Mailbag: Mixed messages on water conservation

I recently received an email showing a home water report from Newport Beach.

Needless to say, my family and I are water hogs compared to our "average neighbors," and downright gluttons next to our "efficient neighbors."

Once I recovered from this assault on our civic identity and environmental conscience (will we ever be green?), I scrolled down to "Who are your Neighbors?" in hopes of finding a role model. Alas, as I feared, neighborliness is a construct of assumptions, statistics and, probably, an algorithm or two.

I suspect our soggy status reflects a profile compiled by the city that bears little resemblance to our actual situation. I linked to a profile update, checked various boxes and now live in hope that our next home water report will be less censorious.

I read that construction has begun on Upper Newport Village. Close to the airport, it will have hundreds of homes, retail space and assorted other amenities. The article used the term "luxury."

And March 22 in the Pilot, I read about the valiant Banning Ranch Conservancy's efforts to fight development of that parcel of open space. What will happen if it is not successful? Some 1,375 homes, commercial space and a small hotel! Further afield, in an effort to snatch development out of the jaws of boondoggle, thousands of homes are being built as part of the overall development plan of the Great Park.

What is wrong with this picture? One governmental hand is preaching the virtues of water conservation, while the other continues to add more demand to an increasingly finite resource. Am I, and my statistical neighbors, enabling, however passively, the development death spiral that is gripping our governmental entities?

I do my darndest to conserve water, drive less, buy local, recycle and have a compost bin. But when I see planning commissions recommending, and city councils approving, more development with "streamlined" review processes and proposed fee forgiveness for yet more McMansions, all the while blithely disregarding the pronouncements of other city departments, my neighborly fervor wanes a bit.

Lynda Adams

Newport Beach

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City Council now has some doers

The representatives of the people of Costa Mesa are our City Council members. They are our only elected officials and the only officials in the city who are directly responsible to the people.

They are elected to make sure the unelected municipal government is doing what needs to be done to make our city the great place it should be.

I bring this up because now that we have three people on the council who are actually taking a hands-on approach to improving Costa Mesa by doing what they were elected to do, we seem to have a small group of political opponents and chronic malcontents who reflexively complain about everything that these doers are doing and who try to convince voters that these doers are somehow out of line for doing what they were elected to do.

Over the years, we've had too many passive council members who did nothing but show up for meetings, rubber stamp whatever staff put in front of them, collect their checks and go home. Their way of doing the public's business was to not question anything, not do anything, just go along to get along.

This caused a deterioration in some parts of the city. Roads weren't being paved. Gangs controlled certain neighborhoods. Things that needed to be done just weren't being done. In that environment, some city employees were pretty much able to do whatever they wanted to do.

And some employee groups seemingly worked overtime to keep electing City Council members who would repay this support by letting the employees run the city and get raises and benefits paid for by the residents.

Now we have some council members who are running the city like a business. They are taking a hands-on approach. They're asking questions and not just rubber-stamping things.

They're taking care of the deferred maintenance of our streets and neighborhoods. They're letting the employees know that it is the council that is in charge, not the employees.

By the way, many of our employees, including police officers, don't live in Costa Mesa and can't vote on local issues. They should not be dictating to those of us who do live here and who can vote here.

And speaking of running the city like a business, what does that really mean? Well, bosses who want the business to succeed take an interest in actually managing the enterprise.

To do that, they investigate what employees are doing on the job. They make suggestions on how to do things better. They decide on priorities.

But this raises the question: How do we determine if a city is a success? The answer is found in the statistics relating to various quality-of-life issues and by comparing the statistics to those of surrounding cities. It makes sense to compare Costa Mesa to the five surrounding cities that actually touch some part of it: Santa Ana, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Newport Beach and Fountain Valley.

So how are we doing as a city? Better than some in some ways and not as good as others in other ways. But, and here's the important point, we are doing better now than we were just a few years ago before we elected some doers to the council.

Things are now trending in the right direction no matter what the political malcontents and employee associations trying to retain their power to run the city and control the council are trying to tell you.

M.H. Millard

Costa Mesa

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Developments tacky; thanks, council

Have you noticed all the ticky-tacky shacks popping up all over the Mesa? Well, you can thank the developer-friendly City Council majority.

This is not to the betterment of Costa Mesa. This blight will be with us long after the majority has left office, which can be none too soon.

R. Michael Healey

Costa Mesa

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Billionaires' influence on Congress

The will of the people of the United States has been taken over by billionaire oligarchs who think that they deserve to own the members of the House and the Senate.

Democracy means that the people are represented by individual votes, which when they form the majority results in a representative who cannot be bought. When representatives are against a minimal standard of living and refuse to create jobs for the unemployed, in the face of the majority of voters, we then know that they have been bought out by the billionaires.

Let us return to our democratic principles.

Terence O'Heany

Corona del Mar

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