Should voters have a say on some city projects? Groups take sides in Costa Mesa

Two Costa Mesa organizations have taken opposite stands on an effort to require voter approval for some new development projects.

A petition filed by Costa Mesa First, a political action committee, seeks to have certain new residential and commercial developments go directly before voters as well as to the City Council.

The petition needs about 5,000 valid resident signatures to qualify the measure for the November 2016 general election ballot. The ballot initiative would then need the approval of a majority of voters.

The Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce recently said it opposed the petition.

“It will hurt businesses — the same businesses that employ our residents and provide the tax revenue necessary to fund the city’s police, fire and other public safety services,” the chamber’s board chairwoman, Jennifer Farrell, said in a statement to the Daily Pilot.

In a statement, leaders from the activist group Costa Mesans for Responsible Government, or CM4RG, said the petition supports “responsible growth” that conforms to the city’s design and zoning guidelines.

“CM4RG believes a government responsible to its citizens strives to comply with the goals and objectives of the general plan,” according to the statement. “CM4RG supports this initiative because we believe that the citizens of Costa Mesa often have not been heard and deserve a voice in changes to land use and development that can substantially impact their quality of life.”

The developments being targeted in the petition must meet a host of specific criteria — for example, a new housing complex that needs a zoning change and has at least 40 units.

Other developments that would trigger a public vote include a new 10,000-square-foot retail store that needs an amendment to the city’s general plan and would generate more than 200 additional car trips for the area.