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Send In The Clowns – Redux

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.

click for biographySayonara Chief

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, CouncilmanSend in the Tustin Clowns 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.

courtesy of

…doesn’t mean no one is after you…

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.

On The Planning Commission Agenda, February 12, 2013

agenda-clipartIt’s been a slow week around our town Tustin. Only one item occupies the Planning Commission Agenda for Tuesday, February 12, 2013. And, unless you are a church going kinda person, it may not interest you.

The Los Angeles Diocese of the Coptic Orthodox Church has applied for a Conditional Use Permit to modify an existing building and use it for a church with classrooms and a bookstore. The building is located at 3002 Dow Avenue, an industrial/commercial area of Tustin off Walnut and Jamboree. The building is a 4800 square foot suite that is part of a small complex of buildings owned by LBA Realty. Staff is recommending approval of the project.

This is a small church by anyone’s standards with a maximum attendance projected at 58 people (the floor plan shows 60 max in the sanctuary). The rest of the facility would house a bookstore and rooms for Sunday School. City Staff have dictated the use is exempt from CEQA.

Church attendance is expect to be primarily on weekends and evenings. Even without the low numbers, it’s doubtful the number of attendees would drastically impact the 640 parking spaces available to all tenants. They expect only about ten folks for weekday services.

According to the staff report, the proposed church meets all of the requirements and should be approved. The only glitch is the parking which the 19 spaces allotted for the building would give them a maximum attendance of 57 members. I guess they’ll have to draw straws to see who stays home that day (actually, the plans say they only expect 50 folks on Sunday). I expect if there is any concern, it would be from the other tenants, all of whom are industrial or commercial in nature.

Unless anyone plans on speaking during public comments, this should be a fairly quick meeting for our commissioners. Hardly worth the $2500 for coming out to city hall.

On the Planning Commission Agenda, November 13, 2012

As opposed to the near riot of Wilcox supporters inundating the council chambers a few weeks ago, there are only a couple of things on the Tustin Planning Commission agenda this Tuesday. None of it is likely to generate much interest among Tustinites. Still, we are obligated to report.

The first is a Public Hearing for a Conditional Use Permit for Oxford Tutoring to operate a tutoring facility in an existing location at 3057 Edinger Avenue. They currently operate a facility on Culver Drive. Oxford also operates tutoring and vocational training facilities at two other locations. The proposed facility is located in an industrial/business office area. The staff report indicates the proposed use may be conditionally approved, ergo the request for a CUP. The location will serve future residents of communities planned in the Legacy.

The second item is on the Regular Business calendar and regards updates to the Tustin Parking Code. Anytime I see “minor update” on a listed agenda item, the hair on the back of by neck goes up. Supposedly, Elizabeth Binsack’s staff initiated the update to strengthen parts of the Code. Staff is asking that the item be agendized for a public hearing next month.

There are concerns on the timing of the public hearing as it pertains or may pertain to the Wilcox Manor and their application for a conditional use permit. Looking over the staff report, there are several areas of the code that could pertain directly to how Wilcox addresses the parking issue for their events. The Wilcox Manor is proposing a 200 seat venue for weddings and they do not have any parking at the facility. The residents in the area are divided between those who support Lindburgh and Silent Mike and those who would like to see the traffic issues (along with the strangers and the trash they leave on the street) gone. In looking over the proposed revisions, the event center would seem to need about 70 parking spaces. There is also a blurb in there about the use of valet parking so, that may be how they attempt to get around it.

Is the update necessary? From a make work point of view, I suppose it is. Maybe things are slow around city hall these days, what with the holidays coming up and all. Let’s not forget the recent changes to parking requirements to accommodate business in the Old Town area.

There you go. It should be short and sweet meeting for the Tustin Planning Commission, allowing them to get back to their loved ones in record time. As always, though, you never know what will happen and we will keep you updated.

On the City Council Agenda, October 2, 2012

Just a few things happening on the Tustin City Council agenda this week. Aside from the usual suspects in Closed Session, there are two Public Hearings to contend with. Also, one or two of the items from the Consent Calendar may be pulled.

For our money, the city council may want to discuss the noise abatement level report from John Wayne Airport. The agenda says average levels at the monitoring station have remained constant for three of four quarters. They should move that monitoring station to my house. Seriously, there have been complaints in every quarter of the reporting period but the numbers say the noise is below acceptable levels. Not much there, unless you want to wade through a 56 page report, but enough the Three Amigos may want to pat themselves on the back about.

Both of the Public Hearings, may generate some discussion. The hearing on Redhill Lutheran Church is the second public hearing on the matter. On September 11, 2012, the Tustin Planning Commission held a lengthy hearing on the proposed General Plan Amendment, Zoning Change and Conditional Use Permit for several residences that are actually the property of the church. The commission recommended approval of the changes to the city council on a 4-0 vote.

The sole opposition at the meeting was a resident who lived across the street from the church and who was concerned the changes would impact traffic and parking in the area. The pastor of the church said the residences had, in essence, been operating the same way for several years and there would be no change to their use. The purpose of the GPA and CUP were simply to bring it in to compliance with city requirements.

This will be the second Public Hearing on the matter. There may be discussion as this will give others who may not have known about the requests to come forward with their concerns.

The second Public Hearing is one we wrote about yesterday. It is an appeal from an approval for a CUP for Goodwill Industries of Orange County to establish a high end retail outlet store and donation center in Larwin Square. The Planning Commission approved the CUP 4-0 on August 28, 2012. Surprisingly, Tustin Councilmember Deborah Gavello filed an appeal, stating simply “based on location”. When we attempted to contact Deborah about her concerns, she refused to speak with us. So, I guess we will all be waiting with bated breath until Deborah speaks.

Closed Session

Conference with Legal Counsel re: two cases of exposure to litigation and two case of initiation of litigation

Liability Claim – Marbella Perivan and hector Tapia Bravo Claim No. 12-24

Conference with Legal Counsel Existing Litigation – City of Tustin v. Keybank, N.A.

Open Session

Public Hearing – Redhill Lutheran Church, General Plan Amendment, Zone Change and Conditional Use Permit for several residence properties adjacent to the main church property.

Public Hearing – Appeal of Panning Commission Decision to Approve Use Determination for retail space to be use by Goodwill Industries in Larwin Square.

That’s it. We probably won’t make the meeting but we will report back on anything worth reporting. Of course, YouTube for really good repartee is always an option.