Council approves extended hours for Target [Updated]

The Costa Mesa City Council voted 3 to 2 Tuesday to extend the hours of the Target at 3030 Harbor Blvd. six days a week from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m., nearly five months after store representatives acknowledged repeatedly breaking its hourly operational agreement with the city.

The new hours are effective immediately.

Councilwoman Wendy Leece and Councilman Steve Mensinger dissented, stating their disapproval for Target's violation of the agreement instated in April 2000 and the inadequate community outreach.

Noting that several other nearby Target stores close at 10 p.m., including Irvine and Santa Ana, Leece clarified her stance.

"When this came through in 2000, it was in compliance with the standards of the neighborhood, and those still stand," she said. "We should respect the rights of the residents to enjoy the quiet environment of their homes."

Supporting council members said they preferred to approve the hour change for the benefit of the greater community, and felt the benefits outweighed the negative immediate impact the change had on a small number of adjacent neighbors.

Residents of eight single-family homes, whose backyards border the store, are most directly impacted by this change.

Late in the discussion Mayor Eric Bever motioned to close the northern entrance at 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Target officials complied and the change will go into effect immediately.

At the meeting, he said shoppers will be encouraged to park on the southern side of the lot, farther away from the neighbors.

Public comment from more than 20 speakers reflected a broad range of concerns in favor of and against the time change, detailed in a147-page city report on the subject.

Al Morelli, a 27-year Costa Mesa resident who owns and rents two of those homes, filed an appeal last November against Target for a separate violation of store hour operation during last year's Black Friday. He has been a long-time opponent of the issue.

"I'm lost," he said before the council. "I'm lost because it has been going so long — 12 years. They're asking for an extension of hours but it's the cumulative effect of a lot of other things. Black Friday, extension of holiday hours during holiday season, and now they're asking for extended hours because they got caught with their pants down, violating their agreement for a year and a half. I don't know what else to say."

Last November, Target representatives acknowledged repeatedly being in violation — for nearly a year and a half — of the city's ordinance to close at 10 p.m., citing confusion between previous and current management over holiday vs. non-holiday regular hours.

Requesting permission from the city's Development Services Dept. in a Jan. 18 application, Target asked to keep its 3030 Harbor Blvd. store open an extra hour daily, closing at 11 p.m. instead of 10 p.m. year round.

In support of the extended hours, more than 30 Target representatives attended and spoke during the comment session.

Jacqui Lurner, a Target District Team Leader who oversees eight local stores including the store on Harbor Boulevard, noted that extending hours would generate more money for local education.

"Target contributes 5% of our sales to education in Costa Mesa and other cities," Lurner said outside of council chambers. "The more the store makes, the more we can give back."

She also contended that there is a community demand for the extended hours and that closing early drives Target customers to competing businesses.

Projected revenue for the extra hour of business is $1.2 million, according to Target Costa Mesa Store Team Leader Tim Kindig.

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Other council news

The City Council also voted 5-0 to approve a contract with law firm Liebert Cassidy Whitmore, at a rate of up to $300 an hour, exclusively for legal representation in upcoming labor negotiations and administrative court proceedings stemming from the city's effort to outsource major services.

Councilwoman Leece, who has been critical of the council's spending on litigation in the past year, was supportive of this contract.

"This one, I do feel is valuable," she said. "It's helping us with ongoing negotiations with employee groups. It's helpful to have someone who is experienced in these back and forth negotiations. It will be a resource in getting both sides to come together."

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