Petition wants public to approve changes to Fairview Park

A Costa Mesa activist group that seeks to maintain Fairview Park as open space has submitted a petition that would have voters approving or denying future changes within the park, including new amenities.

The Fairview Park Preservation Alliance’s petition — filed Friday with the city clerk’s office — contends that the 208-acre park must be protected “from alterations that reduce the tangible and intangible benefits to the public while visiting and exploring this natural, open space.”

It argues that Fairview Park is meant for passive uses — such as hiking or flying kites — and not for organized sports that would require constructing new facilities.

Guided by that philosophy, the proposal would require that a majority of voters have final approval for changes to Fairview, provided that what’s being considered isn’t already listed in the park’s November 2008 master plan.

What triggers a vote of the people, according to the petition, is “any change, expansion or intensification of uses, structures, amenities or park hours.”

Changes precluded from voter approval include restoration, preservation or maintenance efforts.

Larry Courter, spokesman for the Preservation Alliance, said his group’s proposal would ensure that development within Fairview doesn’t come heedlessly.

“If you’re going to make dramatic changes that involve construction, don’t do it on a casual basis and change things,” he said.

To qualify for consideration on Costa Mesa’s general election ballot in November 2016, the petition needs about 5,000 verified voter signatures.

The group is waiting for the city attorney’s office to provide its summary before members can begin gathering signatures.

The Fairview Park Preservation Alliance, a political action committee, was formed earlier this year. Among its largest contributors are former Councilman Jay Humphrey and Brian Burnett of Friends of Fairview Nature Park, which, like the Alliance, opposes development in the park. Richard Mehren, who headed a city-sponsored Fairview Park advisory committee, is a contributor to the group.