Residents view conceptual plans for W. 19th Street

Costa Mesa residents and officials met Thursday night to discuss conceptual plans for the future of West 19th Street in an effort to beautify the thoroughfare and slow traffic.

The 1.5-mile portion of 19th — between Newport Boulevard and the western edge of the city limits near Marina View Park — is among the city's most diverse. What abuts the street runs the gamut of possibilities: businesses, strip malls, the Vista Center, The Triangle, restaurants, bars, single-family homes, apartment complexes, the Tower on 19th, the Costa Mesa Senior Center, the Costa Mesa Sanitary District headquarters and a California Department of Motor Vehicles office.

Thursday's meeting in the Neighborhood Community Center brought some 75 attendees, who in the informal session saw conceptual plans and videos that depicted landscaping additions, additional street lighting, pedestrian improvements, open-air dining and traffic-calming turnabouts at Whittier and Monrovia avenues.

The city's public services director, Ernesto Munoz, called the presentation a compilation of "35-foot level concepts," none of which is finalized. The plans for West 19th are partially based on the 19 West Urban Plan, approved by the City Council in 2006.

Designer David Volz, whose Costa Mesa-based firm was hired by the city to create the conceptual drawings, was on hand to answer questions.

"The urban plan sees this as this mixed-use commercial area and residential area," Volz said. "The vision is to make this an exciting street, someplace you want to walk down, someplace you want to visit a number of times and a place where you want to visit the businesses of Costa Mesa."

The turnabouts, in particular, were met with support for their aesthetics but some concern about how to properly drive around them.

Other residents said they were concerned about traffic speeds; officials responded that the speed limit may be lowered from 35 mph to 25 mph in the future. Volz said the traffic calming would make the area better for bicycle usage.

Several spoke in favor of landscape continuity along the entire 1.5-mile stretch, and that the chosen plants be drought-tolerant.

Another speaker said she liked the trees in Corona del Mar and wondered if similar ones might be possible for West 19th.

In a chide, one person suggested adding cactus plants to deter jaywalkers. "They'll surely get the point then," the speaker said.

To deter jaywalking, Volz said fences could be installed at the edge of the sidewalk, encouraging pedestrians to properly utilize the corner crossings.

The fences would be about three feet high. Some attendees scoffed at the height, however, saying it could easily be hopped over and thus ineffective.

In response, Volz said a more "beefy barrier" could be possible.

Volz also suggested some kind of West 19th monument to replace a bus stop in front of 1901 Newport Plaza, on the corner of West 19th and Newport Boulevard.

Thursday's meeting was the second on the topic. Another meeting in September brought about two dozen attendees, including Mayor Jim Righeimer and Councilwoman Wendy Leece.

Officials said public input is still welcomed via emails to Various input could also be ahead from the Parks and Recreation Commission and the City Council before plans or funding is finalized.

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