Just Hangarin’ Around

VHS-tapeSurprisingly, the city technicians were able to post the video of the Tuesday Tustin City Council meeting in record time. More often than not, in recent history, they have had trouble getting it produced.

I fully expected the second reading of the repeal of the sex offender ordinances to garner more attention than it did. Not that it would have mattered since the repeal is mandatory, I was mildly surprised to see the vote taken with zero discussion. That’s not to say opinions weren’t heard as the vote was 3-2 with both Councilman Nielsen and Mayor Murray dissenting. No surprise there from either, particularly Murray who is retired from Irvine PD. Moms, don’t worry. State law will protect your kids (sort of).

As expected, the Public Hearing on the proposed community facilities district was approved. The city, being the only property owner, voted to tax memesaddle itself with millions of dollars in debt for the so-called maintenance and improvement of the future development. Of course, the city is exempt so future home and business owners are burdened with another tax. In this case, it is two percent of property value over and above regular property and use taxes. Good luck with that. It’s a good thing the law was so cleverly written to allow the current property owner to enter into a contract that, in come cases, saddles entire generations with debt. That property owner is almost always either a government agency or a developer (who usually contributes heavily to political campaigns).

Two major items of interest on the agenda were the Tustin  Legacy Park Master Plan and the consultant agreement to assess the condition and use of Hangar No. 2. Both drew comments from the dais.

The Legacy Park Master Plan was pulled from the Consent Calendar at Councilman Nielsen’s request. Unfortunately, city staffers and execs often forget their audience extends farther than the walls of the council chamber and introductions of speakers are often omitted. We’ll assume “Mr. Wilson” works for the consulting firm that wrote the report on the park design.

Nielsen was right to pull this for discussion. The report estimates the total cost of park construction at just over $16 million dollars. That’s a hefty sum for the city to undertake without a clear understanding of what we would get for our money. And, that was what the presenter did in a sometimes entertaining way.

The proposed park includes a wide range of sports and recreation facilities, including three ball fields and four multi-purpose fields. The park envisioned by the consultants would be a keystone of the overall linear park concept for the Legacy area. All well and good but, Nielsen did not hear the magic words.

And, those magic words are, “dog park”. Yes, John wants a dog park. Saying that he sees multitudes walking their dogs in the neighborhood and Tustin has no dog park of its own, now would be the perfect time to establish one. Clearly not a dog person, the consultant didn’t seem too thrilled with the idea. He attempted to brush it off saying they had considered it and decided the dogs belong in the future linear park concept, he tried to convince the council that traffic and schools would be impacted with the stench.

Undaunted, Nielsen insisted there was room for dogs. Although we disagree with him that a dog park would be used primarlly by local pedestrian traffic (I know I would drive there), it is long past time for Tustin canines to have a recreation field of their own. In the end, Nielsen made the motion to at least consider adding a dog park element to the design. A 5-0 vote to approve will, hopefully, convince the consultant to reconsider.

Certainly one of the most important items of discussion for the evening was the consultant agreement with Page and Turnbull, Inc., to assess condition and reuse of Hangar No. 2. In earlier discussions years ago, the city council was more than willing to dismiss reuse of the old blimp hangar. In fact, former mayor Boss Tweed Amante couldn’t wait to personally take the first swing with a sledge hammer to demolish this piece of history and replace it with some unmentioned business district.

Fortunately, bureaucracy and cooler heads prevailed and last night’s city council was visibly more interested in saving the landmark building. The contracting of an assessment and reuse study is the actual first step to determine the possible uses for the hangar. At seven acres, it is a huge piece of property and a huge maintenance nightmare. Weighing heavily on everyone’s mind is the recent collapse of part of the roof of Hangar No. 1 (which had previously been assessed as being in better condition) controlled by the county.

And, it is the county’s recent proposal to establish a park around their hangar that probably prompted Tustin to consider saving Hangar No. 2. The consutants to be used are one of the few who have actual experience with this type of building. In 2006 they contracted with the Feds to assess blimp hangars at Moffett Field near San Jose, California.

The bad new is, it doesn’t really look that good for our hangars. If the Moffett Field report is any indicator, the buildings will be found in poor condition (didnt we already know that?) and it would not surprise me to see the report recommend demolition. If it were not for the significan historical value, though, these buildings would have been gone long ago.

In any case, as the presentation said, assessment is past due and regardless of whether the hangar is ultimately retained or not, must be done. The cost of the initial assessment is about $368 thousand dollars. A second phase will be necessary if the initial assessment indicates further study.

Comments from the city council made it clear that almost everyone is on board with retaining the hangars if possible. A plus is that any use of the property, with or without the hangar, would include an entertainment type of venue.

girl-scout-cookiesNow, the rest of the meeting was not completely without controversy. In fact, there was a mild protest. This time, however, it was from a more friendly source than the council chambers has seen recently, as a mobette of Girls Scouts from Arroyo Elementary School, homemade signs in hand, approached the podium. The young ladies took a unique approach to asking the city council to consider a ban on disposable plastic water bottles in the city. These young ladies provided the initial uplift to an evening that was actually quite entertaining.

It’s too bad the Grinch had to show up after. Although it doesn’t sound as if it was the primary reason he showed up, John the Grinch, decided to dismiss the young ladies by calling them NIMBYs and dismissing their idea as squelching freedom. Well, gee, what about the girls freedom to express themselves?

After spending the majority of his time railing against the threat of a bunch of subversive Girl Scouts, he finally got to his issue: Parking at Peters Canyon. Lamenting the sparse parking at the park, this gentleman actually complained that the folks living on either side of the area should not be allowed to control “the peoples park”. OK….. According to this guy, the Girls Scouts should sit down and shut up but it is OK to invade homeowners privacy and property rights in the area “for the public good”.

Someone should have told him at the meeting that Peters Canyon Park is under the control of the County of Orange. Wrong meeting….

All in all, a productive meeting by our intrepid Tustin City Council. To boot, everyone (except the Grinch) was in a great mood and a little levity help move an otherwise mundane agenda along. Keep an eye on this site. Tomorrow, I will be reporting on the clandestine meeting four of our Councilmen had at Keans Coffee (Beckie, where were you?).


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 25 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 June 18, 2014, in Local Government. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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