Advertisement

Commentary: To attract top-notch residents, cut crime

April 25, 2013|By Geoff West

Costa Mesa, according to recent statistics, has 60% renters and 40% home owners — a ratio that has bothered many elected officials for years.

On April 13, Daily Pilot columnist Jeffrey Harlan wrote a piece, "Stop focusing on boosting home ownership in which he — a professional land planner — provided us with statistics to support his contention that our city leaders should "Instead of worrying about whether someone owns a home, let's focus on keeping Costa Mesa one of the more diverse, eclectic and special communities in Orange County."

He went on to ask, "Why is a higher percentage of renters in Costa Mesa necessarily a bad thing?" That seems like a good question. Harlan postulates that, when considering a hometown, potential new residents measure a community's "desirability," which he describes as crime rate, proximity to parks and amenities and the quality of local schools. He says, "For prospective home buyers, a city's home ownership rate is irrelevant."

Advertisement

A few days later, on April 16, Costa Mesa Planning Commissioner Colin McCarthy fired off a rebuttal, "Home ownership should be the goal," in which he says, "I couldn't disagree with him more."

McCarthy confirms that Costa Mesa is dead last in Orange County when measuring homeowners to renters, and blames that ratio on previous city administrations that approved high-density units with insufficient parking. He also tells us, "Because Costa Mesa is 98% built-out, there are limited opportunities to create new permanent housing." Yep, we know that.

McCarthy tells us that we need to improve our housing stock — but doesn't really give us a practical way to do that and significantly shift that 60-40 ratio — which he and many of his cronies apparently feel is the root of all evil in our city. However, he and the Planning Commission continue to approve developments that will likely devolve into rental units, despite all the assurances of the developers.

We should not forget that our recent national financial collapse was due, in great part, to programs that made it possible for people who could not afford homes to buy them anyhow. And, as Harlan cautioned, we should not paint all renters with the broad brush as undesirable residents. Several powerful officials in our city are renters, including our assemblyman, and former mayor, Allan Mansoor.

Daily Pilot Articles Daily Pilot Articles
|
|
|