Mythbusters:

Myth:  The initiative is “no growth” and will stop all projects and business coming to Costa Mesa.

Fact:    The initiative permits all development that is allowable under the current General Plan and zoning code. The initiative still allows flexibility for projects to exceed the General Plan within certain limitations before requiring a vote of the residents. This allows for new businesses to open and projects to be built, and even if the projects must go to a vote of the people, there is still an opportunity for proponents to reach out to the residents to take steps to achieve approval. Similar initiatives have not stopped growth or a loss of revenue for other cities.

Myth:  The initiative takes away the power of the City Council and Planning Commission.

Fact:   The initiative would require the City Council and Planning Commission to approve a project before it goes to the voters for approval. The Council and Planning Commission will still have the ability to grant variances, administrative adjustments, etc., and approve projects that don’t require a General Plan Amendment or zoning change.

Myth:  The initiative will prevent the redevelopment of aging properties in the city.

Fact:    Redevelopment projects that follow the current General Plan will continue to be allowed without voter approval. However, the initiative allows voters to decide if certain large projects that require changes to the General Plan are appropriate given the impact on the surrounding area.

Myth:  The City will be sued if the initiative passes.

Fact:   No one can prevent the filing of a lawsuit, but since this initiative borrowed concepts and language from another initiative that has been upheld in a court, we are confident that this initiative will be too.

Myth:  The initiative will drive away developers and business because they won’t be able to get projects approved as quickly.

Fact:    Only certain projects will require voter approval. Other cities that have similar ordinances have new projects and businesses coming to them. Most large projects take between 18 and 22 months to get the City approvals and permits needed to start a business or commence construction. Since developers will know they need voter approval before they begin the approval process with the City, they can plan accordingly.

Myth:  Property owners will lose their property rights.

Fact:    No property owner will lose any right they currently have under the General Plan or zoning code. If a property owner wishes to exceed its current rights, by law it would need to seek approval from the City, and perhaps invoke a vote of the residents.

Myth:  Every project in Costa Mesa will require voter approval to go forward.

Fact:   Only certain large projects requiring a General Plan Amendment or zoning change and that exceed the thresholds set forth in the initiative will be voted on. Any project, small or large, that does not require a General Plan amendment or zoning change will not require voter approval.

Myth:  Counting three ton vehicles as two trips when calculating "Average Daily Trips" for a proposed project will require all businesses to have voter approval.

Fact:   Average daily trips are calculated using the Trip Generation Manual of the Institute of Transportation Engineers which specifies the trips generated by different types of projects. Trip fees are one time fees charged to the development to fund the traffic infrastructure in the city. The reason for counting three ton vehicles as two trips is to allow traffic engineers to adjust the estimate trip count when assessing a project that may involve many heavy vehicles, such as delivery trucks.

Myth:  This initiative is just like the Malibu initiative that was overturned.

Fact:   This initiative was written after reviewing many initiatives that had been upheld in court. We chose not to fashion our initiative after the Malibu initiative because we recognized flaws and also because its subject matter did not apply to Costa Mesa.

Myth:  Businesses with customers who drive SUVs will be penalized because their vehicles are heavy enough to affect the calculation of “Average Daily Trips” in the initiative, thus requiring all new business to have voter approval. Residents will pay the cost for driving SUVs.

Fact:   Trip fees are one time charges that are paid by developers, not residents, and are used to offset the impacts of vehicles to infrastructure in the city. The fees are calculated using the Trip Generation Manual of the Institute of Transportation Engineers, which specifies the trips generated by different types of projects. Traffic engineers can modify the trips they estimate for a proposed project based on what type of vehicle typically comes and goes from that type of project. No one will be sitting near a project doing a traffic count, nor will there be tracking devices attached to residents’ vehicles. This provision only instructs the City’s traffic engineers to adjust for large delivery trucks at places such as a factory, warehouse, or big-box store..

Costa Mesa First (FPPC 1332564), P.O. Box 2282, Costa Mesa, CA 92628, costamesa1st@gmail.com

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