Monday, April 23, 2007

Costa Mesa's Image Trashed


I plunked down on my couch Sunday morning and began working my way through the three local newspapers, the Los Angeles Times, the Orange County Register and, of course, the Daily Pilot. I'd already completed my "prep" - going through each one and discarding the advertisement sections - does anyone really read that stuff?

About a third of the way through the Times I picked up the new Opinion section and began thumbing through the pages when an article entitled "The ugliest building in town" caught my eye. This is allegedly written by two guys who write a blog about Los Angeles architecture. They took a poll of folks in that business to determine the ugliest structure in Los Angeles and when I read down the article, which described opinions of many well-known and some not-so-well-known buildings, I came across this comment: "
Nominations ran the gamut, from the '80s-style corporate glass towers — exemplified by the Directors Guild of America building on Sunset Boulevard, which was likened to a "Costa Mesa bank building".

I was really ticked off! Now my hometown is being used as a benchmark for bad architecture!

Those of you who read this blog frequently probably saw the comment reader Len Bose posted on my entry entitled, "Mansoor Creates Gang Haven", posted 4/18/07. It read as follows: Yesterday while at a Pizza party with my seven year old, in Huntington Beach, the subject of trains was brought. I asked the six year old “have you ever been over to Fairview Park and seen the Train Station?” Not one but two of the HB mothers over hearing me said “ Its not safe in THAT part of town”.

I really don't like to see Costa Mesa referred to in such disparaging terms. This town is arguably the center of culture and retail in Orange County. The performing arts complex can measure up against any venue in this country and the whole South Coast Metro area, including South Coast Plaza, is a destination for shoppers from around the world.

However, over the past few years, the actions of the Mansoor-led majority on the city council have created a world-wide image of Costa Mesa as a slum and haven for violent illegal aliens. Instead of pumping up the attributes of this city, the mayor and his cronies seem determined to be sure Costa Mesa is viewed by outsiders as a terrible, unsafe place to live, work or visit.

When Mansoor launched his bogus plan to cross-designate every Costa Mesa cop as an immigration screener a couple years ago he created a firestorm of controversy, which saw demonstrators being dragged from the City Council chambers and arrested- an image beamed around the world. When he was embraced by Jim Gilchrist and his rabid supporters and named an honorary Minuteman, Mansoor instantly became a national celebrity, appearing on television to spout his "I just want to enforce the law" tripe. People watching his act around the country got the impression that Costa Mesa was a teeming cesspool of violence!

Personally, I'm sick of Mansoor and his mob denigrating this city. The relentless drumbeat of negativity - orchestrated primarily by The-Brain-Who-Ate-Costa-Mesa over at the CM Press - has become so virulent that it's drowned out any attempts by others to tout the positive aspects of our city. I'm disgusted by Mansoor's transparent attempt to further his own political career at the expense of the reputation and image of our town.

Every time he and his majority ignore the expert opinion of his senior staff on critical issues in this city and use only their own, narrow, bigoted views to establish public policy they do tremendous harm to our city.

By their actions they have initiated an exodus of the very kind of folks most cities hope to attract - young, upwardly-mobile professional men and women looking for a safe place to live and raise their families. If the residents of this city don't wise up and demand that he begin acting like the mayor of a thriving, vibrant city instead of a ego-centric dictator, the legacy Mansoor will leave behind will be a city in ruin.

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8 Comments:

Anonymous Andrew Dorian said...

Tell us all how you really feel. I for one as an upwardly mobile middle-aged family man believe CM needs Mansoor. Someone that will not shy away from the problems that are CM. To burry a head in the sand and think there are no issues is what has gone on with past city leaders and has led CM to this state. Please drive over to the slums Geoff, see for yourself what is going on there, it’s a wreck, and it does not have to be. I have thought about moving, but it is more for my families’ safety and a better quality of life. Since this past election, when the majority won, I have decided to stay a while and see if they can push CM along. I also want to stick around and make sure Foley and Dixon are demolished.

I hear your frustration, but that is how may of us for years have felt at the inept past leaders (if you call them that) of this city. To me it is nice to see these issue brought out, and finally being dealt with.

As always thanks for the opportunity to post.

4/23/2007 05:02:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Andrew, it's obvious that you and I have slightly different views of our mayor and his crew. You apparently see him as a savior. I, on the other hand, see him as the tool of a very insidious individual who has persuaded the mayor and his pals that every problem in Costa Mesa can be traced directly to the Latino population. You see the mayor as the answer - I see him as the problem. His solution is, apparently, to fill the moat with water and alligators and pull up the drawbridge. You're critical of previous city councils - those that shepherded the city's growth from a place you'd miss if you blinked on the way to Newport Beach into a thriving, vital, professionally managed center of commerce and culture. I'm sure we will continue to disagree on many issues. I welcome your views here as you try to convince me and the readers of this blog.

4/23/2007 07:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Rob Dickson said...

Geoff,

While I don't agree 100% with what the Mayor does (think approval of 5 residential towers with NO affordable housing component, attempts to steal 9 holes of Mesa Linda, etc.), I also think Andrew has a point.

There are blighted areas of Costa Mesa, and we are home to SEVEN criminal street gangs! These areas are in very poor shape, and are the scenes of brazen daylight violent gang crime. If a politician comes along who says he will fix those problems, the silent majority perks up and votes for him.

I hate any negative press about Costa Mesa also, but we have had a string of violent crimes recently that simply don't happen in HB, FV, or NB. They don't have the active criminal street gangs on par with us.

And seriously - on a personal note. I buy salsa, chips and tacos at El Toro Bravo. Usually after work. Their salsa and tortilla chips made right there are literally the best anywhere. That customer who was beaten and threatened with a gun in broad daylight? That could have been me. Why should I tolerate, for ONE MINUTE, that possibility in my city? The gang problem is NOT abstract. The violent crime problem is NOT abstract. We have hardened, brazen criminals roaming our streets unafraid of committing crimes in broad daylight on busy streets. That isn't Mansoor's fault, and people's perceptions of those crimes cannot be wished away with good will alone.

I don't know Mansoor's core motivation, but I do applaud his efforts to close the job center and bring attention to the illegal immigration issue. While I vehemently oppose any forced removal of any Westside commercial or industrial property owner, the zoning overlay is a hard thing to oppose. So far, Your Neighbor has been rebuffed by the City on that issue, and Righeimer seems like a GREAT choice for planning commissioner.

I think that the vast majority of Costa Mesa residents are not racist and do not share Your Neighbors opinions or desire to drain the Westside of its Latino residents (a truly laughable proposition in any case). I think that Mansoor understands this, and will leave the immigration issue to the feds.

I also think that a good number of Costa Mesa residents, Westside residents even more so, are sick and tired of the terrible conditions and crime in some areas, and applaud any effort to make it better, however ham-fisted.

Thank you for the opportunity to post!

4/23/2007 07:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Andrew Dorian said...

Our views are very different. I guess you see what previous leaders did as grand, and I cannot disagree entirely. Unfortunately, on the way to the cosmopolitan Metro area of CM, they forgot about the basic and most fundamental part of governing and that is public safety. Brushing aside the problems on the Westside for years has got us to the point where we are now. Having lived on the Eastside for a long time, I was even disengaged from what was going on. Having to move to the Westside to purchase a larger house, I quickly discovered how neglected the fundamentals are. Years of inaction and political hand wringing has done nothing to improve the quality of life for many here, actually quite the opposite has occurred, segregating people into areas, where the poorer Latino community holes up, and close to million dollar homes cast shadows over them. Equality will never exist as things are right now, especially while the poorer youth are infected with hate and a gang lifestyle. Cleaning up some of the slums will actually be as positive for the poorer population as it will be for my and your equity. Allowing them to participate in a more orderly and less violent lifestyle allows the ones who do/will stay more opportunities.

I actually think it’s sad that in my neighborhood, I know of thirty, that is three zero, kids that do not use the school less then 100 yards from my home. They either are driven to other (better) NMUSD schools or go to private. If that number is reflective of other communities it is no wonder why the public school system is spinning, out of control, down the drain. Remember, one of the first things younger people will do is look at the school system before moving somewhere. With Westside schools where they are, that’s a huge cloud over CM. In addition, the public safety and overpopulated areas of CM feed the problem.

4/23/2007 10:03:00 PM  
Blogger Len Bose said...

Geoff,
Thank you for quoting me. I have never felt that the previous Costa Mesa City Councils have accomplished anything to stop the downward trend of our community. I feel it is time for a majority on the council and I am looking and finding improvements. I continue to support our council and rely on them making the proper decisions. At this point, in their term, I have found no reason to change my mind.
I do expect bigger and better improvements to our city before the next elections! In other words “you gotta make your hay so long as the sun is shining, and it's definitely shining on this majority”


Respectfully,

4/24/2007 04:37:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Len,

Unfortunately, I don't share your optimism about the current council majority. "Getting things done" just to do something isn't enough in my book. Ever since Mansoor has had control of the council there has been a methodical move to disenfranchise the Latinos in our community, estimated by one writer recently at 41% of the residents. You'll note I didn't say "voters". That means well over 35,000 Latinos, legal and illegal, in our town.

While I agree that illegal immigration is a problem that must be addressed, I don't think simply backing up the buses on 19th Street and shipping them south is appropriate, although I know that appeals to many in this city. I don't think the ethnic cleansing of Costa Mesa is a good idea. I think the administration may be on the right track. Now, if they would just get moving!

I hope this will remain a venue for frank discussion of these important issues. I'm happy you've chosen to participate here.

4/24/2007 05:18:00 PM  
Blogger Len Bose said...

I have to think coastal cities are the dominant nodes of our economy. Not only do they attract roughly half our states population, such megalopolises serve as primary flow points for commerce and immigration through their financial markets, seaports and air hubs. So whether you’re talking about culture clashes, border security, legal compliance, systems integration or economic competitiveness, nowhere do major challenges concentrate themselves more than in coastal cities.
In this long war against radical extremism, we can focus on killing bad guys or making our city more resilient. The former task takes us to our states most off-grid locations, while the latter forces us to strengthen our biggest connections to the city’s networks.
Ask yourself what’s more important: fewer criminals or less crime?
Your friend
Len Bose

4/24/2007 07:46:00 PM  
Anonymous dvs said...

"Ask yourself what’s more important: fewer criminals or less crime?
Your friend
Len Bose"

Clearly less crime; Criminals that are not engaged in crime are merely a stressor.

Maybe the Chamber of Commerce should have a heart to heart with Mr. Mansoor and discuss with him a better approach to attracting residents and business than telling the world we are a gang infested hovel of low performing schools.

Just a thought.

Better yet, he could work in partnership with the police department and school district to improve the situation rather than his "Just Say No" approach.

4/26/2007 04:38:00 PM  

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