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sorryEvery once in awhile, we make a boo boo which our readers are more than happy to point out.

In this case, we erred slightly when we told you that Melissa Figge of the Tustin Preservation Conservancy was going through the neighborhood, passing around flyers on the Conservancy’s opposition to the code amendment for second units appearing on Tuesday’s city council agenda.

Linda Jennings of the Conservancy Board emailed me to state, emphatically, the flyer did not say the Conservancy opposed the ordinance. “The flyer only says that we want everyone to hear the proposal and express their opinion”, she wrote.

Going back over the flyer, it does say just that at the bottom of the flyer. And, nowhere does it flatly state the Conservancy is opposed to the ordinance. However, it does outline a variety of issues that the ordinance would affect such as parking density and rental income for owners of second units.

If I were to read this without having a conversation with Melissa or anyone else from the Conservancy, I would infer (as I did) the Conservancy is opposed to the ordinance. To be fair, however, I’ll take Linda’s word for it that the Tustin Preservation Conservancy merely wants those living in Old Town to be informed and to speak their mind at the city council meeting.

So, did they?

Who knows? The city, which has had their share of problems with their video system managed to recess before the presentation by city planner Scot Reeskin and did not restart until Councilman John Nielsen started blathering about mother-in-law houses. I’m sure John was trying to get a point across. He just wasn’t doing a very good job of it.

Once again, Linda Jennings came to the rescue saying there were about 50 folks from OTT. Only a few spoke, with most of them against the ordinance. Linda said, “One mother was very moving, talking about why she moved here and how she doesn’t want to see it change.”

I also heard Lindburgh McPherson of the Wilcox Business Plaza in the West OTT spoke….in favor of it, of course. McPherson, and his buddy Silent Mike, are all for anything that will ruin the flavor of Old Town if it will make a buck for someone.

Councilman Nielsen did manage to blurt out his feelings on the parking issue, one that most of us have a concern about. But, it was Councilwoman Beckie Gomez who took it a step further by saying the parking in Old Town is already something the city should be looking at even without this ordinance. Calling it a dangerous situation, Gomez called for more parking enforcement and further resolution to the parking problems Old Town is experiencing.

Gomez also clarified what she thought was a misconception that the affordable housing mandate was being laid on the backs of Old Town residents. Saying the city is addressing the issue in different parts of the city, she inferred that was not the case. I’m not sure if whe misunderstood the issue or wanted to make sure they were being fair.

It was the city that raised the affordable housing mandate in the ordinance. The inference was clear that this was part of the ordinance. But the mandate is citywide, not just for Old Town. And if, as Gomez says, the city already has affordable housing in other parts of the city, why would it even be necessary to address it at all in Old Town, one of the most unaffordable areas? Old Town owners will charge a premium for the privilege of living in their historical district. I seriously doubt anyone would accept an affordable housing mandate on their second unit.

Gomez also pointed out that, if more than a few owners decide to build second units, it would definitely affect the character of the historical district, a concern shared by most of us.

After extended discussion with the city staff, the council voted to continue the item until a time when the staff could figure out parking and other issues associated with it. I’m not sure where that puts the status of the ordinance as normally there would be two readings and a vote to enact. But these folks, in an effort to not create liability on themselves, have to make even the easiest ordinance difficult. What this really told me is that no palms have been greased, ala the OC Business Council and John Nielsen. Perhaps they are waiting for someone to show up with money in hand.

In other business, the city council voted to approve the Veterans Memorial Preferred Concept Plan. This presentation by city staff went off without a hitch and councilmembers got a nice view of the concept.

Allan Bernstein commented that the inclusion of a Purple Heart Memorial at the park was absolutely imperative. We agree. We were also surprised that Allan could say the entire thing without glancing at his notes (or was that the Dodger score on his iPad?).

City Manager Jeff Parker Let us know exactly what and who is behind the drive for Assembly Bill 1217. This bill would reduce the number of members on the OCFA Board and give the County a larger say while reducing the same in cities like ours. Assemblyman Tom Daly, a well known lacky for the public unions, is carrying water for the Orange County firefighters union who hope to have more access to the Board (read influence during negotiations), according to Parker.

Parker said that every city who is a member of the board has opposed this measure. That is, except for Santa Ana, which would get an automatic vote at the table. Some omen, Jeff. Saying the city managers and city councils were trying to send a message, Parker essentially said the state has no business getting into the workings of a local district. Well, looking at Daly’s history with unions, it is no wonder why he is sponsoring this bad bill. The city council voted to send their own message by opposing the measure.


leland yee

Our story has been updated below – jg

Shocking news coming from the state capitol this morning where Senator Leland Yee has been indicted on bribery and public corruption charges. At the same time of his indictment, Scott Lay of Around the Capitol reports a series of arrest warrants were executed in San Francisco and across the Bay Area on known and suspected gang members.

At the same time, searches of the Chinatown office of the Gee King Tong Free Masons are being conducted. This is, reportedly, in conjunction with the arrest of known gang member, Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow. Chow has previously renounced his gang affiliations after being honored by Senator Diane Feinstein and others for civic achievements.

Yee apparently turned himself in at the Federal Building this morning after being informed of the charges. Yee is running for State Controller agains fellow Democrat, Alex Padilla. The Sacramento Bee states that Yee, a child psychologist, is best known for legislation regarding video game violence and open records laws.

Yee has recently been criticized for his legislation regarding solitary confinement of juvenile offenders. Author of a bill that would have required the intervention of a psychiatrist in order to place a ward in their cell for more than an hour at a time, Yee’s bill was subsequently amended to allow for wider latitude of the use of “room time” as a consequence for uncontrollable behavior.

The arrest of Yee follows on the recent departures of Senators Rod Wright and Ron Calderon. Calderon is under investigation for bribery and corruption charges while Wright has recently been convicted of perjury and voter fraud. This leave the Democractic Senate in a lurch as their supermajority goes down the drain.

Republicans, of course, are calling for their heads and demanding all three leave the Senate. As of this writing, they are all on paid leave of absence, drawing a salary but not attending to state business. Republicans appear to be as slow to grasp the concept before them as the Democrats are to understand what they have lost, according to an LA Times editorial last week:

Apparently the ramifications haven’t sunk in yet, because Democrats are still acting as if they can run roughshod over Republicans. They can’t. Without their supermajority, Democrats lost an opportunity to pass SB 27, the dark-money bill. The legislation was proposed after two groups linked to conservative bankrollers Charles and David Koch funneled $15 million to California campaigns in 2012. The bill would have closed loopholes in current law by requiring that nonprofits that make at least $50,000 in political expenditures in a year must reveal their donors, and independent campaign committees that raise $1 million must publish a list of their top 10 contributors.

Yee’s status is unclear and we will have to wait to see how sure the Feds are of themselves. This definitely puts a hammer on Yee’s aspirations and it appears another career politician will bite the dust, regardless of the eventual outcome. Yee for his part has yet to say anything about the charges. It should be interesting if he come out fighting or just slinks away to hide in Chinatown.

Update- March 26, 2014 1:10 pm- The Sacramento Bee is reporting the FBI showed up early at the Capitol with a search warrant for Yee’s office, carting away 9 boxes of evidence. The FBI showed up bright an early at 7 am and took nearly 5 hours to search and accumulate their booty. The FBI, in true LEO fashion, asked reporters to refrain from photographing their faces. Here’s the video from Sac Bee:



New Legislative Districts – How Do We Look?

The new legislative district maps are out and they show some changes to the legislative makeup of Tustin. One surprise is the change in state senatorial districts. According to the map, we no longer reside in District 33 that previously took in  parts of 21 cities in Orange County. Our new district will be District 37. This District, carved out of the current one, looks to lop off Fullerton and RSM plus parts of a few other cities. The “new” district preserves the Republican makeup of the area with 44.2% Republicans and 22.2% DTS (which is just code for Republican fed up with hardcore Republican antics).

Our new Assembly District is even more refined. Taking in all of Tustin, it excludes, for better or worse, the City of Irvine and any city that begins with Laguna.

So, what will this all mean for our fair city? Likely, not much. For those of us used to state political dysfunction (I’m a former union board member and grassroots lobbyist for public safety), this should prove an interesting round of musical chairs. However, it should be noted that the number of registered Republicans has declined 7.4% and the number of Democrats has risen a modest .4%. As I said though, the DTS are running a strong “3rd party” at 21.1%.

It is interesting to note that the only commissioner to oppose the new districts was the commissioner from Orange County. Michael Ward from Fullerton, felt that too much attention was paid to ethnic groups. Federal law forbids splitting ethnic groups but apparently that was a minor point for Ward.

The maps, while not final final, are…. well, final. That is, they are in the public review period and will be made final in a vote on August 15th. Only technical, minor changes can be made at this point. I doubt we will see any change from the current maps. But, you can expect to see fireworks all around us as Santa Ana, Garden Grove and other heavily minority districts move to protest and lawsuit.