Bits & Pieces
Once again the Council majority disappoints! Council wishes Costa Mesans a Happy New Year by soaping the windows of transparency and voting to discontinue City televising and taping of candidate forums or posting video of the forums on the City’s website. Not one of the many speakers spoke against the City taping but mentioned the benefits and service it provides to the community. The Council majority didn’t care. By a familiar 3-2 vote, the Council did the community a disservice by turning its back on openness and a well informed electorate.
Also, related to campaigns, the Council lifted certain restrictions on campaign signs with a 5-0 vote.
Police hiring continues to go nowhere. Chief Sharpnack reported that current sworn officer headcount was 102 after accounting for those on medical leave. This is about where the department started at the beginning of 2015! The budget is for 136 sworn officers. This means our active officer headcount is down 25% from budget. That is a lot of officers that should be on the job, looking out for our safety. The Chief further reported that other than one lateral hire, all of our new officers are coming directly out of academies and will require many months of on the job training. Meanwhile, our experienced officers continue to retire. According to the Chief, the City has been going to great lengths to recruit and hire officers. The problem’s not the Chief. The problem is that nobody wants to work for a City where the Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem are suing the police and where the City has let the police contract expire. The Council majority’s priority is to remain anti-labor instead of keeping Costa Mesa safe.
Jay Humphrey of Costa Mesa First, was happy to announce that the Smart Growth initiative was signed by 6,908 residents. This is a substantial 1,913 signatures or 38% over the number required. The petitions were delivered on Monday to the City Clerk who will forward them to the County Registrar of Voters for signature verification. The initiative is expected to be on the November 2016 ballot.
Speaking of initiatives, Fairview Park Preservation Alliance President Richard Mehren announced that the Alliance has begun gathering signatures in order to put an initiative on the November ballot to preserve the Park and allow voters to approve any changes outside of the Fairview Park Master Plan. The initiative is in response to talk of development within the park and the approval of some lighting, although the Park closes at dusk.
On a positive note, the entire Council worked to address issues related to permit parking and came to a reasonable solution and voted 5-0 to amend portions of the current program. For example, the Council approved 3 permits per household, changed to removable hangers, and eliminated any fees for parking permits.