Although the agenda holds only 5 items, Tuiesday evening should be full for the Tustin Planning Commission.
The first item is a General Plan Conformity Determination for property offered by the Irvine Company in the Marketplace. According to the staff report, the parcel was originally offered to extend Myford Road south of El Camino Real behind the Tustin Auto Center. So far, it has been used as access and excess storage for the Center. Irvine Company proposes to deed the property to the city.
The first of two public hearings for Conditional Use Permits will be postponed at the applicant’s request. The property, located at 155 S. Myrtle Avenu in Old Town, was purchased earlier this year. It looks like the new owner may ask for some new construction. The staff report gives no indication of the type of construction requested. However, since it is in the vicinity of the Wilcox Manor where a 3 ring circus has recently been approved, it wouldn’t surprise us if the enterprising owner were to build a flop house for guests too inebriated to drive home. We won’t know for sure until December when the owner will ask to have the application heard.
The second CUP is for a change to the Master Sign Plan in the Tustin Marketplace. Say, didn’t they just recently change this to just, “The Marketplace”? The request will keep the flavor of the signage in place while enhancing patrons’ ability to more easily find the store of their choice. The modification would allow tenants to place their tower signs with fonts specific to their branding. Other changes include temporary event signage and string bulb lighting. The Irvine Company is also asking to place a larger-than-life directory sign near The Home Depot. According to the staff report, the new signage is designed to enhance, not change, the flavor of the shopping center.
Item 5, Summary of Projects, will probably take the lions share of time on Tuesday. That’s because there are 13 retail projects, along with a slew of infrastructure construction, to discuss. In reading the staff report on the projects, the city staff should be justifiably proud of the work they have accomplished. New businesses include two new hotels and a dozen restaurants and shops. Which Which, a new sandwich shop in the “Tustin” Marketplace was recently visited by the editor and his family. Everyone agreed that, while the sandwiches might be a bit pricey, they were delicious – especially when washed down with one of the best chocolate malts in town. The shop is not just a diner, it’s an adventure.
We have been excited to see the progress made on the Vintage Lady in Old Town. After burning down two years ago, the owner was able to save the facade of the building. A new building, designed by local architect, Nathan Menard, is being erected behind the facade. It will be interesting to see how a modern building interfaces with its historic past. Knowing Nathan, no one will know.
Of cousre, we did notice a few items missing from the summary. Most notably, nothing was said of the Wilcox Manor CUP. Perhaps staff thought the evening may drag on a bit long. At some point, you just have to say no.
Two Public Hearings head up the Tustin City Council meeting tonight. Prior to that, the dais will be treated to several presentations, including one for The American Legion Boys State Program made by The American Legion Post 227. We understand they fielded two candidates to Sacramento this year for a week of running a shadow government. Our personal opinion is they could do a much better job than our current crop of legislators.
The first Public Hearing will be to issue water revenue bonds in the amount of $15 million dollars. The money is ostensibly to be used for repair/replacement of the Simon Ranch Reservoir Booster Pump Station and Pipeline as well as the Tustin Avenu Well Replacement Project.
If we recall correctly, these items had been the subject of approved water bonds several years earlier when Deborah Gavello was around. It could just be a coincidence, however. Let’s not forget the city has allegedly been considering the purchase, either directly or indirectly, of desalinated water from the planned Poseiden Plant under negotiation in Huntington Beach. One has to wonder why anyone in this part of Orange County, with such a vast aquifer, would require water that reportedly will be selling for three times the price of local water.
One thing we agree with is the city’s consultants who have determined that, if you must issue bonds, this is a great time to do it, while rates are low.
The second Public Hearing will be on the City’s Housing Element Update. This is probably more technical than reality driven. A public workshop was held in April and the results have been incorporated into the proposed plan. Most of the response had been in the area of updating the plan for affordable and special needs housing. You can see the report here.
A couple items on the consent calendar should be pulled for discussion.
The first is Item 5, which calls for the electronic storage of records. It is a great idea and we are surprised out Community Development Director is just now thinking about it (although the last time the city got rid of records, they tried to use it against an Old Town Resident).
This deserves discussion if only for the fact that there is no indication the project went out to bid. Further, the item description is a bit confusing and it is unclear until one looks at the resolution whether it is for both the scanning and destuction (it is) or just the destruction of the documents. The report also states there is no fiscal impact. We seriously doubt ECS is providing their services for free. Likewise, it’s doubtful the city will just dump these records in the trash. Using a document destruction company will engender costs. And, have either been budgeted for or are funds expected to come out of reserves?
The city seems to be struggling with the strategic plan. Item 8 calls for a rejection of all recently received bids on the graffiti abatement contract. The reason? Staff can’t keep their records straight and allegedly put out obsolete data on the RFP.
The only other Item of note on the Agenda, is Item 9, Recommendation of the Finance Director’s Appointment as the City Treasurer. We previously said it would be a wise move for the city council to appoint the Finance Director, Pamela Arend-King, as the permanent Treasurer for the city. However, we do not see the minimal added duties as warranting an increase in salary of over $8 thousand dollars plus a commensurate boost in pension benefits.
If you remember, our former City Treasurer George Jeffries, a well-respected member of the financial and (Republican) political community, netted a salary of $4 thousand dollars a month for the exact same duties that Arends-King would be taking on as an addition to her “regular” duties.
There is no other justification for such a raise during this phase of the city’s economic recovery. It is also a slap in the face to the rank-and-file employees who just recently concluded a largely give-back contract with the city that resulted in zero pay raises for the majority of employees. Don’t look to this lazy city council to do anything but acquiesce to the will of the new Boss Tweed, Jeff Parker.
That’s it for the week. If this was too much doom and gloom for you, we will remind you that Tustin Tiller Days is coming this weekend at Columbus Tustin Park. Don’t forget the annual Tiller Parade down Main Street in Old Town Tustin. We will be in our usual place on our front porch ready to say hi to the good councilmembers. We wonder how many will be willing to face Our Town Tustin. C’mon, guys, we just want to say hi.
Well, I am sure Tuesday’s Tustin City Council meeting was decidedly drab. The highlights, I am told , were the presentations made at the beginning of the Open Session. You and I may never know. So far, there has been no video posting of the meeting on their website. This is the second meeting in a row that has not been posted. The September 3 meeting, had an update of the Strategic Plan that we have been waiting to hear about.
So, what gives? Usually, even when there is a glitch, the media team manages to put up a non-functioning link that indicates the video will eventually be posted. So far, nothing for any September meeting. We sent an email off to the city clerk. Hopefully, she can shed some light on the issue.
The city has been posting video as well as broadcasting the meeting on cable TV for some time. I am not sure how many folks avail themselves of the video but, in my opinion, it is vital to continue as a show of open access to government City Manager Jeff Parker and the City Council continue to tout.
Granted, the city has been plagued with seeming glitches that frequently prevent the video from being accessed in a timely manner. But, it has always been posted eventually.
As James Taylor sings, shed a little light on this, Jeff.
Update – Shortly after we finished this article, I received an email from the city clerk’s officer explaining the problem and apologizing for the inconvenience. In part, the email said, “In August we started experiencing problems uploading the meeting videos to the website. Our IT staff is currently working with the Granicus support staff to correct the issue and we hope to have it resolved soon. ” We still question the timing of the breakdown. However they also offered to send a copy of the video which, in the interest of open government, I took them up on. I’ll let you know of any conspiracies I find.
Of course, in the end, this sort of shoots down former councilman Jerry Amante’s complaint against his peer Deborah Gavello when he complained of the hundreds of dollars and manhours it cost the city to produce a DVD for her of each meeting.
It should be a pretty short meeting for the Tustin City Council this Tuesday with only one item on the Regular Business Calendar and five items on the consent calendar.
The meeting begins with the Closed Session at 5:30pm. The usual suspects are listed with a conference with legal counsel on two items each for Initiation and Exposure to Litigation. There will also be discussion over three real estate items with the Real Property (aka Jeff Parker) Negotiators.
Prior to Regular Business, presentations will be made to Charles Tozzer, DDS, for his work at the Tustin Family Youth Center Dental Clinic. Congratulations, Doctor, and thanks for your efforts. The Family Youth Center serves some of the neediest in our town and we applaud their efforts.
Don Lamm of the Orange County Chapter of the American Planning Association will also be presenting an award. Although not listed, Tustin’s own Amy Stonich should also be on hand as she is the current Vice-Director of Programs for the organization. Hmm. Wonder who the recipient could be?
A third presentation is indicated only as, “George Masson – National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
The only item on the Consent Calender that would be of concern to us is Item 5 that would be the first steps in authorizing the sale of bonds for financing municipal water system
improvements. The city would like to issue $15 million dollars in bonds to pay for rehabilitation of the Simon Ranch Booster Pump Station and Pipeline Replacement, as well as the replacement of the Tustin Avenue Well. The item should be pulled for discussion only so the residents understand the project.
The final item on the agenda is a second reading and adoption of the subdivision code. It’s interesting that the city has not published the video from the September 3rd Tustin City Council meeting where this was first discussed. What is it they don’t want us to know? In any case, this item will probably interest the contractors and builders more than the average citizen.
That’s it for the week. I would suspect the presentations will take the longest part of the evening. If, in the meantime, they get the video up for the previous meeting, we’ll let you know of any surprises.