Wednesday, September 28, 2022

STIFLING GROWTH IN COSTA MESA

 MY DAILY PILOT COMMENTARY

At 2:50 p.m., Tuesday, 9/20/22, I submitted a commentary to the Daily Pilot.  At 6:32 they published it online and it remained online until Sunday, 9/25/22, when it appeared in print.  The format I submitted didn't work for them, so they changed it, but didn't change a word of the text.  What follows below is the commentary just as I submitted it to them, including the use of bullet points to emphasize those issues.  I present this to you for whatever future reference you may choose to use it for.

AS AN ASIDE...

I'm VERY disappointed in the tack taken by folks who oppose Measure K.  Most of the loudest voices are those who created Measure Y... my commentary addresses my view on that. I sincerely hope they see the light and realize what long-term damage will be done to our city if we don't pass Measure K.  And now my Daily Pilot commentary...

THE IMPACT OF MEASURE Y

In 2016 Measure Y was passed by the voters with more than 68% of the votes cast. The result?  Measure Y requires a “vote of the people” if a property owner wants to update their property and that update changes certain parameters of the property or is located close to any other development that would have even retroatively triggered Measure Y.  After going through the time and expense of hiring architects and engineers and then pushing the project through the approval process, including an affirmative vote by the Planning Commission and City Council, then being faced by an expensive “vote of the people”, property owners and developers simply chose to take their development dollars elsewhere or not bother upgrading their existing properties at all.   Virtually all development in the city has dried-up, including attempts by existing property owners to simply upgrade their existing buildings.  There has not been a single “vote of the people” on developments since Measure Y passed.


MEASURE K TO THE RESCUE!

On August 2, 2022 the Costa Mesa City Council voted, 6-1, to place on the November 8th ballot an item that was eventually identified as Measure K.  This ordinance, crafted by an Ad Hoc Committee of Mayor Pro Tem Andrea Marr, Councilwoman Arlis Reynolds and Councilman Jeffrey Harlan after months of deliberation, is designed to loosen the grip Measure Y imposed on all development in the City of Costa Mesa.  


MISGUIDED OPPOSITION FROM MEASURE Y CREATORS

Most of the recent rhetoric against Measure K has been from the same people who created and marketed Measure Y six years ago.  In 2016 these well-intentioned folks, seeing a developer-friendly, heavy-handed city council approve uncontrolled development and spot zoning,  effectively said to the then-council “No More!”  The exclamation point on that election was the ouster of sitting Mayor Steve Mensinger, who finished 4th in a three-seat race.  


NEW COUNCIL MET THE CHALLENGES AND EARNED RESPECT

The subsequent election in 2018 - the first with district voting -  saw a dramatic change in the mix of council members.  That’s when the core of the current council was elected to guide our city.  They have done an exemplary job, navigating through the pandemic, effectively dealing with our homeless problems and enhancing support for the Public Safety organizations.  They have earned the confidence of the voters in doing so.  It was with that same concern for the future of the city that they approved Measure K being placed on the ballot - so the voters can help decide the future of Costa Mesa.


FAILURE WILL BE CATASTROPHIC

If the voters fail to pass Measure K in November the cost to our city could be catastrophic.  The impact of Measure Y is recognized by State officials as a roadblock to meeting State Housing Element compliance. It prevents well-meaning property owners from upgrading their properties, leading to “tenants of last resort” like massage parlors and illegal dispensaries, and eventually vacancies and blight as we currently see on Harbor Blvd.  It inhibits creation of new, much needed and required, housing.  If the impact of Measure Y is not mitigated the City could be subject to debilitating penalties.  They are:  

  • Fines of $100,000 per month. 
  • Loss of eligibility for ALL state grant funds. 
  • The probability of the State taking control of ALL development in the city - the complete loss of local control.


WHAT MEASURE K WILL DO

  • Will allow for much-needed re-investment on Harbor and Newport Blvds.
  • Will loosen the stranglehold of Measure Y on development.
  • Will permit planning for good development in industrial/commercial corridors.
  • Will protect residential neighborhoods from large developments.
  • Will allow the City to conform with State requirements
  • Will prevent penalties from being imposed.
  • Will require developments to conform with all development standards.
  • Will permit concerned residents to express their views on developments through the normal vetting process.


WHAT MEASURE K WILL NOT DO

  • Will not repeal Measure Y.
  • Will not pemit uncontrolled development.
  • Will not permit encroachment on residential neighborhoods.
  • Will not remove the opportunity for “the people” to express their views on developments.


MEASURE K IS NOT JUST OK, IT IS ESSENTIAL

Please vote YES on Measure K.  The economic viability of our city depends on it.


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