Residents give thoughts on Costa Mesa's future

Most speakers at Tuesday's General Plan "visioning" workshop expressed opposition to more high-density housing for Costa Mesa.

Such developments, they said, would lead to too much traffic in what should largely be a suburban city of single-family, detached homes.

More than 100 people gathered on the Civic Center lawn to give input on the General Plan, a state-mandated document that will serve as a blueprint for Costa Mesa's future.

Residents' suggestions also included revitalizing the downtown area, having a better library, creating walkable streets, limiting variances for new developments and paying more attention to the Segerstrom Center for the Arts.

City officials made the meeting family-friendly. As parents attended to business, about 15 children played with cardboard boxes shaped like cars and met the Sonic mascot, a two-legged, walking drink cup. Sonic also provided corn dogs for the event, which featured a free screening of "The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie" after the nearly hourlong workshop.

Gary Armstrong, the city's economic and development services director, called the General Plan a 30,000-foot view of the city that will offer broad guidelines for development and reflect changes in economic growth. The plan is updated about every 10 years, and its latest rendition aims to provide a vision for Costa Mesa in 2035, he said.

Residents expressed worries about future of the Westside.

Several expressed concerns about Newport Beach's Banning Ranch, which abuts the Westside, and said that if the proposed development's nearly 1,300 homes were built, that corner of Costa Mesa would see more traffic.

Jay Humphrey, a former councilman, called for continued growth in parkland and open space as the population grows.

Harold Weitzberg, a Charter Committee member, said it was important for Costa Mesa to maintain its industrial base for the middle-class jobs that can be generated.

He also said some of the city's recent infill projects — new developments surrounded by existing housing — are setting a bad precedent. They cram too many homes in small lots, said Weitzberg, who ran for a council seat in 2012.

Tamar Goldmann said high-density projects typically don't provide enough parking.

"Parking creeps into the neighborhoods and they wind up with all kinds of parking restrictions" to keep the cars out, she said.

Ken Nyquist, who lives near the Rolling Homes senior mobile home park on Newport Boulevard, asked about providing affordable housing for seniors.

Terry Koken's request was specific: Kids need "a place to hide" in the city's parks as part of their outside merrymaking.

"This is very successful tonight, to get this many people out for the General Plan," said Mayor Jim Righeimer. "Not everyone is going to agree, but we're all going to work together for a process to get the best that we can for our city."

Later, in a short question-answer session in the Emergency Operations Center at the Police Department, the idea of a zoning designation just for mobile home parks was brought up.

Such a designation could specify areas of the city that would be used as mobile home park space, thereby stifling efforts to convert parks to other uses, such as apartments or commercial properties, officials said.

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