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One more step in the case for stairs

Proponents of a safer means of accessing Fairview Park from Canary Drive get a boost as the saga continues.

March 09, 2013|By Bradley Zint
  • Whether or not to add a staircase or ramp at the end of Canary Drive into Fairview Park has been the decades-long subject of discussion and debate. Many residents have pushed for better, safer and easier access to the park, though others have opposed a staircase there, citing increased traffic and parking concerns.
Whether or not to add a staircase or ramp at the end of Canary… (KEVIN CHANG, Daily…)

A tiny corner of Costa Mesa has been ground zero in a long struggle over a mound of dirt.

At the end of Canary Drive, an incline connects the paved suburbia to the occasionally wind-swept grassy bluff at the northeastern edge of Fairview Park.

But for nearly 20 years, the inconspicuous slope in the Upper Birds neighborhood has been the source of two major city studies, public and private debates, tax dollars spent and a petition signed.

What many folks there have wanted was a staircase. With handrails.

Others, though, including a former city mayor, took the opposite view. They've contended that a staircase would draw more people, thus more traffic and parking problems on their quiet, secluded street.

Leading the case for some stairs is Bob Graham, who was recently appointed to serve again on the Parks and Recreation Commission. The retired Gardena High School science teacher lives in the Lower Birds, a neighborhood across Placentia Avenue from the Upper Birds — a fact of residence, he admitted, that makes him somewhat of an "outsider" to any issues facing Canary Drive.

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He led a door-to-door petition that, he said, effectively shows a majority of Upper Birds residents want a proper, safer and easier way to get into Fairview Park.

"The thing that saved it, that allowed me to do it, is there was no selling involved," Graham said. "All I had to do was explain it: 'We're trying to put stairs up at the end.' Everybody knows Canary Drive because they've all gone up there."

Graham, a lifelong Newport-Mesa resident and Newport Harbor High School alumnus, said pushing for Canary's access was "just something that needed to be done."

"I've seen too many things in the city that ... made it Goat Hill at one time," he said. "And we're climbing out of that situation. It's something that needed to be done, and I tried to get it done."

As of this week, the saga involving the stairs proposal could finally be nearing an end. The majority of the City Council voted Tuesday to give the stairs another incremental OK.

The idea will be now submitted as a capital improvement project for the city's 2013-14 fiscal year budget, said interim city engineer Fariba Fazeli. The council will consider it and all the other projects this June.

"It's not a project yet, and they get to vote on it during the budget hearing," Fazeli said. "If it gets approved, we start the design and construction."

If approved this summer, the estimated completion date is September 2014.

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