Security Screening to Be Required at County Supervisors Meetings; Buena Park Eyes District Elections

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Starting next month, people attending Orange County Board of Supervisors meetings will have to go through a metal detector and could have their bags and purses searched, the county announced last week.

The change is “designed to boost security in line with other large urban California counties” and was recommended by the Orange County Intelligence Assessment Center, according to a county news release.

No specific threats are mentioned, or hinted at, in the announcement.

“The safety of our employees and visitors to our meetings is my primary concern,” county supervisors’ Chairman Todd Spitzer said in the release.

“The minor inconvenience of metal detectors will assure that our meetings can be conducted in a safe and appropriate environment.”

Two Sheriff’s special officers are slated to staff the metal detector and search bags, and the new security measures are estimated to cost $23,000 per year.

Supervisors are also set to approve a contract with Orange County Crime Victims, Inc. for maintenance of the Crime Victims’ Memorial in Irvine, a project spearheaded last year by Spitzer.

The maintenance of the monument — general cleaning, graffiti abatement and weeding — will be funded through a special endowment, according to the five-year agreement. The county will be responsible for providing fee waivers for events and parking.

According to a staff report, the county would lose an estimated $5,800 in revenue from fee waivers for events benefitting the monument.

Spitzer was criticized last year by then-Supervisor John Moorlach for trying to bill the county $25,000 for unauthorized contracts related to the monument, after Voice of OC reported that the work done by his campaign consultant Arianna Barrios.

County Auditor Controller Jan Grimes withheld payment to Barrios who was hired by the county under questionable circumstances to spearhead a $25,000 public relations blitz ahead of the unveiling of the memorial in April of last year, according to a Voice of OC article.

A volunteer committee, an offshoot of the OC Parks Foundation, raised the funds to construct the monument. After the auditor blocked payment, Spitzer brought the issue before the Board, eventually paying for the contract out of his county office budget.

Also this week in county government, a project to standardize logins for county computer systems is nearly 40 percent over budget and almost two years behind schedule, according to an update provided to supervisors.

The “OCid” project was originally scheduled to be finished in June 2013, a deadline that’s now been pushed back to March of this year.

Garden Grove to Approve Streetcar Route 

Garden Grove City Council members are set to approve a route for the Santa Ana – Garden Grove streetcar, a light rail project which skeptics call a boondoggle, but city officials say will be a boon to businesses and tourism along the 4.1 mile route.

The proposed route, which was approved by Santa Ana City Council members last August, would run along Fourth Street and Santa Ana Blvd. in downtown Santa Ana, continuing past the Willowick Golf Course and ending in Garden Grove at a transit center off Harbor Boulevard and Westminster Ave.

An aerial structure would be constructed to connect Westminster and Harbor Boulevard.

With an estimated $250 million dollar price tag, the project has drawn skepticism from some members of the Orange County Transportation Authority, with Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait calling it “wildly expensive” compared to electric buses that could achieve the same goal and look.

Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido, the project’s main advocate, and former Garden Grove city manager Matthew Fertal have argued the project would be a major leap forward for an increasingly urban central Orange County, and increase connectivity and economic investment along the route.

Garden Grove council members will also consider signing a letter to the City of Riverside urging them to drop its sister city affiliation with Can Tho, Vietnam, following large scale protests by Vietnamese Americans across Southern California.

In previous council matters, a discussion of whether council members will sign a letter to the OC District Attorney and state Attorney General asking them to investigate a potentially illegal deal with the former fire chief has been postponed until Feb. 24.

Buena Park To Discuss Districts, Mayoral Election

Buena Park city council members are set to discuss the number of future voting districts they should establish and if the mayor should be directly elected.

The council approved a contract last month for National Demographics Corporation to start drawing up plans for the city’s switch from at-large elections to single-member district elections.

A staff report recommends a city of Buena Park’s size have four districts and an at-large, directly elected mayor.

If the mayor is directly elected, the council will also need to decide the term of office, either two years or four years, and if they will impose term limits.

While Buena Park council members are trying to preempt a possible legal challenges to its election system, Anaheim city leaders are moving to implement district elections after spending $1.2 million on a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU sued the city of Anaheim in 2012 arguing that the city’s at-large voting system prevents Latino candidates from winning office, a violation of the 2001 California Voting Rights Act.

A 2013 settlement between the ACLU and city, ordered that the issue come before voters in a Nov. 2014 ballot measure, which passed by 66 percent.

Keep track of other meetings across the county this week: 

Monday
Orange County Transportation Authority, 9:00 am
Cypress City Council, 6:30 pm
Seal Beach City Council, 7:00pm

Tuesday
Buena Park City Council, 5:00 pm
Garden Grove City Council, 6:30 pm
Irvine City Council, 4:00 pm
Laguna Beach City Council, 4:00 pm
Laguna Hills City Council, 7:00pm
Newport Beach City Council, 7:00 pm
Orange City Council, 6:00 pm
Stanton City Council, 6:30pm

Wednesday
Yorba Linda City Council, 2:15 pm
Westminster City Council, 7:00 pm