Friday, October 23, 2015

Loss Of Affordable Housing Protested

A funny thing happened on the way to the Parks and Recreation Commission meeting last night!  I stopped on the way to view the peaceful demonstration by members of the Costa Mesa Affordable Housing Coalition and other concerned residents to protest the planned demolition of the 236-room Costa Mesa Motor Inn and in its place erect a 224-room luxury apartment complex, which will result in the loss of some of the few remaining "homes" for very low or low income residents.
I perched across the street from the Costa Mesa Motor Inn, arriving just before 5:00 p.m. - the announced start time of the demonstration - and saw a Costa Mesa Police car staged in the exit of the Home Depot shopping center, watching.  He left shortly after I arrived, heading north on Harbor Boulevard for parts unknown.
I parked in the parking lot adjacent to McDonald's nearby and leaned against a light pole on Harbor Boulevard and began observing the demonstrators as they formed-up across the street.  When I arrived there were already nearly 50 people - men, women and children - lined up along the curb, waving to the passing traffic and holding signs of all shapes and sizes.
I noticed Daily Pilot reporter Bradley Zint arrive and begin to chat with folks.  In this image he's talking, or rather, listening to organizer Kathy Esfahani.  You can read his coverage of this event, including interviews with participants and tenants, HERE.  You'll see him in other images I took yesterday afternoon.
I spent approximately 30 minutes, standing, watching and photographing.  I think you'll get a flavor for the event as you scroll down through the images I've provided.  I saw many familiar faces - many folks who are concerned enough about civic affairs that they take time out of their busy lives to study issues, write to officials, speak at meetings, participate on committees, run for office and attend events like this one.  You'll probably recognize a few yourself.
I found myself wondering just what effect this demonstration will have on the elected officials that will make the final decision on the future of the planned development on that site.  According to reports from the owner and some residents, things are much, much better now that the owner has instituted what amounts to a "lock down" condition at the Costa Mesa Motor Inn.  And, in theory, he's "taking care of" those residents who pay their rent and keep their rooms serviceable until they are eventually evicted before demolition of the building, sometime next spring or fall.  August was mentioned as the departure date.  He said he will return three months paid rent plus $1,500 dollars to tenants who stick it out until that date under the terms he prescribed.  That's hardly enough to find permanent housing in Costa Mesa, but it might be enough for a starting point elsewhere.

An interesting side note.  At the Parks and Recreation Commission meeting, one of the items on the agenda is the request for permission to place a tree, bench and plaque in the memory of Frank P. Forbath, the long-time resident and activist for the downtrodden.  I couldn't help but notice that his widow, Jean, and their daughter, Kathy Esfahani, were among the demonstrators.  They chose to participate here rather than attend the meeting where a memorial to Frank was happening.  It seemed somehow perfectly correct and exactly what Frank would have preferred.  Spoiler alert - the memorial to Frank was approved by the Parks and Recreation Commission.

As the sun set behind the Costa Mesa Motor Inn and the, by now, around 100 demonstrators, and I was getting ready to depart for the meeting at City Hall, a young couple departing the shopping center behind me on foot stopped to ask me what was going on.  I told them about the demonstration and answered a couple of their questions.  As they left I asked where they were from, since they had the look of tourists.  They said "back east", which I found out meant north of Boston.  I asked where they were staying and was surprised when they told me the name of a sober living facility - and proudly admitted they were here because of heavy drug and alcohol use!  I wished them well and they walked on up the street.  Something's always happening in Costa Mesa....

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Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

Funny that the city ridicules and then ignores the civic minded citizens, in favor of their friends, but then awards memorials to those civic minded citizens that have passed. Sad.

Righeimer's favorite saying is that the city is what it attracts. Take a good look Costa Mesa. We attracted Righeimer from Fountain Valley, for which I'm sure they are eternally grateful, and now we have to deal with all the stuff that he has brought with him. Indeed, we are what we attract, and it hasn't been pretty.

10/23/2015 08:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Casual Viewer said...

Interesting contrast as to the options open to drug addicts with access to money and those without. It is also unfair to characterize all of those who live in motels as addicts and criminals. Mariners Church has a ministry at the Costa Mesa Motor Inn. Maybe more churches should get involved.

Steve was quoted in the Register as saying there are plenty of apartments that are "less expensive per square foot." That does not mean there is affordable housing.

10/23/2015 09:39:00 AM  
Anonymous CM Resident said...

"He said he will return three months paid rent plus $1,500 dollars to tenants who stick it out until that date under the terms he prescribed. That's hardly enough to find permanent housing in Costa Mesa, but it might be enough for a starting point elsewhere."

Hogwash. People are paying between $1100 and $1400 per month for a motel room. That means $4800 to $5700 in cash relocation money. That is more than enough for first, last and security deposit for an apartment in Costa Mesa.

10/23/2015 03:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Heart for Costa Mesa said...

CM Resident, please tell me where?

10/23/2015 07:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Byron de Arakal said...

Affordable housing requires density, Geoff….a condition with which you've taken pointed exception the last several months. You can have affordable housing in Costa Mesa. You can have low density. In a built out city like ours, however, you cannot have both.

10/23/2015 08:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Disgusted Republican said...

Byron, Really? So far ALL high density projects approved by our CCM and their PC puppets have been for expensive, "luxury" type housing which is the ONLY type of housing the bigoted CCM wants in CM. So how does this type of high density building in CM equal low income housing for low income families in our city?

10/24/2015 09:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Muffin Top Bob said...

Byron, you're coming off sounding very much like our A- Hole Mayors, thought you were better than that.

10/24/2015 02:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Byron de Arakal said...

Wasn't my intent at all, Bob. Geoff knows me better. I was just pointing out the incongruity between providing sufficient affordable housing but not wanting density. Truly, you can't have both.

10/26/2015 02:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Byron de Arakal said...

Disgusted Republican:

You're right. Recently approved higher density projects have not had an affordable component to them. My point is if they had, say, 15% to 20% set aside for affordable housing at a higher density (density bonus), would the projects be more palatable to the anti-density crowd?

10/26/2015 02:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Disgusted Republican said...

Byron-we will never have a chance to find out as long as we have our current CCM as they will NEVER allow that to happen. All they want are LUXURY high density developments. And coincidently enough, wink, wink, nod, nod, that's all that have been brought to (and approved by) our city "leaders". These out of town, CCM campaign donating developers expect maximum return for their donations. No way would the CCM bite the hands that feed them by requiring a percentage of units in these luxury high density developments to be for low income residents. And the fact of the matter is the CCM does NOT want ANY low income residents in CM.

10/27/2015 11:16:00 AM  

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