Council backs homes for Fairview Developmental Center property

The future of the Fairview Developmental Center took center stage during Tuesday's Costa Mesa City Council meeting, and though the members came to an agreement on development ideas for the property that could close in the coming years, it wasn't without debate.

After much discussion and public comment, the council unanimously recommended 500 homes, about 28 acres of open space and public or private recreational facilities for the 114-acre, state-owned property off Harbor Boulevard.

Three hundred of the homes are geared for a proposed project, nicknamed Shannon's Mountain, that includes housing for the developmentally disabled under guidelines set forth by a bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in June.

The council's recommendations this week will be incorporated into an updated version of the city's general plan, which acts a blueprint for future development. The council is scheduled to vote on approving the general plan in March.

Though she ended up voting alongside her colleagues, Councilwoman Katrina Foley urged them to slow down on the Fairview vote until further analysis is completed. She made a motion to that effect, though it failed, with dissenting votes cast by Mayor Steve Mensinger, Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer and Councilman Gary Monahan.

Foley said she wanted all options on paper for everyone to digest and "understand what we're voting for."

"This is a significant parcel," she said. "I want to make sure we do it correctly."

Gary Armstrong, the city's deputy chief executive and economic and development service director, noted that the future of Fairview is still very unknown, despite the initial plans Costa Mesa City Hall may approve for it.

Other portions of the 114-acre property not used by Shannon's Mountain may go to other state agencies, Armstrong said.

Brown has proposed closing the center, home to 263 people as of last month, by 2021.

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Former Times site

The council unanimously approved new development options for about 25 acres in northern Costa Mesa owned by Tribune Real Estate Holdings.

The Los Angeles-based company — a separate entity from the Los Angeles Times and Daily Pilot, owned by Chicago-based Tribune Publishing — will be allowed up to 564,538 square feet of commercial retail space, up to 669,082 of office space, or a combination of both, for its adjoining properties at 1375 Sunflower Ave. and 3370 Harbor Blvd.

Like the recommendations for Fairview, the council's vote will be incorporated into the updated General Plan, allowing Tribune Real Estate to proceed further with its development goals.

The Sunflower Avenue property, about 21 acres, is the former Orange County headquarters of The Times and Daily Pilot. It contains vacant offices, a dismantled printing press and large parking lots.

The Harbor Boulevard parcel contains a youth baseball field.

Tribune Real Estate has not elaborated on plans for the properties, other than saying they could become a large mixed-use commercial center or offices. Kearny Real Estate Co. in Los Angeles is a partner in the project.

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