Column: Costa Mesa’s animal shelter questions continue with appeals of initial vote

Two Costa Mesa council members have appealed an earlier vote to enter into a contract with the Orange County Humane Society for a proposed animal shelter in Costa Mesa.
(File Photo)

Last week I had some strong comments about Costa Mesa’s concept of having its own animal shelter.

And though I think that is a good idea, I don’t think the city’s plan to partner with the OC Humane Society to operate that proposed shelter is.

For the record:
12:20 PM, Nov. 03, 2017 A previous version of this post gave an incorrect cellphone number for Costa Mesa Councilman John Stephens. It is (714) 337-1872. Readers also may email him at

Apparently I wasn’t the only one with that opinion.

Reader comments were passionate. Some shared personal horror stories about the Huntington Beach shelter.


Others weighed in, eager for a public-private partnership like what was done in Newport Beach for its shelter.

The day the column ran I heard from Costa Mesa Councilman John Stephens and Councilwoman Sandy Genis. Both said they would be appealing the initial decision regarding the shelter.

In Stephens’ appeal, he states, “The issue of how we care for our animals is important. It should be decided by the City Council after a full public hearing.”

He acknowledges issues raised by the public regarding the proposed operator and location.


“This will need a deep dive,” Stephens wrote. He asked me to let my readers know he wants to hear from them by calling his cellphone, (714) 337-1872, or emailing him at

Remember that emails are subject to public record requests.

Stephens’ goal is to bring his findings to the council before January.

And speaking of hearing from the public, they sure have spoken out in Newport regarding the recall of Councilman Scott Peotter.

Last Friday, recall supporters delivered 10,688 signatures to the city clerk’s office.

Signatures now go to the county registrar for verification; 8,445 will be needed to qualify for a recall vote.

Peotter’s email blast on Monday claims he turned in 1,783 signatures to rescind signatures from the recall petition. The city clerk confirmed this to me.

Like the recall signatures, rescinded signatures must also be verified by the registrar as being legitimate Newport Beach voters.


Let’s say that both sides’ signatures are verified.

If you do the math, 10,688 minus 1,783 still leaves the recall supporters with 8,905 signatures. That’s cutting it close, but it’s still more than enough to qualify for the recall vote.

If you compare the efforts, the recall supporters certainly got more people to sign their petitions than Peotter did to rescind signatures.

In Peotter’s latest blast, he claims, “Many people that signed told me that they were misled. They thought they were signing a petition to stop high-rise development. ”

He included a photo he claims recall organizers used. It shows an aerial view of Newport with fake high-rises inserted. The caption is “Stop High-Rise Development in Newport Beach.”

The recall effort has given many reasons why Peotter should be removed from office, one being his voting record on high-density development.

And just as Peotter is calling foul here, throughout this recall process I was hearing from recall organizers that Peotter supporters were misleading folks into signing the rescind cards with all sorts of explanations that bent the truth.

Bottom line: When asked to sign anything, ask questions!


If a vote to recall Peotter happens, voters will be asked two questions.

If he should be recalled, and if yes, then select a candidate to replace him.

So far two candidates, Mike Toerge and Joy Brenner, are in the running. Others could jump in before a vote date is announced.

Campaigning and fundraising has begun. Folks are also seeking endorsements, especially from Line in the Sand, which up until now has remained silent on the recall.

Both Toerge and Brenner have already met with Line in the Sand. I hear an endorsement could be announced as soon as the recall signatures are verified.

An endorsement from this group could tip the scales for either candidate.

On the flip side, Peotter’s last email listed some of his endorsements that include his Team Newport cohorts — Mayor Kevin Muldoon, council members Marshall “Duffy” Duffield, Brad Avery, Will O’Neill and Diane Dixon.

All but Avery and O’Neill are up for reelection in 2018.

Those hitching their wagon to Peotter are making a risky move in my opinion, as the blowback from the recall will certainly play a role in next year’s election cycle for these folks.

The optics at this point don’t look good for Peotter’s success here beating a recall vote.

I asked the city clerk’s office if resignation and a council appointment to fill Peotter’s vacancy was an option.

“An elected official has the opportunity to resign at any time and the City Council may appoint a replacement,” Jennifer Nelson, assistant city clerk, told me. “However, if the registrar of voters certifies that there are 8,445 valid signatures in support of the recall, the recall will move forward even with a resignation.”

Regardless, Peotter now takes his place in Newport’s history as the only council member ever to face an actual recall petition.

Will that footnote include a total recall?

BARBARA VENEZIA lives in Newport Beach. She can be reached at