Commentary: Costa Mesa is undergoing revolutionary changes

“The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults." — Alexis de Tocqueville

On this Independence Day, I'm reminded of what an amazing country and city we have. What Alexis de Tocqueville wrote about America in the 19th century holds true for Costa Mesa today.

Under the steady hand of our mayor, James Righeimer, the greatness of Costa Mesa — and its ability move forward and improve itself — can be seen throughout the city.

Just this week, the city — after working closely with attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union — instituted a new council meeting decorum ordinance ("Disorderly conduct law gets first OK," July 3). Who thought that the conservative Costa Mesa City Council and the ACLU could work together and create a model decorum ordinance? Only in America!

On Thursday, the city's transformation of the Costa Mesa Senior Center continued with a sold-out Fourth of July event drawing more than 200 seniors. This event had been canceled before city officials stepped in. Our seniors have seen and will continue to see remarkable changes at the once-failing senior center, which will soon be the pride and joy of Costa Mesa. In honor of Independence Day, let's just call these improvements revolutionary.

The council passed a budget last month that provided a 42% increase in general fund money to capital projects, continuing our commitment to repairing neglected infrastructure ("Costa Mesa budget is higher, still balanced," June 20). You can see these repairs as you drive down our newly repaved streets, play in our spruced-up parks or walk down safer sidewalks.

Another revolution of sorts is happening on the Westside, where revitalization plans created by a diverse group of residents and business owners less than a decade ago are finally coming to fruition. Hip new home developments are popping up where junkyards, aging apartment complexes and auto repair shops once stood.

The American Revolution was fueled by free speech and good communication ("The British are coming!"), and our two Paul Reveres — Dane Bora and Brad Long — recently won five major awards for their work on CMTV, including the prestigious Golden Hub of Innovation Award from the Assn. of California Cities-Orange County for the "Costa Mesa Minute." No other city of our size is more committed to communicating effectively with our citizens than Costa Mesa.

Costa Mesa's website continues to offer the most transparency of any municipal website in America, and our Civil Openness In Negotiations (COIN) ordinance has brought our labor negotiations out of the dark backrooms and into the public light. The Founding Fathers would be proud.

Finally, the council voted this week to put a resident-drafted charter — a local constitution for Costa Mesa — on the November ballot. Two hundred thirty-eight years ago, Americans declared their independence from England.

In November, Costa Mesans can declare their independence from tyrannical Sacramento. I agree with my council colleague Wendy Leece when she says, "Costa Mesa is special."

Our city is special enough that we should have the privilege of governing ourselves — like our neighbors Newport Beach, Irvine and Huntington Beach do. We shouldn't be governed by politicians in union-controlled Sacramento who make the British monarchy look benevolent. Let freedom ring.

Enjoy your Independence Day in the amazing and improving city of Costa Mesa. We are a modern-day example of what Tocqueville saw was great in America.

STEVE MENSINGER is the mayor pro tem of Costa Mesa.

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World