Panel hears objections to lot

Discontent over a proposed parking lot for Costa Mesa's Fairview Park dominated a committee discussion Monday night, with detractors saying the project could harm the neighborhood by increasing traffic and removing natural landscape.

The Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee reviewed a recently proposed change to the lot's design that calls for 10 parking spaces instead of 42. But even that attempt to lessen the effect of the project within the 208-acre park did not assuage some residents.

The lot at the northern terminus of Pacific Avenue would replace a rustic and undeveloped mesa with a landscaped amenity. TheWestside residential street is relatively secluded and contains many multifamily units, such as condominiums and apartments. City officials have zoned it for medium density.

Bill Bowman, who lives on Pacific, said if there is to be a lot at the end of the street, it should be farther inland, not "on top of the homes right there. That's bizarre."

Dara Hendrix-Strickland said her home at the end of Pacific would be greatly affected by the addition of a lot.

Parking is already a problem along her street, she said, adding that she wants to see a turnaround, fewer parking stalls and a smaller overall footprint.

"In considering the parking lot and so on," she said, "we would really like to not have our driveway be the turnaround for the city and for the public, and our area in front of our home not to be the parking lot for everybody visiting the park."

Westside resident Greg Ridge said the city shouldn't be tackling Fairview Park's parking situation "piecemeal" but rather all at once.

Furthermore, he contended, there is sufficient parking already at the end of Canyon Drive and off Placentia Avenue.

The idea for a parking lot and nearby children's play area was approved more than a decade ago during the Fairview Park Master Plan approval process.

Eastside resident Geoff West said he was concerned about the lack of a nearby restroom for kids to use while at the play area. The closest restroom is 75 yards away — "a long run with a leaky kid," he said.

West suggested that one be placed in the center of the parking lot.

Former City Council candidate Harold Weitzberg called the issue a complex one while alluding to the desire of some committee members to add sports fields to the park.

"What's really obvious from this discussion is there's no room for soccer fields and ball fields in this park if we can't figure out where to put the parking lot and the bathrooms," Weitzberg said. "So why don't we pull those off the agenda now, and we can look at how to make this a natural park that everybody can be happy with."

Monday's meeting was an informational session for the panel, since final approval of the lot would fall under the purview of the park commissioners.

On July 25, the commissioners heard a concept for the lot that would have contained 42 spaces — some 32 more than called for in the master plan. They unanimously agreed to postpone their vote after hearing of the apparent discrepancy.

The five commissioners are scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. Thursday. They will vote on conceptual designs for the Pacific Avenue lot, the children's play area and renovated park entrances, without new parking, at the end of Canyon and off Placentia.

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