Frequently Asked Questions:

Q:  When can I see the full text of the initiative?  

A:  Right Now!  Just go to our Initiative and Highlights page and click on the document.  You can also view the City's summary.

Q:  Can I sign the petition online?  

A:  No, the Registrar of Voters requires “wet” signatures.  If you would like to sign, please Contact Us and we will arrange a convenient time to obtain your signature.  If you have family, friends or neighbors who want to sign, we can give you a petition to get those signatures too.

Q:  How many signatures do you need to qualify the initiative?  

A:  We need about 5,000 signatures.  However, in order to be certain that we have enough qualified signatures (signatures by residents of Costa Mesa who are registered to vote), we are trying to get 7,000 signatures.  We will turn in the signed petitions on January 6, 2016, so please sign now!

Q:  Won’t this initiative stop all building and all new business from coming to Costa Mesa?  

A:  No.  The initiative was written so that appropriate size housing and commercial projects would not require a vote.

Q:  But I’ve heard that if Starbucks wanted to build a coffee shop, they couldn’t.  Is that true?  

A:  It would have to be the biggest Starbucks ever (over 10,000 sq. ft.) AND require a zoning change to be built.  Most newer Starbucks locations are between 1,700 and 2,700 sq. ft. and are located in shopping centers or areas that are already zoned commercial.​

Q:  Isn’t this some radical way of trying to stop growth? 

A:  The Costa Mesa First initiative is an example of a long tradition of using the initiative process in the context of city planning and zoning. This kind of citizen review of major planning decisions is not a new or radical idea.  It is a widely used technique in the planning arena, especially in coastal communities subject to economic pressure to increase density.  The initiative will not stop growth, it will only give the residents the right to vote on large projects.

Q:  Aren’t the projects being built actually medium density? 

A:  Some are, and some are not.  Please see this chart which illustrates different types of housing and levels of density in Costa Mesa.

Q:  Would the initiative prevent building of houses or businesses on Fairview Park? 

A:  The initiative prevents the change in zoning from public land without a vote of the residents, so parks would be protected by the proposed ordinance.

Q:  Isn’t this initiative like the Newport Beach “Greenlight Initiative?”

A:  There are some similarities.  However, since Costa Mesa is not like Newport Beach in many ways, a unique initiative was crafted.  The authors did look at a number of initiatives and ordinances during the writing process, such as those written for Escondido, Oxnard, Redondo Beach, Seal Beach and Ventura, just to name a few.

Q:  Does the initiative affect the building of affordable housing?​

A:  The initiative specifically excludes voting on affordable housing that is required by federal or state laws.  It does not specifically address affordable housing that the City would require under an inclusionary housing agreement because at this time Costa Mesa does not have such an agreement.  Please note that since the Redevelopment Agency was dissolved, no affordable housing has been built in Costa Mesa.

Q:  What happens if the initiative passes, but then the ordinance needs to be amended?​

A:  Any change to the ordinance would require a vote of the residents of Costa Mesa.  A three person majority of the City Council could not overturn a vote of the people.

Q:  What are examples of new or existing projects that would have been subject to a vote of the people under the initiative?

A:  Three examples are:


  • 125 Baker Street:  A five-story, 240 unit luxury apartment building (57.7 du/ac) and six-story parking structure that replaces a two-story office building.  The project is located at the corner of Baker and Pullman Streets, east of the 55 Freeway.  There are no other residential units on that side of the freeway, as that area was always office/commercial/industrial because of its proximity to the airport.  The project required a General Plan Amendment to rezone it from Commercial Limited to High Density Residential.  Due to an increase in estimated daily trips from 506 to 1,569, the project requires the installation of a traffic signal at Pullman and Baker.  Because the project is rental housing, no park impact fees will be assessed.


  • 421 Bernard Street (Blue Sol Apartments):  A 113 unit apartment building (45.93 du/ac).  This project and the adjacent 32 condominiums were part of the 1901 Newport Boulevard project that went through several owners and a bankruptcy.  Originally the 1901 Newport Boulevard project was to include affordable housing to achieve the maximum density allowed, but during the change in the design and use of the project the affordable housing was lost.  The project required a General Plan Amendment and was estimated to generate 751 daily trips.  A minor modification for the setback and a variance for noise standards were granted.


  • 1500 Mesa Verde Drive (Azulon at Mesa Verde):  A 224 unit senior housing project (28.66 du/ac).  This project required a General Plan Amendment from General Business and Shopping Center to Planned Development Commercial and received a 20% density bonus for senior housing.  The zoning change not only applied to the subject property, but also the adjacent shopping center (approximately 21,475 sq. ft.) as a future entitlement.  A variance for noise standards was also granted.  While estimated daily trips was not supplied in the City’s staff report, a right turn lane was added to southbound Harbor Boulevard onto Mesa Verde Drive East as a mitigation effort.