Parks and rec planners in Costa Mesa hear calls for parkland and open space


Looking at ways to address local homelessness, protect and preserve natural open space and secure new parkland are all ways Costa Mesa could improve its parks and recreation portfolio in coming years, according to speakers at a community forum Wednesday at the Costa Mesa Senior Center.

About 45 people turned out for the meeting to discuss the ongoing update to the city’s Open Space Master Plan of Parks and Recreation.

The current plan was approved more than a decade ago and is due for an update, said Ernesto Munoz, Costa Mesa’s public services director.

“The bulk of the work associated with any master planning process is really outreach — how you outreach to the community, to the stakeholders, to the sports groups and gather all that information and compile that into something that is truly and uniquely a community plan,” Munoz said.

When completed, the master plan will “set a framework for parks and recreation decision-making,” said Zachary Mueting, an associate landscape architect with RJM Design Group, the city’s consultant for the update.

While retooling a master plan takes a lot of legwork, including walking parks and taking stock of available amenities, Mueting said the most important part of the effort occurs at meetings like Wednesday’s.

“All that we do to generate this document is based on community input,” he said.

People in attendance Wednesday said they value Costa Mesa’s parks and open spaces and would like to see them expanded, if possible.

They also identified issues that they feel threaten the public’s ability to use them.

Increases in crime and the homeless population raise safety concerns, some participants said.

Some said that new high-density housing may tax existing facilities and take up space that could otherwise be set aside for parkland or open space.

Others emphasized the importance of keeping open space natural rather than repurposing it for sports fields or other uses.

All the comments and concerns voiced Wednesday will be taken into account when the plan is written, Mueting said.

Another community forum to discuss the update is scheduled from 6:30 to 9 p.m. June 8 at Lindbergh School, 220 23rd St.

Additional meetings will be held in the summer.

Mueting said the goal is to give the proposed plan update to the city for review in September.

The plan would first go to the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission, then to the City Council, Munoz said.

Twitter: @LukeMMoney