With many city and county officials meeting publicly for the first time since the holiday break, Orange County is gearing up for another week of major civic action.
Here's a rundown of the main issues we’re tracking this week.
Forensic Audit on the Great Park
When Republicans seized the Irvine City Council majority a year ago, a forensic audit of the Great Park was one of their first orders of business.
This week, the council will debate the audit's findings and might consider whether to issue subpoenas to force contractors to talk.
Construction at the park stalled for years under a previous Democratic council majority led by longtime council member and power broker Larry Agran. At the same time, newspaper reports exposed millions spent on Great Park consultants who helped bankroll council members' election campaigns.
The audit shows a series of findings that auditors say merit additional investigation, including questionable contracts and payments to Great Park consultants.
Those consultants and others have refused to speak to the auditors, hamstringing the investigation and resulting in only cursory findings, the audit declares.
Auditors have asked the City Council to use its powers to force targeted officials to speak.
That decision — whether the council should subpoena officials — could be the focus of council debate.
The meeting starts Tuesday at 4 p.m. at City Hall. Click here to read the audit.
Beach Bonfire Bill Heads to Committee
The Assembly’s Committee on Natural Resources is set to hear a bill that would strip the Air Quality Management District of its power to regulate beach bonfires.
It comes after the pollution agency’s controversial decision to ban many of the rings in Orange and Los Angeles counties.
The bill was introduced by Assemblyman Travis Allen, R-Huntington Beach, and Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton.
New Housing in East Orange?
Developers and activists are gearing up for another battle over new housing on the Sully Miller site in East Orange.
About 400 units are proposed for the land, which formerly housed a sand and gravel mining operation.
The new project, known as Rio Santiago, would occupy 50 acres, averaging about eight units per acre.
The project is opposed by activists from the Orange Park Association, who describe it as "high-density units in rural East Orange."
City staff, meanwhile, wrote that the project "conforms to City development standards."
Jury Deliberations in Kelly Thomas Trial
The fate of former Fullerton police officers Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli is in the hands of a Superior Court jury that entered deliberations last week.
Ramos is charged with second-degree murder and excessive use of force in the July 2011 death of Thomas. Cicinelli faces charges of involuntary manslaughter and excessive use of force.
The case marks the first time in Orange County that a police officer in uniform has been charged with murder while on duty.
We’ll keep you posted when the verdict is handed down.
Salary Raise for Garden Grove Police Management
The city’s police managers are set for a 7-percent salary raise, if a new agreement is approved by council members this week.
It’s the latest move to compensate law enforcement for their increased pension payments under a new state law.
The police managers would receive a 4-percent raise this year, and another 3-percent raise in June 2015 when the pension reform law, known as PEPRA, requires the managers to start paying 3 percent more of their salary towards pensions.
The change also caps payouts for unused sick leave at 1,000 hours and raises the payout from 75 percent of accumulated sick leave to 100 percent.
The meeting starts Tuesday at 6:15 p.m. at the Community Meeting Center. Click here for the staff report.
Funding for Bicycle Projects
Another $6.7 million in bike lane funding could be sought from the state and federal governments if the Orange County Transportation Authority board approves it this week.
The projects include the $2-million ”Tracks at Brea” project and $1.7-million 19th Street Bicycle Trail in Costa Mesa.
The bike projects’ money wouldn’t come from the Measure M2 sales tax or OCTA’s main budget but rather from the state’s Active Transportation Program funds or the federal government.
The meeting starts Monday at 9 a.m. at OCTA headquaters. Click here for the staff report.
Defining A Vision for Costa Mesa's Future
Residents can weight in on Costa Mesa’s general plan vision, which defines what the community should develop physically, socially and environmentally over the next decade or two.
The meeting starts Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. at the Civic Center’s Emergency Operations Center. Click here for the staff report.
This Week's Major Meetings Include:
- Orange County Board of Supervisors
- OCTA Board of Directors
- Irvine City Council
- Garden Grove City Council
- Orange City Council
- Costa Mesa City Council
- Newport Beach City Council
- Buena Park City Council
- Yorba Linda City Council
- Fountain Valley City Council
- Cypress City Council
- Stanton City Council
- San Juan Capistrano
- Laguna Hills City Council
- Seal Beach City Council
- Laguna Woods City Council
See something interesting in the agendas? Let us know!
Adam Elmahrek contributed to this post.