Sounding Off: Why should South Coast Plaza get all the planning attention?

September 29, 2010|By Mike Moon

Steve Smith's proposal to connect the shopping center to the surrounding neighborhood(s) was very interesting ("City Life: Malls take work, not magic," Sept. 14). It's the same reason to "complete the freeway" — i.e., reclaim the "old downtown" for pedestrian traffic.

Steve is right about the blighted "east side" of Newport Boulevard and we should take this seriously. Walk the boulevard from 19th St. to 17th St. and compare that with a walk in South Coast Plaza. Connecting the "Westside" of Costa Mesa with the mall shows he cares about the west side — and simply calls those who oppose the giant LED night lights "curmudgeons."

Why not complete the thought, Steve, and connect the entire "downtown" around Triangle Square to both sides of Costa Mesa?

I agree that the billboards are a way for the owner of the property to pay for a mortgage. He'll sell "screen time" to advertisers. His cash flow models have led him to believe that this is a moneymaker.


But a more important problem should be to find tenants and businesses that can prosper at that location. Those tenants need "foot traffic," and Triangle Square is not connected to its neighborhood. This three-sided shopping mall is an island surrounded by rivers of cars eight or 10 lanes wide on each side.

The walk across Newport Boulevard from the east side is dangerous and difficult. Why? This is a "retail mall" and it should have an unimpeded foot connection to the surrounding neighborhood. The city of Costa Mesa should be finding ways to connect that mall to the surrounding neighborhoods with walk paths.

Take a look at the how Crystal Court is connected to South Coast Plaza or how South Coast Plaza is connected to the Orange County Performing Arts Center for a clue. But, wait, those are in Costa Mesa. That means the city planners know how to connect retail to a community.

This leads me to conclude that the city doesn't care about the Eastside or about retail "malls" other than South Coast Plaza. The owner-developer of the mall is working a short-term cash flow model and has no real plan for this mall. It is an empty hulk — and that is the real problem the town needs to address.

We need to be clear: No jobs are going to be created by this venture. It's only for ad revenue. The big money is spent on the "equipment."

Those billboards shouldn't be "just given" to the owner at the expense of the neighborhoods around Triangle Square. The mall owner, the city and the people can resolve both the 55 Freeway issue and the Triangle Square issue.

"Triangle Square is disconnected and has failed," and the 55 is a major cause. The billboards will not keep this isolated mall profitable and won't improve the lives of the people who live in Costa Mesa, so why should our city allow them?

Where is the leadership? Not on the City Council or the city's planning office, it seems.

MIKE MOON lives in Costa Mesa.

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