Monthly Archives: February 2013

On The Planning Commission Agenda, February 24, 2013

Hidden Agenda ClipartMy apologies for the lapse in reporting this past few days. It seems that I was the victim of the classic left-turn-in-front-of-the-motorcycle type accident as I was traveling Main Street in Old Town last Wednesday. A few cuts and scrapes later, I am not much worse for the wear but the doctor demanded I not do much for a few days. I made it as far as Sunday evening and then couldn’t stand it anymore. So, here I am.

Not a whole lot to discuss at this coming Tuesday’s Planning Commission meeting. Assuming no member of the public will be speaking, one has to wonder why they are meeting at all, other than to collect their $250 and give some of the staff a bit of overtime.

The first item is the General Plan Annual Report. According to the staff report, staff are proposing text amendments to the Zoning and City Code that will maintain consistency with the General Plan and State Law. The plan has been updated several times since its inception in 1966. I’m not willing to bore myself with reading the 87 pages of documentation but you can if you like. Let me know if you see anything interesting.

The only other item on the agenda is the Transmittal of Code Amendment 13-001, Zoning Code Update. The staff report summary assures these are mostly minor text changes and changes that will “modernize” the code. It also consolidates some sections for easier navigation. One thing that puzzles me, however, is the section that “incorporate policy practice into the Zoning Code”. The example cited is that guest quarters will be subject to a recorded deed restriction. What happened to our town hall meetings on the subject, Elizabeth? Or is this just another example of smoke and mirrors by the Community Development Department in holding meetings to distract the homeowners while Binsack and her wrecking crew stamp their own brand on Old Town? Other “minor text changes include establishing open space requirements for residential districts establishing what amounts to new uses that were not defined before. It would seem these are not just minor text changes but, I guess that depends on your interpretation.

This is a draft of the amendments that staff are providing, as they say, in a timely manner. The public hearing will be held at a March meeting of the Planning Commission. We may be asking the city to provide more information on the “minor text amendments”.

That’s it for this week’s meeting. I am doing my best between pain pills to get back in the saddle. I’ll have to ask you to bear with me.

Just Answer the Question

credit: woodchips.com

credit: woodchips.com

I hate it when Tustin Councilmember John Nielsen and I agree on something. But, I have to give credit where credit is due.

John Nielsen asked a very good question at Tuesday’s city council meeting: Why would the city council delegate authority to a staff member to sign off on completed capital projects? The question, in relation to Item 5 on the agenda, was straightforward enough. The answer, on the other hand, was nearly impossible to discern from the smoke and mirrors the city attorney and the public works director threw in front of him as a response.

The city attorney, David Kendig, responded to Nielsen’s question with an answer already in the staff report about the length of time the city has after completion of a project to file necessary paperwork, justifying the delegation by saying the city council doesn’t always meet in a timely manner to approve the authorization. “it’s not that staff won’t report to you that the project has been completed,” said Kendig. No subterfuge, just getting the paperwork done.

OK……

But, John then asked if there were examples of that happening. Kendig deferred to public works guy,Doug Stack, who said,” Yes, we have,” but gave no real examples, only reiterated the reasons just why his department wanted this authority. To justify his position, he stated that two other cities and the OCTA all delegate this authority. So, let’s see, that’s two cities out of thirty-four. Nielsen kind of looked at him and asked again, in so many words, about the necessity of this. Kendig added that he wasn’t aware of any issues with this type of ordinance but, again did not offer an answer to the overall question.

Councilmember Nielsen (and later, Gomez, we found out) simply wanted to make sure the city council wasn’t delegating too much authority in the issue. After all, it is the city council that authorized expenditures for the work. Shouldn’t they insure the project has been completed to satisfaction? He asked if a dollar threshold on the project cost could be included and was again slapped down by the city attorney.

In the end, with Councilmember Gomez’ input, the city made a minor modification to the resolution that would allow the Director of Public Works to submit the paperwork on his own only when it was not feasible to bring it before the city council first.

We would like to have seen stronger language that makes sure staff do not overstep their bounds. Quite frankly, having only 2 other cities, both of whom are much larger than Tustin, handing over this authority, is not enough justification in our mind. We task the city council with total fiscal responsibility and any related approvals should remain with them.

Hopefully, Nielsen and Gomez will remember this episode later this year (we’ll try to remind them) and bring it up for review at a later time to insure the integrity of the policy.

On The City Council Agenda, February 19, 2013

Hidden Agenda ClipartThere’s not much to get excited about on the Tustin City Council agenda this week. It is nice to see an agenda without the usual City of Tustin v. TUSD  closed session item. In fact, there are no current lawsuits listed for discussion and only the usual two each, initiation and exposure to, litigation. There are also two liability claims (precursors to lawsuits) under consideration.

One item on the Closed Session Agenda does deserve scrutiny, the performance evaluation of the City Attorney, David Kendig. Since taking over from predecessor Doug Holland, Kendig has displayed less than stellar performance, in our view. Both lawyers hail from the Law Office of Woodruff, Spradlin & Smart which has handled the city’s legal affairs since 1995. At one time, we lauded the city for continuing to use the firm for legal guidance, particularly with Holland as the chief representative. We had high hopes for Kendig but he has proven that he is more of a panderer than an attorney. He quickly aligned himself with the right side of the dais and has since become entrenched. He has given questionable advice and, in some cases, has blatantly attempted to mask wrongdoing on the dais with opinion that doesn’t come close to proper legal advice.

That said, we have a few new/old faces on the council who, hopefully, will take a focused look at this attorney’s off-track decisions. Continued use ofDavid Kendig Kendig should go against the grain of each councilmember who ran on an open-government-transparency ticket in the last election. In fact, it is perhaps time to take a look at the contract law office as a whole.

There is at least one item on the Consent Calendar that should be discussed openly before the city council. City staff are recommending that Notices of Completion for capital improvement projects be allowed to be filed “administratively”. This means the city council would not necessarily be aware that projects have been completed. While staff call this “streamlining”, we would call it an improper delegation of authority by the city council who should be kept apprised of the status of all projects involving city funds. We recommend the city council pull this item for discussion and vote.

Other than these items, it should be a pretty easy meeting for the city council. That will give the three amigos more time at their favorite watering hole after the meeting.

Closed Session

Conference with Legal Council – Two each, exposure to and initiation of litigation.

Public Employment- Performance Evaluations of the City Manager and the City Attorney.

Liability Claims- Consideration of claims of Carlos Cortez and Gresel Montes.

Conference with Real Property Negotiators- 3 items, all on the MCAS property.

Public Hearings

Specific Pan Amendment – 2012-02 MCAS Tustin Specific Plan – The 9th or so amendment to make what appears to be minor changes in language and items of the plan for clarification.

Consent Calendar

Adopt Resolution Ordering Preparation of Engineer’s Report- Tustin Landscape and Lighting District levy of annual assessments for FY2013-2014 – Tustin Ranch.

Adopt Resolution Authorizing Director of Public Works or City Engineer- to accept capital improvement projects and complete and file Notices of Completion.

Terminate Contract for Annual Catch Basin Insert Cleaning- The contracted company has given a notice they have gone out of business. This is an interim measure until a new RFP can be advertised.

Office Lease Extension- Successor Agency offices located at 245 Centennial Way. Perhaps we should look at eliminating an unnecessary expense and bringing these staff back to city hall.

Urban Area Security Initiative Grant- A portion of $3.6 million dollars is available for response to acts of terrorism. This is the annual re-authorization of the Chief of Police as the official representative for the UASI Grant.

City Calls For Commission Applicants

planning commission puzzle

 

The city recently posted the following press release that officially opens the application process for open city commission seats:

News Release

January 17, 2013

For Immediate Release

Media Contact:                                                                    Commission Contact:
Stephanie Najera                                                                 Erica Rabe
(714) 573-3012                                                                     (714) 573-3026
snajera@tustinca.org erabe@tustinca.org

CITY OF TUSTIN COMMISSION OPENINGS
Three vacancies each on the Planning and Community Services Commissions
TUSTIN, Calif. – The City of Tustin has three Planning Commission positions and three Community Services Commission positions open. The City Council will conduct interviews and vote to fill the positions on Tuesday, March 5th at 4:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers located at 300 Centennial Way.
The Planning Commission meets at 7:00 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month to evaluate development proposals and submit recommendations to the City Council regarding land use matters in Tustin. The commissioners selected will serve until March 1, 2015 or until the respective successor is appointed and qualified. Compensation is $150.00 per regular meeting attended. The term of office is two years. Applicants must reside in and be registered to vote within the Tustin City limits.
The Community Services Commission meets at 6:00 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month and serves as an advisory body to the City Council on recreation, parks, park design, facilities and programs in Tustin. The commissioners selected will serve until March 1, 2015 or until the respective successor is appointed and qualified. Compensation is $100.00 per regular meeting attended. The term of office is two years. Applicants are required to be residents of the City of Tustin and registered to vote.

How to Apply
Commission applications are available from the City of Tustin, City Clerk’s Office, 300 Centennial Way, Tustin, CA 92780, by calling (714) 573-3026, or visiting the City’s website at www.tustinca.org/commissions/vacancies.html.
Completed applications must be returned to the City Clerk’s office no later than 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 28, 2013. For more information please contact Erica Rabe, City Clerk Services Supervisor, at (714) 573-3026 or email at erabe@tustinca.org.

We know who we would like to see apply for the Planning Commission. They continue to resist (your eyes are getting sleepy…) and, although this is a new city council, it still is not hard to see why folks aren’t beating down the door to apply for these positions.  A call to the City Clerk’s office revealed that, so far, only three applicants have filed for the Planning Commision and only one application for the Community Services Commission has been received.

Applications close at the close of business on February 28, 2013. Either of these commissions is a must for anyone planning to run for city council in the future. So, if you have political aspirations, this is a good starting point.

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