City Takes First Steps on Parking Changes

With all of the fireworks lately, it was refreshing to see the City Council take another step toward revitalizing the Old Town area of the city. At last week’s meeting, the council had a first reading of an ordinance that would update the Old Town parking study by allowing developers in the area to pay a yearly maintenance fee in lieu of providing actual parking spaces for their projects. Under the current plan, a developer must either provide adequate parking, lease surplus parking from another business or pay a one-time in-lieu fee that amounts to about $18,000 per parking space. It is pretty obvious that this fee, when added to all the other costs to develop a project in any city in California, is a serious detriment to starting a project.

The proposed ordinance would allow people developing projects to pay a yearly maintenance fee per space. Although it has not been absolutely established, the staff tossed out a nominal $60 per space per year fee in lieu of providing actual parking. This would allow the business to use established street and public parking while providing the city with a cost recovery vehicle for maintenance of public parking spaces. This sounds like a win-win situation to us and hope that this can be completed without a hitch.

Speaking of fireworks, Jerry was up to his old self again. His usual opponent, or should we say victim, was present as he began to assail Councilmember Deborah Gavello for having the audacity to question issues regarding the construction project at Jamboree and the I-5. Gavello had brought an agreement that she became aware of between the city of Irvine and the TCA to the attention of staff and the City Council. Of course Jerry, being on the TCA Board touted the greatness of what they are doing and how wonderful the TCA has been in working with everyone to get this construction done. Ohhh….. Did I mention Jerry sits on that board and receives $120 per meeting and can actually receive up to $8,640 per year plus mileage?

Councilmember Gavello asked a few questions about what it was going to take to get the construction completed. Her concern was because the agreement she noted was for very specific times that the toll road would have free tolls for the locals to use when the construction area is completely shut down and there is no other viable route through the area.  John Nielsen chimed in before Amante attempted to negate Gavello by saying how kumbaya we are with all of our neighboring cities and how infrastructure takes so much time.

But, when, Gavello pointed out that she was the one who made staff aware of the agreement, they were unaware of it beforehand or the other issues she had brought up, Amante had to be heard again as he said, “One of the far, too many infrequent benefits of having you actually attend a meeting.”  And, while Gavello’s absence is notable from meetings, this kind of attack is the standard of a petty little former mayor, who cannot see past his own selfish needs. But, the little man was just getting started.

During regular business, the first reading of  the ordinance I mentioned above on parking in Old Town was heard. Binsack gave a good presentation on the issue and how the other improvements in the area have done much to make the area more attractive to business. She noted that the public parking in the area is underutilized and that adding parking to buildings in Old Town is difficult at best. She also pointed out that the current alternatives were expensive and are a further detriment to building in Old Town. All of the Council comments on the ordinance were complementary as well. As we said, it is a win-win.

Now, I admit it was kind of strange that Deborah asked how Old Town Orange and Downtown Fullerton both handle parking issues. Neither has the compactness of Old Town Tustin and both have plenty of public parking. it is pretty obvious we would be comparing apples to oranges.  Nonetheless, Elizabeth Binsack did answer her questions and state that the staff actually did do some checking around. Our Mayor, John Nielsen, in a rare change from his usual alignment with Hizzoner, even answered Gavello in a cordial manner befitting the Mayor of Tustin as he pointed out the obvious differences in the various old towns.

Deborah went on that she wanted to make sure the city would not come up with a fee structure that would have to be constantly revised, particularly since they were moving to a yearly cost recovery fee from a one-time in-lieu fee. Her mistake was when she said she learned about this last week in a meeting with the City Manager (even though, as she pointed out, she didn’t call the meeting and Councilmember Gomez was there). So, Jerry decides to go on the attack by interrupting Gavello (who still had the floor under Roberts Rules)  saying that it is difficult for him to hear that she has been on the council for three years and she is just now hearing about parking in Old Town. As Gavello pointed out she still had the floor and wasn’t done, Mayor Nielsen did something remarkable; he stopped the bickering and brought order to the meeting. Unfortunately, he then allowed Hizzoner to continue his attack on another councilmember. It was a nice try, John, but you need to man-up in regard to Hizzoner’s petty attacks.

And, then Jerry babbled on about Gavello’s babbling, calling her discussion “just plain babble. And it’s babble without foundation. Everyone knows we don’t have a pressing parking need in Old

Courtesy of Four Provinces

Town but that we have code requirements…” You should know, Jer. Along with your talking head, Elizabeth Binsack, you have been instrumental in suppressing any beneficial change in Old Town that did not have your personal stamp of approval on it or that the other councilmembers thought better of.

Jerry, of course, went on to reiterate that he knows she only sporadically attends council meetings (her actual record, while the worst of the councilmembers, would be difficult to characterize as sporadic) but it isn’t important to know what other cities are doing in this regard. Really, Jerry? I would think that it is very important. Staff spend a lot of time, in fact, making those comparisons so that we neither short-change ourselves nor set fees at an inordinate rate. That is a common practice. Jerry finished his rant by saying, “…and despite the fact the councilman wants air time so she can sound intelligent, she’s babbling bout things she ought to know better about.” Wow. So, what would you say to that?

Well, Deborah shot back with, “For you to say that I babble, anyone who’s watched you since you’ve been on the council for seven years have had it and looks forward to when you’re off the council because the meetings will be much shorter.” Truer words were never spoken.

I could, of course, go on about how badly Jerry Amante attempted to attack Deborah Gavello over issues that should not have come up. But, I think you get the idea. The rest of the meeting went pretty smoothly until council comments came up and then Amante had to attempt another attack. It’s just too bad that Gavello was up before Amante as this allowed him to get the last word in which, of course, was about Gavello. One thing I know is that Jerry knows what he is talking about when he complains about babbling. He is the king of babblers in Orange County. If you don’t believe me, just listen to his Councilmember Comments at the 1:45 mark as he laments again about how Gavello doesn’t attend meetings. He asked Nielsen to bring an agenda item and Nielsen did ask the city manager to handle that. Good luck on that one.

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About Jeff Gallagher

I am a retired peace officer from the 2nd largest law enforcement agency in Orange County. I live in and love Tustin where my family and I have resided for the past 22 years. I am a highly moderate libertarian that despises hardcore Republicans, Democrats and anyone else who is not willing to compromise for the good of the people.

Posted on March 28, 2012, in Local Government, politics, Tustin City Council and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on City Takes First Steps on Parking Changes.

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