Costa Mesa leaders look to correct past, engage Latino community

Costa Mesa Councilman Loren Gameros stands in Paularino Park.
Costa Mesa Councilman Loren Gameros stands in Paularino Park, where large boulders installed on the playing field to keep people from playing team sports were recently removed.
(Courtesy of the city of Costa Mesa)

Good morning. It’s Wednesday, Sept. 27. I’m Carol Cormaci, bringing you this week’s TimesOC newsletter with a look at the latest local news and events.

After some dodgy times in the early 2000s, when former civic leaders embraced anti-immigrant stances and instituted policies to accommodate those points of view, things are looking up in the city of Costa Mesa, I learned this week from this article in Sunday’s Daily Pilot written by my colleague Sara Cardine.

In it, she describes the troubling news Costa Mesa Councilman Loren Gameros recently learned when he was talking to some of his district’s constituents in during a walk through a west-side Costa Mesa neighborhood. They pointed out to Gameros that an earlier council had ordered the installation of boulders in Paularino Park to essentially prevent them from recreating there.

“They said they feel like they can’t use their own park,” the 52-year-old councilman told Cardine. “There’s a sign saying you can’t play any sports here. Boulders were put in the middle of the park, specifically to stop kids from playing soccer.”


According to Cardine’s research, “the shift toward passive use [of the park] was made in 2007 by a conservative-majority city council, who claimed large groups brought noise, trash and other disruptive impacts to the neighborhood. To drive the point home, large boulders were intentionally placed in the playing fields.”

Imagine being a member of an immigrant family and having your park sprout barriers to its use overnight.

“[The sign posted at the park] might as well have said ‘No Mexicans,’” Gameros said.

Disturbed, Gameros made a request to the city: Take out the boulders. His words were heard in today’s more enlightened City Hall, and those giant impediments to play were removed on Sept. 5. The neighborhood kids can now kick around a soccer ball with impunity.

“Today, with four of seven members on the Costa Mesa City Council claiming some Hispanic heritage and with Latinas serving as city manager and deputy city manager, the city is taking decisive steps to engage with its Spanish-speaking residents,” Cardine reports, enumerating several other measures undertaken by the city’s leaders in recent years.

Instead of driving Latinos away, city officials are now advocating for rental protections and more affordable housing, she reports.

“We’re really focusing on serving communities that haven’t gotten attention in the past,” Mayor John Stephens said. “There’s still a lot of work to do, but we’ve made a whole lot of progress since the 2000s.”


More than 8,000 walkers turned out at Fashion Island in Newport Beach Sunday for the Susan G. Komen walk.
More than 8,000 walkers turned out at Fashion Island in Newport Beach Sunday for the Susan G. Komen Orange County “More than Pink” walk.
(Courtesy of Susan G. Komen Orange County)

• The official numbers are in! More than 8,000 people joined the annual Susan G. Komen walk at Fashion Island Sunday to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer patients as the nonprofit continues to build participation following the pandemic. The event helps raise money for basic financial assistance for breast cancer patients such as housing, transportation and food. The goal is to raise $600,000 this year, and the organization is still welcoming donations toward the effort.

E-bikes are ubiquitous, especially in O.C.’s beach cities. One of them, Huntington Beach, is amending its municipal code to give its police officers more tools to crack down on e-bike riders who endanger others. Following H.B. City Council action last week, civil citations, which would not affect a person’s driver’s license status, call for a $125 fine for the first citation, $250 for the second and $500 for the third. Criminal citations would send the violator to either a one-day bicycle safety class or to court. The completion of the class would dismiss the citation.

Newport-Mesa Unified School District officials broke ground late last week on a $42-million performing arts complex at Estancia High. The project, which has been in the pipeline for nearly two decades, has met with one delay after another in recent years — including lawsuits — but is now on track, according to this Daily Pilot story.

Friday was move-in day at UC Irvine for students who will live in campus housing this year. It marked the beginning of Welcome Week, which will include a number of events and open houses to help students familiarize themselves with the campus.

As part of Coastal Cleanup Day, some 4,150 volunteers made their way out Saturday morning to Orange County’s beaches to do their part in cleaning up a slice of the coast — resulting in the collection of about 18,987 pounds of trash, according to this story in the Daily Pilot.


The logo for Uber appears above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Uber announced Tuesday a partnership with six taxi fleets, including some in Orange County that will allow the taxi companies to access trip referrals from Uber.
(Associated Press)

Uber announced yesterday it’s partnering with taxi fleets in Orange, Los Angeles and San Diego counties. The deal, as reported in the L.A. Times, will give the six taxi fleets involved in the partnership access to trip referrals from Uber.

Confluent Senior Living and MorningStar Senior Living have entered into a negotiating agreement with the city of Tustin to lead the development of MorningStar at Tustin Legacy, a large-scale senior living community that is expected to break ground in 2025, according to news release.


Luciana Coutchie, mother of the late Jon Coutchie, gets a hug from motorcycle Cpl. Bill Hume.
Luciana Coutchie, mother of the late Jon Coutchie, gets a hug from motorcycle Cpl. Bill Hume as a crowd gather for the renaming of the Aliso Creek Bridge to the Officer Jon Coutchie Memorial Bridge.
(Spencer Grant)

A crowd of Orange County peace officers and local community members turned out in South Laguna Thursday morning to mark the renaming of the Aliso Creek Bridge to the Officer Jon Coutchie Memorial Bridge. The ceremony took place on the 10-year anniversary of Coutchie’s end of watch. Coutchie died in the line of duty in a collision at the intersection of Coast Highway and Cleo Street while in pursuit of a reckless driver on Sept. 21, 2013.

Hate crimes took a big jump in O.C. in 2022 compared to the prior year, with a surge of racist activity seen in county schools, according to an annual report released Thursday by the OC Human Relations Commission. The report found a 67% increase in hate crimes in 2022 over the previous year, while hate incidents — which fall short of a crime — dropped by 4%. Over the past five years, there was a 75% increase in hate crimes and 142% increase in hate incidents, according to the report.

Former Anaheim Ducks forward Nic Kerdiles, 29, died in a motorcycle crash early Saturday in Nashville. Nashville police said Kerdiles ran a stop sign in a residential area before striking the driver’s side of a BMW SUV with his Indian Motorcycle around 3:30 a.m., the L.A. Times reported. Kerdiles, an Irvine native, was the first player from Orange County drafted by the Anaheim Ducks.


Artist Jesus Cortez speaks to his audience from the Crear Studio window on West Fifth Street in Santa Ana.
(Spencer Grant)

A unique multimedia exhibit at Crear Studio in Santa Ana reflects on the gardening business of the artist’s family. ‘¿Ya Mero Compa?’ is the title of the showcase featuring day laborers by Jesus Cortez, an award-winning writer, photographer and a gardener himself. Cortez said he isn’t inviting the viewer to feel sorry for the workers but instead challenging them to examine their own relationship with cheap labor, according to this feature story on the exhibition by my colleague Sarah Mosqueda.

Members of the Balboa Bay Club enjoy the beach in 1980.
Members of the Balboa Bay Club enjoy the beach in 1980. The club celebrated its 75th anniversary on Friday during a members-only event.
(Courtesy of the Balboa Bay Club)

Members of the Balboa Bay Club gathered to celebrate its 75th anniversary on Friday night. Founded in 1948 by Ken Kendall, the venerable club in its first few decades attracted prominent area residents, politicians and celebrities, according to this story by my colleague Lilly Nguyen, and has expanded over the years into the resort it is today.

County Supervisor Katrina Foley is asking for nominations for her 2023 Orange County Veterans of the Year awards. This year’s theme is “The Call to Serve: Recognizing the Roles Musicians & Buglers Play in the Military,” with an aim toward honoring veterans, reservists and active-duty service-members who have contributed to the U.S. military through music. Nominees should reside in or have significantly contributed to the Fifth District and are eligible if they have served in the U.S. military on active duty or reserves for any length of time, in any location. The deadline to submit a nomination is 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27. Visit


Los Angeles Angels' Mike Trout watches from the dugout during the ninth inning on Aug. 11, 2023, in Houston.
Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout watches from the dugout during the ninth inning of the team’s baseball game against the Houston Astros on Aug. 11. Trout was placed on the 60-day injured list Sunday, ending his season.
(Eric Christian Smith / Associated Press)

The Angels moved center fielder Mike Trout to the 60-day injured list Sunday morning, ending his season. Asked about it by press in the Angels’ locker room Monday, the 32-year-old Trout admitted the turn of events was frustrating for him. “It’s [feeling] better now, but I wanted to get back. It’s tough. It’s been hard on me. … I just want to be out there and injuries suck. All the hard work and stuff and just freak stuff happens. But [I’m] trying to stay positive.” The star player also said he intends to be an Angels uniform next season, according to this story by L.A. Times sportswriter Sarah Valenzuela.

NHL All-Star and retired Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf and CureDuchenne raised more than $500,000 during the annual Getzlaf Golf Shootout held earlier this month at Monarch Beach Golf Links. CureDuchenne is a nonprofit focused on finding and funding a cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Over the past 12 years, the Getzlaf family has raised more than $5.8 million at the Getzlaf Golf Shootout to fund early-stage research and bring new therapies for the genetic disease.


The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds do a fly past over Huntington Beach Pier during a previous Pacific Airshow.
The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds do a fly past over Huntington Beach Pier during a previous Pacific Airshow. The event returns this Friday through Sunday.
(Spencer Grant)

The Pacific Airshow returns to Huntington Beach this weekend. Military and civilian display teams will fly overhead; live music festivals will take place on land. Organizers say the event, now in its seventh year, draws more than 3 million people. Tickets to attend the show are on sale here. General admission (bring your own beach blankets, chairs, umbrellas) is $25, with other prime viewing options available, ranging in price from $299 up to $4,950, the latter the price of a fully furnished private cabana on the closing day of the show.

The Orange Coast College Planetarium will reintroduce its Skylark lecture series this Friday, Sept. 29 with a presentation by Christopher Huie, an aerospace engineer and senior manager on Virgin Galactic’s Flight Sciences engineering team. A reception will begin at 6 p.m. with the lecture to begin at 7 p.m., followed by a question and answer session. Admission is free, but seats in the Dome Theater are limited. A ticket can be secured here.

A hibiscus blooms.
Sherman Library & Gardens in Corona del Mar will hold its Hibiscus Show & Sale this weekend.
(Joan Plaehn)

Sherman Library & Gardens in Corona del Mar is holding its Hibiscus Show & Sale this Saturday and Sunday. Members of the Southern California Hibiscus Society will be creating displays of blooms and selling a wide range of the shrubs that boast such stunning flowers. Sherman Library & Gardens, 2647 E. Coast Hwy., is open 10:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. Admission is $5 for nonmembers and free for members.


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