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.
Not much to report on for this coming week as the Planning Commission has cancelled another meeting, presumably for lack of business. That doesn’t mean there isn’t quite a bit happening around our town Tustin.
At the same meeting where the city council sold out the residents of Old Town to repay local campaign contributors (more on that later), Chief Scott Jordan was honored by a plethora of bigwigs. The list included Senator Mimi Walters, OC Supervisor Todd Spitzer, neither of whom could bother to show up personally, The OC Chiefs of Police, the Joint Powers Agency and the Orange County Fire Authority. All in all, the chief endured nearly a half hour of kudos and probably needed a small trailer to carry home the plaques and certificates. Good luck, Chief Jordan. And, thanks for sticking with this bunch of yokels as long as you did.
And, even though Lisa Woolery is no longer PIO, I guess we are still on the black list as we did not receive the press release from the city naming Captain Charles Celano as interim police chief. Based on his longevity with the city and his apparent credentials, I would say he would be an excellent candidate for our new chief. Perhaps our resident expert, Al Murray, can have coffee with him (as I’m sure he has) and discuss it. Congratulations, Chief Celano. You have big shoes to fill but I don’t think the council erred on this one.
Clown College Comes to Order
It didn’t take long for clowns on the city council to show their bias toward the Wilcox Manor CUP application. Practically before Mayor Murray announced the public hearing, Councilman John Nielsen was running for the door, recusing himself from the proceedings. A recommendation to the city council: not everyone who watches the meetings knows what is going on. You might want to take the time to explain a bit before rushing off the dais. Assuming everyone knows your dirty secrets just makes them curious. Of course, if they want the dirt, they can come here.
So, now the presentation could proceed… except that, Murray had given special dispensation to one speaker to speak first due to another engagement. It just so happened the speaker was a representative of a church from outside the city that wanted to recommend approval of the CUP. One has to wonder if Murray would have given the same consideration to say, Chad Ortlieb, had he needed to tend to outside business. One thing for sure, it was evidence of how the rest of the evening would go.
One thing Ms. Hahn mentioned was the fact the Wilcox Manor hosted a seminar for the Irvine church she belongs to. Would anyone else consider that running a business venture that neither Lindburgh or Michael have a business license for?
So, after Ms. Hahn from the outsider church speaks, Murray goes over the “rules” about speaking and decorum, making sure to threaten anyone who violates the rules with being escorted out. It was his comment about how “One of the things we all pride ourselves in is carrying ourselves in a professional manner”, that had me laughing out loud. Well, I will agree that, since Boss Tweed Amante’s departure, the council has been nicer to each other. But, if they are, it’s only because they don’t have Deborah to pick on and they are all scared of Beckie. As far as nice? Well, there is that little issue of the unethical antics of the city council at large to consider.
Now, you know just how important this issue is because Community Development Director, Elizabeth Binsack, did not (for once) delegate the presentation to one of her underlings. Instead, she proceeded to run a dog and pony show with her minion, Scott Reetskin, to give a glowing report, complete with justification, of just why the boys should grant the CUP.
Now, I’ll admit, I did not watch the entire presentation. I’ve seen enough of these to know, they will use any justification, no matter how distantly connected, to justify their position. However, one item did catch my eye on the fast forward. That was the section about the Pasadena Tournament House, a place I am intimately familiar with. Now, I am not sure how they thought this classic location could be tied to a justification to grant a CUP to the Wilcox Manor. After all, the Tournament House is owned by the city of Pasadena, as Scott pointed out; the Wilcox Manor is privately owned. Proceeds from the use of the Tournament House go to the city; proceeds from the Wilcox Manor events would go into the pockets of the owners. Did I mention that could be in the neighborhood of $20,000 per event?
The voice of reason on the city council, Councilperson Beckie Gomez, raised several concerns during the council discussion portion of the hearing. She hammered the issue regarding the parking as, true to form, the Wilcox boys were attempting to get out of the use of the shuttle in all cases. She also pointed out issues regarding the trash, noise and stated what we all knew – that, even though there are laws against these things, how would they be enforced?
Gomez took the time to thank the public for their interest in the matter and writing thoughtful letters. And, though she chided some of the writers for getting personal, she let everyone know she took the time to read them. Well, Beckie, it is a personal issue when your neighbors want to make money by invading your personal peace and quiet. So, how can you blame them?
I’m not going to bother recapping anything the Clown councilmembers said because they were all hovering over their “yes” button as they couldn’t wait to vote in favor of their favorite campaign contributors. It was clear they didn’t care about the neighborhood or the folks this travesty would affect. And, it was clear they didn’t care how this would affect the character of Old Town Tustin.
As for the applicants? In his closing remarks, Lindburgh McPherson began by discounting the detractors and stating, “I feel we have created a legacy here that will go on for a long time.” Great. Of course he didn’t state the obvious that would have sounded like, “I feel we are going to make a ton of money (upwards of $400,000 a year) at the expense of our neighbors’ peace and well-being. And, as Councilmember Gomez pointed out, there is nothing that requires them to put any of that back into further restoration of the property.
Lindburgh also stated, emphatically, that all but one of the neighbors on Pasadena Avenue, “within walking distance” of the Wilcox Manor, were in favor of the CUP. Again, he did not mention that the letters of support from nearly all of those folks were form letters that he and Michael handed out and asked folks to sign. So, the question remains, did they understand what they were signing?
Oh well, after more than two hours of public discussion on the matter, the city council voted in predictable fashion, 3-1 -with Councilmember Gomez dissenting- in favor of granting the CUP. So, the fat lady sings.
Or does she?
Remember, there were two letters of opposition from attorneys in the crowd. And, even though another lawyer who supported the CUP said they didn’t know what they were talking about (don’t lawyers always think they are the smartest guys in the room?), it has been my experience that whenever lawyers get involved, a lawsuit is soon to follow. So now, not only does the city council have to live with their biased decision, they may soon be spending your taxpayer money to defend it.
In the meantime, life in Old Town will go on. I am sure the paranoid Lindburgh is already seeing the “opposition” behind trees and underneath legally parked cars, just waiting for errant wedding guests to litter while flipping off a neighbor. Opponents, in the meantime, may be gearing up for a lawsuit. There are some other questions that have risen recently that may not make this a cut-and-dried situation. We’ll keep you posted.
Oh, and Lindburgh and Michael were so quick to address their proponents when seeking support on their Facebook page. I noticed that, as of Monday, they had not taken the time to thank anyone, least of all the pandering city council that voted in their favor. Oh well, I’m sure the next campaign fundraiser is on them.
There’s not much on Tuesday’s Tustin Planning Commission Agenda unless you plan to subdivide your property.
The sole item on the agenda is a public hearing on Code Amendment 2013-002 that would amend the subdivision code for the city. According to the agenda, the ordinance would remove outdated language, make sure city codes align with state codes and streamline the subdivision process. This is a comprehensive update on codes that haven’t been touched for 16 years. The original proposal was sent to the Planning Commission at the May 28th meeting to allow the commissioners time to consider the proposals.
If there is an item of concern, it is in the proposed “streamlining” process. The Community Development Department is asking to take total responsibility for coordinating all subdivisions including lot line adjustments and final tract maps. They also propose that the city council no longer be required to make final approval of maps as the work has already been effectively completed by the Planning Commission and the Community Development Department. This makes sense to us. The City Council is the primary legislative body of the city. While an argument could be made that Final Maps need some type of legal authority, the completion is actually administrative in nature and best handled by the Community Development Department.
That’s it for the week’s meetings. Please say a prayer for those who were killed and injured in the aircraft accident in San Francisco last week. 182 passengers were hospitalized, 49 in serious condition and 5 in critical condition. Unfortunately, 2 children were killed in the accident.
Yeah, I know, you were expecting a post on the upcoming (and yet not quite thrilling) Planning Commission meeting tonight. We can’t help you. That’s because, since Friday, when they posted an agenda with one item of decidedly non-interest, they subsequently canceled their meeting. At least they are not wasting thousands of dollars in city staff time and resources on a single item that could be put off until next meeting. The only issue is, did they give proper notice of the cancellation? This is only important to those who might have spoken on the public hearing issue (probably zero in this case) and those civil ethicists like myself. The next meeting of the Tustin Planning Commission is June 25, 2013 at 7 pm.
In the meantime, I thought I would cast the net a bit wider and write about the latest meanderings of lame duck Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach. When we last discussed Moorlach, he was contemplating a run for California Governor…. or was it Assemblyman? Oh yeah, it was Auditor-Controller. Well, John has apparently decided against running for governor. in a recent article from our friends at the Orange County Breeze, Moorlach stated in an email to his constituents that, after much soul-searching and looking to his mom, he decided to rule out a run for governor.
“This is a personal-management principal that was deeply ingrained into my psyche by my mother’s parent tape. A parent tape is something that your parents say over and over again in order to drill something into you,” the email states. Apparently, that tape includes excerpts on not doing stupid things like mounting an ill-fated run for governor against an immensely popular and Democratic candidate in an overwhelmingly blue state. “After spending a good five months looking at what I should be doing next, I have taken a potential run for the office of Governor of the State of California off the list….I am not running for Governor for the State of California.”
There. He said it. That makes it absolute…sort of.
Remember when Moorlach first ascended to the Board of Supervisors? I do. One of the most prominent and promising things he said was, “I do not intend to run for higher office. This [the board of supervisors] will be as far as I go,” or words to that effect. I am sure they are recorded somewhere as I was not the only one present when he said them.
Apparently, however, Moorlach has a selective memory. Several months ago, when he first announced his exploration for a possible run for governor, I recalled his original words. Although I was not shocked that he would renege on his promise, actually more of an avowal, I think everyone was amazed that this egotist actually thought himself worthy of the governorship of California. Anyone else would have quietly gone to the real kingmakers of the Orange County GOP and discussed the matter with them first. Instead, Moorlach took the road of his colleague, the ambitious yet reckless Todd Spitzer, and found himself contemplating his embarrassment when the likes of Scott Baugh and Mike Schroeder failed or refused to back him on his play.
As time went on, it was becoming even more obvious that Moorlach wanted desperately to become a career politician, something that he eschewed in the beginning. Shortly after his “governor” announcement, he lowered his sights to Orange County Auditor-Controller, a job that even I will admit he is well-qualified to assume. Then, he turned left (or is it right) again, and said he was exploring a run for the Assembly. And, he did all this while not taking himself out of the run for the governorship. That made him look like even more of a buffoon than he already was. Was he actually (and desperately) hoping the GOP honchos, who finally figured out the only thing the rest of the GOP wants from them is their money, would speak up and say, “Yes! We want John!” Oh, please.
Since the years of Moorlach’s warning of the bankruptcy, the OCGOP has preferred he remain in the background. He was anointed for the Board of Supervisors run and won handily by 70%. Most of that, however, was due to the fact he faced no real opposition. Prior to his run for the Supervisors, he was appointed county tax collector and then won two more terms only because no one really wants to be the tax collector. I suppose all those years in office, with a nice pension to garner, has jaded our John. He has, in the end, become the nemesis of the everyday people, a career politician.
It seems John has come full circle. He has spent much of his professional life in elected office, first as tax collector and then as Orange County Supervisor. where he was unable to accomplish his real goals dismantling the public employee pension system while keeping his own lucrative pension intact. His “exploratory” stab at the governorship died for lack of a second and his pitch to swap seats with Assemblyman Alan Mansoor remains in limbo due mostly to how Mansoor sizes up the battle with Michelle Steel. That leaves Moorlach the almost sure bet of winning the race (if there is one) for auditor-controller, a position, as we said, for which he is well-qualified.
But, now that he has had a taste of power, will Moorlach be content to live the rest of his career in relative obscurity? If he does take the auditor post, you can bet he will continue to make the most of it by publicly speaking -and opportunistically blasting- the future OC Board. And, we will be able to thank John’s mom for giving him sage advice.