A proposed mixed-use development that would add 1,057 residential units and thousands of square feet of office and retail space north of the 405 Freeway in Costa Mesa cleared an initial hurdle Tuesday night when the City Council agreed to let it continue through the local review process.
The 6-1 vote — with Councilwoman Sandy Genis opposed — still leaves the One Metro West community far from the finish line. Looking ahead, the project would require preparation of an environmental impact report and the city would need to accept a general plan amendment and zoning change for the site.
Even if it sails through City Hall, the proposal would eventually land in the court of public opinion, as Costa Mesa residents would have the final say on whether to approve it.
Measure Y, a 2016 ballot initiative, requires public approval of projects that entail a general plan amendment or zoning change and would add 40 or more dwelling units or 10,000 or more square feet of commercial space.
“Measure Y is doing what it’s supposed to at this point, right?” Councilwoman Andrea Marr said. “We can talk about this project all we want from the dais, but ultimately this will go to a vote of the people and … will be one more opportunity to demonstrate what the citizens of Costa Mesa really care about.”
One Metro West would include studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments in three residential structures with integrated parking garages, 6,000 square feet of retail, a 25,000-square-foot office building and 1.7 acres of open and park space on a 15.23-acre site at 1683 Sunflower Ave.
The property, just west of South Coast Collection, currently contains a 345,400-square-foot industrial building.
Supporters of One Metro West said it would fit like a glove in an area of the city that is home to several significant employers — such as IKEA, Vans’ corporate headquarters, the Automobile Club of Southern California, SOCO and a future office, retail and dining campus called the Press — but is bereft of homes where those employees can live.
One Metro West, they said, is an opportunity to add much-needed housing to the city without affecting Costa Mesa’s traditional neighborhoods and would give its residents the opportunity to live, work, shop and socialize without having to get in their cars. The project also would include onsite amenities such as swimming pools, a gaming center, fitness center, bowling alley and coffee bar.
“We all love Costa Mesa and understand that, whether we create change or react to it, whether we’re in support of it or against it, change comes,” said Brent Stoll, a partner at Rose Equities, the firm behind the project. “The question in front of us today is, ‘Do we watch this change happen or do we embrace it?’”
As part of the project, Rose Equities proposes installing pedestrian and bikeway upgrades on Sunflower and Hyland avenues, as well as a “bike parking/active transportation hub.”
The aspect of the project that seemed most popular, however, was the inclusion of affordable housing. Rose Equities has committed to designating 15% of the units for people with incomes considered low, very low or moderate.
“It is definitely a step in the right direction and is a broader strategy in addressing the need to increase the supply of affordable homes for residents in the city,” said Linda Tang of the Kennedy Commission, an Irvine-based affordable-housing advocacy group.
While many members of the public who spoke Tuesday favored the project, a few detractors expressed concern over whether the new buildings, some proposed to be six and seven stories tall, would pour light into homes on the other side of the 405.
Traffic, as is often the case in Costa Mesa, also was raised as a potential issue, with some saying the project would further stress streets and freeway ramps in the area.
Others said the project should provide more parkland than what is proposed or that the proposal could jeopardize one of the city’s important commercial and industrial cores.
“I believe this project will be a problem for our community going forward,” Genis said. “I believe it will set a terrible precedent for conversion of land, which should be devoted to good-paying jobs, to more millennial housing.”
However, most council members said they favored studying the concept further. Mayor Pro Tem John Stephens said he thinks the project “has a lot of potential.”
“There are some details that need to be ironed out, but I’m really glad that you brought this forward and I’m really appreciative of your commitment to our community,” Stephens told Stoll and his team.
“We plan to be good neighbors and part of this community for decades to come,” Stoll said.