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Costa Mesa council to take another look at the Plant, a long-discussed commercial-residential project

The Plant Costa Mesa
Costa Mesa City Council members will decide the fate of the Plant — a mixed-use project that would include housing, office, retail and dining space — during their meeting Tuesday.
(File Photo)

The fate of the Plant, a long-in-the-works mixed-use project proposed for Costa Mesa’s Sobeca district, will once again be in the City Council’s hands Tuesday.

The review comes roughly 14 months after the council initially rejected the proposal following a testy debate about parking.

Since then, the city has tweaked its parking requirements and a resubmitted, virtually unchanged version of the development cleared the Planning Commission in July.

Now, because of a request from Councilwoman Sandy Genis, the Plant is coming back.

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As envisioned by applicant Lab Holding LLC and its founder, Shaheen Sadeghi, the Plant would redevelop roughly 2 acres at Baker Street and Century Place. Plans include a new four-story building — mixing 48 residential units with 14 live/work units and offices — atop a two-level parking structure. The development also would include new dining and retail space.

The proposal includes 243 parking spaces — two more than Costa Mesa requires, according to a city staff report.

Genis said she called the project back up for review because she wants to ensure that the four lots that comprise the project area remain linked.

As written, the plan would consolidate only three of the lots. However, a condition of the project is that other lots cannot be sold separately while a building straddles them, according to the staff report.

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“It basically has to do with that one condition,” Genis said about her reason for wanting to take another look at the project. “I don’t think it should be too difficult to work it out.”

Then-Mayor Genis was part of the three-member majority that gave the project a thumbs-down when it last came before the council in July 2018.

The Plant would add to Costa Mesa’s already burgeoning Sobeca district, which houses other Sadeghi concepts such as the Camp and the Lab commercial centers on Bristol Street.

Tuesday’s council meeting starts at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 77 Fair Drive.

Fairview Developmental Center

The council also will discuss Tuesday whether to form a three-member ad hoc committee to join state and county leaders in determining the future of the Fairview Developmental Center — a state-owned facility for developmentally challenged adults that has been floated as a potential location for a future homeless shelter.

The state plans to close the facility by July 2020, according to a city staff report. As of July 31, state records show the facility housed 35 people — down from roughly 91 at the start of the year.

The upcoming closure is part of the state’s larger effort to shutter institutional-style facilities and integrate people with intellectual and developmental disabilities into communities.

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In his budget proposal in May, Gov. Gavin Newsom called for funding to evaluate the site “to identify local stakeholder interest in the reuse of the property, particularly related to meeting housing and homelessness needs.” Newsom has made increasing California’s housing stock a priority for his first term in office.

At that time, Mayor Katrina Foley demurred on Newsom’s call, saying the state should instead shore up funding for existing homelessness efforts — such as the 50-bed shelter the city opened at Lighthouse Church of the Nazarene in April.

Previous proposals to develop regional homeless services at Fairview have been met with community opposition. When then-county Supervisor Shawn Nelson announced that he and state Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) were looking into the potential of using the site as an emergency homeless shelter in March 2018, the city swiftly condemned the idea.

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