The change, if approved, would come after a judge ruled against the city in a case involving code enforcement action taken against a Mesa North home. The judge, according to city documents, called Costa Mesa's definition of a single housekeeping unit "legally indefensible."

The property, according to its operator, Patricia Bintliff, was functioning as an "alternative family environment."

Bintliff told the Planning Commission in October that the house was hosting 11 girls and had 14 beds.

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It was never used as a treatment center for drug or alcohol addiction, or "a facility of any kind," she said.

On Nov. 5, the council voted 4 to 0 in favor of the ordinance. Councilwoman Wendy Leece was absent, having left the meeting early.


Public comments

The council will also examine the changes Mayor Jim Righeimer instituted a few weeks ago regarding public comment on non-agenda items.

Righeimer, using his mayoral authority, changed the commenting procedure for a maximum of 10 randomly chosen people to talk at the beginning of meetings.

Those not picked could speak at the end of the meeting, after the public hearings and other matters are dealt with.

The changes aroused the concern of some on the council and the ire of City Hall regulars, who often comment throughout the meetings.

Righeimer has contended that his changes are designed to speed up the decision-making process, which could bring the public hearings and other decisions before the public at an earlier hour.

The changes "will give more balance to make sure things stay on track," Righeimer said.

The council has "to balance out speech for everybody," he said, including the people who wait hours just to speak on a particular issue.


Rehearing issues

Lastly, the council is poised to give its second vote to finalize striking the city's rehearing procedure from the books. On Nov. 5, the council voted 3 to 1 to do so, with Councilwoman Sandy Genis dissenting. Leece was absent.

The rehearing allows the council to reexamine its decisions if new and relevant information is discovered later on. It supplements Costa Mesa's other appeal procedures.

Righeimer contended that few other cities have such a rehearing procedure, and that appeals should be taken to a higher body, not the one the made the original decision.

Genis, who has asked for a few rehearings throughout the year, countered Righeimer's sentiment.

"I do think there is room for rehearings when there is new, relevant information," she said.