MOORLACH UPDATE — Moving Down the Tracks — February 11, 2013

Measure M2 provided every city in the county with the ability to spend $100,000 on written “Go Local” plans to provide ways for their residents to connect with the MetroLink rail line for commuting purposes.  Plans that were submitted and approved received additional funding from the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) to create a plan for shovel-ready implementation.  The city of Anaheim is getting close to a point of breaking ground on their proposal.  Consequently, it is time to give the alternative that their city council approved a critical examination before it moves forward from plan to fruition.  This is being done by the OCTA Board of Directors and the media, as can be seen from the Voice of OC, in the first piece below.

The San Clemente Patch provides the vote by the State Historical Resources Commission (SHRC) on Trestles, in the second piece below.  To be honest, if I could be appointed to any state commission, I would want to be on this one.  In fact, I applied back in the early 1990s, when Pete Wilson was Governor.  Instead of the SHRC, they wanted to know if I was interested in the Discovery of Gold to Statehood – 1850 to 2000 – Sesquicentennial effort.  I took it and have great memories of time spent with Huell Howser and others as the by-product.  If Trestles is worthy of recognition, then it would fall into a subgroup.  The state has several subgroups.  The Temporary Detention Camps for Japanese Americans has at least ten sites (Landmark Number 934).  The Twentieth Century Folk Art Environments (Thematic) has another ten (number 939).  The Desert Training Center, California-Arizona Maneuver Area (Established by Major General George S. Patton, Jr.) has another seven.  These are just three examples (and explains why the actual number of State Historical Landmarks is more than the last number on the list).  I’m sure, if this curious effort continues down the tracks, that the list of surfing beaches could represent a rather large subgroup.  This one will be interesting to watch as it moves through the process, especially for a recreational activity that does not even appear to be an Olympic sport (which has been a cause for State Historical Landmark designations in Long Beach, Los Angeles, and Squaw Valley).  On another note, I am not necessarily a toll roads fan, but I am certainly for another route out of south county.

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OCTA Directors Will Scrutinize Anaheim Streetcar Project

ADAM ELMAHREK

Anaheim’s proposed 3.2-mile streetcar system is in for a ton of scrutiny.

After Orange County Transportation Authority directors at the Jan. 28 board meeting raised a number of questions about the project — including the nearly $100-million per mile cost and whether a much cheaper enhanced bus service is a better idea — they decided to have an ad hoc committee in the coming weeks review the details.

There was also talk of having the board’s transit committee meeting on Feb. 14 explore issues surrounding the streetcar.

And if those meetings aren’t enough, Supervisor and OCTA Director Todd Spitzer has requested a public workshop this month to answer a host of questions after Voice of OC published an email chain that has Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait and others at City Hall questioning whether local officials planned to misrepresent information about the project to a federal agency.

The scrutiny also comes after the Anaheim City Council last October approved advancing the project by a 3-2 vote, with Tait and Councilwoman Lorri Galloway voting no. Tait cited concerns about operating cost and whether alternatives had been sufficiently explored.

The project would connect the city’s planned public transit depot with the Disneyland Resort and other high-profile destinations like the Platinum Triangle.

Critics for some time have questioned whether the project is necessary. Some argued that the taxpayer-funded project’s only true purpose is to deliver visitors to Disneyland.

City leaders have argued that the project will support city growth by improving mobility and attract economic investment along the route. The streetcar is to provide a “last mile” connection to the transit depot, which is expected to have 19,000 daily boardings by 2035 and increase to 50,000 daily boardings with the completion of the state’s high-speed rail line, according to a city report.

Also, employment and residential population is projected to significantly increase in the area served by the streetcar, according to the report.

City Hall watchers haven’t been the only ones to struggle with defining the need for the project.

William Woodford, a city-hired consultant working for Resource Systems Group, wrote in a May 2012 email that local officials had been straining to meet Federal Transportation Authority (FTA) requirements for defining a transportation problem in the proposed streetcar corridor.

Woodford cautioned that it “isn’t uncommon” for these kinds of projects to have trouble defining an FTA type of transit problem because “most transit projects are intended to build new markets except for a few projects in dense urban areas."

The FTA’s requirements have since evolved because of new legislation.

Nonetheless the issues Woodford cited in the email speak to concerns from the project’s critics.

The only solid reason for a transit ridership problem that Woodford could identify is connected to the state’s high-speed rail project. If high-speed rail connects to Anaheim, there are not enough public transit options, such as taxis, to convey riders to nearby destinations, Woodford wrote.

The present uncertainty of the state’s high-speed rail project significantly weakens that argument, according to Woodford.

“The heavy volumes of such travelers with [high-speed rail] make the existing connections (generally taxi) infeasible due to capacity constraints and provides a key reason for the [streetcar] project,” Woodford writes. “As we all know, the problem with this statement is that it is dependent on something that many people perceive as uncertain — the presence of [high-speed rail] at Anaheim by 2035.”

There are only 2,000 Metrolink daily boardings and passenger exits, “with only a small proportion traveling to or from the [streetcar] corridor,” the email says.

And according to Woodford, riders from another bus system in the area — Anaheim Resort Transit (ART) — likely won’t switch to riding the streetcar largely because they have different routes.

“We attract customers by being ‘attractive’ rather than by saving travelers any time,” he wrote. “I don’t think that we have identified a problem that limit’s ART’s ability to serve riders.”

Supervisor and OCTA Director John Moorlach said the email raises a new, important question: What problem is the streetcar intended to solve?

“I think what Bill is trying to say, is there a problem you’re fixing? And he couldn’t find the problem,” Moorlach said. “If the pitch can be made, if the data supports the pitch, then Anaheim should have no problem” identifying the need for the streetcar, he said.

When asked if the data currently supports the pitch, Moorlach said “not in this email. And I think that’s why this email is refreshing. What’s reality, and how do we shape the pitch?”

Moorlach added that tourism is a vital industry in the county and that the streetcar may have a role in boosting such business, which is particularly robust in Anaheim.

But the catch is to determine the best way to move people and not to build a “trolley just for the sake of doing a trolley,” Moorlach said.

Spitzer wrote in an email to Voice of OC that the consultant’s email is part of a trend of “communications which have driven me to request OCTA to present an A to Z recap of the Trolley and the city council’s locally preferred alternative on a 3-2 vote," citing the Anaheim council’s divided approval to advance the project.

Board directors also have questions about the project’s $319-million price tag.

While much of the project’s funding is expected to come from an FTA program known as New Starts, OCTA will also be chipping in with revenue from a countywide half-cent sales tax known as Measure M2. The transportation authority has already contributed millions of dollars.

At last month’s board meeting, Director Jeffrey Lalloway, also an Irvine city councilman, compared the city’s streetcar cost to the Tampa streetcar project, which he said was only $15-million per-mile.

“Why is it so expensive?” Lalloway asked. “I think this board would be much more comfortable with $15-million per mile.”

Spitzer said the project would conjure memories of a light-rail plan called Centerline that was scrapped earlier this century because of community opposition. And he questioned whether Anaheim’s elite business community, which is expected to heavily benefit, would help offset the cost.

“We have a right to know what the business community is going to put on the table,” Spitzer said.

Please contact Adam Elmahrek directly at aelmahrek@voiceofoc.org and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/adamelmahrek.

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Bid to Make Trestles ‘Historic’ Advances

Surfrider Foundation’s campaign to put San Onofre State Beach on the National Register of Historic Places moved forward Friday.

·         By Adam Townsend

The California Historical Resources Commission voted unanimously Friday to make San Onofre State Beach, encompassing Trestles, a nationally recognized historical heritage site, despite protests by toll-road supporters.

The recommendation will be forwarded to the Navy Federal Preservation Officer (the park is part of Camp Pendleton and leased to the state) and the Keeper of the National Register, part of the National Parks Service, said the Surfrider Foundation’s Mark Rauscher.

"We were extremely thrilled, especially given the sort of unexpected controversy in the past few weeks," Rauscher said. "The decisions for historical designation should be made without politics… it should be based on the value of the resource."

The Surfrider Foundation, which led the move to make the park a historic place, also led a successful effort several years ago to stymie a planned extension of the 241 Toll Road through Trestles.

Toll-road fans, including the South Orange County Economic Coalition and Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach, called the effort to get the site on the national register a cynical attempt to stop plans to connect the 241 to the I-5 Freeway.

But Rauscher said the crucial role Trestles and neighboring surf breaks played in forming the California surf culture led to the historic designation efforts.

"We were really able to make the case that Trestles… is really important, not just to Southern California surf culture but to American culture, because it really expanded into a nationwide phenomenon," he said.

FIVE-YEAR LOOK BACKS

February 10

2008

The Sunday OC Register’s Commentary section had a letter to the editor on my Office of Independent Review initiative, “Will buck stop with sheriff or review board?”

How wonderful that Supervisor John Moorlach has spearheaded a new oversight and review board to monitor the actions of O.C. jail deputies. Register reporter Peggy Lowe’s article, "Watchdog to monitor jail" [Local, Feb. 6], tells readers that an Office of Independent Review will be formed, modeled after the office operating at the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. This new office will consist of civil-rights attorneys, whose only function will be to monitor and then advise the sheriff’s Internal Affairs Unit so that potential inmate lawsuits can be reduced. While this article said that this new office’s function is to monitor and then to advise the IAU, it never identified what this office is supposed to monitor.

This new office appears to be an excellent step forward to help to assure that jail deputies don’t fail, again, to protect inmates from being beaten and tortured to death by other jail inmates (as an investigation determined happened in the John Chamberlain case).

Lowe also wrote that while former Sheriff Mike Carona had previously opposed formation of this new office, his hand-picked replacement, Assistant Sheriff Jack Anderson, has endorsed it. By doing so, Anderson said, "We’ve been transparent for 15 years and I’m glad we can continue that tradition." Anderson also added that, "In the department’s 195 patrol units, we not only have video cameras, all patrol deputies wear wireless microphones. We also have 603 fixed video cameras placed within the jails and 31 hand-held video cameras being used continually." Given all this, isn’t it incredible that this inmate was still beaten and tortured to death by other inmates?

Lowe also said in her article that Mark Nichols, general manager of the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs, was the only opponent to creating this new office and in doing so, he suggested, "There is no reason why oversight and review should be not be applied to all county employees."

I can’t help wonder, after this new office does its monitoring and then advises the Sheriff’s Department, who will have the ultimate power, this new office or the Sheriff’s Department? It’s a sure bet that, unless this new office is given the full authority over the Sheriff’s Department, the only thing that’s going to be protected is the Sheriff Department’s own rear-end.

Dan Nitzen

Tustin

The same OC Register section had an editorial submission, titled Reader rebuttal: Deputies’ pensions,” by Wayne Quint, President of the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs.  In my defense, it was not a political crusade, it was a financial sustainability crusade.

Last July, when County Supervisor John Moorlach launched his political crusade to rescind the deputy sheriffs’ six-year-old pension benefit that had been unanimously approved by the Orange County Board of Supervisors in December 2001, the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs hired California’s most prominent law firm to take a look at his "facts" and his interpretation of the law. The firm found that he was both wrong on the facts and wrong on the law.

We publicly explained the reasons why the Board of Supervisors in 2001 decided to follow the recommendations of the county CEO and county counsel to enact pension benefits to compete with other counties and municipalities for the best deputies.

But to read the Register’s editorial of Jan. 27 ["No time to throw in towel on pensions"] you would have thought that the action taken seven years ago by the Board of Supervisors was a "pension spiking" effort that was "bad public policy" by "culprit" supervisors.

"Spike"? Wrong. The county’s CEO and the assistant CEO/human resources told the supervisors in 2001 that their recommendation enabled the county to catch up with pension benefits that had already been conferred by 11 other cities in Orange County and 31 others throughout the state. The supervisors knew competitive pensions were needed for the county to successfully recruit and retain the cadre of deputies necessary to make our county one of the safest in the nation.

"Culprits" creating "bad policy"? Wrong. The supervisors were only facing the fact that Orange County had to actively compete for safety officers with other nearby public employers who were already offering the same benefit or were about to do so.

"Upholding the Constitution"? Wrong. They’re violating it, and they know it. The California Supreme Court has upheld the kind of pension benefit that the supervisors voted for in 2001 as a vested right that cannot be reversed by the current Board of Supervisors without violating the California and United States constitutions. The California and United States Supreme Courts long ago decided that a deal is a deal – a contract by the county with its employees cannot be cut back by a later-elected board of supervisors without violating our state and federal constitutions. Chairman Moorlach and the board cannot hide behind the Constitution; every court that has considered the questions they now try to raise has decided against them.

"Debt limitation" violation? Wrong. Our county coffers today do not owe a debt equal to some fluctuating actuarial estimate of what the Retirement Board may need to raise over the next 30 years. George Deukmejian, then California’s attorney general, ruled exactly that way in a formal opinion. You don’t use an estimate of the retirement system’s need over the next 30 years to decide how much the county owes in the current year, especially when our retirement system gets most of its money from employees’ contributions and the return on its investments inside the system, with only a smaller percentage coming from the county as the employer.

What the supervisors did in 2001 was good public policy, good for safety in Orange County, and constitutionally sound. To try to undo what Orange County did for its deputies in 2001, Moorlach had to find a Washington, D.C., lawyer (not qualified to practice law in California), promising to spend "upward of a million dollars" (his words) to fight a battle based on wrong facts and wrong law. On Feb. 1, the hired guns filed an 87-page tome which was loaded with misstatements – but not one case contrary to established California law. What a determinedly wrong-headed waste! And what a wrong way to treat the protectors of our public safety.

February 11

1988

The OC Register’s Sam Quinones provided a political contribution update in “Costa Mesa politicians raise less money in second part of ’87.”  The update included contributions to Councilmembers Amburgey and Buffa and a committee known as Citizens for a Better Costa Mesa.  Here is the remainder of the piece:

One political committee scored better this time around, however.  Costa Mesa Neighbors for a Better Tomorrow reported raising $3,660, including $950 from the Segerstrom company.   About $1,300 of that came in sums under $100.  Costa Mesa Neighbors is run by residents and businessmen James Emerson and John Moorlach.  Emerson currently is being sued for libel by Councilman Dave Wheeler over 1986 campaign leaflets the committee published alleging Wheeler had been arrested for drunken driving.

Wheeler had been involved in a shouting match with a driver on the San Diego (I-405) Freeway in 1986 over an unsafe lane change.  Police escorted Wheeler home after he had pursued the drive to his house.  No charges were filed, according to police records.

At the opposite end of Costa Mesa’s political spectrum, Mesa Action, a “slow-growth” committee, noted contributions of almost $3,100.  About $2,100 of that came in sums under $100.

Mayor Donn Hall and council members Mary Hornbuckle and Dave Wheeler received no donations, according to the reports.

Also reporting no contributions were 1986 council candidates Sandra Hamilton, Doug Yates, Michael Nutter and Planning Commission Chairman Joe Erickson.

Michael Skaradek, also a candidate in 1986, reported receiving $343 in sums under $100.

2008

Chris Caesar and Joseph Serna of the Daily Pilot provided “City may lend police – Orange County would compensate Costa Mesa for the use of forces at Talbert Regional Park.”  Here’s the crux of the piece:

                The plan would provide greater efficiency and protection, as police often patrol in the general vicinity of the park, [Mayor Eric] Bever said.

                Supervisor John Moorlach declined to comment on the proposal, saying he would prefer to read the text from City Manager Allan Roeder before going on the record.

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