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Council rejects Fairview Park turnaround rehearing

Councilwoman Sandy Genis loses in her attempt to have proposed turnaround from Pacific Avenue reviewed in light of new information.

October 15, 2013|By Bradley Zint

In basic terms, it was an appeal of an appeal.

And the Costa Mesa City Council majority denied it.

Councilwoman Sandy Genis' request for a rehearing of a contentious planned turnaround within Fairview Park was turned down on a 3-2 vote Tuesday evening. Genis and Councilwoman Wendy Leece had hoped the turnaround, which would be accessed at the northern end of Pacific Avenue, would be up for more council consideration given new information that came to light since its Sept. 17 council approval.

That new information included a letter from the state Office of Historic Preservation that said the Fairview Indian Site — an archaeologically sensitive area within the park that for decades has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places — actually extends to where the turnaround is planned.

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The site, officially known as CA-ORA-58, seems to go "much further south than originally thought," state Historic Preservation Officer Carol Roland-Nawi wrote in the Sept. 24 letter. She recommended avoiding the site out of concern that it could be damaged.

The rehearing request marked the second time Genis has brought the turnaround to the council.

Genis also alleged that California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, and National Historic Preservation Act weren't correctly followed in the earliest planning stages for the turnaround.

"You don't do those things after you made your decision," she said. "By law, you do those under the decision-making process before you make your decision ... we're sort of putting the cart before the horse. And they're saying you need to put the horse before the cart."

Leece added, "Why don't we do things decently, in order and follow the rules? There's no rush to get this done. We're putting ourselves at risk of losing grant money and getting into further problems."

Mayor Jim Righeimer said that proper respect should be paid to Native Americans, and a qualified archaeologist will be present during the construction phase. The city has also hired an archaeological consultant, Scientific Resource Surveys Inc., to examine the area.

In trying to give the matter some perspective, Righeimer added, "This is not the building of a stadium or something else. This is a cul-de-sac at the end of the street."

"Councilwoman Genis clearly is using this opportunity for a rehearing as a tactic to discredit staff and the current approved master plan," Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger said after the vote.

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