Plans for the Plant commercial-residential project return to Costa Mesa Planning Commission

Costa Mesa planning commissioners will take another crack at the Plant, a mixed-use development proposed for the city’s Sobeca district, during their meeting Monday.
(Courtesy of Olson Kundig)

A year after hitting a roadblock at the City Council level, a proposed commercial-residential development called the Plant will be back in the spotlight during Monday’s Costa Mesa Planning Commission meeting.

The project up for the commission’s review, which would redevelop about 2.2 acres at Baker Street and Century Place in the city’s Sobeca district, is unchanged from what the council denied last July.

What’s different this time is that the council last month eased the city’s parking requirements to not include certain common areas — as well as auxiliary features such as elevator shafts, stairwells and some indoor corridors, restrooms, mechanical rooms and storage — when calculating how many spaces a development needs to provide.

Those changes stemmed from the Plant’s previous foray into City Hall, when the project withered amid a divided council’s concerns about whether a staff analysis accurately reflected its parking demands.

Using the city’s now-established methodology, the Plant needs to have 241 parking spaces, according to a staff report. The project will provide 243, including 170 in a proposed two-level parking structure.

Above the garage would be a four-story building with a mix of 48 residential units, 14 live/work units and office space, according to planning documents. The development also would include new retail and dining space.

The Plant is the brainchild of Costa Mesa-based Lab Holding LLC, the firm behind other Sobeca-area projects including the Camp and the Lab shopping centers on Bristol Street.

Needle exchange ban

Planning commissioners Monday also will review a proposed code amendment that would bar the establishment or operation of a needle exchange program anywhere in the city.

If eventually approved by the council, the addition would codify a moratorium that is due to expire in August.

The existing ban was put in place in response to the California Department of Public Health’s approval of a proposal from the Orange County Needle Exchange Program to distribute syringes and other supplies in Costa Mesa’s Westside, as well as in parts of Anaheim, Orange and Santa Ana.

Costa Mesa also is part of an ongoing lawsuit seeking to stop the mobile needle exchange service.

Though supporters of such programs say they can help prevent the spread of diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C among intravenous drug users by providing clean needles, city officials have said the proposed operating area in Costa Mesa — on West 17th Street between Whittier Avenue and the city boundary — is inappropriate given its proximity to homes, schools and businesses.

City staff said it has “preliminarily determined that, due [to] the pervasiveness of addiction-recovery facilities throughout the city, the provision of easily obtainable syringes and hypodermic needles is not appropriate within Costa Mesa, as it would put the recovery of hundreds of recovering addicts at risk.”

Monday’s commission meeting starts at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 77 Fair Drive.

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