Political newcomer making waves in Costa Mesa

Fairview Park committee member Vrska advocates for keeping the natural, passive landscape intact.

December 14, 2013|Bradley Zint | This post has been corrected, as noted at the end of the story.
  • Anna Vrska serves on the Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee. The Eastside resident is also a board member for the Orange Coast River Park, a nonprofit.
Anna Vrska serves on the Fairview Park Citizens Advisory… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

Soon after taking the podium, Anna Vrska admitted to being a little nervous.

"Oh, my goodness! This is a dead room," she remarked a few minutes later, looking up from her notes and scanning the room. "Does everybody need a break like I need a break? Catch a breath, maybe?"

Vrska was standing alone before more than 100 interested parties attending November's Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee meeting. The 208-acre park in Costa Mesa has made news throughout the year for myriad reasons, not the least of which is the resurrection of a topic long fraught with discord: adding sports fields or retaining the passive open space.

Vrska, one of the committee's nine voting members, was scheduled that evening to reveal the results of her months-long investigation related to that dispute.

Her speech was succinctly titled, "Youth Sports Data."

Vrska's voice was somewhat monotone, her gaze turned downward as she read, but after touching upon the topic, her words soon evolved into an account about larger frustrations at City Hall.


She used the microphone to question the city's approval of some archaeological work at the park.

Vrska then criticized the makeup of the committee itself, saying that it was unrepresentative of a diverse community. It lacked enough women and minorities, she contended, and its membership was stacked with people associated with the committee's City Council liaison, Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger.

"No offense to present company," Vrska said, "but many of the people on the committee seem to be close allies and friends of Mr. Mensinger."

Supporters applauded Vrska's statements as she took her seat, which happened to be next to Mensinger.

Richard Mehren, the committee's chairman, raised his arms in an effort to bring decorum, settle the mood and continue on with the matters ahead.

In the eyes of her supporters, however, Vrska's 18 minutes that evening were a defining moment, when a seemingly unimposing woman demonstrated that she was anything but timid.


A new firebrand?

"We are big supporters of Anna," said Brian Burnett of Friends of Fairview Nature Park, a group that seeks to promote open space and natural uses for the park. "I thought she came out with some claws that night, for sure."

While Vrska isn't a member of the group, Burnett added, "I think we all agree with what she has to say."

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