Commentary: Setting the record straight on Banning deal

In a recent letter to the editor, Sandy Genis claims to set the facts straight regarding Costa Mesa’s Banning Ranch traffic mitigation agreement. Upon reading her diatribe, it was clear that her claims still fell far short of the facts.

I was completely astounded by Ms. Genis’ complete lack of understanding regarding this subject. First, no agreement was ever finalized. Second, she stated that the $4.4 million, which our very competent development services director negotiated on the city’s behalf, “fell far short of the necessary $8 million to $10 million.”

What Ms. Genis failed to consider is that the total cost of those mitigations are not attributable only to the Banning Ranch project. As a matter of fact, the majority of the traffic which would be mitigated under that $8- million to $10-million project would come from other sources which have been accumulating, such as Hoag Hospital’s expansion, etc.

Another matter of fact: If the Banning Ranch project had been proposed on property within the Costa Mesa city limits, our city’s traffic mitigation fees would have come to a total of $1.7 million, the legal limit of what the city could have charged to the project.

Contrary to Ms. Genis’ badmouthing of Peter Naghavi’s well-negotiated traffic mitigation agreement, I believe we had a very responsive mitigation offer from a project in our neighboring city. Ms. Genis, whose allies constantly criticize city legal costs, ironically also complained that the agreement included a clause that Costa Mesa would agree not to go to court to try to stop the project, thereby limiting our legal costs.

It is telling that Ms. Genis argued that getting nearly three times the traffic mitigation monies we would receive from a similar project in our city, and agreeing not to spend money on a frivolous court case was a “bad thing.”

Costa Mesa voters beware, Ms. Genis could end up on your City Council, and her apparent lack of discernment and understanding could end up costing our city untold millions in lost opportunities and frivolous lawsuits.

From her uninformed, anti-development commentary, Ms. Genis, on the other hand, appears to be a knee-jerk reflexive hater of progress. She once proclaimed that allowing the building of IKEA would be the end of the world for folks who use city streets in the area. Fortunately nobody listened to Ms. Genis’ paranoid assertions, and we now know that the world did not end, and that IKEA provides: jobs, access to things many of us need, and close to $1 million in annual sales tax revenue to the city.

ERIC BEVER is the mayor of Costa Mesa.