As expected, last night’s Tustin Planning Commission meeting was lackluster to say the least. City staff did manage to stretch the meeting by presenting a comprehensive discussion during the public hearing phase of the meeting. How much does one need to know about an existing business that wants to expand its business endeavor?
Far from a shoe-in CUP, even the applicant showed up to ask questions, mostly regarding signage. During the discussion we discovered the city has an odd idea of what constitutes a window sign (black is the color of my sign). The Commissioners had no problem passing the CUP, pleased with the notion the business is staying in Tustin.
It was kind of nice to hear Community Development Department guru, Elizabeth Binsack, discuss the increase in interest in commercial filming in Tustin. Saying that people like the Old Town Tustin area because it reminds them of other places(?). Okay……., moving right along….
OC Supes Too Close To Call
We got a bit of disconcerting news in this morning’s internet read. The Liberal OC and others are reporting that Lou Correa is losing the race for Orange County Supervisor, by two votes, to Janet Nguyen protegé Andrew Do. That’s a scary thought that we would have to put up with an all Republican Board for another four years.
Fortunately, all is not lost. Although the turnout was less than 20 percent of the eligible voters in the district, there are still provisional votes to count. As well, Correa’s bill, SB29 chaptered last year, allows for late arriving vote-by-mail ballots to be counted under certain circumstances. In any case, Correa has enough money in his coffers to force a recount, as he most likely will.
It’s a Numbers Game
That brings us to our own upcoming off-year election. Senator Mimi Walters is now Congresswoman Mimi Walters, having won the seat last year. In her wake, she leaves us with a tough choice between Republicans.
Former county supervisor, John Moorlach, is breaking his former promise of years ago to run for the 37th Senate Seat. Moorlach, when he was running for Orange County Supervisor mentioned he was not a career politician as he inferred the BoS seat was his only goal. Well, this comes from a typical two-faced politician who also kept his pension intact to the last moment while cursing public employees for having the nerve to take theirs. At that, Moorlach’s pension, since his days as county treasurer, was paid for completely by the taxpayers while most public employees pay their fair share.
Moorlach likes to put on this “aw shucks” face while he speaks of ethics. Indeed, his own behavior has shown he thinks ethics are great…..for everyone else. His poor record regarding the handling of crooked and morally incompetent employees as well as his attempt to keep multi-million dollar IT contracts with his business cronies while costing the taxpayer huge sums, demonstrate his functional inability to govern.
Don Wagner, the other guy, makes no qualms about it. He is a career politician and has his sights set on the same seat. The difference between him and Moorlach is that Wagner is not ethically corrupt. Well, he is a Republican, but hey….
Wagner is also an attorney but we won’t hold that against him. Some of my best friends are attorneys (the rest are cops). He began his political career as a trustee of the South OC Community College district before winning the 70th Assembly District Seat. In that capacity, he has already served the Tustin community and has a deep understanding of legislative practices and our needs.
Wagner has been successful in getting several bills he sponsored or co-sponsored signed into law. Many of these benefit or protect folks in commercial transactions and matters of wills and trusts. No specific bills for Tustin but, he did get a bill signed slowing down traffic around horses in Orange Park Acres.
With no Democrats or Libertarians entering the race, the choice comes down to the lesser of two evils. Wagner is a true proponent of transparency in government while Moorlach’s idea of transparency is rather opaque, as can be seen by his eight (long) years on the county Board. I think the choice is clear, who should represent us in the Senate.
Of course, if Wagner wins the seat, Moorlach would have another seat to go for. There are actually three candidates – we just didn’t bother to mention the third non-viable candidate. So, the primary election takes place on March 17, less than two months from now. If no one wins 51 percent of the votes (we suspect one of them will), it will go to a final vote, with even fewer voters turning out for that, on May 19th.
Uhoh, Where’s Jerr-i-o?
If you have wondered what happened to the infamous Il Duce II, Jerry Amante, the former mayor is still hanging around. A hat tip to The Liberal OC for
warning letting us in on Jerry’s whereabouts (like the Lib, we keep our friends close and our enemies closer – also in front of us). It seems Jerry is hosting an internet radio show called The City Square on PodBean. The show is apparently a production of the Association of California Cities-Orange County. You might remember that Amante was a key player in getting Orange County to take their ball from the bigger Associated Cities sandlot and start a league of their own.
Now, Jerry gets to tout his baby to an audience of tens of listeners who stumble across the internet address, mostly by accident. If you want a laugh, listen in to the podcast. With Jerry’s distinctive rant, you can tell when you are on the right station.
The Public Hearing on CUP 2013-13 and Design Review 2013-11 is for a 50 foot disguised cell tower located in a business park near Walnut and Tustin Ranch Road. Smartlink, the acquisition company, does not specify the reason for delay in its postponement request. In any case, it doesn’t look too ominous since it will be back on the agenda later this month.
In the atta boy category, the Planning Department would like the commissioners to recognize and commend the efforts of Code Enforcement officers, Brad Steen and George Wiesinger who have both worked years for the city. This is not their first commendation or award but it is overdue as they do a great job for the citizens of our town. You can read the full commendation here.
The final item on the agenda is the Draft City of Tustin Cultural Resources District Commercial Design Guidelines. The Planning Department is ready to release the draft for public review. This guideline has been a long time coming and I hope everyone, particularly in the Old Town area, will take the time to read it during the review period and comment on it as appropriate.
That’s it for the week. The wife and I will be heading south for a convention and mini-vacation of sorts. So, our usual missives this week will be short, if not absent altogether.
On the Closed Session, the usual suspects appear with two each conferences with legal counsel on the initiation and exposure to litigation. There may be more soon, considering the city denied the claims of several folks last meeting. To boot, I am sure the lawyer from Anaheim representing the family of Robert Villa is wasting no time in preparing his case.
There are also three other claims up for consideration by the council. Don’t expect to see resolution on any of these as the city’s usual modus operandi, no matter how legit the claims, is to force the claimant to court in the hopes they won’t bother.
There are also several conferences with real property negotiators on the agenda. One of these is with the Tustin Unified School District. Among other things, the two entities are discussing the continued use of Heritage School as a continuation high school and administrative offices for the district. I was told the school district may open the school (with or without the continuation school) for it’s original intended use even though they may not have the number of students they like. A combo use could help alleviate the perceived situation by the Columbus Square folks but I wonder how they would feel about their kids going to school alongside “those” kids.
A Public Hearing heads up the Open Session Agenda with the Appeal of Denial of Massage Establishment Application for Tustin Day Spa. Regular readers will recall the Planning Commission tackled this issue a few weeks ago along with a permit for another spa. Both of these were requests from folks that had connections with spas that were shut down by the Tustin Police Department last year for criminal activity. The Planning Commission denied the applications and, hopefully, the City Council will do the same.
Surprsingly, the Consent Calendar has nothing noteworthy on it. Oh, wait, there is that vehicle purchase of three utility trucks and a rotary lawn mower. The city will be using the State contract to purchase the trucks so I guess I can’t gripe (like I normally do) about their purchasing out of the area. In fact, I volunteer to drive one of the trucks down from Elk Grove for them. At least the lawn mower purchase is local. At over 12 years minimum age each, at least they got their money’s worth for the old trucks (unlike the PD)
Oops. There is also the lease for the new fire station on the Legacy property that will replace the old station on Service Road. OCFA gets the place rent free for services rendered. It should be interesting to see what, if anything is done with the old station.
That’s it for the week. I hope the owner of the day spa requesting reconsideration isn’t holding her breath for support of her appeal. Most folks in Tustin would be just as happy not having these types of business around. If anything interesting happens at the meeting, we’ll be sure to write about it.
The Tustin City Planning Commission has a busy night with two meetings ahead of them on Tuesday, January 28th. Prior to meeting as the planning commission, they will come together next door to their usual meeting place of the city council chambers, in the Clifton C. Miller Community Center. This will be to act as the Building Board of Appeals for one item. That meeting begins at 6 pm with a Closed Session preceding at 4:30 pm.
That item is the Irvine Company’s appeal from the school fee calculation for property they are developing on the MCAS property. At issue is whether the city may collect fees using what the city calls the Building Division’s standard practice in determining accessible space. The Irvine Company alleges the method the city uses is in direct conflict with state law and that state law supersedes the city’s standard practice.
I would like to say they will be able to work out their differences. However, prior to the meeting is a Closed Session listed only as “Exposure to Litigation – One Case”. I am betting the exposure will be a direct result of the expected determination of the Board of Appeals. Hopefully, they can work out their differences without spending another million dollars on fantasy law. We would suggest the commissioners get their advice from someone other than the City Attorney, who has previously shown his ineptness at advising the city council on legal matters.
The Agenda allows for a one hour meeting prior to the start of the regular Planning Commission meeting, which will take place in the city council chambers as usual.
The regular Planning Commission meeting will host three public hearings as well as two items of regular business, all of which may generate considerable discussion.
Items 2 & 4, Appeal of Denial of Massage Establishment Application – Tustin Day Spa and Le Petite Spa are both related issues. According to the staff reports, the applicants for the permits were the targets of undercover operations at the same addresses that resulted in several “masseuses” being arrested for prostitution. The establishments they were operating in were shut down as a result of the investigations.
It didn’t take much detective work by observant city employees and the police department to determine the applicants were directly involced with the owners of the previously shuttered businesses, attempting to re-open in the same locations with, basically, the same operation.
The Community Development Department is recommending the Planning Commission uphold the denial. We’re no fans of these types of establishments for the obvious reason they take advantage of the women that work there as well as patrons, leaving this less than a victimless crime – allegedly, of course.
We can’t argue with Item Number 2, Conditional Use Permit & Design Review for a wireless cellphone tower masquerading as a eucalyptus tree. The 55 foot Verizon Wireless tower will be located in a business-industrial complex off Jamboree Road and should not present problems for businesses in the area.
Under Regular Business, there may be some discussion regarding Item 5, Design Review – AT&T Utility Cabinets.
The design review is for 25 above-ground utility cabinets located mostly on public rights-of-way throughout Tustin to house and operate equipment for their U-Verse service. The city owns most of the proposed locations.
City staff are proposing three options for the Planning Commission. The first is to adopt a resolution authorizing the installation of the 25 cabinets as a combination of above and underground cabinets.
The second option would allow the 25 cabinets, but all of them would have to be underground. The third option would deny the application altogether. It’s doubtful this option would be taken by the commissioners as AT&T has invested heavily in their infrastructure in the city and would probably not be averse to litigation. Likewise, the city council, to which this would be appealed next, has demonstrated that they are not interested in defending any concerns of Tustin residents when it comes to dealing with the utility companies, regardless of the legitimacy of their reasoning.That leaves the two remaining options or another one determined by the Planning Commission. The only saving grace is that city staff are also not in favor of the project as proposed by AT&T.
According to the staff report, AT&T originally submitted a master plan for upgrading existing and installation of new utility cabinets back in 2007. That design review was denied. AT&T did not move forward with the project again until late last year when another design review was submitted. Commission concerns included AT&T’s opposition to co-locating equipment (sound familiar?) and so-called art/screening of the utility cabinets.
There is no doubt the equipment is or soon will become necessary to effect AT&T internet service in Tustin. I spoke with a representative today and confirmed that, eventually, DSL service will be terminated as newer, state-of-the-art, technology takes its place. And, AT&T’s U-verse entertainment service appears to have all the best parts of cable and satellite TV without the exposed cables we in Old Town Tustin have come to know and hate.The city’s genuine concern over ADA, safety and aesthetic issues, however, may take a back seat to AT&Ts possible threat of litigation. That being the case, it would be a good idea to come up with a workable compromise.
That’s it for the meeting(s) this week. We will keep you informed of anything worth reporting. Now that we ordered our upgrade to U-verse service (hey, we were on the phone with them anyway), it should make it easier to download those lengthy videos.