Friday, August 10, 2007

Triangle Square Resurrected - Again?

The local media is all a'twitter with reports that the most recent ownership consortium - in a long line of owners - of Costa Mesa's municipal oxymoronic white elephant, Triangle Square, is all ready to present to the city a plan for the revitalization of this near-dead shopping mall. It's about time! This thing has been brought back from the grave way too many times, only to resume the dying cockroach position because of misguided management and/or a lack of action on the part of the ownership.


Those of us who have lived in this town for awhile recall that this was the first big redevelopment project - one that promised a wonderful shopping venue in a rehabilitated downtown. It was to be anchored by major retailers and have a market in the lower reaches - a plan that turned out to be a disaster. Few women returned to the market, even though the vendors changed a couple times. They were uncomfortable about the dark, dank parking venue and just plain afraid to go back.


Ownership changed again and again but there never seemed to be a clear vision for the mall. In the past couple years the major anchor retailers - Niketown, Virgin Megastore and Barnes and Nobel Booksellers - all bailed out. Other smaller, yet prestigious, retailers like North Face had pulled out earlier. The family-oriented shops and restaurants left and the Edwards theaters have limped along, probably not making enough to cover their overhead. According to the reports, the mall is only 40% occupied now.

So, as I read the media accounts of this latest plan I found myself with more than a few questions.
For example, how does the Great Tunnel that Mayor Mansoor and his majority are proposing to bore under Newport Blvd. from the terminus of the 55 Freeway to the Newport Beach city limits to take most of those 100,000 cars each day that pass the intersection of Newport Blvd. and 19th Street underground figure in the plans of the Triangle Square ownership? Are the businesses they hope to locate in their building going to be dependent on those potential shoppers? If so, is the plan viable without them?

The rendering provided showed no bridge across Newport Blvd. If bridges were built - similar to the bridges that link South Coast Plaza across Bear Street and Bristol Street - to span both Harbor and Newport Blvd. from Triangle Square to the adjacent shopping areas, it might eliminate concerns about the traffic problems.

What kind of businesses are going to be compatible with the current mix of businesses located there? These include three gin mills, one of which apparently has one of the highest calls-for-service rates by the Costa Mesa Police Department.

The new owners plan 120 dwelling units, a few of which will be live/work units. I find myself wondering just who will live in this place. Certainly, no families with children will choose to try to raise them in a cramped place with no area to play, surrounded by three of the busiest streets in Orange County. It seems likely that the residents will be single people or childless couples.

And, are these proposed to be rental units or owner-occupied condos? The location seems perfect for apartments, except our city leaders say they want to reverse the upside-down renter vs. owner ratio in our city. It will be very interesting to see how this shakes down.

Also, adding 120 residential units - which will likely dump 200-300 trips per day out onto Newport, Harbor and/or 19th Street - will only exacerbate the pending traffic snarl to be created by the nearly-complete 147 units at the 1901 Newport Plaza condo development across the street. What's the plan for this additional traffic at one of Orange County's busiest intersections?

Another interesting sidebar of this process will be the position the mayor takes. He and his cronies were highly critical of Mike Scheafer and Bruce Garlich for their position on the aforementioned condo development during the campaign last year. Will they support this project at Triangle Square when they feigned such opposition to a similar development? Or, was all that rhetoric last year pure politics? I'll bet we can guess the answer to that one.


Don't get me wrong. I'm all for a change at Triangle Square to finally make it the thriving entity once anticipated when it was conceived almost 20 years ago. If the new ownership can pull this off, Triangle Square could become the perfect gateway to a revitalized Westside - something most Costa Mesa voters hope for. What remains to be seen is whether our current city leadership is smart enough to figure a way to make this work. Keep your fingers crossed, but don't hold your breath.

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Revelations And Frustrations in Costa Mesa Nation

The Costa Mesa City Council meeting on Tuesday, August 7, 2007 was yet another interesting adventure. I'm not sure what was up with the mayor, but it seemed like every time I looked up at the picture on my television screen he was absent. Every once in awhile he would pop up and dash off the dais like he was trying to make the council meeting an aerobic event.

During the public comments segment an interesting event occurred. One speaker - a regular attendee before the council who resembles my theoretical character, Your Neighbor - who uses his three minutes to provide direction to the council, made a couple of very telling comments. First, he told us that he is able to recognize gang members on sight, and described some of the physical attributes on which he bases his opinion. It sure sounded like racial profiling to me. Now, if this guy can actually identify gang members from among other members of the community on sight I think we need to draft him into the Gang Enforcement Detail of the Costa Mesa Police Department to facilitate the eradication of gangs from our city. Since he's been a frequent loud critic of gangs and a strident advocate for safety of our residents, I'm sure he would acquiesce and perform this public service for the safety of all Costa Mesa residents.

This same fellow also mentioned, in the same context of the gang problem, that he has been a frequent visitor to crime scenes in our city, and that he has also taken his family with him to these locations. This only affirms the mental image I've had of him, squatting in his bunker in Mesa North, listening to his police scanner, ready to dash out to view some violent event in our city. It's my understanding that he has at least one small child - the one endangered by marauding soccer players in Paularino Park - so I find myself wondering just what kind of a parent would drag a small child to a bloody crime scene. Good Grief! This certainly confirms some of my opinions of this man.

As most have already learned by reading the Daily Pilot coverage, here, the question of placing of the fireworks issue and a 2% increase in the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) on the November 2008 ballot were both laid to rest by the Mansoor majority. I found it interesting that they would choose to forbid the voters of this city the opportunity to express their view on these two issues at the ballot box. A 2% increase in the TOT would mean an additional $2 million in revenue to the city - money pitched into our coffers like coins tossed into a wishing well by visitors just passing through. That lack of foresight represents a lot of public safety staff members not hired and a lot of potholes not being repaired. I suppose, if enough voters were interested, either item could be placed on the ballot by the initiative process. That might be interesting.

Among the other items mentioned during the meeting was the possibility of resurrecting a parade in conjunction with the annual Fish Fry at Lion's Park. Councilwomen Katrina Foley and Wendy Leece are scheduled to meet with the City Manager and former councilman Mike Scheafer to discuss it.

Oh, yes. As predicted, the fellow mentioned early in this posting was all over Tony Dodero for his commentary published in the Daily Pilot Wednesday. It sure does seem that he's become our young jailer/mayor's biggest supporter. Maybe it's because the mayor seems to jump every time this guy snaps his fingers.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Diving Back Into The Ooze

After spending a wonderful, relaxing, fun-filled long weekend out of town celebrating the aforementioned anniversary, I returned home late Monday to find a mountain of emails and some very interesting blog entries.


I was amused by Jim Righeimer's column in Saturday's Daily Pilot, here, in which he, once again,
took our neighbors in Newport Beach to task about their plans for a City Hall. He's trying to use logic on that issue and, from a guy who has been beating that drum for a couple years now, I can tell you that it doesn't work. The sides are polarized on the issue based on pure emotion - you just cannot have a rational discussion with a group that is devoted to the perpetuation of a weed patch in the name of environmentalism. I wish old Riggy well as he keeps chucking those stones over the border, but I doubt he's going to have any influence on the decision, however it's made.

Then I fo
und myself chuckling at our young jailer/mayor's latest contribution to the municipal enlightenment in the form of a letter to the editor in the Daily Pilot, here, also on Saturday. Didn't the mayor swear off contributing to the Daily Pilot not too long ago? That's what I thought. Guess he changed his mind.

The mayor's first sentence expressed "disappointment in the double standard put forward by the Daily Pilot." This, of course, is a real joke. In it's news articles the Daily Pilot has consistently presented a balanced view of the issues. I think the mayor just doesn't like the editorial position taken by the newspaper on issues that are near and dear to him. He and his cohorts gripe when the editors chose to publish a viewpoint from residents that differ from theirs, yet ignore the many times when the mayor, or Eric Bever or Wendy Leece or others among the outspoken so called "improvers", like Christian and Kathleen Eric and Judi and Mike Berry, have their views published.

In this particular epistle our young jailer/mayor chose to put spin on the subject of the Paularino Park debate at a recent council meeting - that he didn't attend, by the way. His suggestion that Linda Dixon's question to the City Attorney about what other types of activities would be forbidden by the proposed designation of the park as a "passive" park was "over-the-top antics" misrepresents the facts. Dixon asked the question. Kim Barlow answered it by indicating that tossing baseballs would, indeed, violate the rules.

Mansoor criticized the Daily Pilot editors for their opinion expressed here that the motivation regarding Paularino Park might be race-based. Again, the mayor ignores the facts. This was a non-issue until o
ne resident - a man well known for his racist essays and books and an outspoken critic of the immigrants among us - first raised the issue a couple years ago. Until he fabricated this issue there was no outcry by the Mesa North community. He's used this issue to fan the flames of intolerance in that part of town and the current council majority have been more than willing accomplices. The mayor can deny it all he wants, but facts are facts.

I was pleased to see columnist Steve Smith - a man with whom I've had more than a few disagreements - decided to point out many of the mayor's errors in his letter, here. Then, in a commentary of his own, Tony Dodero, the Daily Pilot's Director of News and Online, signed in with a response to the mayor in Wednesday's Pilot, here.


The man mentioned above, predictably, was all over Smith in his blog posting Tuesday. Without a doubt, he'll rip Dodero's piece, too. I've decided to stop providing links to his stuff because it leaves a stench here on the blog. You'll just have to find it yourself.

I suggest the mayor simply stop reading the Daily Pilot, as he threatened to do so many months ago. Until he does, he should be grateful that the editors and publisher provide him a forum to berate them on their own pages... it's much more than he would do if the shoe was on the other foot.

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