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Costa Mesans weigh in on General Plan

Residents call for better libraries, crosswalks, homeless services. And, by the way, 'We don't want to be Newport Beach.'

May 16, 2013|By Bradley Zint

From urging better zoning enforcement to improving housing options for the homeless, those who attended a Wednesday night workshop on updating Costa Mesa's General Plan gave a wide variety of input.

The workshop, in the Emergency Operations Center next to City Hall, was the first of several planned in the coming months in what city officials are calling a "Great Reach" effort to amend the state-mandated document.

MIG consultant Laura Stetson described the General Plan as a "blueprint for development and evolution of a city."

It is more comprehensive than zoning and more long term in its vision, she added.

In June 2012, the council awarded a $664,705 contract to MIG, formerly known as Hogle-Ireland, for work that includes consulting on the General Plan. The firm, which maintains a Fullerton office, has done various plan projects, including general plan work, for cities such as Artesia, Garden Grove, Chino Hills and Ranch Cucamonga.

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Some topics the nearly 50 attendees raised were common: improving schools, fighting crime, better crosswalks for the handicapped and the need for a "really great library."

Many others, however, were more unique to the city: the need for a "rapid bus" mass-transit system, not changing traffic standards as development progresses in the Westside, maintaining mobile home parks as affordable senior housing, being Orange County's premier cycling system, maintaining an industrial base in the Westside and enhancing the city's reputation as an action sports capital.

There was also a "We don't want to be Newport Beach" sentiment and an objection to too many pawn shops and other "downscale uses" downtown.

But where exactly is Costa Mesa's downtown?

"That's the issue," replied one resident.

The topic of "changing" Costa Mesa's official downtown — historically defined as the area around the present-day Triangle and Costa Mesa Courtyards shopping centers — was also brought up after one attendee expressed a bit of envy for Fullerton's walkable downtown district.

Stetson said some of the issues the updated General Plan may concentrate on are: land use, including high-density residential buildings; lot configurations and sizes; vacant land and it being "recycled" into a different or more intense use; traffic; and Costa Mesa's ratio of homeowners to renters which, according to the latest census data, is 43% homeowners to 57% renters.

City staff based those preliminary topics on their interactions with residents, Stetson said.

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