Thursday, May 30, 2013

BIA Opines On The Costa Mesa General Plan

Wednesday morning I joined a handful of interested residents, a few city staffers, one council member and some honchos from the Orange County chapter of the Building Industry Association of Southern California (BIA) at a 90 minute meeting that is part of the community outreach on the update of Costa Mesa's General Plan. 

This meeting was billed as one of the three "Road Show" events at which selected organizations are invited to provide input on elements they'd like to see as the General Plan is updated.  The remaining two "Road Shows" are on Wednesday, June 5th from 3-4:30 p.m. in Conference Room 1A with the Chamber of Commerce and on Wednesday, June 26th from 9-11 a.m. with the Newport Beach Association of Realtors (Includes Costa Mesa and Newport Beach).  You can read the full schedule of events regarding the General Plan update HERE.

The BIA was represented by Mike Balsamo, Chief Executive Officer of the Orange County Chapter and Victor Cao, Government Affairs Manager.  Their organization represents over 1,000 companies or organizations involved in development and peripheral businesses.  Wendy Leece was the only council member present at the meeting conducted by Minoo Ashabi, Principal Planner.

Balsamo, in describing why Costa Mesa is an appealing venue for his member companies to consider for possible development, cited the solid financial condition, using South Coast Plaza and Metro Point as examples of Sales Tax generators; the quality of life found in Costa Mesa; the Fairgrounds, Hoag Hospital and the proximity of beach recreation in Newport Beach as favorable elements.  He also mentioned good weather and good schools. 
Leece asked his opinion of the Westside overlays, citing the fact that those plans have been slow to evolve due to the recent economic downturn, and wondered if he and his member companies thought those plans are viable today.  Balsamo deftly avoided directly answering that question, indicating it was a matter of timing in the marketplace.  Leece was concerned that the so-called "live/work" units planned would devolve into rental units, further exacerbating the renter vs. owner housing in the city.

A discussion ensued about the changing views in our society, emphasizing that the "Generation Y" group seem to be much more willing to consider renting as a way of live as opposed to the white picket fence suburban homes many have grown up seeking.  The only resident in attendance that fit into that group acknowledged that perception, but also indicated that she much preferred a home with a front and back yard and some peace and quiet not typically found in large rental buildings.

Transportation Services Manager Raja Sethuraman inquired about any special challenges the BIA sees ahead.  Balsamo spoke of the Banning Ranch development - not a Costa Mesa project, but one that will severely impact our city -  and the environmental hurdles involved.  He said his members are looking for predictable processes and a pro-business orientation so the development process can move smoothly.  He mentioned development fees, specifically the Parks fee, as issues that cause some developers to pause when considering Costa Mesa projects.  He also indicated that they'd like to see some "flexibility" with density, parking and setbacks on projects that are basically infill projects, usually constrained on all sides by adjacent uses.  That made me more than a little nervous, since our city has a long history of underparking projects all over the city.

We spoke briefly about the impact of transitions happening on the Eastside, where large lots with small homes are either being converted to large homes or common interest developments with multiple units that put stress on the existing infrastructure and significantly impact traffic in neighborhoods.  I expressed a view that such developments are inevitable, but that we don't want shoddy developments anywhere in our city.  I suggested they consider fewer units, so adequate parking could be provided onsite, and built to a quality level where a higher price could be charged per unit.

Cao expressed a view that their members are looking for the General Plan update to create clear goals and unambiguous "rules of the game".

Former Planning Commissioner Eleanor Egan expressed concern about the renter/owner ratio, indicating that the transient nature of renters as a whole adversely affects the sense of "community" sought by many and, as a result, the quality of life in our neighborhoods.  The discussion of the "Gen Y" group was covered again.

Former councilman Jay Humphrey expressed concern about parking, which generated a significant discussion about that issue, including a mention of subterranean parking as an option.  Several projects throughout the city already require permit-only on-street parking in neighborhoods impacted by underparked apartments.

The meeting was not videotaped - a major shortfall in the grand transparency plans for these kind of things - although an audio recording was made.  I thought there was a good exchange of information among the participants and I think the staff now has a clearer idea of what the BIA is looking in the General Plan.  I'm glad I attended, but was disappointed so few of my neighbors took this opportunity to become informed.

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Anonymous Develop Everything said...

"Wendy Leece was the only council member present at the meeting"

Right, but weren't Riggy and Mensy represented by their buddies from the Building Industry Association?

5/30/2013 07:58:00 AM  
Anonymous developer built your house said...

yes, they represented us well, we are appreciative, and the Costa Mesa brand is strong. Thank you to developers who built this great city.

5/30/2013 09:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Arthur T. Nern said...

"Thank you to developers.."

Costa Mesa under Napoleon:
Government of the developer, by the developer, and for the developer. The people be damned.

5/30/2013 10:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Central Valley Farm Animals said...

"yes, they (developers) represented us well, we are appreciative,"

Sounds like our homeboy Stevie!
Come back up here!
We kept your old Legos set and you can build between plantings.
Leave the good people in Costa Mesa alone.

5/30/2013 10:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Wendy is So Right said...

It's inevitable that Gen Y will be renters. Most "Echo Baby-Boomers" have yet to acquire that secure "career" job which would support a 30-year mortgage payment, property tax, HOA dues plus a mandatory homeowner's policy, FEMA flood & earthquake insurance, let alone their monthly car payment & mandatory auto insurance, ever-revolving credit card debt, as well as their sizable student loan payments from attending their "dream college".

Also many are still in their "extended adolescence" (i.e. partying mode: twenty-something, single, no children & working long hours at 2-3 meaningless jobs. Unfortunately, only a few lucky ones from affluent families will rely on their parents generosity to become coveted "homeowners".

The City currently has an 85/15 rental ratio within one overlay zone (Placentia/ Wilson/ Harbor to 19th St. according to the City's website) And many of the "owner occupied" R1 homes within this area sublet bedrooms to small families. So presently, this area is more likely 90% renters vs. "owner-occupied" homeowners.

Westside CM needs more upscale homes for local Newport Beach Gen Y Offspring, not "ghetto rentals" for Section 8 recipients fleeing more dangerous cities like Anacrime, Stabba Ana, and Stanton!! That's what Rivertucky is for...

5/30/2013 12:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Skirt wearin midget said...

Wait a minute Geoff...he actually said SOLID FINANCIAL CONDITION? So you mean Carpetbagger Pigheimer has been lying about the financial condition of the city? What happened to so-called under funded pension liability that is going to force the city to file municipal bankruptcy?

Are we starting to see the lies yet folks?

5/30/2013 01:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Tacky troller said...

Arthur T. Nern,

No, it is actually:

Government of the public safety association/pension, by the public safety association/pension, and for the public safety association/pension. The people be damned.

5/30/2013 03:02:00 PM  
Anonymous The only good development is no development said...

Very good job developers did build my house, now we have too many houses and do not need more. It is a shame that our city is being sold out to developers and the BIA in a lame attempt to save this dying industry.

The only problem with the westside is that developers and their buddies are trying to make a buck at our quality of life.

5/30/2013 10:28:00 PM  

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