By Diana Gardiner
Since its incorporation some 60 years ago, Costa Mesa has never exemplified good, sound city planning. But what the planning department and the City Council are currently allowing simply defies logic.
This city has an unfortunate planning history that has allowed for inappropriate mixed use in residential neighborhoods and created an extremely high percentage of rental units. But instead of learning from past mistakes, the current planning department and council majority seem to let developers do as they please.
The developers come to Costa Mesa, squeeze as much square footage as they possibly can onto a lot, then leave the residents to deal with increased density and worsening traffic. Once the huge apartment complex at Harbor Boulevard and Bernard Street is completed, the morning commute in the surrounding area will get even worse.
It should be noted that this particular complex has a parking structure that is four stories high. And if, unfortunately, the Banning Ranch development comes to pass, the traffic and density issues will become untenable, since 19th Street will be one of the very few ways in and out.
So while developers make off like bandits, residents will need to set the alarm clock earlier in order to make it to work on time. And let's not forget the massive apartment complex being constructed close to Harbor and Adams Avenue. Each month, it seems, the council agenda includes items relating to large rental-housing construction projects. Again and again, the density is allowed to increase.
This mindset of covering every square foot of this city with multiple-unit housing benefits who exactly? It certainly doesn't benefit the people who live in Costa Mesa. And while it does create construction-related jobs in the short term, it does nothing to keep people employed in the long term.
Instead of allowing developers to ride roughshod, we should be placing a moratorium on certain kinds of building permits. Or how about requiring that if a developer razes a single-family dwelling, it be replaced with a single-family dwelling?
Where are the studies showing the effects of increased density on our community and way of life? Can our infrastructure handle the increased burden? As density increases, does the number of police and firefighters increase?
We all know the answers. But does the council majority even care? The only way to ensure that Costa Mesa heads in a more thoughtful and beneficial-to-all planning direction is to vote for sensible council members in the next election.
DIANA GARDINER lives in Costa Mesa.