Editorial: Costa Mesa’s transparency shines


Plenty has gone wrong in Costa Mesa politics this year, so it’s nice when we have a chance to call attention to something that’s going right. City Hall has made great strides in making public information, such as employee salaries, more readily available to anyone who wants to view it. And, from what we’ve been told, even greater transparency as it relates to public contracts is on its way.

This is how it should be. Public information belongs to the public and anyone who wants to view it should be able to.

The Sunshine Review, which, as its name implies, tries to shine a light on information that many governments would rather keep in the dark, recently awarded Costa Mesa with an A-plus for transparency. The last time the watchdog group looked at Costa Mesa it gave the city an F. Only 112 of 6,000 city websites reviewed by the watchdog agency earn an A-plus rating. This time around, the review praised the city for “the quantity and quality of public information available on the city of Costa Mesa’s website,” according to a press release from the city.


Not only is this commendable, it’s also something of a shock for those of us used to the city’s old website, which made it hard to access key public documents. Many of those documents were online but were poorly organized or hard to find.

But the new website tools make looking at detailed compensation reports, budgets, permits and other documents easier. We’re glad that the folks at City Hall did something to make it easier to find. It makes our jobs as journalists easier but more importantly it makes it easier for residents to find out how government is spending their money.

“Costa Mesa going from an F to an A-plus website transparency grade is a real transformation,” Kristin McMurray, managing editor of the Sunshine Review, said in a press release. “It’s what all citizens should expect of their local government, and Costa Mesa went above and beyond by creating their local salary database.”

Several people deserve credit for the revamp, but from what we understand city, Chief Executive Tom Hatch spearheaded the effort to, as they say in the newspaper business, let the sun shine in.

We hope every city in Orange County follows their lead. It’s still pretty dark out there.