Bill calls for housing for disabled at Costa Mesa center

A recently signed state bill will permit portions of the Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa to be used for new housing for the developmentally disabled.

Senate Bill 82, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on June 24, would allow no more than 20 acres of the center’s 114-acre property to be used for the housing units.

According to the bill, a minimum of 20% of the units must be “available and affordable” for the developmentally disabled who are able to live independently.

Fairview, by contrast, is a care facility for people with severe diabilities that is staffed around the clock.

Costa Mesa Councilman Gary Monahan said the legislation could help pave the way for the building of Shannon’s Mountain, a years-old proposal to construct a 10-acre, 170-unit housing complex on the vacant southern grounds of Fairview.

“It’s something that’s very needed for the physically and developmentally disabled community,” added Monahan in an interview Friday. “It can also mix with market housing, which helps make the project work financially.

Shannon’s Mountain is named after a former Fairview employee who spearheaded building a mountainous dirt berm on the property to act as a visual barrier for a park area and provide a feeling of separation, according to state officials.

If built, Shannon’s Mountain could provide new housing for Fairview’s remaining population, should the residential facility close in the coming years.

Two bills in Sacramento, SB 639 and AB 1405, propose closure by 2018 and 2021, respectively. Both are in committee.

The authors have said that Fairview and another care facility in Northern California have become too costly to run considering how few patients they serve.

Brown has also proposed closing Fairview by 2021.

The center, which opened in 1959, is home to 275 people. Its population peaked in the 1960s with about 2,700 residents.