Thursday, March 16, 2017

Commission Reviews Open Space Master Plan

FINAL DRAFT PRESENTED
Wednesday night the new Costa Mesa Parks and Recreation Commission reviewed the recently-completed Open Space Master Plan For Parks and Recreation completed by the consulting group RJM Design Group.  You can read the staff report, HERE.  Take a couple minutes to read the first half-dozen pages to get a feel for this presentation.  The summary is 159 pages and the full report is more than 500 pages, but it's a surprisingly easy read.
Vice Chair Liz McNabb
NEW COMMISSIONERS DID A GREAT JOB
All the new commissioners were in attendance and did a great job.  Each had clearly reviewed the documents and each asked many excellent questions and made observations that demonstrated they actually knew what they were talking about.  Chairman Kim Pederson kept things rolling.  Conference Room 1A is fine for the participants, but leaves much to be desired for those trying to observe, and hear, what's going on.  Luke Money from the Daily Pilot attended and will also write about this event.
THE PUBLIC SPOKE
The meeting began with five members of the public asking questions/offering observations about the document/process.  Approximately 15 members of the public attended.  A couple observed that it's prodigious length was off-putting.  Another observed that the Sports Fields Questions were leading - guiding the participants to a pre-determined answer.  She also observed that, in light of Measure AA passing overwhelmingly, much of this work was unnecessary.  Others observed that the need for expansion of the Tennis Center was ignored.  The need for safe public restrooms at most parks is essential.
RJM DESIGN GROUP
Consultant Zach Mueting, Project Manager for RJM who headed the team of consultants that prepared this report, led the presentation, which took just over an hour.  I've included only a few of the slides here for your reference.  His full presentation will be on the City website before the end of the week.
DOVETAILED WITH THE GENERAL PLAN UPDATE
This process has taken two years and was dovetailed with the recently-completed General Plan Update last year to make sure there were no conflicts.  The Open Space Master Plan has not been updated since 2003, but has been a solid guide for park and open space issues since that time.  It involved significant community outreach, including a telephone survey of 400 residents, four separate workshops and meetings with stakeholders, like youth sports organizations.  The information gleaned from those meetings was analyzed and homogenized into a series of graphs depicting things like user satisfaction, improvements people would like to see, comparison to the earlier document, etc.


 Walking distance to parks
POPULATION AGING, RECREATION NEEDS FOLLOWING
Several things became clear as a result of this long, costly exercise.  Costa Mesa's population is aging, and with it the recreation preferences are shifting, from more active,  participative  types of activities to more leisurely, passive choices.  That thread was consistent throughout the report and the presentation.
DEMOGRAPHICS SHIFTING, TOO
It is also shifting demographically, with the white population declining and the Latino and Black population increasing.  It's not clear how that impacts the reach of this report.
Commissioner Leah Ersoylu, Recreation Manager Justin Martin, 
City Engineer Bart Mejia
MOVING TO THE COMMISSION IN APRIL
The consultants will take input provided by the commissioners and the public at this meeting and blend it into the text of their report.  That report, and any subsequent communications received from the commissioners and/or the public, will be presented to the Parks and Recreation Commission at their meeting in April.  I expect more than a few of you will attend that meeting to present your views for commission - and public - consumption.  Presuming it passes muster with the commission, it will be forwarded on to the City Council for review and approval at a subsequent meeting - probably in May or June of this year - where the public will get one more shot at this plan before the City Council adopts it.
GREAT JOB ALL AROUND
Kudos to all who participated in this process.  I attended the workshops and wrote about it at that time last year.  It appears that the process worked and the consultants have prepared a very thorough report - in depth, yet easy to understand.  If you begin to review it at the link above I suspect you'll agree.  The goal was to complete an easy-to-understand document with a shelf life of a decade or more - just like the one it replaces.  It looks like they may have attained that goal.

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