Sunday, November 12, 2023


INTRO AND OBJECTIVES Last Wednesday, November 8, 2023, I attended a meeting at the Costa Mesa Senior Center to discuss the Fairview Park Master Plan.  Once again, the hosts optimistically anticipated a couple hundred attendees and, once again, we were disappointed as fewer than 60 people were in the room, and at least a third of those were City staffers or consultants.  Fewer than 20 of us spoke during the Q & A session.

THE DISCUSSION LEADERSThe meeting was kicked off by Jenni Zell of consultants MIG.  She handed it off to Fairview Park Administrator Kelly Dalton.  Then the bulk of the presentation was done by consultant Travis Brooks from Land IG, who was joined later by Robb Hamilton of Hamilton Biological.

THE PRESENTATION - The 90 minute presentation itself was outstanding.  Travis Brooks and Robb Hamilton did a good job of guiding us through the whole thing.  Each of us had a multi-page handout with 66 individual photos describing the history of the area, the topography, the progression of the site and showing many images of flora and fauna from the area.  It was very informative.  You can view the slideshow HERE.

Q&A Nineteen of us stepped to the microphones to ask questions and make comments and suggestions.  Some were knowledge-based and some were simply due to curiosity and concern.

SPEAKERS Here is my summary of a few of the speakers who stepped up...

Long time city activist and committee participant Bill Turpit led things off by opining about the apparent unwillingness of the City Council/staff to step up and pay the real cost of restoration/maintenance and protection of the more than 200 acre site.

Henry Smith, long time member of the Harbor Soaring Society, the group whose operations at Fairview Park are currently curtailed due to perceived negative impact on the plants and birds which are part of that area, stepped up and made a not-very-veiled threat to take political action against council members who continue to support their denial of space in the park.  That was inappropriate and disappointing.

Former councilman Jay Humphrey, who remains very involved in important city issues, addressed the impact of Measure AA, which severely constrains any activity in the Park.  He said things can happen as long as they specifically involve Restoration, Preservation or Maintenance.  Someone earlier mentioned grading, which he said is not permitted.  He also spoke of the creation of a plant nursery on, or near, the site, to provide replacement foliage.

Andy Campbell, Chair of the Fairview Park Steering Committee and a hydrologist by profession, spoke of mitigating the impact of the gliders, removal of the fill in the canyon area, the need to restore the vernal pool drainage and asked about the dormant Storm Drain Master Plan.  He spoke a second time later and asked about the State Grant from Senator Min and wondered how soon it must be spent or lost.

Cynthia D'Agosto, former Fairview Park Administrator and continuing activist, also addressed drainage and vernal pools.  She actually spoke twice.  The second time she addressed the "cultural resources" buried in the park and the approvals necessary to further investigate/protect them. She also commented that Fairview Park is not managed the same way as other city parks due to Measure AA.

Planning Commissioner Angely Andrade Vallarta, attending with her young daughter, thanked the moderators for the presentation and acknowledged the need to address the issues presented and described the Park as one of the City "Hot Topics".

"Kyle", who has been at many meetings lately, thanked the presenters for the historical perspective and bemoaned the small turnout, citing the need for better outreach.

"Paul", from the Banning Ranch Conservancy, also thanked the presenters for the historical perspective and said they supported the habitat restoration.  He cited the proximity to the Talbert Nature Preserve and the recently re-named Randall Preserve and said they would be VERY interested in the recommendations that come out of these meetings.

"Ben", in response to earlier comments about the bicyclers who used the dirt "jumps", suggested just moving them.  He also suggested making it harder for people to stray from the established, approved trails.

Flo Martin, long time city activist and proponent of walking and biking, asked about the number of Park Rangers assigned and in place in the Park on a daily basis.  Kelly Dalton had no numbers.  She also decried the threat by Henry Smith.

60-year resident John Rittenhouse, a member of the Harbor Soaring Society, attempted to defuse the anger about Henry Smith's earlier comment by inviting folks to the Park the 1st and 3rd Saturdays to enjoy the flying and learn about aviation.  He suggested we "stay the course before we judge".

Activist Cynthia McDonald, a self-described "pro-bike" person, expressed concern about the impact of bicycling within the Park.  She described her personal history with the creation of the Waldorf School (contiguous with the Park) and the evolution of parking spaces and drainage and the jeopardy the vernal pools had been in recently.

"Diane", a lady in the pink-trimmed hat, stepped up to suggest regularly-scheduled meetings/tours in the park to improve community awareness.

I was the final speaker and agreed with "Diane".  I spoke about the guided tour I joined in the spring during which we had a chance to see the full vernal pools in all their aquatic glory.  I suggested, tongue-in-cheek, that they would have made a great place for model boat racing.  Folks chuckled, nervously.  Scheduling similar tour days - perhaps quarterly - would go a very long way to educate the populace about the value of the Park.

TAKEAWAYS1-I was disappointed, again, at the few number of people who showed up for this very important meeting.  There were several senior staffers and I did see Planning Commission Chairman Adam Ereth in the room, but it was another meeting with fewer than 50 residents in attendance.  It was an exclamation point in the need for The City to figure out a way to cast a bigger net for these very important meetings. 2-I thought the consultants, all of them, did a very good job of presenting the program, although there seemed to be few answers to important questions asked by speakers. 3-There needs to be more of these kinds of meetings. 4-There is a need for more guided tours of the Park throughout the year.  You can follow along with the progress at the City website on this issue, HERE.

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