Council approves preliminary funds for development services

Editor's note: This corrects the headline, subhead and outcome of the signage ordinance.

COSTA MESA — The city could spend upward of $180,000 for modernizing the development services department, from a new website to expanded online tools and equipment for code enforcement.

In a unanimous vote Tuesday night, the City Council approved including $130,000 in its preliminary budget to install a wireless connection and software between city workers in the field and the city's in-house network for code enforcement and building inspections.

The plan would cover 10 city workers and their laptops and allow real-time updates on building inspections, permits and more overall flexibility by staff in the city, said Bill Lobdell, Costa Mesa's communications manager.

Costa Mesa is also looking to improve the administrative service department's website, but hasn't nailed down the cost. Adding the ability to submit building plans online and check zoning requirements, among other options, is estimated to cost about $54,000, according to the city's staff report.

In other action, the council moved forward with potential changes to signage requirements for businesses. For calculating the size of signs allowed, the city is considering basing the parameters of a sign's size off the size of the building's frontage, instead of the property's size.

The city is also considering increasing the distance between free-standing signs on a property to 300 feet from the previous 150 feet, and required signs to be monument styled, similar to the signs at the Costa Mesa Courtyards, 1835 Newport Blvd. The proposed changes will have to be approved by the planning commission and city council at a future meeting.

City staff will also begin researching creating an ordinance to ban sex offenders from local parks, similar to Orange County's law banning them from county parks.

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