Commentary: Costa Mesa is finally moving forward — get on board

"If you are standing still, you are also going backwards. It takes great effort to maintain forward movement."

Reed B. Markham, educator


Forward movement is a plan to replace the dilapidated Costa Mesa Motor Inn — a major attractant of crime in our community — with amenity-rich housing and views of the city's beautiful municipal golf course.

Forward movement is turning rundown apartments, junkyards and vacant gas stations into quality housing communities that are selling fast and revitalizing portions of the long-neglected Westside.


Forward movement is creating — after decades of failed attempts — a first-class central library in Lions Park at what's now the Neighborhood Community Center while making sure local groups still have places where they can meet.

Forward movement is generating a $13.3-million budget surplus over the past three years and investing some of that money in overdue infrastructure improvements (the general fund investment for capital improvements has gone in the past four fiscal years from about 1% to 5% in the preliminary 2014-15 fiscal year budget).

Forward movement is passing the Civic Openness in Negotiations (COIN) ordinance, which finally brings transparency to city labor negotiations (those contracts alone make up about 75% of the city's general fund). COIN is being considered or has been adopted by several public agencies in California.

Forward movement is as simple as seeing freshly paved roads where potholes once were, well-maintained parks and sports fields (the city had stopped fertilizing the grass before this council was seated), a makeover of Harbor Boulevard and quickly repaired broken sidewalks.


Forward movement is rescuing the failing Costa Mesa Senior Center and giving our seniors a first-rate facility filled with programs and services. Many on the board have been asking for this for years.

Forward movement isn't for everyone. I've heard complaints about each of the issues I've mentioned. For instance, a few people rose in defense of the indefensible Motor Inn. Others spoke out against the library of our dreams. Some complained that we are investing too much in infrastructure.

Forward movement is working closely with the city's firefighters on a Fire Department restructuring plan that will allow us to deliver services (fire, medical and rescue) more quickly while saving millions of dollars each year—the ultimate win-win. Now with the savings we must move forward on fixing and replacing our antiquated fire stations.

In Costa Mesa's past, we've had people rise up against developments such as Ikea, Metro Pointe and the SoCo Collection or fought against the Automobile Club of Southern California — now one of the city's biggest employers — setting up headquarters here.

In 2012, I received the most votes of any first-time City Council candidate, despite major opposition from some public employee unions.

Why? Because most Costa Mesans like the forward movement they see in their city.

They like seeing new homes where junkyards once stood. They enjoy driving down freshly paved streets. They like that we are no longer beholden to the never-ending demands of public employee unions and instead are investing more money in infrastructure, helping to attract new families, new business and improvement.

They celebrate with us when the owner of the city's most problematic motel says he wants to go in a more positive direction.


The majority are forward thinkers.

STEVE MENSINGER is Costa Mesa's mayor pro tem. He was originally appointed to the council in 2010.