went on and on and on about Righeimer one could infer that he has a huge man-crush on the mayor.  How lucky for the mayor.  The old fella immediately departed the chambers - how lucky for us.

ONCE AGAIN, A FORENSIC AUDIT
Resident Teresa Drain, once again, stepped up and demanded a forensic audit on the 60th Anniversary celebration and observed that links on the city website involving this event have disappeared and others seem not to be functioning.  She wondered if it was a coincidence.  She reminded the council that she's been there before and that her requests have been ignored.  She also thanked Leece for her service.  Righeimer briefly directed CEO Tom Hatch to address Mrs. Drain's concerns in his comments.  More on that shortly.
VICTORIA TRAFFIC
Long time resident Gay Royer expressed concern for the increasing traffic on Victoria, specifically at the intersection with National.

SAD ELECTION RESULTS AND SAFETY
Mary Spadoni said she wept for Costa Mesa when the election results were announced.  She expressed concern about the high renter-to-ownership ratio in the city.  She expressed concern about the future of public safety, citing critically low staffing, group homes, prison realignment and Prop. 47.  She also expressed concern about the return of Medical Marijuana to our city and expressed pleasure that the Charter was defeated.

MAYOR SPREADING FALSEHOOD
Ann Parker cited concern about group homes and then recounted a story of what she described as a falsehood by Righeimer in an email distributed to several people.  Righeimer didn't respond.

CODE ENFORCEMENT CONCERNS
Frances Wood expressed concern about Code Enforcement activities.  Righeimer directed staff to be in touch with her.

All eleven speakers took a total of 25 minutes to express their concerns.  That segment ended at 6:45 p.m.

COUNCIL COMMENTS
MENSINGER
Under Council Member Comments, Mensinger congratulated all the candidates, then immediately launched into a praise-fest for Estancia High School Football and also thanked the Public Services Department for their hard work.

GENIS
Sandra Genis spoke briefly of Thanksgiving and the people who care enough about the city to be involved.  She addressed Sales Tax revenue, and how it fluctuates as the economy gyrates.  She cited a number of $45 million before the last recession, dipping to $35 million during it and now rebounding to what may be $50 million this calendar year.  She also gave a short oral history of the Municipal Reserves and speculated that they should be raised from $14.125 million to $20 million or so.  She suggested the Capital Projects should be separated from formal budget discussions initially and a study session or workshop should be conducted to gather public comment.  Addressing the Purple Heart program, she mentioned her father, who was a WWII veteran.  He, apparently in a response to a question from his wife about "Why did you do it?", said, "Somebody had to do it."  Genis compared that phrase to the cadre of residents who get involved, and to the folks who run for office.

LEECE
Leece took plenty of time during her segment since this will be her final council meeting.  She addressed the Purple Heart Program; the Military Affairs Team of which she is an active member; candidate Tony Capitelli's involvement in the homelessness issue; the Working Wardrobe program and the Vanguard University Veterans Program.  She spoke about the recent Estancia Adobe meeting; the CMPOA donations; the Charter - she's glad it was defeated; Measure P and how little it meant because of the gaffe on the ballot and legal costs on the Warrant.  She then said it has been an honor to serve the community and that she always did what she thought was right for the residents.  She received a standing ovation by the audience, staff and council members.
MONAHAN
Gary Monahan actually had something to say again.  He also thanked all the candidates and said he was looking forward to working with the new council, specifically mentioning Righeimer and Foley.  He addressed Ann Parker's concern about sober living homes, and although confused about the dates, mentioned that the deadline for application by existing and potential homes is coming up.  They have 90 days in which to comply - or else.  That "or else" is likely to result in more legal fees.  Costa Mesa is like Christmas all year long for Orange County law firms.  He whined about people complaining about group homes recently, saying he's been dealing with it for 20 years.  Well, Gary - if it's too much of a burden for you, pardner, just step aside and let someone with a little more focus take your place.

RIGHEIMER

Righeimer then thanked the candidates and mentioned that Foley was the clear front runner.  He said he's going to meet with her soon to attempt to find common ground.  He then praised Jay Humphrey - the man he barely beat by 47 votes - for the clean campaign he ran.  The crowd applauded Humphrey.  Righeimer then spoke of that 50/50 number - presuming that half the people support him.  The numbers don't tell that story, but he doesn't let inconvenient facts get in the way of his dogma.  He spoke of Foley's expressed concern about CMPD staffing and said the staff will have to "double down" and "do what they have to do" to get the CMPD staffed-up.  Of course, that's exactly what they HAVE been doing once he finally permitted the CMPD to begin recruiting again.  He did mention the quality of CMPD recruits, relayed to him by third parties.

ADIOS, CHARTER
On the subject of the Charter, he said the public made it very clear that "we're not gonna have it".  He said "Don't expect to see it in my lifetime."  We'll see.  He then mentioned that he had been appointed to the Orange County Transportation Authority Board, replacing former Huntington Beach mayor Matt Harper, who was just elected to the Assembly.

HATCH
Then came Hatch's turn.  He mentioned that City Hall would be closed between December 25th and January 2nd.  He spoke of the Estancia Adobe, and that it's the second oldest building in Orange County - the oldest being the Mission at San Juan Capistrano.  He said they are working to reduce the impact of group homes in Costa Mesa, and cited an example of a recent violation - a residence with 18 beds.  He encouraged more community awareness and involvement.  In response to Genis' earlier comments he announced that the Finance Advisory Committee will be reviewing a "Budget and Financial Policy" document.  Then, at Righeimer's request, he presented a very lame response to Teresa Drain's call for a forensic audit of the 60th Anniversary celebration.  He regurgitated a year-old report, acknowledging that it was in need of updating.  He made NO MENTION of the District Attorney's investigation.  Drain was not satisfied with the response.

TWO ITEMS PULLED FROM CONSENT CALENDAR
At 7:30 the Consent Calendar was then addressed and only two items were pulled for later discussion, #4 and #7. 

TRAFFIC IMPACT FEES STAY THE SAME
Public Hearing #1 - the Traffic Impact Fee structure - was presented by Director of Public Services Ernesto Munoz.  After about twenty-five minutes of discussion/staff reporting the council vote 5-0 to retain the current formula.

THE "SYMPHONY" DEVELOPMENT
Public Hearing #2, the 393-unit mid-rise development proposed by the Sakioka family turned out to be more interesting than I anticipated.  The project is a good one - much smaller than has already been approved for that site before the recession - with lots of amenities and open space.  After a brief staff report - the Planning Commission recommended approval on a 4-0 vote (Rob Dickson had a conflict) - seven members of the public addressed it.  Most expressed praise for the quality of the project, but several were concerned that an apartment project doesn't generate Park Fees and were concerned about the shallow setback from the street.

PASSED, BUT...
After nearly an hour at that point issues like parking - the project has plenty of it - bikeability - it's designed for that - and the setback - it's just fine - the council voted on the first of the two elements (Righeimer separated the project from the "park fee" question), following Mensinger describing it as a "cruise ship" project because of all the amenities, the council approved it at 9:10 on a 5-0 vote.

PARK FEES
Then came the question of Park Fees.  The city has no method or requirement for park fees to be extracted from an apartment development.  This developer, though, originally proposed a much larger, high-rise ownership development which would have included significant park fees.  Apparently the city is presently working on a new method of requiring park fees from apartment developments, but it's a work in progress.  So, this council was going to create a "one-off" proposal for this particular development.  And this is where the myth of a "new, kinder, gentler" mayor Righeimer was laid to rest.  I suggest you view the video - drag the scroll bar across to 03:10:35 to begin this segment.  It's not very long, but VERY instructive.

SEE WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I LISTEN!
If this was to be an ownership project each unit would generate $13,800 in Park Fees.  Because it's an apartment project it would generate ZERO park fees.  The developer suggested some kind of park fee.  Righeimer, feigning the fact that he "listened to the public", suggested the whole enchilada - $13,800.  Monahan looked over at him like he had finally lost his mind.  Righeimer, wearing his smart-ass outfit for all to see, kept on arrogantly jousting with the council on this issue - apparently trying to make a point that if he actually listened to the speakers he would make bad decisions.  Mensinger joined in, expressing amazement that he was now "tough on developers" and that he'd have to change his image.  It was clear they were making light of the need to listen to speakers.

FINALLY, A NUMBER
The end result, after much back and forth, with motions and substitute motions was that - at 9:25 -  the council approved - for this project - a $3,000 per unit park fee, which could be lowered if the study underway results in a recommendation for a lower number AND that if the project eventually requires a tract map for conversion to ownership units the existing $13,800 would apply.  It's going to be a very long, long couple years because Righeimer has NOT changed his attitude one bit.

UNNECESSARY SENIOR COMMISSION APPROVED
The council took less than five minutes to approve the second reading of the creation of a Senior Commission on a 4-1 vote - Leece did not support it.

SPECIAL OLYMPICS HOST TOWN
It took only ten minutes to discuss and approve the participation in the Host Town program for the upcoming Special Olympics, although Righeimer attempted to micro-manage other entities involvement - the Fairgrounds, specifically.  I find it interesting that he just cannot avoid sticking his nose where it doesn't belong.  As I said, it's going to be a long couple years.

BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE
Shortly after 10:00 p.m. the council began hearing the biggie on the agenda - the two initiatives involving Medical Marijuana sales in the city.  You can read that staff report HERE.  For a list of attachments, including various options, click HERE.  Deputy City Attorney Chris Neumeyer ran point on this item.  In a nutshell, we are faced with competing laws - the proverbial Rock and a Hard Place.

WHIPLASHED
Because both of the initiatives, which the council voted to certify last night, contained taxation elements, Proposition 218 requires that they be on a General Election at which members of the council would be chosen.  That means the election of November, 2016.  However, another element of the law requires that initiatives be placed before the voters in a special election with a short lead time - 88 - 103 days - from the date of certification.  Since these initiatives provide elements that make it virtually impossible to follow all the laws, lawsuits are sure to follow.

COUNCIL CHOOSES A REPORT
The option the council eventually chose was to order a report from staff that analyzes and compares both initiatives, the ordinance Monahan proposed last summer, Santa Ana's recently approved inititative and comparing neighboring jurisdictions.  Following the receipt and review of that report the council would then decide how to proceed - a special election or General Election. The clinker in this plan is that the report must be returned to the council within 30 days.  The last meeting of the year is scheduled for December 2nd, which gives the staff only two weeks in which to perform all that work in a period that includes the Thanksgiving holiday!  It is possible for the council to schedule a special meeting on a subsequent date - December 16th, for example - to consider the report.

PROP. 218 AUTHOR CONFIRMS THE PROBLEM
Righeimer read communications he exchanged with Jon Coupal, the head of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, on this issue since it was the lead organization on Prop. 218.  He confirmed the dilemma we are in, and that a lawsuit would certainly follow if a taxation measure was placed on a Special Election.  Additionally, there's a really good chance that the Board of Equalization, which is charged with collecting and distributing sales tax, would refuse to collect ANY taxes as a result of that act.  That means it is possible the City could be precluded from receiving ANY sales tax dollars - estimated to be nearly $50 million this calendar year - if we screw this up.

SPEAKERS TO THE ISSUE
Several members of the public stepped up to address this issue.  Among those speaking was Santa Ana councilman Sal Tinajero, who's been involved in that city's on-going battle with this issue.  He strongly suggested we create our OWN ordinance.  Flo Martin fessed up to occasionally using marijuana to offset the ravages of being a handicapped senior citizen.  She used empty alcohol bottles as props during her presentation.  Harold Weitzberg and Sue Lester - who both previously operated Medical Marijuana collectives in the city - offered their views, including praise for Monahan's earlier attempt at an ordinance.  Both offered to make themselves available for professional viewpoints on the issue.

OPTION 4, ENHANCED
The council voted unanimously to request the report and will make a decision when it's complete.  No word from the initiative proponents on this problem right now.  There was a predominient theme during the discussion that IF we're going to have marijuana sales in the city it's better for the city to establish the ground rules ahead of time.  So, Monahan's stealth ordinance from last summer will be resurrected and massaged toward that end.

The council then considered the Consent Calendar items with little discussion.

CONTINUED PUBLIC COMMENTS
Three people stepped up to speak in Public Comments at the end of the meeting.

Cindy Brenneman suggested a return to having all public comments at the beginning of the meeting, chided Monahan because he "used to listen to people", praised the promotion of Dan Baker and thanked Leece.

Robin Leffler thanked Leece, suggested the comments be moved back forward and pointed out that, once again, James Bridges was denied a chance to address the council because he depends on public transportation.  She suggested a show of good faith with the CMPD would be for Righeimer and Mensinger to drop the bogus lawsuit and expressed concern that both men are actually able to function considering the statements made in the text of the lawsuit about their physical and emotional trauma as a result of their experience.  She suggested they drop the lawsuit or resign to tend to their health, both physical and mental.  Seemed like a good idea to me. 


Anna Vrska thanked Hatch for the Public Record Request information she received, but it was incomplete, so she asked for the remainder of it.

THAT'S IT!  NEW COUNCIL NEXT TIME
And that, finally, was it.  Shortly after 11:20 p.m. we adjourned to the meeting on December 2, 2014, when a new council will be sworn-in and seated.  There is much speculation about the possibility of Mensinger becoming mayor.  That would be both tragic and comic, since he continues to have a hard time focusing on the issues before them, and many times seems unable to grasp the complexities of them.  It will make for some great theater.







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