On the Agenda

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Local officials are constantly making decisions that affect our lives, and this week is no exception.

Here are the hot-button issues in local government that we’re tracking this week:

1. Showdown Over the Great Park

The future of Orange County’s long-awaited “central park” hangs in the balance this week, with Irvine council members set for another round of debate on a plan to get most of it built.

As the swing vote, all eyes are on Councilman Jeff Lalloway and whether he’ll be satisfied with an updated version.

When: Tuesday at 4 p.m.

Where: Irvine City Hall. (Map)

2. Reservist Wants Back on Planning Commission

The drama continues over Councilman Denis Bilodeau’s efforts to return Navy reservist Mike Merino to the Planning Commission in Orange.

The issue hit conservative news websites earlier this month, when the rest of the council declined to reappoint Merino.

Bilodeau says Merino has a right to return, while others claim it’s a political move.

This week’s meeting is expected to draw a passionate crowd.

When: Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.

Where: Orange City Hall. (Map)

3. Tackling Traffic


Flickr user Moejoey

Transportation officials approve plans to reduce traffic congestion on our roads and freeways.

When: Monday at 9 a.m.

Where: Orange County Transportation Authority headquarters. (Map)

4. Pot Shop Ban

Laguna Hills officials hold a public hearing on banning medical marijuana dispensaries.

When: Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Where: Laguna Hills City Hall. (Map)

5. Lunar New Year Celebrations

Garden Grove’s Tet Festival will be the weekend of Jan. 31 to Feb. 2, if a contract is approved this week by City Council members.

The event would be run by the Vietnamese Community of Southern California, which would pay the city $145,000.

When: Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

Where: Garden Grove City Hall. (Map)

Other Issues

Monday, Nov. 25

Orange County Transportation Authority Board – 9 a.m.

Southern California Rail Travel Meetup Group – 5:30 p.m.

  • Discussing rail travel at Knowlwood Restaurant in downtown Fullerton.

Tuesday, Nov. 26

Irvine City Council – 4 p.m.

  • Approving plans for a private home developer to build more than half of the Great Park in exchange for being allowed to build thousands more homes around the park.
  • Prohibiting batting cages in residential neighborhoods.

Orange City Council – 4:30 p.m.

  • Discussing the Planning Commission vacancy that Councilman Denis Bilodeau wants filled by former commissioner Mike Merino.
  • Approving the closure of city facilities for the holidays.
  • Approving a $5,760 per month lease with Chapman CBC, LLC.

Costa Mesa City Council (Special Meeting) – 6 p.m.

  • Closed session discussion of labor negotiations with the main rank-and-file employees union, the Costa Mesa City Employee Association.

Garden Grove City Council – 6:30 p.m.

  • Approving a contract with the Vietnamese Community of Southern California to host the 2014 Tet Festival at Garden Grove Park.
  • Approving contracts with Shakespeare Orange County and Great Reunions Inc. to operate the Festival Amphitheater located at the Village Green.
  • Accepting the resignation of Ric Lerma from the Main Street Commission.

Laguna Hills City Council – 7 p.m.

Adam Elmahrek and Brendan Wiles contributed to this report.

You can reach Nick Gerda at ngerda@gmail.com, and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.

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On the Agenda

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Among the top items for consideration this week in local government are legal fees in the Costa Mesa police union lawsuit and the first Santa Ana council meeting after the revelation of a controversial deal involving Mayor Miguel Pulido.

The legal battle between two Costa Mesa councilmen and the city’s police union heated up last week, with new claims that a GPS tracker was secretly placed on Councilman Steve Mensinger’s car last year.

The councilmen’s attorney called it “straight out of the Watergate diaries.”

The union has denied any knowledge of such tactics, and is asking that the city cover its legal fees, an issue expected to be discussed in closed session at Tuesday’s council meeting.

And with the lawsuit’s plaintiffs — Mensinger and Mayor Jim Righeimer — likely not permitted to vote on the issue, the balance of power on the decision is expected to fall with the council minority: Councilwomen Sandy Genis and Wendy Leece.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, council members will decide on changes to salaries for police officers and police managers and submitting a grant application to OCTA for the West 19th Street bicycle trail project.

And finally, the Santa Ana City Council will be meeting for the first time since Voice of OC revealed that Mayor Miguel Pulido voted for a city contract with a company just over a year after he bought property from the owner at $230,000 below market value.

The deal is drawing concern from his fellow council colleagues, Councilman Vincent Sarmiento calling the circumstances “disturbing.”

Monday’s meeting will provide residents a chance to give their thoughts on the issue.

Here’s what’s up for debate this week across Orange County:

Monday, Nov. 18

Orange County Employees Retirement System Board – 9 a.m.

  • Taking action on the actuarial funding policy (amortization), assumed earnings rate and accelerating unfunded liability payments.
  • Adopting the administrative and investment budget for fiscal year 2014.
  • Fiduciary counsel request for proposals and invitation for bids for general counsel search firm.
  • Outcome of board member elections.
  • Presentation on the state’s open meetings law, the Ralph M. Brown Act.

Santa Ana City Council – 5:45 p.m.

  • Allowing developers to defer development impact fees.
  • Study session on the creation of an arts and culture commission.
  • Conditional use permits for alcohol consumption at the Volstead, Au Naturaw and the Robbins Nest restaurants.

Mission Viejo City Council – 6 p.m.

Tustin City Council – 7 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 19

Orange County Board of Supervisors – 9:30 a.m. (Revisions)

Anaheim City Council – 5 p.m.

Costa Mesa City Council – 6 p.m.

San Clemente City Council – 6 p.m.

  • Approving a contract with Anderson Penna for Marblehaed Coastal development inspection services for $115,000.
  • Receiving an annual performance evaluation of the programs funded by community development block grant funds.

Lake Forest City Council – 7 p.m.

  • Discussing the notification policy for public hearings.

Laguna Niguel City Council – 7 p.m.

  • Canceling the Jan. 7, 2014, City Council meeting.
  • Selecting a mayor and mayor pro tem, effective Dec. 3.

Wednesday, Nov. 20

Aliso Viejo City Council – 7 p.m.

  • Approving cafeteria plan benefits of $1,676 per month for council members and employees.

Adam Elmahrek and Brendan Wiles contributed to this report.

You can reach Nick Gerda at ngerda@gmail.com, and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.

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On The Agenda

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Among this week’s issues in local government are a final approval of the Poseidon desalination plant and approving an extra 4,600 homes at the Orange County Great Park.

A long-awaited California Coastal Commission hearing is coming to Newport Beach on Wednesday, where its top decision makers are slated to approve a controversial desalination plant in Huntington Beach.

Its proponents argue it will provide a reliable water supply choice that will protect against shortages and ultimately cost less than imported water.

Opponents claim that the project’s math doesn’t pencil out and that it will destroy marine life.

Up for approval Tuesday is the project’s coastal development permits and how to handle an appeal of the project’s coastal development permit approval by the city of Huntington Beach.

Among staff’s recommendations is that the project be changed to have a “subsurface intake design” that doesn’t hurt sea life.

And on Tuesday, Irvine City Council members plan to vote on approving an extra 4,600 homes at the Great Park, nearly doubling the total to about 9,500 units.

In exchange, the developer, Five Point Communities, would build more than half of the park: 688 acres out of about 1,300 acres total.

It comes as the council majority complains about a lack of progress in building the long-awaited park, even after a previous administration spent more than $200 million on it.

In other water news, residents of Garden Grove and the Santa Margarita Water District are set to see their water bills increase, amid a jump in costs passed on by the region’s main water agency: Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, also known as MWD or Met.

It’s projected to amount to 90 cents per month for the average residential customer in Garden Grove, and $2.82 per month for SMWD customers, which includes much of Mission Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita, Coto de Caza, Las Flores, Ladera Ranch and Talega.

SMWD’s finance committee will also talk about the district’s sole-source contracts, 19 of which have been awarded since 2007.

Additionally, Costa Mesa City Council members are set to discuss how to use $7.1 million in leftover capital improvement money from last fiscal year.

Also, Irvine school board members work toward picking a replacement for board President Gavin Huntley-Fenner, who recently announced his resignation.

And finally, Anaheim City School District board members plan to discuss district elections amid an ongoing lawsuit claiming that the city of Anaheim’s at large election system disenfranchises Latino residents.

Here’s what’s up for debate this week across Orange County:

Monday, Nov. 11

Mission Viejo Planning and Transportation Commission – 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 12

Orange County Business Council Infrastructure Committee – 7:30 a.m.

  • Discussing how to advocate for an infrastructure system that meets the needs of Orange County residents and businesses.

MWDOC Public Affairs and Legislation Committee – 8:30 a.m.

  • Discussing the 7th Annual Orange County Water Summit.
  • Discussing unspecified “issues related to legislation, outreach, public information issues and [Metropolitan Water District of Southern California].”

Laguna Niguel City Council Special Meeting – 4 p.m.

  • Interviewing applicants for the Planning Commission, Parks and Recreation Commission and public safety committee.

Orange City Council – 4:30 p.m.

  • Increasing a contract with Chattel Inc. by $30,000 for four months to oversee property tax abatement contracts with developers, field inquiries about historical preservation and change of design standards in Old Towne Orange.
  • Discussing the end of Councilman Denis Bilodeau’s appointment to the Orange County Vector Control District on Dec. 31.
  • Appointing Mike Merino to fill the vacant Planning Commission seat, at the request of Councilman Bilodeau.

Closed Session

  • Discussion of a recent federal appeals court ruling that Orange’s enforcement of a gang injunction is unconstitutional.

Costa Mesa City Council Study Session – 3:30 p.m.

  • Training on “effective communications in local government.”

Costa Mesa City Council Study Session – 4:30 p.m.

Anaheim City School District Board Study Session – 4:30 p.m.

  • Discussing the state’s new Local Control Funding Formula and the Local Control Accountability Plan.

Irvine City Council – 5 p.m.

Garden Grove City Council Study Session – 5:30 p.m.

  • Discussing proposals for a 2014 Tet Festival at Garden Grove Park from the Vietnamese Community of Southern California, and the Vietnamese American Community and Hand to Hand Relief Organization.

Santa Ana Unified School District Board – 6 p.m.

  • Opening a bidding process for districtwide vehicle fleet management services.
  • Adopting a textbook for high school advanced placement Spanish language and culture.
  • Approving an unspecified “letter of commitment” with the Orange County Bar Foundation.
  • Approving or denying a charter petition for the proposed 21st Century Global Academy.

Anaheim City School District Board Regular Meeting – 6 p.m.

  • Presentation on possible boundary changes for 2014-15.
  • Update on district elections.

Garden Grove City Council Regular Meeting – 6:30 p.m.

Laguna Hills City Council – 7 p.m.

Rossmoor Community Services District Board – 7 p.m.

  • Rejecting an unspecified legal claim against the district.
  • Making unspecified changes to the policy on parkway and median tree maintenance.

Wednesday, Nov. 13

California Coastal Commission (in Newport Beach) – 8 a.m.

Orange County Water District Water Issues Committee – 8 a.m.

  • Scheduling a hearing on whether to exempt Big Canyon County Club from paying replenishment and basin equity assessments for groundwater.
  • Discussing the state’s groundwater work plan and water action plan.

Orange County Board of Education – 8:30 a.m.

  • Discussing the initiation of litigation for between one and five unspecified cases.
  • Legislative update.
  • Roundtable discussion of the new common core curriculum standards and the state’s open meetings law.

Orange County Local Agency Formation Commission – 8:30 a.m.

  • Prioritizing the remaining “unincorporated islands,” pockets within cities that have yet to be incorporated.
  • Appointing a new commissioner to replace recently resigned Lake Forest Councilman Peter Herzog.

Orange County Transportation Authority Finance and Administration Committee – 10:30 a.m.

  • Discussing an internal audit of the bus advertising contract with Titan Outdoor which found that “controls to ensure compliance with contract terms related to safety and subcontractors should be improved.”
  • Approving an early payment of $26 million into the Orange County Employees Retirement System, given a 7.25-percent early payment discount offered by the retirement agency.

Community Associations Institute, Orange County Regional Chapter Board – 12 p.m.

  • Agenda not available online.

Oversight Board of the Garden Grove Successor Agency – 2 p.m.

Irvine Unified School District Board Special Meeting – 4 p.m.

  • Choosing final candidates to interview for the seat that’s set to be left open by the upcoming resignation of board President Gavin Huntley-Fenner.

Laguna Niguel City Council Special Meeting – 4 p.m.

  • Interviewing applicants for the Planning Commission, Parks and Recreation Commission and public safety committee.

San Clemente City Council – 5 p.m.

  • Public hearing on the draft Centennial General Plan, draft environmental impact report, draft bicycle and pedestrian master plan and draft climate action plan.

MWDOC Administration and Finance Committee – 5 p.m.

  • Approving appraisal services for leasing the Doheny ocean desalination test project.
  • Discussing unspecified “issues regarding district organization, personnel matters, employee benefits, finance and insurance.”

Orange County Sanitation District Administration Committee – 5:30 p.m.

  • Allowing the general manager to gather bids and choose a consultant for a districtwide classification and compensation study.
  • Receiving the district’s comprehensive annual financial report for fiscal year 2013.

Westminster City Council – 7 p.m.

Thursday, Nov. 14

Orange County Water District Administration and Finance Issues Committee – 8 a.m.

  • Discussing the district’s investment portfolio and differences between the budget and actual revenues and spending for the first fiscal quarter.

Orange County Transportation Authority Transit Committee – 9 a.m.

Orange County Business Council Latino Educational Attainment Committee – 9 a.m.

  • Discussing ways to boost Latino educational achievement.

Transportation Corridor Agencies Board of Directors – 9:30 a.m.

  • Agenda not posted online.

Friday, Nov. 15

Santa Margarita Water District Board Finance Committee – 7:30 a.m.

  • Increasing water rates by an average of $2.82 per month for single-family homes, due to cost increases by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.
  • Discussing the agency’s sole-source contracts, 19 of which have been awarded since 2007.

Fourth District PTA Advocacy Roundtable – 10:30 a.m.

  • Agenda not posted online.

Orange County Water District Property Committee – 12 p.m.

  • Agenda not posted online.

Adam Elmahrek and Brendan Wiles contributed to this report.

You can reach Nick Gerda at ngerda@gmail.com, and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.

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On the Agenda

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Among this week’s top items in local government are proposed toll lanes on the Interstate 405 freeway and possible criminal penalties for adults who allow underage drinking in their homes.

The hotly debated proposal for toll lanes on I-405 is set to come to a head this week, with two key Orange County Transportation Authority meetings.

The issue has sparked a forceful reaction from local residents, officials and business owners, who call it a “double tax” that would create “Lexus lanes” for the wealthy while working-class people wait in traffic.

Meanwhile, proponents say the toll lanes would in fact help reduce traffic congestion and that action is needed now in order to prevent state officials from installing them anyway and keeping the tolls.

Leading off this week, the OCTA’s Regional Planning and Highways Committee is meeting Monday to decide on a staff recommendation that the toll lanes move forward.

Then on Friday, the full OCTA board plans to vote on the proposal, which is expected to draw a large turnout.

Both meetings are at OCTA’s headquarters, 600 S. Main St., Orange.

Also this week, county supervisors, at the suggestion of Supervisor Todd Spitzer, are set to vote on a “social host” ordinance that would levy a $750 fine on adults who knowingly allow minors to drink alcohol in their homes in unincorporated areas. A second offense would be prosecuted as misdemeanor.

At their Tuesday meeting, supervisors are also set to end county “pick-ups” of their employee pension contributions and put an initiative on the June 2014 ballot to end pick-ups of employee pension contributions for county supervisors whose terms start in 2015.

Additionally, some cities are taking action on bicycle infrastructure this week.

Dana Point council members are scheduled to seek a bicycle and pedestrian improvement grant, while Huntington Beach council members are set to pave the way for creating a bike boulevard on Utica Avenue at a total cost of $1.2 million.

Here’s a rundown of what’s up for debate this week across Orange County:

Monday, Nov. 4

OCTA Executive Committee – 9 a.m.

OCTA Regional Planning and Highways Committee – 10:30 a.m.

Santa Ana City Council – 5:45 p.m.

  • Directing the city attorney to prepare a city charter amendment that would require a primary election for the mayor’s seat.
  • Agreement with Vineyards Development for a new multifamily housing development.
  • Updating the city’s building and fire codes.
  • Conditional use permit to sell alcohol at Ritters Steam Kettle Cooking Restaurant at 1421 W. MacArthur Blvd.

Huntington Beach City Council – 6 p.m.

Mission Viejo City Council – 6 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 5

Orange County Council of Governments Technical Advisory Committee – 9 a.m.

  • Update on Orange County’s long-range transportation plan.
  • Discussing the Orange County bikeways project.

Orange County Board of Supervisors – 9:30 a.m. (Changes)

Anaheim City Council (Special Meeting) – 3 p.m.

  • Workshop on a changed “quality rental housing program.”

Anaheim City Council (Regular Meeting) – 5 p.m.

Fullerton City Council – 5 p.m.

Dana Point City Council – 5 p.m.

Costa Mesa City Council – 6 p.m.

Laguna Beach City Council – 6 p.m.

Lake Forest City Council – 7 p.m.

Wednesday, Nov. 6

Municipal Water District of Orange County board of directors – 8:30 a.m.

  • Discussing water supply and cost issues concerning the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

Irvine Unified School District (Special Meeting) – 2 p.m.

  • Study session on facilities.

Closed Session

  • Discussion of unspecified case of anticipated litigation.

Ladera Ranch Maintenance Corporation board of directors – 5 p.m.

  • Closed session with unspecified agenda items.

Orange County Water District Board of Directors – 5:30 p.m.

  • Approving district support for development of the Poseidon Resources desalination plant in Huntington Beach.
  • Approving the sale of South Street properties to Family Development Group Inc. for $1 million.

Municipal Water District of Orange County board of directors (Special Meeting) – 5:30 p.m.

  • Discussing important regional issues such as the Bay Delta conservation plan, drought conditions, water reliability issues “and other key Orange County issues.”

Aliso Viejo City Council – 6 p.m.

  • Approving an agreement with Fieldman, Rolap & Associates for financial advisory services.
  • Approving new city logo branding to be produced on city items such as business cards, letterheads and signs.

Orange County Sanitation District (Special Meeting) – 6:30 p.m.

  • Closed session discussion of arbitration in the lawsuit Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority v. Orange County Sanitation District.

Ladera Ranch Annual Neighborhood Representatives Meeting – 7 p.m.

Thursday, Nov. 7

SCAG Community, Economic and Human Development Committee – 10 a.m.

SCAG Regional Council – 12:15 p.m.

Foothill Communities Association board of directors – 7 p.m.

Friday, Nov. 8

Orange County Transportation Authority board of directors – 9 a.m.

  • Deciding whether to pursue installing toll lanes on Interstate 405 as part of a freeway widening project.

Saturday, Nov. 9

Southern California Transit Advocates – 1 p.m.

  • General membership meeting, open to the public.

Adam Elmahrek and Brendan Wiles contributed to this report.

You can reach Nick Gerda at ngerda@gmail.com, and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.

Comments are closed.