Residents Anxious About Change At General Plan Meeting
Last night I attended the General Plan Update Workshop at the Neighborhood Community Center along with three dozen of my fellow residents, many of whom were attending their first General Plan Workshop. This workshop focused on Land Use, although someone brought some bogus handouts and distributed them, apparently trying to hijack the conversation. Didn't work. You can read the agenda for the meeting HERE.
RECENT DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMATION
We were shown a wide array of charts showing demographic and other info. Here are the images of those charts. I apologize for the quality of some of them. They are photographs of the charts and the glare was hard to overcome.
Following the orientation by the consultants and Gary Armstrong, Director of Economic and Development Services, with the information on those charts we began a group exercise which involved responding to a series of twelve questions, soliciting our view of Costa Mesa in 2030 or thereabouts. It sounds easy, but several of us had difficulty separating what we wanted to see from the way things are today and the trends set in motion by the current government of the city.
(1) support each one,
(2) definitely NOT support it or
(3) MAY support it if....
That "if" resulted in the most discussion. We would support the proposition if a particular set of circumstances were met, etc.
1 - Costa Mesa is a vibrant, engaged community that embraces its history, values its eclecticism, and promotes economic growth that sustains high quality of life.
2 - Costa Mesa will always be an inclusive, mulit-generational, and economically and ethnically diverse city.
3 - Costa Mesa is a community of distinctive neighborhoods, where young families, families with school-age children, singles, and seniors live in a mix of housing types.
4 - Costa Mesa will not become stagnant, the city will change over time to anticipate demographic shifts and respond to demands of its populace. At the same time, these changes will respect and preserve the historical context and character of our city while adapting to meet community needs.
5 - A healthy economy means a healthy community. Costa Mesa will continue to foster conditions that create a healthy and diverse economy, one that retains and attracts new businesses and industries, supports the tax base, and sustains the ability of the City to provide high quality services for all residents, including expanded housing opportunities at all income levels.
6 - Costa Mesa's retail districts will continue to provide a welcoming diversity of shopping opportunities, from a thriving small-town downtown feel to eclectic, placemaking gathering spots; and from auto-oriented boulevards to an internationally recognized shopping mecca.
7 - Costa Mesa will promote and embrace an entrepreneurial spirit, welcoming incubator businesses that grow the economy.
8 - Costa Mesa recognizes its long-term obligations to provide parks and open spaces for residents in all life stages. The City will continually enhance established parks and recreation facilities and encourage a diversity of flexible new spaces to meet evolving needs.
9 - Costa Mesa will incorporate sustainability principles into planning activities and decisions, thus fostering good environmental stewardship and an improved environment for future residents and businesses.
10 - Costa mesa is a City of the Arts: a "place" to experience and enjoy visual and performing arts and cultural events. The City fosters creativity and cultivates cultural enrichment and lifelong learning.
11 Pedestrian, bicycle and transit connectivity are as important as private automobile accommodation. Costa Mesa's road network will be retrofitted to put local mobility needs first. New developments and public spaces will be designed with transit, pedestrians, and bicycles in mind.
12 - As a city served by freeways and regional travel corridors, Costa Mesa recognizes that vehicles moving through Costa Mesa often are headed to other destinations. Traffic will be managed in a manner that ensures local mobility needs are not compromised and that Costa Mesa's growth and productivity are not stifled.
MUCH CONCERN FOR THE FUTURE
I cannot compress more than an hour of conversation into a few lines on this page, but the discussions were spirited, to say the least. The consultant, Laura Stetson, seemed particularly impressed with the quality of the questions and the thought that went into them. Folks expressed concerns about density and possible extreme modifications of our parks, for example. A good deal of time was spent discussing development in a built-out community and how we serve what clearly is an aging population.
CURRENT PLANS CONTRADICT THE MESSAGES ABOVE
Quite honestly, the way things are trending in our city - which is being run by developer-friendly men on the city council and planning commission - changes are coming that will directly contradict many of the wishes I heard expressed last night. For example, the Small Lot Ordinance will certainly adversely impact many of our neighborhoods by increasing the density of housing units and the resultant impact on the infrastructure - roads, sewers, etc.
We eventually discussed the first ten and ran out of time. However, the remaining two deal primarily with transportation and circulation, which will be the subject of the next workshop on September 18th at 6:00 in the Emergency Operations Center near the Police headquarters.
While this exercise was worthwhile and the data collected by the consultants and staff will be useful in constructing a "vision" statement for the General Plan, I think I may have chosen the wrong meeting to attend last night. It's my understanding that the Jim Righeimer "Meet The Mayor" Fairview Park Improvements event was a lot more fun. I'm told by those who attended that the mayor was pretty darn uncomfortable with the questions by the 80 or so residents who met with him at the end of Pacific Avenue. Remember, he brought it on himself when he begged for someone to host his event at the last council meeting. However, I'm told that good old Barry Friedland was on the scene filming the event, so we will soon be able to see it all - unedited, if Friedland is true to his word - and in living color on his YouTube page, Costa Mesa Brief.
ONWARD AND UPWARD
So, that's it for this week. Next week, however, will start with a bang - the council meeting Tuesday and the rally for Costa Mesa Public Safety folks beginning at 5 p.m. in front of City Hall.