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Should Fairview Developmental Center close? The public can offer comments at a meeting Saturday

The public is invited to provide input at 10 a.m. Saturday on a proposal to close the Fairview Developmental Center.

After a 15-minute introduction, public comments will be accepted from 10:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. Speakers are limited to five minutes.

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The meeting is in Fairview's auditorium, 2501 Harbor Blvd. Those unable to attend can call into a conference line: (800) 230-1059.

Written correspondence is also being accepted Saturday through March 1. Comments can be submitted online at dds.ca.gov/FairviewNews, via email to fairview.closure@dds.ca.gov or mailed to Department of Developmental Services, Attn: Amy Wall, 1600 9th Street, Room 240, MS 2-13 Sacramento, CA 95814.

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State officials expect to submit a Fairview closure plan to the Legislature by April 1. Public comments will be summarized in the report.

Gov. Jerry Brown's May revision of the state budget suggested closing the state-owned, 114-acre Costa Mesa facility by 2021. Residents would be reassigned to smaller facilities, reportedly at a lower cost to taxpayers.

The center, which opened in 1959, housed 252 patients as of Dec. 30, according to the latest state records. It was built for more than 4,100 and peaked in 1967 with about 2,700 residents.

Residents receive 24-hour care and have developmental disabilities, including autism, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, Down syndrome and other lifelong conditions, according to Fairview Families and Friends Inc., a nonprofit.

Brown has also proposed closing a developmental center near Sonoma by 2018 and one in Porterville by 2021.

Though Fairview's potential closure is years away, state and local officials have already envisioned new uses for the considerable real estate, which is surrounded by a municipal golf course.

In June, Brown signed into law a bill that allows no more than 20 acres of Fairview to be used as housing for the developmentally disabled who are able to live independently.

State officials have also proposed a 170-unit housing project, nicknamed Shannon's Mountain, on some of Fairview's now-vacant land. Shannon's Mountain is named after a former Fairview employee who spearheaded building a mountainous dirt berm on the property to act as a visual barrier for a park area and provide a feeling of separation.

At the local level, the City Council has recommended that Fairview's land be used for 500 new homes, open space and public or private recreation facilities. The recommendation will be incorporated into the city's general plan, which the council is slated to approve later this year.

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