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Park no longer top option for homeless housing

Costa Mesa also looking at converting a motel or acquiring apartment complexes.

December 31, 2013|By Bradley Zint
  • Plans to put a homeless housing facility near City Hall in Costa Mesa at Civic Center Park, shown above, seem to have been scrapped.
Plans to put a homeless housing facility near City Hall… (Don Leach, Daily…)

The park across from Costa Mesa City Hall and the Orange County Fairgrounds is no longer poised to be the site of a housing complex for the homeless, officials said Tuesday, apparently bowing to pressure from neighbors and facing potential deed restrictions.

"We have opted not to pursue this site right now," Assistant city CEO Rick Francis said. "We are hopeful that another suitable location can be found soon. The City Council and city staff remain committed to finding solutions to address the issue of homelessness in our community, and we look forward to receiving input from our citizens."

In a Dec. 10 study session, the City Council had recommended using Civic Center Park — a 2.52-acre grassy expanse along Fair Drive that contains a few dozen trees and one park bench — for the project, which could contain as many as 50 units.

Soon after the decision, though, homeowners associations from nearby condominiums began rallying against the idea, contending that such a project would harm their neighborhood, pose a threat to their children's safety and negatively affect property values. They passed out fliers during the Snoopy House holiday event at City Hall, started a Facebook page and went door to door to drum up backing.

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Neighbors also said Tuesday that a public relations professional living in the Newport Landing town home complex was going to lend some expertise for a campaign. The 330-unit Monticello complex was also ready to get its homeowners association attorney involved if necessary.

Francis said Costa Mesa is still looking into the land's deed, which may restrict how the property could be used.

The federal government gave the land where City Hall and Civic Center Park are now located to the city in the years following the end of World War II, after the 1,330-acre Santa Ana Army Air Base was decommissioned. That decades-old land transaction may limit what goes in the park, Francis said.

Until earlier this year, Civic Center Park was also the chosen site of a 50,000-square-foot library, but those plans were scrapped.

The city's most recent announcement did not appear to take Civic Center Park completely off the table. It said the land is "no longer being considered as a primary option" for the homeless housing.

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