Category Archives: Tustin Police Department
If you missed last night’s city council meeting, don’t despair. You really didn’t miss much. I realize we are all on lockdown and social distancing and such. My family and I dutifully wear our masks when we go into stores (I refuse to wear one while driving, though). And I know the city video techs are getting really good at setting up Zoom city council meetings. It’s just that, well, everyone seemed happier and more energetic when we could all meet in person in the council chambers. I miss those comfy seats. I’d happily wear my mask if I could sit and snicker at the council in person. Let’s get those vaccinations rolling.
There was an interesting item discussed that I have been waiting for. That is the mayor’s goals for the year. Now, for being called mayor, Letitia Clark gets few perks (probably first in line at the coffee pot) and lots of responsibility. Even though it is a largely ceremonial role, the mayor has to kind of lead the charge. And she does that by kicking off the year with some broad goals. And Clark’s were pretty broad.
Public Safety – According to Clark, the city will “partner” with the county to provide more covid testing and vaccination sites. Besides testing at Families Together at 1st and Yorba St., Clark wants to have a vaccination site at the Senior Center and other venues in the city.
Clark also said she would like to see the Police Open House restarted. She misses it. So do we. Unfortunately, she alluded that it would be a virtual event. Maybe the department can postpone it until the fall and we can have a safe but socially distanced event instead (if we’re good boys and girls). She also announced the police department will host a virtual public safety training event. That should be exciting but shouldn’t it be one of the Chief Stu Greenberg’s goals?
Community Engagement – Yes, we had slides. Under Community Engagement, Clark said she would be holding virtual office hours in order for her to interact with the community. No word either from her or on the website on when those hours will be. At some point, Clark also wants her colleagues to join her on some type of educational series of videos. Although she didn’t specify, I suppose this will be a city council version of the Chief’s public safety training.
Clark commented on the city developing an app to, among other things, report graffitti. Along with this will be a new “branding” campaign to promote the unique characteristics of Tustin (Don’t we have a slogan already?). Well, all I can say is…. what took so long? Orange, Santa Ana and Irvine all have apps. The county has a plethora of apps that do everything from recycling to rescuing dogs. Tustin is way behind. The only thing I would ask is, make the darn thing useful. Santa Ana and Irvine both have very useful apps that aren’t just regurgitated web pages. There would be nothing more embarrassing than an app that simply loads the city’s overdressed website (there, I said it).
Clark’s third goal got a bit murky. Discussing her desire for improving housing mandates and advancing the Legacy’s development opportunities, she trailed off to what the Covid grants have done and hopefully could do. The truth is, the Legacy properties have been lying fallow far too long. Former City Manager, Jeff Parker, had the right idea to fire the old master developer and have the city take over development. Unfortunately, since his retirement, little -if any- has been done.
Of all the mayor’s goals, two of the more important for our city are in revitalization of the Old Town area and paying more attention to the needs of the long neglected southwest section of the city. she specifically targeted the Tustin Youth and Family Center saying the southwest area of the city has long been “overlooked” (we would say ignored). Hopefully we can see some city money going toward programs and materials for the center.
Clark glossed over Old Town, saying that she just wanted to revitalize the area. Unfortunately, downtown businesses and property owners will not act on their own. The city needs to do some encouraging and enforcing to fill the empty spaces we have on El Camino and the side streets of Old Town. Yeah, it’s great to have a huge lot to hold the farmers market every week. But that lot has been empty for much too long. Perhaps the city needs to do a little nudging. Empty lots are as much or more of an eyesore as empty storefronts. Until the city pays more than just lip service, expecting businesses to invest on their own, the downtown area will remain the same semi-lifeless curiosity it has been for the past 30 years (Hint: we need a new parking structure in the middle of downtown).
Clark’s last goals for the city council are a bit lofty – and, a bit scary. While equity and diversity is something to strive for, it is probable that she will hit a wall with staff in regard to implementing any change. And, the truth is, there doesn’t seem to be a need for it. One walk through city hall shows a pretty diverse group of people from all ethnic backgrounds. Talent is not something we lack, either. Honestly, this sounds like she needed something to put in the slide as filler material.
A concerning issue, however, is the mayor’s mention of “Community Choice Energy“. This topic has been discussed throughout Orange County and currently three cities, including Irvine, are committed to developing the program in their cities. Essentially, this would mean that the city of Tustin would get into the energy business, owning their own power company. Great, another bureaucracy.
If this sounds familiar, just think back a few years ago when the state deregulated the power industry. At least three dozen so-called power companies emerged that would give consumers a “choice” while selling power at a lower cost. Many of them were marketing energy from green sources. We see, today, how successful that was. It’s laudable that Clark would like to see residents get their power from clean sources. But, the city has no experience in buying and selling power and they should not be in a hurry to saddle homeowners and businesses with another boondoggle. You can be sure any cost will be borne by the folks who live and do business here. By the time we are left footing the bill for this mistake, Clark will be long gone to her next political stop. Mayor, take this one off your list.
At some point each day, I try to peruse the various blogs and news sites that I support on this page. I admit most of the writers have either better contacts or more time to waste perusing blogs than I do for story ideas. Art Pedroza, who publishes the pseudo-news-blog “New Santa Ana” is one of the latter.
On Wednesday, the Tustin Police Department published an entry to their Facebook account regarding a recent mitigation action concerning a homeless encampment. The officer who responded to the call found personal belongings and and obvious signs of occupation but not warm bodies to speak with. They left a notice directing the occupant to clear the area. Homeless Liaison Officer DeLeon went by the next day and found nearly everything gone. City personnel then cleared the remaining items from the area. Good Job and no one got hurt (maybe a little inconvenienced but not hurt.
So, imagine my surprise when I am slogging through the various blogs and I read on New Santa Ana about the incident. I mean, it wasn’t anywhere near Santa Ana. It must have been a slow news day in his city, with new, as yet uncorrupted city councilmembers and all. Art did a good job of copying the TPD Facebook entry nearly word-for-word but I suppose there are different rules for professional bloggers. It was the last paragraph that really bothered me.
Pedroza writes: “Hurray for Tustin but where did the homeless people in question go? Tustin does provide a homeless shelter. But in the example above the homeless people in question just left. Where did they go?“
Well, gee Art, how would DeLeon know? There was no one there to speak with and, obviously, police officers don’t have time to hang around on an admittedly low level service call. More important than that, as Pedroza pointed out, Tustin has a homeless shelter. In fact Tustin has several, including the Orange County Rescue Mission which serves the entire county and has been in service since 1963. It has been on the old Marine base for about 14 years now and has been joined by multiple other organizations that provide housing to homeless veterans and others in need.
Tustin has been a leader in working to get the homeless off the streets of our city without burdening other cities like Santa Ana, who has been fighting tooth and nail against a homeless shelter, and Irvine who has some pretty interesting ways of dealing with their homeless population. Tustin’s officers were also some of the first in Orange County to receive training in homeless and mental health issues among the homeless. That training pays off for them every day.
So, Art, before you go bashing a neighboring city, maybe you should take the time to do a little actual research instead of just plagiarizing Facebook pages.
Ah, you have to love the bravado by which Governor Newsom holds his news conferences. If you were watching at noon, he makes a big deal out of taking his mask off whenever he steps up to the microphone. I wonder how many times he has practiced that move in front of the mirror.
So now, we head back into the most restrictive mode, Purple Tier, because who knew there would be a fall spike in Covid cases? I did, I did…..and you did, too, probably. For something that isn’t the flu, this virus certainly acts like the flu. And, we have been responding like it is a flu. Common sense tells people at risk to avoid crowds and go out only when necessary. Yes, we are all wearing masks (well, most of us). We may have defined social distancing but really….didn’t you do that last year with people you suspected had the flu? I mean, who wants to get sneezed on….
I hope you enjoyed eating inside at our fine restaurants. They will be forced back outside in 24 hours (rather than 72) because Newsom pulled what he likes to call the “emergency brake”. As we head back out, I expect some of them to close not because of a lack of outdoor space but because of a lack of outdoor heaters. While many restaurants, notably in the District and the Marketplace, own their own heaters or have them permanently installed, most of our eateries do not. Restaurateurs were grateful to the city, county and state bureaucracy in giving them outdoor space and making it easy to obtain the proper permits (ABC requires a Covid permit to serve alcohol outside the normal boundaries of a restaurant). The now familiar orange barricades in the streets of Old Town don’t look like they will disappear anytime soon.
Not that I’m complaining. I really think the outdoor dining has caught on and folks I see dining in Old Town seem to really be enjoying themsleves. Of course, that was before the cold snap and the lack of heaters. Unfortunately, we can’t expect the restaurants to suddenly come up with them. Patio heaters are expensive to purchase – if you can find them. They are also getting suddenly expensive to rent, due to price-gouging by those that had the foresight to purchase them in the hope of making a quick buck. So, you may have to say goodbye to your favorite dining spot for awhile. There’s always delivery…
Also say goodbye to your favorite gym, movie theaters, spas, and a host of other businesses that were allowed to reopen just a few short weeks ago.
Then there is the threat of the curfew. Yes, our dear leader is flexing his muscles again and said that a statewide curfew is a very real possibility. Now, before you conservatives get all riled up about how the “lawsuit” eliminated his ability to make executive orders, it didn’t (next time read the fine print). It has, in fact, better defined what he can and can’t do. He can’t make law but he can make orders that affect the welfare and safety of the state. And implementing curfews is one of those time honored orders that governors have been making for safety and security reasons almost forever. So, if he implements it, don’t expect the courts to overturn it. To my knowledge, Los Angeles is the only place considering a curfew on their own. That could change under the governor’s order.
On the other hand, Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes, who has previously stated he is not the mask police, is not likely to enforce a curfew. Barnes deputies patrol unincorporated area and a third of the incorporated cities in the county.
Will Tustin enforce the curfew? I think that depends on whether the city council gets behind it. Tuesday’s council agenda only has one non-consent item on it. Curiously, it is for a renewal of the city’s current ordinance regarding Covid restrictions. I’m not sure if they can amend the agenda at this late date but they should just so they can discuss this latest state update. Otherwise it will be another two weeks or more before they address the issue. Hopefully, they will at least discuss the possibility of a curfew and and their possible response.
Oh, I almost forgot. Governor Newsom apologized for joining that birthday party for his friend last week. He spent most of the apology justifying the actions and saying “everyone makes mistakes”. I guess my concern was that he was looking like he was snickering the whole time.
Well, it was an interesting meeting of the Tustin Planning Commission last night. Wish I could have been there. This morning’s video was good for a laugh, anyway. Someone should tell Commissioner Ryder Smith the meeting is taped. The closeup of him chewing his cud on camera was priceless. Hope he isn’t running for councilman next year.
Well, I was wrong. I predicted a change-up of chair and pro tem. The commissioners, by obvious prior collusion, decided to keep Jeff Thompson and Austin Lumbard in their respective seats. Congratulations. Of course, Lumbard may be waiting until next year to be elevated to chair so he doesn’t have as long to embarrass himself before the city council elections.
I don’t know if the guy showing up with Lodestone Chiropractic owner Antoni Nguyen was a lawyer or not but he sure sounded like one. Denying Nguyen was running a massage parlor and stating that he had no employees, Mr. Dudeker (apologies on any misspelling) spent his time stumbling over words in an attempt to distance Nguyen from the independent contractor who blew the whistle on him in the first place. It took more than 20 minutes of questioning by Jeff Thompson (who missed his calling as an attorney) and the others to ferret out the real truth that Nguyen did lie on his application.
Probably the most compelling speaker to complain about the business activities was a 19 year old young lady who lives in the area. Saying that she and her friends had been approached numerous times by strange men who park in front of her house at all hours of the night, she asked the commissioners to do the right thing for the neighborhood and shut the business. And, they did. On a 5 to 0 vote, the commissioners upheld the staff recommendation to invalidate Nguyen’s business license.
Over the past few years, the city has been dealing more and more with massage parlor type businesses. While it can be difficult to discern legitimate businesses from sleazy parlor operations like the ones depicted on backpage.com, it is important for the city to continue to crack down on them when they can. And, our city has not done enough.
I can remember only one sting operation the police department has publicized in the past couple of years. In testimony over another massage parlor license about this time last year, an undercover officer told the city council he had been involved in a sting operation with an associated business. The discussion was pretty graphic and gave an understanding of just how sleazy and dangerous the massage parlor/sex trade business can be.
Our town Tustin, unfortunately, seems to have become a haven for “day spas”. I’m not saying they all run their operation with skimpy outfitted young ladies inferring sex upon payment is an option. But, at least some of them are. The city could be doing more to squelch these types of operation while allowing legitimate spas to conduct their business without this stigma hanging over their heads. No legitimate business is going to object to occasional, unannounced visits.
Last year, the governor signed a new law re instituting the California Massage Therapy Council as the governing board to certify massage therapists. A Certified Massage Therapist is required to undergo 500 hours of training to be certified. There are fingerprinting and background checks as well.
The CMTC has had its detractors, surprisingly, cities who want to keep more local control of massage therapists and businesses in the lucrative sex trade. Instead of objecting to the state certification, however, cities should embrace the state permitting system and look to tighten controls at that level. Any profession that requires the touching of hair, skin or other body parts, should undergo uniform requirements for certification. The city council-lauded Association of California Cities-OC, led by former police officer and Tustin Councilman Al Murray, could begin with asking for more stringent training and certification requirements.
While cosmetologists and barbers are required to undergo more than a year of full-time training, certified massage therapists are only required to take 500 hours and it may be “distance learning”, a euphemism for on-line school. Even manicurists are required to attend a 400 hour school in person. The ACCOC could create a policy venue to address this.
One of the most important arguments for state licensing and certification is the eradication of the sex trade. Like it or not, massage parlors are a breeding ground for slavery. If you think Tustin is immune, think again. That undercover officer who testified at the city council last year, gave a chilling indication that businesses that support the sex slavery are alive and well in our fair city. It’s time for our city and the police department to take another serious look and eliminate this blot on our community.
In the meantime, it might serve the city council to place a moratorium on massage parlor and day spa business licenses until they can figure out how to separate the legitimate provider from the sex slaver.