Short Meeting, John’s MIA (Again?)
At 43 minutes, last week’s Tustin City Council meeting was the shortest of the year and one of the shortest on record. Even Mayor Al Murray joked about reaching the business and committee reports in record time. The Presentation of Colors by The American Legion Post 227 preceded by Furhan Zubaini, Darul Falah giving the invocation and a quick lesson on Islam took up a good portion of the regular session.
A great presentation on the life of Tustin resident Evelyn Furtsch Ojeda, who turned 100 years old, was made. This lady, an Olympian in her younger years, has led a remarkable life that was told in a silent PowerPoint presentation. Evelyn is the oldest living Gold Medalist of the 1932 Olympics. It is folks like her that make Tustin the great town it is. Happy Birthday, Evelyn!
The sole Public Hearing Item on the allocation of Community Development Block Grant funding was continued, at staff request, to the May 6th city council meeting.
Item 5, Extension of Lease Agreement for Operation of the Food/Beverage Concession at Tustin Sports Park, was pulled from the Consent Calendar at Councilwoman Gomez’ request. The rest of the Consent Calendar, including the award of construction projects on Warner and Armstrong Avenues, was passed without comment.
The food and beverage concession issue began with a presentation on the concession itself. According to the presentation, the concession has had a difficult history with three operators attempting to fulfill lease agreements. The current operator, Express Sports Cafe, took over in October 2000 and has operated the concession ever since. The presentation included the challenges now facing the concession operators including the ability of sports park patrons to order takeout food delivered to the park Really? Has anyone ever done that?
A bigger challenge is the fact the concession does not have a grill and cannot make the simplest of foods such as hot dogs and hamburgers, let alone anything exotic like a bratwurst. Other so-called challenges include the time honored tradition of bringing a picnic lunch to the game. The presenter then wasted time telling us what we already knew – Tustin Sports Park is used for sports. All in all, the presentation could have been shortened to about 30 seconds. But, some people like to hear themselves talk.
In the end, Councilwoman Gomez still had to ask her questions regarding the closing of the concession for fundraising activities. It was pointed out in the presentation that local groups could ask the concession to close so they could have fundraisers, presumably during tournaments and games. Gomez asked how that would work. Her concern was, of course, that the concessionaire makes a living off the sales of the concession and would lose money when closed. It was explained that any group asking to close the concession stand so they could run a fundraiser is required to pay a $200 per day fee to the owner. Satisfied with the answer, Gomez joined the Amigos in voting in favor of the lease renewal.
With no reports from staff, the Mayor dove right into council comments. I won’t bore you with the details other than to tell you that the Podiatrist Councilman reported the fantasy group, ACCOC, is drafting pension reform policy based on the “excellent” negotiations they held in Tustin. If by excellent they mean how badly they screwed their rank-and-file employees while taking “excellent” care of the executive management, then yes, it was excellent.
There is no Planning Commission meeting tonight. I apologize for being AWOL this past week but, as you can see, not much happened anyway.
Well, there is one thing worth mentioning. We noticed lame duck Councilmember John Nielsen was absent – again. This from the guy who joined Hizzoner, Jerry Amante, in lambasting former Councilwoman Deborah Gavello for her every absence. I guess once you’ve sung your swan song, you don’t worry the details. As far as we are concerned, Nielsen continues his history of doing nothing on the Tustin City Council, whether he is present or not.
On the Planning Commission Agenda – March 25, 2014
Not much happening at the Tustin Planning Commission meeting on Tuesday. Prior to the meeting, the commissioners will meet as the Board of Appeals only to approve the minutes of the previous meeting.
The regular agenda begins with a Public Hearing on a reuse of the old Acorn Naturist building. Applicants are asking to reconfigure the use to all offices on the upper floor and retail use on the first floor of the building. Outwardly, there should be no difference to the casual person looking at the building. The Community Development Department is recommending the changes that will include the payment of $240 a year for 4 public parking spaces. This allows the owner to comply with parking regulations without coming up with new spaces.
The only other significan item on the agenda is the request by the Community Development Department to release the draft commercial design guidelines for public review. As usual, Elizabeth Binsack has failed to recognize that anything occurring in the Old Town area impacts the residents. The sole concern of the city is from the business community and how they will react to the guidelines. Hopefully the Tustin Preservation Conservancy as well as the Historical Society will have some say in critiquing the draft.
Assuming the Planning Commission gives the go ahead, the draft guidelines should be available to the public starting in early April. Look for it on the city website. Once they are published, a link will be provided on the blog. We encourage everyone in Old Town, as well as the rest of Tustin, to take a look and provide input to the Planning Commission.
The last item on the agenda is a summary of projects, updating the January “Year in Review” report. Several project will be discussed including the Del Rio building that is currently finishing construction on the old Riteway Cleaners parcel, as well as the Vintage Lady historic building which burned down some time ago. Local historical architect Nathan Menard worked on plans for both buildings. Locals will be distressed to hear the required bathrooms for the Wilcox Manor are nearing completion. Of good news is the resurfacing of the parking structure behind Rutabegorz Restaurant.
That’s it for a short week. Reports from staff will keep the meeting at an intolerable length. At least our commissioners will earn their stipend.
On the City Council Agenda – March 4, 2014
It is looking a little racy for the Tustin City Council this week even though the agenda is pretty slim.
On the Closed Session, the usual suspects appear with two each conferences with legal counsel on the initiation and exposure to litigation. There may be more soon, considering the city denied the claims of several folks last meeting. To boot, I am sure the lawyer from Anaheim representing the family of Robert Villa is wasting no time in preparing his case.
There are also three other claims up for consideration by the council. Don’t expect to see resolution on any of these as the city’s usual modus operandi, no matter how legit the claims, is to force the claimant to court in the hopes they won’t bother.
There are also several conferences with real property negotiators on the agenda. One of these is with the Tustin Unified School District. Among other things, the two entities are discussing the continued use of Heritage School as a continuation high school and administrative offices for the district. I was told the school district may open the school (with or without the continuation school) for it’s original intended use even though they may not have the number of students they like. A combo use could help alleviate the perceived situation by the Columbus Square folks but I wonder how they would feel about their kids going to school alongside “those” kids.
A Public Hearing heads up the Open Session Agenda with the Appeal of Denial of Massage Establishment Application for Tustin Day Spa. Regular readers will recall the Planning Commission tackled this issue a few weeks ago along with a permit for another spa. Both of these were requests from folks that had connections with spas that were shut down by the Tustin Police Department last year for criminal activity. The Planning Commission denied the applications and, hopefully, the City Council will do the same.
Surprsingly, the Consent Calendar has nothing noteworthy on it. Oh, wait, there is that vehicle purchase of three utility trucks and a rotary lawn mower. The city will be using the State contract to purchase the trucks so I guess I can’t gripe (like I normally do) about their purchasing out of the area. In fact, I volunteer to drive one of the trucks down from Elk Grove for them. At least the lawn mower purchase is local. At over 12 years minimum age each, at least they got their money’s worth for the old trucks (unlike the PD)
Oops. There is also the lease for the new fire station on the Legacy property that will replace the old station on Service Road. OCFA gets the place rent free for services rendered. It should be interesting to see what, if anything is done with the old station.
That’s it for the week. I hope the owner of the day spa requesting reconsideration isn’t holding her breath for support of her appeal. Most folks in Tustin would be just as happy not having these types of business around. If anything interesting happens at the meeting, we’ll be sure to write about it.
On the Planning Commission Agenda, September 11, 2013
Depending on the uproar or lack thereof, the Tustin Planning Commissioner could make a quick $150 for a short night’s work.
The sole item on the agenda is a public hearing item for Redhill Lutheran Church. The hearing is on whether to allow zoning changes and a conditional use permit to allow the church to use certain neighboring residential properties for church business. According to the staff report, the houses surrounding the church property, which appear to be owned by them, have had a variety of uses that do not conform to the current zoning.
Apparently, the installation of a few storage sheds on the properties involved got the attention of the city code enforcement way back in February, 2010. In addition to the sheds, the church had been using one of the residences as a youth ministry home. But, you know how it is. We can’t have churches or businesses running around doing things not in keeping with the Community Development Department. In this case, it only took a year-and-a-half to come up with a plan.
No one here at OTT is calling the Lutheran Church a bunch of scofflaws. In fact, I have attended events there and find it to be a very nice church settled into an established neighborhood of Tustin. So, I guess the real issue will be whether the neighbors are in tune with what amounts to a city-blessed church expansion. And, that may be the problem. The city recommends the approval of the zoning changes and the CUP based on a variety of findings including the fact the uses as outlined are consistent with zoning standards, the use is consistent with the adjacent single family residences and the belief there will be no impact on current area parking.
Great, but, did anyone ask the neighbors?