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Westside committee gains last-minute interest

February 07, 2002

Lolita Harper

COSTA MESA -- The Westside community turned its hat inside out and

rallied back last week, turning what looked to be a dismal turnout for

the Westside Redevelopment Action Committee into a good showing of

interested parties.

The city received 45 applications for the committee designed to forge

a working plan for the future of the Westside. Only two days before the

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deadline, the planning and development office had received only 11

letters of interest, said Mike Robinson, the department's director.

Not a great response to a committee that was created to host about 46

people. On the deadline day, however, 34 applications flooded the office,

he said.

"A lot of people came in at the last minute," Robinson said.

The Westside Redevelopment Action Committee was created last month by

the City Council -- acting as the Redevelopment Agency. Its purpose is to

bring together often warring factions of the community to find common

ground for the future of the impoverished neighborhood. Previous attempts

at redevelopment in the area have been thwarted by a lack of community

consensus.

Applicants were required to be Westside residents, property or

business owners, except for those vying for an at-large appointment. All

members must be legal residents.

Robinson said a few people from other parts of the city applied,

stating they had an interest in the city's most western neighborhood. For

example, Bob Graham, a Mesa Verde resident, applied because he was

concerned about future developments of the 19th Street bridge, Robinson

said.

At the City Council meeting Monday, Councilman Chris Steel challenged

many residents, whom he classified as "constant complainers," to get

involved with efforts to improve the city.

"Be credible. Serve on a commission, and be more effective," Steel

said to those he's placed in that group. "I call on you to get involved

and not just be down here screeching at the podium. Put a little action

behind your words."

Steel and his supporters were concerned with the large size of the

Westside Redevelopment Action Committee and the fact that renters were

encouraged to serve on it. The councilman has since changed his position

slightly, saying the committee may not be perfectly designed, but it

should not discourage people from participating in the process.

While most of those interested in serving on the Westside

Redevelopment Committee live in the area, most of them were

representatives of groups that were invited to serve on the committee by

its creator, Councilwoman Libby Cowan.

About 18 community organizations -- which were identified as having a

"stake in the community" -- have seats reserved for two people.

Applicants responding from those groups -- such as churches, the Costa

Mesa Chamber of Commerce and the Latino Business Network -- will be

automatically placed on the committee, Robinson said.

Five more members will be directly appointed by council members --

acting as the Redevelopment Agency -- at Monday's redevelopment meeting ,

as well as an additional five at-large members.

FYI

WHAT: Redevelopment Agency meeting

WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Monday

WHERE: Costa Mesa Neighborhood Community Center

CALL: (714) 754-5225

* Lolita Harper covers Costa Mesa. She may be reached at (949)

574-4275 or by e-mail at o7 lolita.harper@latimes.comf7 .

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