On the Agenda, January 17, 2011
This week’s Tustin City Council begins with a pep rally for our all-star football team, the Tustin High School Tillers. These great kids and their coaches brought home the CIF championship for the first time in over 60 years. So, if you have the opportunity, come for the rally and stay for the city council meeting where each team member will receive a certificate from the City Council.
The Tustin City Council has a pretty hot agenda this week starting with the Closed Session. Remember, last week, the Council held a special emergency closed session to discuss the lawsuits between the city and the school district. We haven’t heard anything but we think they may be on the road to a resolution of at least one of the lawsuits. The subject is listed on Tuesday’s closed session as well. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.
In all, there are six items on the closed session. The last two have to do with redevelopment litigation. As you may have heard, the gravy train is over as redevelopment agencies were dealt a death blow by the California State Supreme Court. Even Governor Brown’s workaround to extort money from cities to keep their redevelopment agencies running, was shunted by the court. We will have a separate article coming up on the issue and what is likely to happen in the near future. But, as Steve Greenhut recently wrote, the redevelopment specter may rise like the hand of the zombie that suddenly pokes through the dirt just as the credits roll.
Item 8 Community Development Department Year in Review In the open session consent calendar, I would be surprised if this is not pulled for discussion. This is another chance for Elizabeth Binsack to tout all the great and wonderful things they have done over the past year like forcing homeowners in Old Town to have to run through their entire savings just to be able to defend against unwarranted attacks. I am sure that won’t be on the presentation she has prepared. Watch for Jerry to be standing behind her, pulling her strings.
Item 10 Set Interview Dates for Commission Seats This should be quick as it will pertain to scheduling interviews for open commission seats. Both Chuck Puckett’s and Jeff Thompson’s seats are up this year. I hope they will both ask to remain on the commission and the council sees fit to re-seat them. All in all, they have done and excellent job for our town.
Item 11 Report and Discussion on Redevelopment As we said before, redevelopment agencies are going to be disbanded. In our view, these agencies have been mostly a drain on the economy. Proponents, through the use of smoke and mirrors, have made it appear that redevelopment is good even though they siphon taxes from the General Fund and reward businesses with their own special brand of welfare. Tustin has been the exception rather than the rule when it comes to a frugal use of redevelopment agency money. And, the old MCAS base would likely not have any development on it if it were not for the RDA.
Nonetheless, with the demise of RDAs, cities like ours will have to resort to more traditional methods of attracting business to the area. The lengthy 132 page Agenda Report attempts to bring a perspective to redevelopment. It is also an excellent example of that smoke and mirrors technique I was talking about. I suspect this is the first in a series of so-called reports that will be used to sell the citizens of our town on how to circumvent the legal issues so that RDAs can be restarted. We already know that cities and counties around the state are banding together to try and author some type of legislation in that regard. In the short run, Assemblymember Jose Solorio has introduced legislation to extend the termination date from February 2012 for three months out. We’re not sure how that will fly with the courts should someone decide to take it back to that arena.
Item 13 Wireless Communication Master Plan With the recent advent of another lawsuit by T-Mobile West in regard to the recent refusal by the city to allow a disguised cell tower in Cedar Grove Park, the wireless plan is on every councilmember’s mind. T-Mobile has been suing quite a few cities, it seems, lately. Huntington Beach was also sued for basically the same reason as Tustin. At the council meeting where the design review was denied, the T-Mobile representative actually got angry, calling the citizens of Tustin names and stated that T-Mobile would seek to place towers on the right-of-way. It seems that was not their only plan. The city has a lot riding on this and that is probably why Jerry Amante has been so vocal over the issue. The city’s take on a single-use cell site is about $2,500 per month. If all three of the sites were to somehow be forced upon the citizens of Tustin, the city will receive around $90,000 per year. Hmmm. So, Al, tell me about the public safety aspect again?
By the way, I had my chat with John Nielsen last week. I am not sure if I will write a feature article on him but you can bet I will share my views about the good Mayor. I’ll tell you this, he seems an OK guy with a genuine concern for the city. I can also tell you (are you listening, John?) that we will not agree on a whole lot of issues. But, as with everything in our town Tustin, I’ll keep it in perspective.