The other day, we were riding down El Camino Real when we noticed construction workers walking around Jabberwocky… well, sort of. There wasn’t much of it to walk around since, sometime in the recent past, they tore down nearly the entire building, leaving only the facade up.
It’s unfortunate that the building, one of the oldest in Tustin, was burned so badly back in 2011 that many thought it would be lost completely to the annals of history and the collective memories of our local historians. But, as luck would have it, the building, originally a doctor’s office built around 1885, was saved from the wrecking crew. Well, some of it, anyway.
As you can see from the pictures, the entire building, save for the facade has been torn down. This was considered the safest way of preserving a piece of Tustin history while allowing the owners to also build a new up-to-code building that woud pass muster and Elizabeth Binsack’s code-busters. Architecural work was completed last year by local historic achitect, Nathan Menard. Menard is a well-known designer (or redesigner) of both historic buildings and newer buildings where the historical aspect of an area is important. His plans for the Jabberwocky continue that effort.
When I approached the bulding, I almost laughed out loud. This is the classic facade of the old western town with the unadorned building behind it. There isn’t much right at the moment. The construction is focusing on foundation right now and it gives one the idea of how large the building will be (it isn’t). I would say not much more than the old building itself although Nathan assured me it will be adequate for the owner’s needs.
And, what will the owner do? As far as I know, plans are to reopen the Vintage Lady, the store that was located there at the time of the fire. The owner has rented the store almost continuously to others since 1985 and lives in the home to the rear. The store, which has been determined to be historically significant due to the rare construction type, will probably never make it to the National Register. But, thanks to the owner’s perseverance and the help of Menarch Architecture, Tustin will continue to enjoy the Jabberwocky.
Happy Cinco de Siete. The bad news is, my desktop is in for repairs and will, hopefully, be out by this next weekend. Of course, depending on the cost, a new one may be in order. In the meantime, I will struggle to get out posts with the reliable but anachronistic netbook. Isn’t it amazing that, just a few years ago, the netbook was the hottest thing on the market? Now, they are right up there with…desktop computers.
It looks to be a busy night for the Tustin City Council as they hold a couple of public hearings preceded by a slew of feel good presentations. The presentations are likely to be lengthy with lots of pomp and circumstance (emphasis on pomp).
The first public hearing is to establish a new Community Facilities District and accompanying mello-roos tax for an area of the Tustin Legacy. You might think this a routine issue but, it is a timely one for the city. It should be unsurprising that, the vote on establishing a CFD, when there are no residents in the location, falls to the landowners, in this case, the city. So, why wait until there are pesky homeowners to get in the way of establishing a tax base? Trust me, the entire hearing is pretty much pro forma for establishing the CFD and it is doubtful there will be much input from the public. It is probably a good thing the staff know what they are doing. That way the Four Amigos only need to say “yes”. One thing the folks moving in should know is this is a forever tax that will be passed on to future landowners owners. That tax will increase by two percent per year ad infinitum.
The second Pubic Hearing concerns the disposition of the Community Development Block Grant funding allocation. As you know, in the past we have been critical of the method used by the city council to disseminate CDBG funds. Specifically, the relationship of members of the city council to the executive director of the Tustin Community foundation which the city used to manage funds was questionable, to say the least.
Most recently, a committee made up of city staff members evaluated the current funding and made recommendations that can be found in the staff report. Of course, I am always amazed that, with funding and programs the community depends on we would allow city staff, most of whom live elsewhere, to determine what is best for us. In the end, worthy projects are being recommended for continued funding, including Human Options, Laurel House and Mercy House, all of which go to assist those most in need in our community.
One item I find interesting is the “Old Town Study” which is funded at $27 thousand dollars. This study appears to be a marketing study to see how the city can eke the most tax dollar out of the cultural overlay district. Could this project be the one to take precedence over the recent community development project to determine changes in the Old Town zoning regarding guest houses and second units? When an inquiry was recently made by a resident, they were told the guest house ordinance would be completed some time in the future, that it wasn’t a priority for city staff at the time. Really? Perhaps the city staff, which we have shown time and again is out of touch with city residents, should rethink that. More in a future article.
All in all, the proposed CDBG update is in order, regardless of how we got there, and it should pass muster with the residents of the city. It should be interesting how much back slapping the city council does before approving it.
The third Pubic Hearing has caused quite a bit of discussion both on the dais and in the community. Chad Ortlieb has managed to segue the Wilcox Manor issue in with the zoning amendments when they were before the city planning commission and he may show up at this meeting to discuss the issues again.
While the ordinance was being considered by the planning commission, more than 50 comments were received and supposedly considered by the commission. The city attorney attempted to block Ortlieb’s critical letter based on a timeframe until Ortlieb demonstrated that he actually was within legal limits. That in itself should tell you how desperate city staff are to get these amendments in. Why the hurry? In any case,it would not surprise me to see a few more comments at the public hearing and I imagine we will see another appearance by Lindburgh MacPherson who is sweating bullets over the Wilcox Manor CUP application being kept in the limelight when he hoped it would fade into oblivion. Sorry, Lindburgh, we still don’t want your dog and pony show in Old Town.
Item 7 on the Consent Calendar is to appropriate supplemental funds for the completion of Tustin Ranch Road and other road improvement projects. It appears to be a housekeeping issue more than anything else but, I’m no accountant so you may want to look at the agenda report yourself.
That’s about it. Unless you are a glutton for punishment, come late and go home early. By the way, the agenda doesn’t mention it but, I could have sworn The American Legion Pot 227 was back in good standing. If so, the should provide they best presentation: our Flag.
The Planning Commission will have a busy evening starting with a workshop on second residential units. The workshop is to discuss proposed changes to city ordinances pertaining to second residential units and accessory guest rooms. Staff believe there is a call for second residential units in the Old Town area in particular. That is a view that is not shared by all of my neighbors and readers. One person complained the city should be more worried about filling vacant commercial space rather than increase the population density in Old Town.
To a certain degree, we agree with that. However, we are strong proponents of allowing folks to do as they please with their property as long as it conforms to the law and does not interfere with another person’s enjoyment of their own property (sorry, Wilcox boys).
In any case, the city will propose some conceptual amendments to the ordinances that would do away with accessory guest rooms but then allow second units on any residential lot, regardless of size. This, of course, would do away with deed restrictions and, possibly, the current requirement for a Conditional Use Permit. Sounds pretty good, huh?
Well, never let it be said the city would let a buck get away if it can capture it in fees or taxes. Also in the conceptual amendments is allowance for the charging of “impact fees” presumably for the added impact to parks, schools and other assorted needs provided by the city and others.
The February workshop had 40 people in attendance who voice their opinion on the various proposals and added some helpful comments (we like the idea of carports rather than garage parking for some cases). Concern was also voiced for the number of units allowed on one property and whether permit parking should be implemented. We particularly liked the opinion that small guest houses are compatible with Old Town. We agree, they add a bit of charm to the neighborhood. Our only concern with guest houses has been the requirement, which we question the legality of, for deed restrictions. Alas, until an owner is willing to challenge the requirement (or this conceptual amendment goes through) owners will continue to suffer the effects of the restrictions on their property values.
Hopefully, concerned citizens will show up again and voice their opinion on another one of Binsack’s follies. The workshop begins at 6:00 pm, an hour before the regular Planning Commission meeting. If you want to see the proposals, you can find them here.
Ooops. I take that back. The regular meeting of the Planning Commission only has one item on it. A Public Hearing on Code Amendment 13-001. As we stated in a prior article, the proposal has more than just minor text amendments and the city intends to incorporate the current practice of requiring deed restrictions into the ordinance. As the current Planning Commission appears to be fully populated by “yes men” who are not willing to confront Binsack and her wrecking crew on issues important to the residents of the city, don’t expect anything other than the big rubber stamp to come out.
My 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.