Condo Conversions - One More Time
It's that time again. Tuesday night the Costa Mesa City Council will, once again, consider the new ordinance for conversion of apartments to condominiums, or "common interest developments", to use their terminology.
OOPS! FORETHOUGHT FORGOTTEN
You will recall that this council has botched this process almost from the beginning, when they launched their much ballyhooed Westside plans without giving sufficient thought to the guidelines to be followed. In their haste to reverse Costa Mesa's "upside-down" housing market - 60% renters vs. 40% owner occupied units - and with images of gleaming, new common interest developments popping up like mushrooms throughout the Westside, they neglected to make sure proper rules were in place to make it happen. The many proclamations by council members and citizen activists about letting "market forces" drive the redevelopment on the Westside became words served for lunch as those "market forces" began taking the renaissance of that part of town in a direction the "improvers" hadn't anticipated. So, the brakes were put on condominium conversions of any type, anywhere in the city until they could finally get the horse back in front of the cart.
WHERE'S THE PEA?
This issue has received much press - commentaries and letters to the editor on this and related issues by residents and council members have graced the pages of the Daily Pilot for a couple months. Most recently columnist Byron de Arakal provided his usual insightful analysis last week (here), which has generated some very interesting comments on the Daily Pilot blog and will likely provoke a rebuttal by one or more members of the city council majority. The council, in it's attempt to "improve" our city, has played a shell game with the rules, attempting to force developers to adhere to rules not yet in place. On the agenda for the meeting, in closed session, is an item about "pending litigation". It looks like this sleight of hand will almost certainly cost the city coffers some settlement dollars as they stare down the barrel of litigation once again. Can you say "Barry Saywitz?
CAN THEY GET IT RIGHT THIS TIME?
So, tune in to the council proceedings Tuesday. In what will likely be a short meeting, the council majority will once again have the chance to demonstrate their leadership and wisdom - or lack thereof - on this issue. The city staff has provided several alternatives from which the council may choose a solution to this issue. I expect we'll see members of the public representing property owners throughout the city, and on the Westside specifically, address this subject. We'll have a chance to see if, in fact, this council will "listen to the community". I've got my fingers crossed.