Commentary: Mayor's opponents overlook improved Westside

Re: "Proposed project hopes to lure young professionals to Costa Mesa's Westside," (June 21): It was a pleasant surprise to read that after all these years the Argo-Tech industrial site has found a suitable project that complies with the spirit and intent of the overlay zone in which the property is located. The project's screening review before the City Council was encouraging because the applicant did not ask for any substantial increases over what the city codes allow.

Since 2006, when the overlay zones were unanimously adopted by a bipartisan council, the main holdup has been the economy. Now, shockingly, there is a cadre of individuals whose comments denigrate not only the project, but also the mayor.

Wow, is there anything that is above their ire?

It is well known that the mayor has his "loyal opposition," which attempts to transmogrify everything that happens (good or bad) in our city into proof of its position. Unfortunately this uninformed group randomly, and without factual basis, throws many others (and our city's future) under the bus in the process.

The Westside Gateway is the type of project that Westside Improvement Assn. members and dozens of community members envisioned and worked many years to bring to fruition. Despite this project's basis in and adherence to a community-driven process and result, the false comments and revisionist history pour forth.

Contrary to the assertions of those congenitally predisposed to hate progress and improvement in our community, the projects we see blossoming in our city are not "special deals," "zoning changes" or super density. From what I have seen, the projects have, for the most part, been in compliance with the city's longstanding codes.

In this case, the only requested variance noted is a 4% reduction in parking (505 vs. 528). Rather than "cutting deals," as his detractors claim, the mayor, who has been adamant about upholding parking standards since his days as a planning commissioner, will most likely urge the property owners to find a way to meet parking standards, either by adding spaces or reducing unit count as he has often done in the past.

The naysayers talk about density and traffic, but what they don't understand is that the award-winning overlay plans were designed to mirror existing longstanding impacts, not to increase them. They say jobs will be lost, but really what is happening is a transformation from a single entity requiring nine acres and giant tanks of chemicals to up to 176 entities having fledgling businesses there.

Who knows? The next Hurley, Quiksilver, Volcom or even a Google or Facebook could sprout in one of these live-work units. These possibilities, which were envisioned by the community years ago, can now take wing thanks to the council's and mayor's support and adherence to existing city codes and standards.

To the mayor and council: Keep up the good work!

ERIC BEVER is a former Costa Mesa mayor.

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