It seems like weeks ago (and it was) that the Daily Pilot reported on the removal of Shayna Lathus from the Huntington Beach Citizens Participation Advisory Board and a slew of letters, both pro and con, followed it. However, due to the Daily Pilot publishing letters (and just a few of them) mostly on Sundays, issues like this and others suddenly take on an extended life of their own that last well beyond the usual shelf life for civic squabbles.
Will we be seeing letters on this issue submitted several weeks ago appear in June and thus deny or delay space to more topical issues, especially development-related ones? I was amazed that some letters regarding the November elections appeared several weeks after the results when the opinions were no longer fresh or relevant. This has happened to me in the past.
It seems that the Daily Pilot could take one of two approaches to be current in its Forum offerings. Either it could expand the space devoted to letters and commentaries each week to accommodate more submissions on hot topics, or it can move on after a set period of time to focus on more-immediate concerns. It might force writers to submit new letters for old if their original submissions became stale, but it would allow this section to keep pace with truly current events. I would freely admit that a change in policies might affect regular contributors like myself.
Naturally, I would prefer that the Daily Pilot increase Forum space to accommodate more comments from our citizenry. I do realize the limitations involved, however, they are more economic than journalistic. Something must be done to speed things up or speed them on. I would be chagrined to see one of my letters submitted around Memorial Day suddenly show up on the Fourth of July.
Commissioners appeared to have made up their minds
If the Planning Commission meeting on May 23 was to be an opportunity for residents of Newport Heights and Cliffhaven to express their views on the construction of a large house on one of their tony streets, one which offers generous views, an open forum it was not. It was not open in the sense that the large group of impassioned neighbors, who attended to speak about what they thought was the unfairness of granting several height variances for a new home, would have any influence on the commissioners’ decision. It was instead merely a forum of futile expression for those upset about the proposed project.
There were quite a few supporters there who stood up for the people who intend to build the house, but it was unclear as to how many were from the neighborhood or Newport Beach. It was clear, however, at the end, that the commissioners had made up their minds before reaching the dais.
Despite the oral and written pleas of residents, some of whom would be directly affected by the granting of the variances, the commission voted, with only two abstentions, to allow the variances. A few of the commissioners expressed the belief that with all the dissension, the vote to allow the variances should be delayed to try to bring the two sides together to create harmony, giving hope to those who had shown up to the meeting.
But as with City Council meetings, Planning Commission meetings, and Coastal Commission meetings, usually these limited discussions end up as mere “teasers,” giving the opponents false hope, even if that was not their intention.
If anyone else had a strong influence on the decisions of the commissioners, it was likely a former council person reaching out from the past who submitted his views in writing.