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Nearby condo owners oppose housing for homeless

Concerns are raised since the Costa Mesa City Council recommended considering Civic Center Park for the complex.

December 24, 2013|By Bradley Zint
  • Homeowners associations are beginning to oppose a planned homeless housing facility near City Hall in Costa Mesa at Civic Center Park, shown above.
Homeowners associations are beginning to oppose a planned… (Don Leach, Daily…)

Condominium residents near the site of a prospective homeless recovery complex in Costa Mesa are criticizing the plans, contending that while the aim to help the needy is noble, the project has the potential to harm their neighborhood and pose a risk to their children's safety.

Earlier this month, the City Council recommended looking into using Civic Center Park, a 2.52-acre grassy expanse across from City Hall and the Orange County Fairgrounds as the site for permanent housing with support services for Costa Mesa's homeless.

If approved, a complex with as many as 50 units could be built at the undeveloped park — it contains a few dozen trees and one bench.

Santa Ana-based nonprofit Mercy House Living Centers and San Diego-based Wakeland Housing and Development Corp. are collaborating on the plan. It is expected to involve local volunteers and churches and have on-site staff members.

The plans are preliminary, though neighborhood opposition has grown since the council made its recommendation Dec. 10.

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Homeowners association board members from two nearby condo complexes, Monticello and Newport Landing, said they have grave concerns about the project.

It could pose a safety risk and hurt home values, they said.

"I would like to think I'm as caring or as sensitive as the next person, but I don't think putting any additional low-income housing in the middle of an established neighborhood is the best use of city resources," said Jeff Ledbetter, one of Newport Landing's five homeowners association board members.

Newport Landing, an 88-home development, is about a third of a mile south of Civic Center Park.

Ledbetter said one of the biggest concerns he's heard is that that area of Costa Mesa would lose its park.

"It's really the only place that we have that's open, that's green, that's not concrete, a street or parking lot," he said.

Monticello, with 330 condos and town homes, is one of the city's largest residential developments.

"We've been really disheartened," said Bill Mitchell, Monticello's homeowners association vice president. "It's not that we don't want to help the homeless in Costa Mesa."

Mitchell said the development could attract the homeless from the other end of town.

"People will be swarming [at Civic Center Park], and if they can't get help, they'll be wandering around the neighborhood," he said.

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