Councilwoman requests rehearing on Fairview Park turnaround

The Costa Mesa City Council is scheduled Tuesday to consider a rehearing of a Fairview Park project that outside experts contend may harm known Native American archaeological sites.

The project includes a hotly contested turnaround where the north end of Pacific Avenue enters the 208-acre park. It also includes an adjacent children's play area.

If the council majority approves holding a rehearing, it would take place at a future council meeting, city officials said.

Councilwoman Sandy Genis, who serves as a council liaison on the Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee, requested the rehearing. She also appealed the Parks and Recreation Commission's Aug. 22 approval of a 10-space parking lot, a move that brought the matter before the council.

On Sept. 18, the council majority — Genis and Councilwoman Wendy Leece dissented — voted to change the Pacific Avenue project from a 10-space parking lot to a public-use turnaround capable of handling large emergency vehicles.

Genis said she felt a rehearing is needed because of new information brought to light, specifically in a Sept. 24 letter from the California Office of Historic Preservation, which expressed concerns about the effect construction of a turnaround could have on portions of the Fairview Indian Site in the park. Also noted was the fact that Native American groups were not consulted in the planning process.

"It's the polite thing to do," Genis said Wednesday. "Plus, I do believe they raised good issues, and we want to work collaboratively with these other agencies."

State Historic Preservation Officer Carol Roland-Nawi wrote to city CEO Tom Hatch that her office was worried about potential "damage or destruction caused to resources through development of sites, such as construction of buildings or roads, and the problems of vandalism and 'pot hunting.'"

Roland-Nawi also said archaeological site boundaries are rarely definitive and that the Fairview Indian Site may extend "much further south than originally thought," toward the planned Pacific Avenue turnaround.

"In fact it is likely that a village site ... extends all along the top of the bluff above the Santa Ana River in the vicinity of the park," she wrote in her three-page letter. "We recommend that the city review current information about the location of cultural material and re-examine its proposals in order to avoid impacts."

Since 1972, the Fairview Indian Site — officially known as CA-ORA-58 — has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Archaeologists from the California Cultural Resources Preservation Alliance, a small Irvine-based nonprofit, have also expressed concerns about building the turnaround, as has the California Native American Heritage Commission.

Last week, the city hired an Orange-based archaeological firm, Scientific Resource Surveys Inc., which began its assessment of the land Monday.


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