Riggy Jumps The Border To Spread The Wealth
Well, this is going to be fun. I was all set to disagree with Jim Righeimer, carpetbagging Costa Mesa Planning Commissioner, as he launched his first effort as a front-page columnist for the Daily Pilot this morning. Then I read his column and darn if I don't agree with him!
Old Riggy is a pal of Dana Rohrabacher, who helped Allan Mansoor and Wendy Leece get elected in November. He moved to Costa Mesa the middle of last year, then gets appointed to the Planning Commission as Mansoor brushed aside a long time supporter like he was swatting a gnat. Now Riggy steps across the border to take his first swing as a "journalist" and hits the good folks in Newport Beach squarely where it hurts - in the middle of the raw debate about where to build their new City Hall. It's just a good thing that Barry Saywitz isn't the developer on the project because Righeimer would have gotten really nasty!
I'm trying to figure out how this issue is a "conservative issue" - the charter of Righeimer's columns as announced by the editors of the Daily Pilot. I guess you could call it a lesson in fiscal conservatism.
Actually, this an interesting turn of events. It seems that a Newport Beach Planning Commissioner, one Mr. Hawkins, recently attempted to tell Costa Mesans how to manage their traffic. I suppose you could consider Riggy's column a little pay back - a term with which he should be familiar.
In his column Righeimer suggests that the site above the Main Library, bordered by Mac Arthur, Avocado and San Miguel, is the best location for the new City Hall. He and I actually agree on this issue. For a couple years I've commented on the fact that the current location on Newport Boulevard on the peninsula is not the best location for a new City Hall. It's difficult to reach, especially in the summer, it sits astride the Newport-Inglewood earthquake fault and is in a tsunami zone. The last number I saw for the construction of a replacement facility at that location was nearly $100 million, and that didn't include the inconvenience of moving the entire city staff twice in the process.
The site above the library, as I've said many times, is the perfect location for a new City Hall. It's near the geographical center of the city, located adjacent to Fashion Island and is close to good public transportation (for those days when the folks in Newport Beach want to go to City Hall, but the Bentley is having the oil changed.) The site in question is slightly over 12 acres and the new City Hall Bill Ficker designed would take around three of those. The remaining nine acres could easily be used as the passive park so many of the city hall opponents demand. The facility would provide parking space that could be shared with the library - a much-needed improvement. If I recall some of the numbers being floated when Ficker's plan was announced, it would cost somewhere between $25 and $30 million. That's a significant cost savings, no matter how you slice it. Plus, the old site on the peninsula is prime development material and would likely bring a pretty penny - and offset a big chunk of the cost of the new facility.
It's hard to understand how so many of the good folks in Newport Beach fail to agree that this site is the best one for all residents. Sure, a few folks who live above that spot may have their view affected - but not much. An architect with Ficker's skill can address some of those concerns in a final plan. Some of the opponents of the Newport Center site say their city needs more open space. Puh-leeze! How many miles of beach do they have? What about the harbor and back bay? And, if that new "park" at the corner of PCH and Jamboree is an example of what they want put in the Newport Center site I hope they reconsider. It's an eyesore that requires most who would use it to cross at least 8 busy traffic lanes to reach it.
In his column Riggy nibbled around the edges of what may just be the actual problem here. It has to do with an imbalance of fiscal and intellectual resources - more money than brains. I don't have a vested interest in this, but friends and relatives who live in Newport Beach certainly do. I hope their city leaders recognize this opportunity do what is best for all residents. If not, it looks like at least a couple Costa Mesa residents - one who has lived here for more than three decades and another who has yet to hit a year - will try to help them out.