Yes, There’s a Meeting
The Planning Commission will have a pretty short meeting Tuesday, with only one item on the calendar. That, of course, is barring any lengthy comments from the public. There is also an ominous “presentation” by Elizabeth Binsack at the end of the evening regarding an unnamed subject.
The sole item of interest is on the Consent Calendar and, unless someone pulls it for discussion, it will pass along with the approval of the previous meeting’s minutes. The item, a request for a Use Determination and Conditional Use Permit, would allow Golubitsky Fencing Center to establish a training facility in a light industrial business park on Edniger Avenue near Redhill.
I’m not sure why it needed a sales pitch but, the description of the facility discusses Golubitsky’s involvement with fencing and his awards which includes a silver medal at the Olympics. In any case, it’s a great addition to the recreational venues available to Tustinites and the location is appropriate.
That’s probably a good thing because they have been operating out of this facility for awhile now and the city apparently just caught up with them. The location requires a CUP because “fencing” doesn’t appear in the city codes as an allowable activity (how short sighted). In any case, the city seems to like the idea hence the placement on the Consent Calendar.
Hot on the heels of the recent opening of the new El Camino Cafe in the Del Rio Building in Old Town Tustin, the city has finally released the draft Commercial Design Guidelines for the Cultural Resources District. If you are a glutton for punishment, the 194 page document can be found here. Remember, I warned you.
According to the introductory letter, the guidelines will be used for property preservation and development within the overlay district. It will also:
…provide enhancement or appendix for other city codes for features such as:
- Business identification signs to help preserve and enhance the character of Old Town Tustin.
- Tips for energy efficiency to promote sustainability in your project or property.
- Ideas for landscaping on private property and the public right of way, and suggestions for improving the overall street environments.
- Photos and graphics that help explain improvements that can be made to properties.
- Resources and websitelinks to make it easier to find additional information.
Overall, having a comprehensive set of guidelines is important, particuarly to Old Town residents and businesses. Historically, however, city staff has taken a heavy hand toward anything that doesn’t meet their own personal standard of how the area should look. In addition, the city has a history of showing favoritism to certain residents and businesses. These folks have either been influential because of their standing in the community (not necessarily a bad thing) or their political contributions (a bad, bad thing).
Evidence the fact of the city’s real intent is in the draft guidelines. At one point in the introduction, the dissertation reads:
The Guidelines are intended to serve as a “yardstick” against which proposed projects may be measured. The Guidelines are not intended to be strict development standards as are found in the Zoning Ordinance. It is recognized that not all design principles or criteria may be workable or appropriate for each project, but all applicable projects are encouraged to follow the Guidelines to the greatest extent possible. Therefore, they may be interpreted by the City with some flexibility when applied to specific projects.
This, of course, gives the city an out in regard to how forcefully they will enforce the guidelines against individual businesses. In other words, if you are in, you are in – if you are out, you can kiss your project goodbye.
And, the issue comes to the forefront in regard to “new infill development”. Albeit, there are few lots in the business district in Old Town that are vacant, we do have some. A recent example is the Del Rio building that was built on the old Riteway Dry Cleaners. That lot had a business and an apartment on the rear of the lot. When the new owners wanted to develop the lot, they asked for a business on the first floor with a residence on the second floor (presumably owner-occupied). The city nixed the plan, saing that further contaminant testing would be required than was already accomplished. It should be interesting to see if they require the same depth of testing for the proposed restaurant and living quarters being built on the old auto parts store lot next to Mrs. B’s.
So, will the public or local business owners chime in on the draft plans? They should as this document will (or shold) be used to regulate future business and building in Old Town Tustin. This is probably the most important step toward reahbilitation of the area that should be as viable as the historic downtowns of Fullerton and Orange. And, it’s all in the hands of a (so-called) trusted few.
Keeping the Status Quo
It is going to be a pretty boring election season in the city of Tustin this year. Either everyone in Tustin is too busy to worry about the political bent of the city council (they are all Republicans) or they are happy with the way things are going. Face it, it has been a slow two years around Our Town Tustin, ever since Boss Tweed Amante left. John Nielsen has settled down and become less interested in city politics. Our old friend Chuck Puckett has returned to the dais along with newbie Alan Bernstein whom we hope will learn eventually to look up from his notes once in awhile (wing it, Alan).
It is hard to believe that four years have gone by since Mayor Al Murray and Councilwoman Beckie Gomez were first elected. Both came to the dais under the ominous shadow of Jerry “Boss Tweed” Amante, who held a firm grip on the city, issuing edicts and offering regular rants against his detractors. The Liberal OC often referred to him as “Il Duce” both on and off the record. And, Amante never got it. He hated the residents of Tustin (where he resides), hated the women he was forced to share the dais with and loved his dogs. When Jerry was around, there was always something to write about. When he left…. well, things got a bit more boring.
That, of course, has been good for Tustin. After Amante’s departure, the city council was able to clear their collective head and get down to the mundane business of running the city. And, except for the occasional powerplay by City Manager Jeff Parker or Community Development Director Elizabeth Binsack, the city has run pretty smoothly on their watch. About the only real issue over the past four years is the epitomal collapse of the old town area when a CUP was granted to the boys at Wilcox Manor to run a
convention center wedding venue. That controversy (assisted by yours truly) outlined what is wrong when politicians who have a direct benefit from a business, help that same business to make money at the expense of others’ privacy and well-being.
All this leads us to the latest news from the city. As I said in the beginning, either no one cares or no one knows. Al Murray and Beckie are the only ones to file nomination papers for Tustin City Council. As such, they will run unopposed, meaning you can save yourself a trip to the polls unless the other issues we’ll bring up over the next few months matter to you.
Regardless of my criticism, I have always liked Al and Beckie. Al is a retired police captain from Irvine and his most pressing decision since he has been in office is where to have coffee (usually Keane’s, usualy with cops). That’s not to say he can’t make a decision. He just hasn’t had to since he has been in office. Originally an Amante yes man, Murray has a great quality of getting along with just about everyone, admirer and detractor alike. And, he is pretty darn good at calming a collective angry crowd. And when the stuff hit the fan, during one of the most infamous crime sprees to hit Orange County, he was the man every mayor wished they could be in time of crisis.
It has been my pleasure to know Beckie Gomez over the past few years. A closet Republican, she has shown a willingness to work with everyone on the council (including Jerry) even though the council has consistently refused to give her any of the cherished paid board or committee positions. Little did they know Gomez is quite happy with her Library Board appointment. Gomez has demonstrated that she is interested in the welfare of Tustin chiefly as a place to live and secondly as a place to do business. During Amante’s frequent rants, she proved to be a calming influence even when Nielsen and Palmer were also ganging up on their nemesis, Deborah Gavello. If she did not always back Gavello’s play, it was because she had a direction of her own to follow.
So, what will the future bring to Tustin? Perhaps, over the next two years, more mediocrity. Barring an infield play by Arte Moreno or the collapse of the pending cemetery deal at the Great Park, the MCAS property is all but disposed of. I am sure there will be controversy over the fate of the blimp hangars to jazz things up a bit. As the city is showing its age, perhaps it’s about time the city council took the Old Town Tustin bit out of Elizabeth Binsack’s mouth (before she finds a way to bulldoze it completely) and take a good hard look at revitalizing the downtown area. Both Fullerton and Old Town Orange have experienced a renaissance with myriad antique shops and second hand resellers replaced with chic restaurants and venues that draw a diverse crowd. Downtown Tustin’s time has come and, without the past controversy to impede them, this city council could make a lasting mark on the place we all love.
One rumor in the wind: Will John Nielsen, who has had his share of personal and public controversy while in office, choose to resign during his term as we have heard he may? That would open some interesting avenues, and some of those have the Amante smell.
Would-be Child Abductor Nabbed
The downside to living in Old Town Tustin, is our proximity to the other side of the freeway. In fact, Main Street in OTT is the main thoroughfare for Tustin PD when they are running code 3 to the west side of town. Early morning, especially before my first cup of coffee, is a disconcerting time to hear lights and siren from multiple responding police cars. What I really hate is the fact that all police communications in Orange County are digitally encrypted so one cannot even ascertain what is happening at the time. And, Tustin PD’s social media director rarely puts out real-time info on crimes in progress. That means, I usually have to wait the press release from the Public Information Officer.
My peace and quiet were disturbed on last Wednesday when several police units screamed down the street toward Lyon Avenue. Police were responding to the break-in of a home on McFadden Avenue. The victim called police in response to her boyfriend breaking into her residence. His apparent intention was to abduct the couple’s child. The suspect, later identified as Rodrigo Delgadillo Bustos, took the infant child and fled the scene. An APB was issued by Tustin PD and the suspect’s vehicle was later located on West McFadden in Santa Ana by Santa Ana Police. Together with OCSD Air Support, the suspect and child were located and the suspect arrested.
The 22 year old suspect, was subsequently booked into Orange County Jail by Tustin Detectives for Kidnapping, Robbery and Burglary. The child was returned to her mother unharmed.
So, I wonder how many people will show up at a city council meeting to commend the police for their quick reaction in saving this child’s life?
On The Planning Commission Agenda – July 22, 2014
Heading up the Tustin Planning Commission agenda for Tuesday is a request for a Conditional Use Permit for an indoor recreational training facility. The proposed business, Tustin Strike Zone, will be located in a business area on Walnut near Tustin Ranch Road.
The facility will have two batting cages and associated areas for conducting business and training. It seems the business owner has done his homework and there shouldn’t be any problem with the CUP. It’s not a stadium but it’s a start. Eat your heart out, Arte.
Under Regular Business, the planning commission will take a look at a draft program to honor noteworthy Tustin citizens with bronze busts placed in various public locations throughout the Old Town area. It appears the entire process would be overseen by a committee made up of members of the historical society, preservation conservancy, the planning commission and others appointed by the city council.
I’m not sure if the included list of 25 notable “pioneers” is all inclusive. One thing is apparent – that Silent Mike and Lindburgh figure prominently in this operation. One of the items included in the draft is an estimate from Art Bronze in Burbank for a bust of Columbus Tustin at the cost of $10,355 drawn on Lindburgh McPherson and the Tustin Area Historical Society. I guess the catering and wedding venue business is paying off for them.
The project is, in fact, a worthy one. However, the draft guidelines could use some work. The guidelines call for one artist (presumably for continuity) and, as I said, includes some 25 pioneers. Some of these lack historical background and others are questionable as to their contribution to the growth of Tustin. And, what happens when others, not mentioned in the original guidelines, are nominated?
Hopefully, there will be plenty of comment and question from the commission, although I seriously doubt any of them have more than a passing interest in this project.
The final item for review is the approval of the 30 day review period for the Draft Cultural Resources District Commercial Design Guidelines. The planning commission is being asked to provide comment and notice of the 30 day public review of the 191 page draft. The draft is a comprehensive guide to structures in historical conext for the Old Town area.
According to the guidelines, the purpose of the document is to:
…promote the City’s goals to preserve, protect, safeguard, and enhance the existing character of historic or culturally significant structures within the Cultural Resources District, in addition to historic properties outside of the District, and to improve the District’s contribution to the City’s economic base.
The guidelines are a necessary part of an overall program to maintain the city’s “Certified Local Government” standing that allows the city to better preserve historically significant buildings and properties.
That’s it for the Tustin Planning Commission. The meeting should not be a marathon although discussion of the two Regular Business items could (and shold) take some time. Like the city council, the planning commissin hasn’t had much to deal with in the way of controversy this year. That’s probably a good thing as anyone on the commission looking to move up to the city council would find a tough road this term with both incumbents intending to run for another term.
We’re fine with that.