Costa Mesa is intent on getting a seat at the table for discussions of the future of the state-owned Fairview Developmental Center, which Gov. Gavin Newsom has identified as a potential spot for new homeless facilities.
To that end, the City Council voted 5-2 on Tuesday night to form an ad hoc committee to communicate with state and county officials and advise the council about the future of Fairview, a decades-old facility at 2501 Harbor Blvd. for people with developmental challenges. The committee will be composed of Mayor Katrina Foley, Mayor Pro Tem John Stephens and Councilwoman Andrea Marr.
The panel will act as a one-stop shop for the city’s involvement in Fairview plans, meeting with state and local organizations and reporting to the council regularly.
Council members Sandy Genis and Allan Mansoor voted against the measure, saying they want the entire council apprised of the Fairview plans.
“I think this would keep the rest of the council and the public in the dark,” Mansoor said. “I want to be kept in the loop 100%.”
Genis said she would continue to explore options for the future of the Fairview Developmental Center herself, despite her exclusion from the committee.
“I will not feel that I am no longer allowed to do my own fact-finding regarding this,” Genis said. “I have more confidence in my own fact-finding than on pretty much most other people that I know on this planet.”
Newsom allocated $2.2 million to fund a site study exploring housing options for the Fairview center, which city officials anticipate will close in July. Newsom said the evaluation would consider “local stakeholder interest,” and city officials are keen to have a say in the process.
Previous suggestions to convert the property into housing for homeless people elicited apprehension from the city. Last year, when then-Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson announced that he and state Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) were exploring the possibility of making the site an emergency homeless shelter, the Costa Mesa council and many residents rushed to voice their disapproval.
A bill authored by Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach) that would require the state Department of General Services to hold a public hearing about Fairview’s future has passed the state Legislature and is headed for Newsom’s desk.
Zoning tweak for shelter
In other business Tuesday, the City Council made the final zoning tweak needed for a long-term homeless shelter planned for 3175 Airway Ave., adjacent to John Wayne Airport.
For the Airway site to accommodate a shelter, the city needed to change its “industrial park” zoning. The way the code was previously written allowed shelters only in “planned development industrial” zones.
The City Council approved buying the site in March for $6.925 million. Until it is ready to move into in the spring, the city is operating a 50-bed temporary shelter at Lighthouse Church of the Nazarene.
The city scrambled to find a shelter location following its settlement of a 2018 lawsuit filed on behalf of homeless people evicted from a Santa Ana River encampment.
Construction of the new shelter, which will be run by the nonprofit Mercy House Living Centers, is expected to begin in the fall and finish in the spring.
New bookkeeping system to target delinquent accounts
The City Council approved setting up a new bookkeeping system to make sure the city collects outstanding billing debt from residents.
Currently, the city has no mechanism to collect outstanding taxes, permit fees, civil citations and other charges if people don’t respond to late notices at 30, 60 and 90 days.
The city accumulated about 600 delinquent accounts totaling about $206,000 in outstanding debt, according to a city staff report.
The bookkeeping measure fulfills part of the council’s 2019 goal to “keep the city fiscally sustainable.” At a future meeting, staff will bring forward a contract for a company to collect on the delinquent accounts.