Roof gardens greenlighted by commission

Seven-condo complex to feature plants growing across rooftops. Costa Mesa official says this could become a common sight.

April 02, 2008|By Michael Miller

A few months from now, the Westside of Costa Mesa may be moving in two directions — into the future and into the wild.

The city adopted a plan two years ago to promote home ownership on the Westside by building new condominiums and other multi-unit housing. Since then, four developers have successfully submitted projects, but that doesn’t mean the skyline west of the 55 will be dominated by concrete and shingles.

Two of the applicants have won approval to build green roofs — roofs covered in vegetation — and hope to begin planting later this year.


Costa Mesa Principal Planner Claire Flynn said the green-roof projects, which put oxygen in the air and reduce storm water runoff, could soon become a common sight around Costa Mesa.

“It’s difficult to speculate, given the economy, but green technology is something that’s a priority in the state of California, and we do expect more green building projects in the future,” she said.

In-Habitation Design, a Costa Mesa-based firm, got the green light last month from the Planning Commission to build a seven-condominium complex with a garden on the roof of each unit. Another developer, OC Hot New Listings in Lake Forest, successfully applied in 2007 to build a series of town houses with a green roof over the carport.

Costa Mesa already has at least one prominent green roof on the Adventure 16 store at the Camp, the alternative shopping center on Bristol Street built largely out of sustainable and recycled materials.

The city recently adopted an incentive program to waive building permit fees for developers who use ecologically friendly methods; Flynn said both the green roof projects would qualify for it.

In-Habitation Design’s project, known as Coastal Heights, would feature solar paneling and tree-lined grounds along with the rooftop gardens. The proposed site covers two adjoining properties at 616 Center St. and 613 Plumer St.

Craig Hermann, the co-owner of OC Hot New Listings, said he intended to cover the carport roof of his complex with shrubbery and multicolored vegetation.

The design, he said, would not just help the environment but also make the property at 1974 Meyer Place more pleasing to the eye.

“For the homes around it that are two stories or three stories, it would provide visual relief to the neighboring homes as well,” Hermann said. “It’s just a more pleasant environment. It’s good for the greening of Costa Mesa.”

MICHAEL MILLER may be reached at (714) 966-4617 or at

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