Costa Mesa gets new advisory panels dealing with Fairview Park, youth sports and open space

Costa Mesa City Council members this week approved two new advisory committees pertaining to Fairview Park, youth sports and open space.

On a pair of 3-2 votes at the tail end of a meeting that began Tuesday night and lasted into early Wednesday, council members officially OKd creating a Fairview Park Steering Committee and a Youth Sports, Open Space & Recreation Advisory Committee.

The former will advise the council on matters pertaining to the park’s master plan as well as the effects of Measure AA, which requires voter approval for several changes that could be proposed in the park.

Members of the latter panel will be charged with enhancing and promoting youth sports programs and facilities and advising the council on spending money collected under Measure Z. That measure creates a fee applying to all new development north of the 405 Freeway and west of Fairview Road, with the proceeds going toward increasing recreation, open space and public parks.

Council members Allan Mansoor and Jim Righeimer voted against creating the new committees.

“I think we’re just growing government here,” Righeimer said.

Much of the discussion at the council meeting centered on how an official youth sports committee might affect the existing Youth Sports Council, a liaison group formed by the nonprofit Costa Mesa United in collaboration with the city, the Newport-Mesa Unified School District and others.

Supporters of that group said it gives youth sports stakeholders the chance to meet in an informal setting to discuss issues and solve potential conflicts. An official city committee, they said, could become unnecessarily political.

Costa Mesa United board member Brett Eckles said he’s not necessarily opposed to the city forming some kind of committee, but he questioned whether recruitment could be an issue.

Some people, he said, might be wary of the additional time demands or public scrutiny that could accompany a formalized panel.

“Most of these folks are not going to want to be reported in the Pilot, reported on blogs, talked about on social media,” he said. “It’s just not up their alley.”

During a discussion on the topic last month, some council members said creating an official committee is preferable because it would be subject to stricter meeting and transparency rules.

Even with the council’s decision this week, Costa Mesa United President Gordon Bowley said the organization will continue to run as it has for years.

“What you’re doing is your prerogative,” he told the council. “What we do is our prerogative and we will continue to operate and continue to support youth sports in Costa Mesa.”

As approved, the Youth Sports, Open Space & Recreation Advisory Committee will have 17 members, including the mayor, a council member and representatives of the Newport-Mesa school district and local sports, community and environmental groups.

The Fairview Park Steering Committee will have seven voting members and two alternates. The panel essentially replaces the Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee, which the council eliminated last month.

With the committees officially established, the city will start a process to recruit members. The council would need to vote on the appointments at a future meeting.

Twitter: @LukeMMoney