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Costa Mesa council adopts new transportation plan to promote walking and biking

Costa Mesa council adopts new transportation plan to promote walking and biking
A cyclist rides last month on the “Core Campus Loop” dedicated for bicyclists and skateboarders on the Orange Coast College campus in Costa Mesa. (File Photo)

A new transportation plan for Costa Mesa got the green light this week, providing what officials say will be a road map for the development of biking and walking amenities citywide.

The primary goals of the plan, which the City Council approved Tuesday, are to promote biking and walking for recreation and commuting, identify ways to plug gaps in current facilities and services, maximize potential funding for new infrastructure and enhance overall safety and quality of life for residents.

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The 79-page plan includes a series of proposed projects that, combined, would create almost 54 miles of new multi-use paths, bike trails and lanes in an effort to improve Costa Mesa’s active transportation network and make it more accessible and better-connected throughout the city and region.

“Active transportation improves our productivity and health,” said Cynthia McDonald, chairwoman of the city’s Bikeway and Walkability Committee, which worked to develop the plan. “It reduces air pollution, provides social interaction and promotes a sense of community.”

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The plan also will better position the city to tap into additional county, state and federal dollars for local projects, McDonald added at Tuesday’s council meeting.

Though the council’s 4-1 vote — with Mayor Pro Tem Allan Mansoor opposed — approved the overall plan, most of the significant projects it outlines would be subject to additional public review as they move forward.

“Pretty much all major projects will come to you for your approval,” Public Services Director Raja Sethuraman told the council.

The road has already been a little bumpy for some concepts.

For instance, fierce community opposition prompted the city to delete an envisioned multi-use path that would have run along the northern boundary of the Costa Mesa Country Club, behind homes on Tanager Drive.

Also, a concept to develop a similar trail along the Paularino Channel between Pinecreek Drive and Bristol Street has drawn strenuous objections from some Mesa del Mar homeowners who would see the path pass mere feet from their properties.

At Tuesday’s meeting, several critics likened the proposed path to an alley and said they fear it would attract transients, vandals and criminals, essentially into their backyards.

Council members eventually retained the concept, with the provision that it will be pursued only if nearby residences can be adequately buffered.

“It’s not a question of ‘bike trail bad, bike trail good,’” Councilman John Stephens said. “It’s a question of the execution and so, if we are going to do a bike trail anywhere … it will require a lot of outreach to the community.”

Mansoor, however, said he was concerned that residents weren’t adequately consulted about the transportation plan or the projects it contains.

“Once these projects are in the plan and grant funding is found, they are much harder to stop if the neighbors really don’t want them,” he wrote in an email Thursday. “I love bike trails as much as anyone, but we need to take the impacts to the entire community into consideration.”

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