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Fairview Park committee says several proposed projects would need voter approval

Fairview Park committee says several proposed projects would need voter approval
This 2013 photo shows Pacific Avenue’s northern terminus at Fairview Park in Costa Mesa. On Wednesday, members of the Fairview Park Steering Committee said they believe voter approval would be required for a proposal to build a vehicle turnaround at the end of the street. (File Photo)

Costa Mesa's Fairview Park Steering Committee determined this week that a handful of projects eyed for the park would require voter approval before they can be built.

However, it also recommended that the projects — which include storm drain improvements, trail renovations and a new vehicle turnaround — not go on the ballot as currently proposed.

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The final ruling on whether and when any of the proposals will go before voters rests with the City Council, which will review the matter at a later date.

On Wednesday, committee members looked over each project on their agenda and ran through all the factors that could necessitate a public vote under Measure AA, a city initiative requiring that residents sign off on several possible changes at Fairview Park.

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For example, projects could be subject to the ballot box if they require grading, laying foundations, building permanent structures, installing additional lighting or extending the park's operating hours.

The committee was asked to make a determination regarding the measure, "not whether or not you all philosophically agree with the project or feel that it should be coming forward at this time," said Fairview Park Administrator Cynthia D'Agosta.

Committee members said they believe several proposed undertakings would need the public's approval to move forward:

  • Installing new storm drains along the edge of the park between Canyon Drive and Pacific Avenue
  • Building a vehicle turnaround on Pacific Avenue where the road dead-ends at a south entrance to the park
  • Renovating and repaving trails through the park that provide connections to Canyon Drive, Placentia Avenue and Talbert Regional Park

Measure AA carves out some exceptions to the election requirement — such as if a project is for restoration, maintenance, preservation or public safety purposes — but the committee determined those plans didn't fall into those categories.

"To me, these are not subjective matters," said committee member Steve Smith. "There's a set of criteria and we apply it."

The committee reached a slightly different conclusion for the North Bluff Trail and Habitat Restoration project, which as originally envisioned calls for building a new decomposed granite path that would wind through the canyon on the western side of the park, leading to the wetlands.

Committee members said they think that would activate Measure AA but that an alternative they've discussed — developing the trail instead on the eastern side of the park, running north from Estancia High School, past the Orange County Model Engineers' railroad and connecting with existing trails near the flood channel — would not.

Regardless of the trail alignment, the project also would include ecological restoration and removal of concrete debris from the canyon.

Twitter @LukeMMoney

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