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Costa Mesa won’t place Fairview Park projects on the ballot, revising some so they won’t need a public vote

Costa Mesa won’t place Fairview Park projects on the ballot, revising some so they won’t need a public vote
A man walks his dogs at Costa Mesa's Fairview Park, where Measure AA requires city voter approval of several possible changes. (File Photo)

Costa Mesa City Council members declined this week to place a handful of Fairview Park projects up for a public vote this year, deciding instead to explore limiting or tweaking several so they can progress without the voter approval necessary under a local initiative.

The city’s Fairview Park Steering Committee previously screened each of the concepts for compliance with Measure AA, which city voters passed in 2016 to require residents’ approval of several possible changes at the park. The committee determined the plans would need to go to the voters as currently designed.

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However, some Fairview projects can be spared the ballot box if they are for restoration, maintenance, preservation or public safety purposes. Council members cited the maintenance and safety exemptions during their meeting Tuesday.

The council opted to forge ahead with efforts to install new storm drains along the edge of the park between Canyon Drive and Pacific Avenue — using methods with the least environmental impact — and to use lower-impact materials than concrete to construct a new path between the restroom and picnic shelter near the south end of the west parking lot. The path will comply with requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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Council members decided against paving any additional sections of the Fairview trails that provide connections to Canyon Drive, Placentia Avenue and Talbert Regional Park, though they said staff should work to rehabilitate areas that are in disrepair.

Mayor Pro Tem Allan Mansoor was particularly adamant about that, showing a short video of the condition of a trail entering the park near Estancia High School.

“That is awful; it’s just crumbling,” he said. “It’s an embarrassment to our city. If that’s not maintenance, I don’t know what is.”

The council also agreed to direct staff to come up with an alternative plan for a proposed vehicle turnaround on Pacific Avenue — where the road dead-ends at a south entrance to Fairview — so that any encroachment into the park is kept to a minimum.

Some residents on Pacific have complained that the road’s current configuration forces drivers to go onto their properties to turn around, sometimes bumping other vehicles. They also say visitors to Fairview sometimes park illegally at the end of the street and block their driveways.

Issues also crop up at night, residents say, with people using the street to enter the park when it’s supposed to be closed and drinking, smoking, littering and trespassing in the neighborhood.

“If you look at every single cul-de-sac that I’m aware of in the city of Costa Mesa, including on my street, there’s a place where you can turn around,” said Councilman John Stephens. “You don’t have to bang into cars like that. I do think it’s an issue.”

As part of their vote, council members also asked staff to look into gating that entrance to the park and putting in additional road signs informing drivers that the street dead-ends.

The only proposal the council opted not to move ahead with at all is the North Bluff Trail and Habitat Restoration project, which would include building a new decomposed-granite path through the canyon on the western side of the park leading to the wetlands, as well as ecological restoration and removing concrete debris from the canyon.

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