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Council approves changes to Westside

COSTA MESA ? The City Council on Tuesday approved three plans that could transform the city’s Westside from an industrial area to a metropolitan hub of shops, restaurants and homes.

The plans will allow new commercial and residential zoning on 618 acres of a 1,788-acre area.

The council unanimously approved the plans.

“All I would ask is that people give it a chance ? keep bringing your opinions forward [about] how we can improve it,” Councilman Gary Monahan said. “We asked for innovation. We asked for boldness. We got it.”

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To some, the new zoning was a huge leap forward for the Westside, where some residents and city officials have been seeking improvements for more than 30 years.

“Tonight is the beginning of the end of my 25-year wait to build something nice on my property,” Westside resident Kathleen Eric said. “We’re going to, with a little guidance, let the Westside bloom.”

But some bumps remain in the road ahead. Newport Beach officials last week sent a letter asking Costa Mesa to delay approving Westside plans until more traffic studies are done, and a group of Westside business and property owners has said that the city hasn’t fully researched the environmental implications of the new zoning.

Gary Weisberg, an attorney representing the business and property owners, said earlier this week that legal action against the city is “a distinct possibility.”

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Some industrial business owners fear they’ll be squeezed out because once residents move in next door, they’ll start complaining about noises, odors and other issues.

Martin Pickett, president of Westside manufacturer Cla-Val, said the livelihood of his more than 400 employees is threatened unless the council includes protections for existing businesses in the plans.

The council added to the plans a 50-foot buffer between homes and two businesses, including Cla-Val. And city staffers assured business owners that restrictions about noise and odors would only apply to new businesses.

The plans the council approved Tuesday expand the new zoning beyond what was proposed by a city-appointed committee in 2005.

City planners estimate if 330 acres of the Westside are redeveloped over 20 years, the city could gain more than 3,700 new residential units, including live-work developments, artist lofts and other housing. As many as 1,550 live-work-related jobs could be added, along with and about 1.4 million square feet of light industrial space. Three thousand industrial jobs could be lost.


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