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