Commentary: Costa Mesa can be proud of an improving Westside

For many years, Costa Mesa's Westside hasn't fully tapped its great potential, despite being just one mile from the beach, the capital of the world's action sports industry and the subject of an innovative revitalization plan drawn up about a decade ago by residents, business owners and city staff.

But now, thanks to a growing economy, quality developers and top-of-their-field city planners, the Westside has begun a renaissance marked by swapping out rundown rental and industrial properties for modern condominiums, work-live units and more detached homes.

In recent months, we've literally approved housing developments that are replacing an auto salvage yard (they called them junk yards when I grew up), a dilapidated apartment complex and rundown, 70-year-old bungalows, auto repair shops and boat and auto storage facilities. And these new developments all follow the density guidelines adopted in the city's general and Westside revitalization plans.

In turn, those new developments — some with ocean views from their city-style rooftop patios — are raising property values (allowing for more quality projects) and bringing in additional young professionals and families with more disposable income.

This will soon create a greater demand for better restaurants and boutique retail establishments and a lesser need for such businesses as thrift shops and liquor stores. It will be like the East 17th Street business district sprinkled throughout the Westside.

As the Westside rises — in property value, in the percentage of home ownership and in the number of new restaurants and retail stores — crime in the area will drop as it has in other revitalized areas in Southern California and across the country. This is part of the city's holistic approach to public safety.

It's an exciting time for this emerging jewel of Costa Mesa. In the past year or so, several Westside projects have been approved by the city that reflect the new vibrancy of the area, including:

• Anchor Port (Newport Boulevard and Industrial Way): 60 live-work homes on a site that housed a mobile home park and auto and body repair shops.

• Charle Street Townhomes (500 block of Bernard Street): 10 attached condominium homes on property that housed seven bungalows built in the 1940s.

• Victoria Melia Homes (600 block of Victoria Street): 11 single-family homes that will replace a 12-unit apartment complex.

• Placentia and 20th Mixed Use Development (2000 block of Placentia Avenue): 36 live-work homes and lofts on a site that used to be home to boat and auto storage and repair businesses.

• 1856 Placentia Ave.: Five single-family residential units on a former vacant lot.

• "Level 1" live-work lofts (West 17th Street and Superior Avenue): 49 live-work units on a site that had been light manufacturing and warehouses.

• Brickyard Lofts (2000 block of Placentia): 14-unit, three-story detached live-work homes on what used to be an auto salvage yard.

What's happening in the Westside is not a miracle, though it looks like one. It's actually the result of a lot of hard work by everyone involved to make Costa Mesa and the Westside a better place to work, live and visit.

If you haven't yet, check out some of these developments and the changes they are making to the community. They will make you proud to be a Costa Mesan.

JIM RIGHEIMER is the mayor of Costa Mesa.

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