COSTA MESA — Following two public meetings and a wave of criticism from residents, a proposal for a community building in one of the city's largest apartment complexes has been scaled down.
Neighbors appear to be mostly satisfied with the changes that will be taking place.
"It's not everything we wanted, but we wanted to be a good neighbor," said Gary Polodna, principal for Peak West development, the Colorado-based firm tasked with constructing the community building for the 468-unit Villa Venetia apartment complex off Mesa Verde Drive East.
The backlash from residents at Tuesday's City Council meeting paled in comparison to the fight Peak West and the complex's property owner, UDR, faced late last year. A line of residents, some from Mesa Verde, took to the council podium to criticize the project — which was, at the time, constructing a two-story, 44-foot tall building that would have removed Villa Venetia's massive lake and cut off the view from Golf Course Drive. The residents demanded that the council not grant Peak West permission for it.
The council punted the issue until January, giving the company time to talk with members of the community, many of whom had no idea a 44-foot tall building was going to replace their beloved lake.
On Tuesday, except for a handful of residents pointing to very specific issues with the project that they had concerns with, the community was quiet.
The adjusted project now addresses several major concerns. The complex's community building is now set to be 27 feet tall, thus adhering to city code and not requiring City Council approval. On the east side of the property there will also be fountain that's visible for motorists driving along Golf Course Drive, and a view of the lake, which will be reduced in size.
The property is adding a right-turn lane to the southern entrance that stretches four car lengths; this way, it won't block traffic for people continuing to the golf course or the Upper Birds neighborhood nearby.
"This is what can happen when people sit down together in an atmosphere of goodwill toward each other and work to come to a solution that works for both sides," said Mesa Verde resident Robin Leffler.