Cassity: Costa Mesa is a blessed (and better) place

Editor's note: Longtime Costa Mesa resident Chuck Cassity has agreed to write a twice-monthly column for the Daily Pilot. This is his first.


In the beginning, God created the Heaven and the Earth. Oh, wait a minute. That goes back several billion years too far. Let me start again.

In the beginning God created a tabletop mesa near — but not on — the sea, several miles long and wide in the very best part of what would become Southern California.

It was nearly flat, perfectly situated for the thousands of homes and flourishing businesses and the broad, paved streets that would follow.

It was blessed with pleasant, onshore Mediterranean breezes, a land rich with deep, black soil, ablaze with natural grasses and wildflowers and just bursting with potential for what would follow.

And this is what followed:

First to inhabit this area were the Lukup. These were a hardy bunch of Native Americans who made a living here harvesting shellfish and small game animals. They hung out around this little piece of paradise from about 1,500 B.C. until the mid-1750s.

That's when some Spanish padres decided that this area was a target-rich environment for potential converts to Christ. They came in droves and began proselytizing 24-7.

They built a chain of missions up and down the coast and planted vineyards at key locations. The converting thing was hard work, so having a little fruit of the vine while kicking back in the evening was a good thing, even for a padre.

Later, shepherds found the area prime for grazing their cattle, sheep and goats. Then the pioneers started to arrive, followed by farmers and merchants and bankers. The community of Goat Hill happened, then Harper. People came in droves looking for a better life for themselves and their families.

A hundred years or so later, the area morphed into the bright, bustling city of Costa Mesa, which brings us to the modern day.

We, the Costa Mesa residents, are the recipients of all the groundwork that has gone on before. I believe ours is a truly blessed place. Very near the ocean but not troubled by being situated directly on it (no fighting for parking spots with those pesky out-of-towners), we have arguably the best climate in all of SoCal. Close access to freeways, rail and airports gives us a competitive advantage over most other area cities.

Being almost built out, prospective residents know exactly what our city is, and will be, before deciding whether to move here and join our friendly ranks. In addition to a large number of mega-corporations, we also boast a plethora of chain, franchise and mom-and-pop businesses that sustain families as well as the surrounding neighborhoods.

Good schools, world-class shopping, lots of beautiful parks, plenty of attractions for those who enjoy the arts, tourist spots galore, beautiful beaches just down the road a piece and the best county fairgrounds anywhere right smack in the center of town.

What's not to like?

Just like countries and states, cities compete with each other for residents, businesses, tourists and the tax revenues they bring. Costa Mesa is no different.

Just look at some of the competition. Right next door we have Vanillaville. Some call it Irvine, but I don't. They claim to be America's safest city, but because everybody is either on their way to or from work, or sleeping, and they don't even sport a single cocktail lounge, tooting their horn about the crime rate is a bit much.

But you can get arrested there for leaving your garage door open too long or parking your boat in your driveway or painting your house the wrong shade of beige (isn't beige the absence of all color?). I think it's where "The Stepford Wives" was filmed, but I can't confirm that.

Look at Santa Ana to the north. They came within a week of going bankrupt a little while back. Managed poorly, usurious business taxes and alarming crime rates. No competition there.

Huntington Beach is another world all together. If you want to surf, or be a lifeguard, or sell T-shirts, or make book on when the next mayor is going to jail, it might be the just the city for you.

And Newport Beach, as I mentioned, is very happy keeping industry to a minimum, writing lots and lots of parking tickets, arresting fun-loving partygoers wholesale and keeping the decibels low, so it's not really much competition for Costa Mesa.

So, my friends, I've reviewed all the evidence and I pronounce Costa Mesa the very best place to live, work, shop and play. And our business license tax and reasonable rules and regulations and zoning laws are more than competitive. If we could finally get a handle on whether we work for our employees or they work for us, it would be just about perfect.

What do you think?

CHUCK CASSITY is a longtime Costa Mesa resident active in education, youth sports and other causes. His column appears every other Friday.

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