Substantial developments in Costa Mesa may soon have to gain approval at the ballot box after a large majority of local voters gave their blessing Tuesday to a measure calling for public approval of some projects.
A measure to require voters’ OK for several changes that could be proposed at the city’s Fairview Park also won by a big margin, according to figures from the Orange County registrar of voters office.
Final totals Wednesday showed that 67.9% of voters cast ballots in favor of Measure Y, a growth-control initiative sponsored by activist group Costa Mesa First.
The measure would require voter approval of some larger development projects, namely those that entail a general plan amendment or zoning change and add 40 or more dwelling units or 10,000 or more square feet of commercial space on top of what already exists.
“I think it’s a vital tool for the citizens of Costa Mesa to be able to have an active say in what goes on in their future,” said Mesa Verde resident Jay Humphrey, who worked to push the initiative.
Humphrey said Wednesday that he thinks the measure will encourage developers to be “good neighbors” and build high-quality projects in the city.
“As developers come into Costa Mesa, this is going to make sure that what they do, what they develop, is going to be the highest possible quality, both today and into the future,” said Humphrey, who ran unsuccessfully for City Council in Tuesday’s election. “It’s not going to be development that becomes a problem for Costa Mesa down the road.”
The measure also attracted criticism. Some decried it as overly restrictive and said it could stunt the city’s economic growth by scaring away potential businesses and tamping down housing development.
“I think we need to have reasonable development, but I think that should be addressed by the City Council,” said Allan Mansoor, who won a council seat Tuesday. “I don’t believe in addressing that through a ballot measure.”
The current council majority put a separate initiative, Measure Z, on the ballot to compete against Costa Mesa First’s.
Measure Z sought to ratify the city’s existing land-use regulations and create a fee applying to all new development north of the 405 Freeway and west of Fairview Road with the purpose of increasing recreation, open space and public park facilities.
Opponents said the measure was meant to deceive voters and maintain pro-development policies that degrade the local quality of life.
Though 55.5% of voters approved of Measure Z, it could not go into effect unless it received more “yes” votes than Y.
Wednesday’s totals showed Y with 16,969 votes and Z with 13,356.
Seven in 10 local voters gave thumbs-up to Measure AA, which would require public approval for a number of possible changes at Fairview Park, including extending operating hours, building permanent structures and installing additional lighting.
Maintenance, restoration or preservation work would not be subject to the requirement.
Supporters said the measure, championed by the Fairview Park Preservation Alliance, would protect the 208-acre park’s natural resources and shield it from more-active uses.
“We have a jewel in Fairview Park,” said Humphrey, a member of the alliance. “It is a tremendous natural and archaeological resource for this city. It has the capability to be a learning ground for generations to come about what existed here before, and it’s an open, natural space that people can enjoy.”
As with Measure Y, some critics claimed AA would be too strict. The council sponsored another measure, BB, to compete against it.
That measure, which would prohibit development of athletic fields in the park without voters’ OK, was defeated Tuesday, with 52.7% of the votes cast against it.
Measure BB would have allowed other recreational uses, such as those identified in the park’s master plan.
Opponents said the measure would place no limits on facilities for individual or indoor sports and wouldn’t limit grading or paving that could occur in the park.