Thursday, March 03, 2016

Large Crowd For Bike Committee Meeting

The Costa Mesa Bikeways and Walkability Committee met again last night at the Costa Mesa Senior Center.  And, again, they were without a full compliment of committee members.  City Council liaison Katrina Foley and Chamber of Commerce member Brett Stoll were absent, as were regular members Brian Valles and Jim Kerins.
Most of the time these committee meetings play to a "crowd" of around six people, including your humble correspondent.  Last night a Standing Room Only crowd of around 40 residents filled the small room at the Costa Mesa Senior Center and overflowed into the lobby area, among them Patricia Johnson.
The crowd was motivated to attend by something that occurred at an earlier meeting, when Parks and Recreation Commission Vice Chairman Robert Graham coaxed committee Chairman Ralph Taboada into making a brief, unagendized pitch to consider re-opening the discussion of gaining access to the Greenville-Banning Channel trail.  The group that attended last night represented most of the 46 neighbors that are contiguous to that trail and who have successfully fought off the access issue in years past.

In fact, some of the attendees carried with them folders full of correspondence - some dating back twenty years -  from previous encounters with members of the City staff during which it apparently was agreed to NOT attempt to get this trail open to the public.
Of those who attended, a dozen spoke during Public Comments, including retired Costa Mesa Police Lieutenant Clay Epperson.  He led off and spoke of the historical opposition to this trail.  He explained that it was a buffer from criminal elements, it was unnecessary since there are already three roads and two trails nearby.  He said there is zero demand for this trail, and cited that fact that Graham is the only person who seems interested in this, but that he's out of touch with the facts and "Doesn't know what the hell he's talking about."  Graham was sitting nearby.

Most of the others who spoke were long-time residents who have had this battle before.  Most expressed a desire to never hear about it again.

Transportation Services Manager Raja Sethuraman explained to the group that there are NO plans to do ANYTHING with that trail, and that it would take a decision of the Parks and Recreation Commission and the City Council - which would be a long process.  The neighbors seemed not to be satisified with that explanation.  In any event, they came, said their piece, then most left after Public Comments were over.  By the time the final item on the agenda was discussed there were only eight of us remaining.

After approval of the minutes of the previous meeting they moved to Old Business - the discussion of the Outreach Sub-committee.  Leah Ersoylu volunteered to become a member of that sub-committee, joining Chairman Ralph Taboada, Vice Chair Cynthia McDonald, Rick Huffman and Jim Erickson.  Member Andrea Marr suggested some outreach be conducted to see about participation in "Action Arts In The Park", an event hosted by the Cultural Arts Committee occurring on May 14th.  Erickson passed around a calendar for members to use to enter known events.  A master calendar hosted by the City website was suggested and will be assessed by the staff.

Sethuraman advised that the General Plan will be released on Friday and should be available for review sometime shortly thereafter.  Taboada advised that the final Goals and Objectives - fine tuned following presentation to the City Council - will be sent to the members.  It's also available on the city website.

Stacey Klein from the Orange County Bike Coalition made an excellent 64-slide presentation that emphasized safety elements of bicycling.  She offered to conduct a training session for the committee at some point in time, and has made many of their materials available to the committee.   Details of their program can be found HERE.
Sethuraman then made a brief presentation on the Arlington Drive Bioswale Project.  Details appear on the following slides.  He said engineering is being done now and construction should start later this year and be completed next year.  No construction will take place during the Orange County Fair.
Then there was a brief discussion of the Pedestrian Opportunity Zones - more "walkable" zones around some of the major arterials in the city - which is part of the Circulation Element of the General Plan.
The group agreed to continue meeting only once a month.  They had been meeting twice a month in order to finish their Goals and Objectives.  There are three (3) vacancies on the committee presently and those will be filled by the recruitment effort that just finished.  New members will be selected by the City Council and will probably be seated by May.  The next meeting is in April.

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