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Column: The Fairview Developmental Center and its $2-million mystery

Gov. Jerry Brown has set aside $2 million in his current budget for a survey of the Fairview Developmental Center, but the specifics of the survey remain unclear.
(File photo | Daily Pilot)

From time to time I like to update readers on storylines they’ve shown interest in.

Two weeks ago I wrote about the Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa, which is slated to close in 2021 and state Sen. John Moorlach’s Senate Bill 59, which would force the state to include the city of Costa Mesa and Orange County in any decision regarding future reuse of the Fairview property.

Moorlach proposed the bill to address concerns about how Sacramento could hypothetically do whatever it deems fit with the state-owned land without consulting local governments.

Moorlach noted $2 million in the governor’s budget for a site survey. That prompted a reader to ask me what exactly a $2-million site survey includes.


I went back to Moorlach.

The Costa Mesa Republican explained this price quote was also given by the state Department of General Services for the Sonoma Developmental Center, which is also closing.

Speaking with spokeswoman Monica Hassan from the Department of General Services, she really didn’t have any information other than saying the survey should take place before the closing of Fairview, and no parameters for it have been determined.

She said part of the survey would most likely include options as to what to do with the property moving forward.


That left me wondering: If you don’t know the scope of the survey to begin with, how do you price it at $2 million?

Hassan suggested I call the Department of Finance. I’ll keep readers posted when those folks get back to me.

Vist on KOCI radio program

On Sunday, I was a guest co-host with my Feet to the Fire pal Tom Johnson on his radio show, Stu News Sunday on KOCI 101.5 FM

Johnson tackles controversial issues in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa, as well as sports and community events.

His topic on this particular show: the recall effort of Newport Councilman Scott Peotter.

At the top of the show, Newport resident Susan Skinner from the Recall Scott Peotter effort called in.

Skinner rehashed the reasoning why she felt the community should recall Peotter now, before he starts working on updates to the city’s general plan and before he’s up for reelection in 2018.

She raised many of the issues I’ve written about in past columns, such as Peotter’s votes in favor of the Museum House condo project and ensuring that some 1,000 pages got tucked into Line in the Sand’s referendum to fight that development. Skinner questioned Peotter’s personal finances and her recent complaint filed against him with the state Fair Political Practices Commission.


Next up was Peotter, who was in studio.

I’ve been critical of the councilman in many columns, so he’s not a fan of mine, but, to his credit, he was cordial and sat next to me.

I found it interesting as Johnson asked him about his accomplishments on council.

Peotter began by saying, “when we were elected,” rather than “when I was elected.”

This showed me he thinks of his “Team Newport” as one voting bloc. Could he influence his “team” during the general plan update to see things his way?

He is certainly high-density development-oriented.

This concerns me. It concerns Skinner’s group too.

Peotter claimed Team Newport was elected because residents were unhappy with unfunded pension liabilities unaddressed by previous councils and overspending on the Civic Center project.


He called the former council “tone deaf” and criticized the way council members — like former Mayor Rush Hill — spoke to residents at council meetings.

Well, isn’t Team Newport now guilty of these same things — being tone deaf, especially when it concerns high-density development?

Peotter didn’t agree.

I asked him if he felt the whole recall issue was really about his personality, not his political principles.

Here, he agreed.

That being said, doesn’t Peotter have to own up to his behavior?

People liked him enough to elect him. Have they soured over time as a result of his behavior on the dais and his numerous snarky email blasts?

Peotter claimed he was “speaking the truth.”

I reminded him how council members have always disagreed but in a much more civil manner than what he’s exhibited. As I’ve said in previous columns, his behavior steps over the line of decorum in my book.

It was an interesting interview. I give Johnson kudos for presenting both sides of the recall argument.

I’ve kept an open mind on the recall, but after sitting with Peotter and listening to him answer our questions and give his reasoning, I’m now convinced he’s got to go.

BARBARA VENEZIA lives in Newport Beach. She can be reached at