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Measure Y could have Costa Mesans deciding fate of One Metro West — if it stays intact

A rendering of One Metro West, a residential development by Rose Equities approved by the Costa Mesa City Council in June.
A photo taken at an event of a rendering of One Metro West, a 1,057-unit residential development by Rose Equities approved by the Costa Mesa City Council in June.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Developers of One Metro West, a 15.23-acre mixed use complex with 1,057 apartments proposed for Northwest Costa Mesa, are requesting a special election be held to allow voters to weigh in on a plan approved by the City Council in June.

Brent Stoll, partner for the Beverly Hills-based Rose Equities, made the pitch in a Dec. 1 letter addressed to City Manager Lori Ann Farrell Harrison, indicating the firm would cover the cost of a citywide election, estimated to run from $300,000 to $500,000.

“When we have determined the date for said special election, we will make a request for same to the city,” Stoll stated.

Such a move makes One Metro West the first major development to be placed on a ballot under Measure Y, passed by voters in 2016 to give citizens a voice in proposals requiring large-scale zone changes or exceeding certain impact thresholds.

Rose Equities' Brent Stoll, pictured in April, wrote a letter last month requesting a special election for One Metro West.
Rose Equities’ Brent Stoll, pictured in April, wrote a letter last month requesting Costa Mesa hold a special election for One Metro West, under the mandates of Measure Y.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Rose Equities Principal Leonard Glickman said a date has not yet been set for when such a vote might take place but indicated it would likely be after the November election.

“Looking out and seeing the calendar year, 2022 is going to be a very uncertain year,” Glickman said Thursday. “We wanted to see what would happen with the world, including Measure Y.”

Although the initiative was designed to include citizens in the decision-making process, officials have begun to question whether Measure Y may be prohibiting redevelopment efforts and housing scenarios badly needed in Costa Mesa.

During a Jan. 11 meeting of a council ad hoc housing committee — convened to discuss the measure’s impact on a state-mandated housing element that must plan for 11,760 new residential units by 2029 — staff described projects stymied by Measure Y’s mandates.

California’s Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) identified the initiative as a “constraint on development that conflicts with state requirements.”

One Metro West, a 1,057-unit development planned for Costa Mesa, could be the first project to be voted on under Measure Y.
One Metro West, a 1,057-unit residential development planned for Costa Mesa, could be the first project to be voted on under Measure Y.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Now, committee members are likely to recommend the City Council place an initiative on the November ballot modifying Measure Y. Whether the language will allow only for implementation of the housing element or loosen the initiative even further remains to be seen.

“There may very well be other reasons why the community would like to amend Measure Y,” said Councilman Jeff Harlan, a member of the committee. “It may be in our interest to do so, completely independent of what HCD has determined.”

Committee members Mayor Pro Tem Andrea Marr and Councilwoman Arlis Reynolds said public meetings in the months ahead could hash out ballot language.

It’s not entirely clear what would happen if the city submitted its final housing element to the state by a Feb. 11 deadline and voters decided in November not to change Measure Y. City Atty. Kimberly Hall Barlow said the state could impose severe punishments, including suspending the city’s ability to grant building permits.

Measure Y was passed in 2016 to give residents a say in Costa Mesa’s future growth. But a state mandate to accelerate growth plans amid a housing crisis could doom the initiative.

“If voters don’t vote for whatever is necessary to implement the housing element, then you’d have an invalid housing element and you can’t build anything,” she said. “There are so many possibilities it’s hard to say exactly what could happen.”

Glickman said Rose Equities will wait and see how the scenario shakes out.

“I’m now on the sidelines, and I’m not the issue,” he said. “Measure Y is the issue — let the people decide that.”

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