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Commentary: Westside projects cater to the Yuppie types

March 26, 2014|By James H. Bridges

Costa Mesa decision-makers have new plans for the Westside. Until recently, City Hall has quaintly compared our city with television's fictitious small town of Mayberry and proudly described us as an eclectic community.

The Westside began with some military housing, rural goat ranches, light industry and small-town infrastructure. A seemingly well-blended demographic mix of rental-owner residential with modest small businesses evolved.

As with many neighborhoods, over time inadequate upkeep and modernization allowed much of the Westside to fall victim to neglect. Faced with problems resulting from what some view as urban blight, City Hall is now attempting to foist a high-density makeover to help Westside Costa Mesa live up to its great potential.

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Potential what?

Will Costa Mesa's Westside be "revitalizing" from eclectic to selective? City Hall is pushing radical decisions, target-marketing primarily to appeal to a select Yuppie type. This at the expense of the naturally evolved eclectic Westside that it opted to neglect.

These days we don't often hear much from City Hall regarding housing ideas and projects for our current low-income and homeless communities. Rather than follow through on promises to assist with the area's sometimes challenging conditions, some of our elected and appointed managers have decided to sacrifice the bragging rights of our quaint, eclectic small-town Mayberry community to brag about a new Santa Monica-type approach. Call it Orange County's reverse Robin Hood revitalization.

Instead of helping the existing Westside community with standard maintenance and incentives for natural development, City Hall's renaissance is designed to attract a different breed of demographic — hypothetically one with more disposable income. The major selling point is the speculation that property values will increase.

Exactly who is this expected to benefit? People who don't even live here yet.

Many currently in the community won't be able to afford to enjoy their once-eclectic Mayberry. Evidently, City Hall cares much more about disposable income than disposable people.

Did Costa Mesa really vote for council members to bulldoze over our problems rather than surgically take steps to maintain and improve areas in need of attention?

Does Costa Mesa really want to become the new Santa Monica of Orange County? Is Costa Mesa willing to welcome and embrace the inevitable high-density issues? All we Costa Mesa voters can do is think, vote, wait and hope.

If you happen to be around for the new "Westside Story," don't forget to wave and yell "hi density" to your new neighbors as you slowly circle around in traffic, waiting for a parking space to became available.

The new city motto on the sign could read, "Welcome to Costa Misery, city of lost parts."

JAMES H. BRIDGES lives in Costa Mesa.

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