Mailbag: Writer misstated facts about Sandra Genis

Re. "Commentary: Genis opposes positive economic development," July 25:

I read with dismay Howard Hull's commentary.

Hull complains about former Mayor Sandra Genis' stances on projects in Costa Mesa when, in fact, those projects exist and are the better because someone like her stood up and took steps to protect the citizens of Costa Mesa.

Hull should get his facts straight. Genis actually voted to approve Metro Pointe. Target was redeveloped a dozen years ago, and Genis only became involved recently, after Target violated its conditional-use permit on operating hours, as it had done for more than a year, with no action by the current majority of the City Council.

It was through the efforts of Genis and a number of other concerned citizens that all the projects mentioned by Hull were integrated into our community, with the negative impacts being exposed and then fixed to maximum benefit for the city.

Hull must prefer no oversight and redress on negative side effects of development (increased traffic, increased noise disturbing the quiet enjoyment of our neighborhoods, increased pollution from delivery vehicles and patrons visiting, all with little mitigation). Responsible developers choose to acknowledge and mitigate their impacts, as part of being a good neighbor.

The Banning Ranch project would put a minimum of 65% of the traffic it generates onto Costa Mesa streets if it has access to West Coast Highway. If the California Coastal Commission approves the project but does not approve the Coast Highway access, then 100% of the traffic will enter and exit over Costa Mesa streets.

Furthermore, because Banning Ranch is not in Costa Mesa, we not only have no rights to approve or disapprove that project, but Costa Mesa will get no — repeat no — property or sales taxes, and will be stuck with all the problems associated with that traffic for years to come.

Ask yourselves, "How much will it take to fix our streets for just the increased traffic flow caused by the development of Banning Ranch?"

According to Costa Mesa planning staff, it will cost $8 million to $10 million for the 65% traffic flow, which is substantially higher than the sum the developer promises to pay in the agreement approved by the Costa Mesa council.

What will that cost be if 100% of the traffic from that project comes through Costa Mesa?

Additionally, in its agreement, the city of Costa Mesa gives up the right to complain about any changes in the project in the future. So if the project adds more housing or adds more commercial development, causing more negative impacts, Costa Mesa cannot complain about it and still receives no property tax or sales tax to fix the ongoing damage that traffic will cause to Costa Mesa streets.

Does Hull really want a council who does not look to the future and achieve what is best for Costa Mesa? I know I don't, and I think all Costa Mesans owe Genis a debt of gratitude.

Jay Humphrey

Costa Mesa

Editor's note: The writer is a former city council member.


And on Banning ...

I found the commentary by Howard Hull full of "interesting" information — none of it factual!

Somehow he thinks a highly concentrated development in Newport Beach is going to help the Westside of Costa Mesa. How that will happen is a mystery to me, because all of the tax revenue will go to Newport Beach, and all the traffic congestion and pollution will funnel into the Westside.

Additionally, he believes all those affluent families will register their children in our Westside Newport-Unified Mesa School District schools. Did he look at Adams and California elementary schools?

The "affluent" parents have largely transferred their students to Eastside schools, Huntington Beach schools or private schools. I just don't believe that will change with the affluent families buying homes in Banning Ranch.

I too have lived in Costa Mesa a long time (since 1974). I know for a fact that Sandra Genis fought against the much more concentrated first proposal for the Ikea property. If she had not opposed the maximum build model proposed at the time, we would be stuck with a multistory business complex instead of something that is useful to the community.

In addition, she fought for reasonable guidelines so that the project proponents Hull mentioned mitigated some of the problems they created. She is not anti-build, but for building reasonably so that average homeowners have their needs respected.

Susan Shaw

Costa Mesa

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