Committee response so far lackluster

Lolita Harper

COSTA MESA -- In creating a committee to shape the future of the

Westside, city officials hoped to funnel energy from all sides of a long,

heated debate to fuel some real change. But with a Wednesday deadline for

applicants, the city is still lacking the current to ignite such a group.

The Westside Redevelopment Action Committee was designed to

accommodate about 46 people, but just 11 applications had been received

by Monday, said Mike Robinson, Costa Mesa's planning and development

manager.

Two seats on the committee were designated for each of the various

groups defined as having a "stake in the future of the Westside" but so

far the bulk of applicants have been residents, Robinson said.

Two letters of interest were received from members of the Costa Mesa

Chamber of Commerce, one from a church representative and two from

industrial property owners, he said.

"I've received more calls than actual applications. There is obvious

interest, but only 11 official applicants so far," Robinson said.

Councilwoman Libby Cowan, who had the idea for the committee, said she

hopes the interest will develop into participation.

"I really want people to take ownership in the process. Whatever they

come up with as a community, I am willing to support," Cowan said.

Council members, acting as the city's Redevelopment Agency, created

the committee in an effort to allow the community to forge a working plan

for the area.

Regular City Council meeting attendees Tom Egan and Allan Mansoor are

among the six resident applicants. Both men live on the Westside and say

they want to develop the area to its fullest potential.

"There is going to be a lot of cussin' and discussin' going on, but

that's the only way to resolve these issues," Egan said. "It is mandatory

that a bunch of grown-ups get together in a room and communicate."

Bill Turpit, a resident and a member of both the LatinoBusiness

Council and Latino Community Network, said he will apply and is

encouraging others to do so.

Turpit, who was vocally opposed to previous redevelopment on the

Westside, said he is encouraged by this process because it includes all

parts of the community.

"It must involve the people who live and work in the area -- those

whose lives will be affected by changes to the Westside," Turpit said.

Turpit said he is still not sure redevelopment is the best solution

for the Westside but wants to participate in defining neighborhood goals.

Although Egan has no problem with the inclusive nature of the

committee, he thinks the sheer numbers may pose a problem."It's going to

be hard. It is very likely there will be 50 different people with 50

rock-hard positions. But I'm looking forward to learning about all the

different sides and angles," Egan said.

Mansoor also has mixed feelings about the group.

"Whether it works or not has yet to be seen, but I wouldn't give up an

opportunity to at least participate," Mansoor said.

Except for the five at-large members, all applicants must be legal

residents, and must live or own property or a business within the

Westside boundaries. The Westside is generally defined as the southwest

portion of the city, west of Harbor and Newport boulevards and south of

the Costa Mesa Golf and Country Club, Estancia High School and Fairview

Park.

FYI

Those interested in participating in the Westside Redevelopment Action

Committee may pick up an application at Costa Mesa City Hall, 77 Fair

Drive, or download a form from the Web site, www.ci.costa-mesa.ca.us.

Information: (714) 754-5610.

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