Heading up the Tustin Planning Commission agenda for Tuesday is a request for a Conditional Use Permit for an indoor recreational training facility. The proposed business, Tustin Strike Zone, will be located in a business area on Walnut near Tustin Ranch Road.
The facility will have two batting cages and associated areas for conducting business and training. It seems the business owner has done his homework and there shouldn’t be any problem with the CUP. It’s not a stadium but it’s a start. Eat your heart out, Arte.
Under Regular Business, the planning commission will take a look at a draft program to honor noteworthy Tustin citizens with bronze busts placed in various public locations throughout the Old Town area. It appears the entire process would be overseen by a committee made up of members of the historical society, preservation conservancy, the planning commission and others appointed by the city council.
I’m not sure if the included list of 25 notable “pioneers” is all inclusive. One thing is apparent – that Silent Mike and Lindburgh figure prominently in this operation. One of the items included in the draft is an estimate from Art Bronze in Burbank for a bust of Columbus Tustin at the cost of $10,355 drawn on Lindburgh McPherson and the Tustin Area Historical Society. I guess the catering and wedding venue business is paying off for them.
The project is, in fact, a worthy one. However, the draft guidelines could use some work. The guidelines call for one artist (presumably for continuity) and, as I said, includes some 25 pioneers. Some of these lack historical background and others are questionable as to their contribution to the growth of Tustin. And, what happens when others, not mentioned in the original guidelines, are nominated?
Hopefully, there will be plenty of comment and question from the commission, although I seriously doubt any of them have more than a passing interest in this project.
The final item for review is the approval of the 30 day review period for the Draft Cultural Resources District Commercial Design Guidelines. The planning commission is being asked to provide comment and notice of the 30 day public review of the 191 page draft. The draft is a comprehensive guide to structures in historical conext for the Old Town area.
According to the guidelines, the purpose of the document is to:
…promote the City’s goals to preserve, protect, safeguard, and enhance the existing character of historic or culturally significant structures within the Cultural Resources District, in addition to historic properties outside of the District, and to improve the District’s contribution to the City’s economic base.
The guidelines are a necessary part of an overall program to maintain the city’s “Certified Local Government” standing that allows the city to better preserve historically significant buildings and properties.
That’s it for the Tustin Planning Commission. The meeting should not be a marathon although discussion of the two Regular Business items could (and shold) take some time. Like the city council, the planning commissin hasn’t had much to deal with in the way of controversy this year. That’s probably a good thing as anyone on the commission looking to move up to the city council would find a tough road this term with both incumbents intending to run for another term.
We’re fine with that.
Judging from the length of the agenda, this week’s Tustin City Council meeting is liable to go a tad longer than the 52 minutes of the last meeting. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Closed Session goes into overtime.
The city council is still discussing the performance evaluations (and probably salary adjustments) for the City Attorney and the City Manager. I’m not sure why they have David Kendig under Public Employment as he is a contract employee placed there by the city’s attorneys, Woodruff, Spradlin and Smart. If they are unhappy with Kendig’s performance (face it, he’s no Doug Holland), they only need to make a call.
First up under Presentations is our old friend TyRon Jackson. Jackson is being honored for his Operation Warm Wishes project. Jackson is active with the homeless community as well as Tustin at-risk youth. His efforts have helped hundreds of families and kids in the Tustin-Santa Ana area and this award is well-deserved.
On the Consent Calendar, the city council will be asked to approve a $24 thousand dollar expenditure for Willdan Homeland Solutions to provide tech support for the annual Emergency Operations Center exercise. Not much money but one wonders about the justification for single sourcing the contract.
I hope one of the councilmembers will pull Item 5, Resolution for Completion of the Newport Bike Trail, for comment. I have ridden a lot of bike trails in the county over the years and I always thought the Newport trail was a pretty good one. The new trail is absolutely beautiful and functional. If you haven’t ridden it, it’s worth the trip. The contractor came in $53 thousand under budget, to boot. Pat yourselves on the back, city council.
I take issue with the John Wayne Noise Abatement Quarterly Report, however. The noise level at Columbus Tustin School was reportedly well below government thresholds. Perhaps they should move the monitoring station to my house where it is considerably louder. It should be noted, the city council took the easy way out by supporting the extension to the operating agreements, supposedly for fear it would open a can of worms. Note to Al Murray: sometimes you just have to take a stand on principle.
Hopefully a member of the public with some sense will bring up discussion of Item 11, Comment Letter Draft on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. In short, the city council is supporting the governor’s ill proposed effort to tunnel under the Delta to provide water directly from the Sacramento River to Southern California. Never mind we have been stealing their water since the 1930’s the proposal laughingly purports to be a conservation effort for the Delta when, in fact, it is likely to do the opposite. The city, which obtains nearly half it’s water by theft, is jumping on the Governor’s band wagon. I wonder if they see a value in his high speed rail project as well?
The final item on the agenda is a request for travel by Councilman Chuck Puckett to attend the re-accreditation ceremony of the Tustin Police Department. I haven’t asked but I presume Chief Celano (who should have the department webmaster remove the “interim” from his page on the TPD website) will be attending as well. Congratulation, once again, to Chief Celano and the men and women of the Tustin Police Department.
I have a feeling this will be a council meeting worth watching. And, as it seems the Orange County Register is slowly crumbling into the dust, I may be your only source for true, accurate and highly biased information. That means I will have to step up my efforts. I think I can, I think I can…
The Closed Session has the usual items on it including multiple litigation issues. Two new claims from Russell Taitz and Southern California Edison will also be considered. Surprisingly, there are no real estate issues to bother them tonight. That’s because they completed multiple deals with developers and the Army Reserve for a land swap at their last meeting.
The Regular Session Agenda is headed up by presentations to students and teachers alike. Shelby Van Raes will be recognized for the Student Writing Contest while Joy Wardlaw and Jennifer Morrow will be recognized as Teachers of the Year. Congratulations to all.
One noteworthy item on the consent calendar is the purchase of electronic citation devices for the police department. Reading the staff report, it appears the department is being forced into the program due to changes in the court system. Cost is $110,000 that will be pulled from appropriate funding. Although the cost is substantial, this project is long overdue. To date, only three cities use electronic citations in a pilot project. The courts are forcing the issue but cities will benefit in a variety of ways in eliminating manual processing and more accurate ticketing. It will also make for efficiency in the police ranks, most of whom have better things to do than spend their time writing tickets.
Another issue on the Consent Calendar that begs discussion is the contracting out of processing and collecting administrative citations. It’s unfortunate the Republican hand has convinced everyone that contracting services is the best way to run city government. Judging from the cost, an in-house staff could probably handle this part-time at less cost. We can’t ascertain that for sure as staff have conveniently left off the amount of revenue realized from administrative citations. As with the business license issue awhile back, however, Community Development Director Elizabeth Binsack doesn’t appear interested in having her staff do grunt work.
The sole item under Regular Business is the second reading of an ordinance that would keep keep some Tustin codes relating to construction consistent with California Green Building Standards Codes by incorporating them through reference. The ordinance will lessen the need for repeated changes caused by changes in California law.
That’s the end of the council’s regular business. Unfortunately, at the last meeting, nearly all of the councilmembers delayed the requisite reading of their community activities due to the protesters. That means an inordinate amount of time may be spent listening to the combined diatribe. The good news? The Podiatrist Councilman did get to list his off last meeting. So, his list may not be as long. I did notice he looks up occasionally from his notes nowadays. Perhaps he took a few public speaking lessons.
At 43 minutes, last week’s Tustin City Council meeting was the shortest of the year and one of the shortest on record. Even Mayor Al Murray joked about reaching the business and committee reports in record time. The Presentation of Colors by The American Legion Post 227 preceded by Furhan Zubaini, Darul Falah giving the invocation and a quick lesson on Islam took up a good portion of the regular session.
A great presentation on the life of Tustin resident Evelyn Furtsch Ojeda, who turned 100 years old, was made. This lady, an Olympian in her younger years, has led a remarkable life that was told in a silent PowerPoint presentation. Evelyn is the oldest living Gold Medalist of the 1932 Olympics. It is folks like her that make Tustin the great town it is. Happy Birthday, Evelyn!
The sole Public Hearing Item on the allocation of Community Development Block Grant funding was continued, at staff request, to the May 6th city council meeting.
Item 5, Extension of Lease Agreement for Operation of the Food/Beverage Concession at Tustin Sports Park, was pulled from the Consent Calendar at Councilwoman Gomez’ request. The rest of the Consent Calendar, including the award of construction projects on Warner and Armstrong Avenues, was passed without comment.
The food and beverage concession issue began with a presentation on the concession itself. According to the presentation, the concession has had a difficult history with three operators attempting to fulfill lease agreements. The current operator, Express Sports Cafe, took over in October 2000 and has operated the concession ever since. The presentation included the challenges now facing the concession operators including the ability of sports park patrons to order takeout food delivered to the park Really? Has anyone ever done that?
A bigger challenge is the fact the concession does not have a grill and cannot make the simplest of foods such as hot dogs and hamburgers, let alone anything exotic like a bratwurst. Other so-called challenges include the time honored tradition of bringing a picnic lunch to the game. The presenter then wasted time telling us what we already knew – Tustin Sports Park is used for sports. All in all, the presentation could have been shortened to about 30 seconds. But, some people like to hear themselves talk.
In the end, Councilwoman Gomez still had to ask her questions regarding the closing of the concession for fundraising activities. It was pointed out in the presentation that local groups could ask the concession to close so they could have fundraisers, presumably during tournaments and games. Gomez asked how that would work. Her concern was, of course, that the concessionaire makes a living off the sales of the concession and would lose money when closed. It was explained that any group asking to close the concession stand so they could run a fundraiser is required to pay a $200 per day fee to the owner. Satisfied with the answer, Gomez joined the Amigos in voting in favor of the lease renewal.
With no reports from staff, the Mayor dove right into council comments. I won’t bore you with the details other than to tell you that the Podiatrist Councilman reported the fantasy group, ACCOC, is drafting pension reform policy based on the “excellent” negotiations they held in Tustin. If by excellent they mean how badly they screwed their rank-and-file employees while taking “excellent” care of the executive management, then yes, it was excellent.
There is no Planning Commission meeting tonight. I apologize for being AWOL this past week but, as you can see, not much happened anyway.
Well, there is one thing worth mentioning. We noticed lame duck Councilmember John Nielsen was absent – again. This from the guy who joined Hizzoner, Jerry Amante, in lambasting former Councilwoman Deborah Gavello for her every absence. I guess once you’ve sung your swan song, you don’t worry the details. As far as we are concerned, Nielsen continues his history of doing nothing on the Tustin City Council, whether he is present or not.