Commentary: Measure V savings are exaggerated

Costa Mesans for Responsible Government opposes Measure V.

Costa Mesans for Responsible Government (CM4RG) is a non-partisan, grass roots organization formed in 2011 to encourage and promote high levels of openness, accountability, integrity and responsiveness in our city government.


We are local neighbors and residents from all political walks of life who share common goals.

CM4RG opposes the proposed Costa Mesa City charter, known as Measure V, on the November ballot.


The proposed charter does not provide for more local control by residents, but it does grant much more power to the City Council, and its claims of cost savings are unproven, unexplained and likely exaggerated.

In addition, there are too many flaws and omissions in the proposed charter, which leave the citizens of Costa Mesa vulnerable to problems like those of Bell and Vernon.

The flaws include the following:

•It was written by one city councilman and not a commission of citizens and, as a result, does not represent the positions and interests of the majority of residents of Costa Mesa.


•Section 103 grants too much more power to the City Council, which has a history of costly errors and ignoring many of the suggestions and objections made by residents.

The Council:

•Ignored numerous resident suggestions for improving the proposed charter.

•Wasted $1 million or more on an avoidable lawsuit because they ignored the city attorney's advice on how to legally handle layoffs.

•Tried to privatize TeWinkle Park against objections of residents.

•Over citizens' objections, accepted a weak traffic mitigation settlement for the Banning Ranch Project. The contract also binds the hands of the city to negotiate or protest any future changes that impact Costa Mesa.

•Laid-off needed City Hall support staff to budget to buy motels, expanding government to add involvement in risky real estate ventures.

•Section 401(b) reduces public control by exempting the city from the public contracts code intended to prevent favoritism, fraud and corruption and to stimulate competitive bidding that controls costs.


•Section 401(c) reduces public control by allowing unlimited no-bid contracts, which could lead to favoritism, personal enrichment, fraud, corruption and reduced competition, which could lead to higher costs.

•Section 901 provides very limited checks and balances. The City Council is only obligated to consider changes to the charter once every 10 years.

•There are no standards in the charter for land use variances, and residents would no longer benefit from the protections of State law.

•The proposed charter does not address current pension liabilities.

•The proposed charter omits the financial, purchasing and contracting controls recommended by the Los Angeles County Civil Grand Jury Report on charter cities that were intended to prevent catastrophes like Bell and Vernon.

Reduced checks, balances and public controls can lead to big government in our small town. The charter puts politicians in control of the purse strings with no accountability.

"Local control" is a worthy ideal but this charter clearly gives less control to the locals than we have now. It concentrates more control in the council majority than they have now.

Many residents made repeated requests that the council would adopt state law protections into the proposed charter to preserve citizen rights. The council majority declined.

A charter form of government can be good but this charter is flawed. The residents of Costa Mesa deserve better.

Costa Mesans for Responsible Government strongly recommends a no vote on Measure V this November.

ROBIN LEFFLER is president of Costa Mesans for Responsible Government.