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  • Cynthia McDonald



JUNE 18.  Next week, on Tuesday, June 18, the COSTA MESA CITY COUNCIL will meet at its normal time of 6:00 p.m. in the City Council Chambers.  Don’t forget you get three (3) FREE minutes to speak on any item NOT on the agenda at the beginning of the meeting AND three (3) FREE minutes to speak on an agendized item when that item comes up.  PLEASE take advantage of this time to let your City Council know how you feel about city matters that are important to you.

The Agenda was posted on Thursday afternoon, which is early from its usual late Friday afternoon release.  The City of Costa Mesa, unlike other cities, such as Irvine and Santa Ana, doesn’t release the agenda or reports until the deadline is upon it.  Here is a link:

Eleven of the items are on the Consent Calendar (which could be acted on in one motion by the City Council) and two are Public Hearings.  There are a few Consent Calendar items that are of interest to the public and my bet is they will be pulled for discussion.  When this happens, I hope the Council takes note of the public comment and acts accordingly, rather than just ignoring the comments and going directly to “motion to approve,” etc.  Here are a few items to note:

SECOND READING FOR ONE METRO WEST PROJECT.  This item is on the Consent Calendar but will be pulled by a member of the public.  Many of you have asked about the erroneous article by Sara Cardine in the Daily Pilot.  THIS PROJECT HAS NOT BEEN FULLY APPROVED, so there is still time to let the City Council know your concerns!  We have spoken against the City’s process for this recent round of changes, particularly the one where the VOTER APPROVAL was unilaterally removed by the City.  This project was previously given approvals in 2021 that were subject to the VOTE OF THE PEOPLE UNDER MEASURE Y.  That Condition of Approval was agreed to by the applicant and we are requesting the City enforce that CoA.  Now there is a new project with about the same number of luxury apartments right down the road (see below), but is the Council considering the cumulative impacts?  PLEASE JOIN US ON JUNE 18 AND ASK THE CITY TO ALLOW THE CITIZENS TO VOTE ON THIS PROJECT AT THIS ELECTION.  YOUR VOICE COUNTS!

INCLUSIONARY HOUSING ORDINANCEThis will be a SECOND second reading for this ordinance.  The City Attorney needed to clean up the document due to changes made by Council members the last time it came before the City Council.  In particular, we see many changes resulting from Council member Loren Gameros’s insistence that the IHO not apply to for-sale housing.  This is another Consent Calendar item that will likely be pulled by a member of the public.

IN-LIEU FEES.  This is a Public Hearing item and the very last thing on the Agenda, but since it is related to the IHO, I’ll mention it here.  The City has picked a method where the fee for not building affordable rental units on site will be approximately equal to the cost of producing the units.  The problem is that it takes time and money for a landlord to manage affordable units, and over a period of time it becomes cheaper to just pay the fee.  This method encourages developers to NOT build affordable units.

Since the City Council already gave away the store by agreeing to such a high threshold for affordable projects, the City should:

  • Set the fees be high enough so that developers are discouraged from using in-lieu fees as their first option when satisfying affordability of a project; and

  • Set fees in line with other cities, such as Irvine, Santa Ana, Huntington Beach and Tustin (that last city currently does not allow payment of in-lieu fees and requires units be built) so that there is maximum production of affordable units with each project to which the IHO applies, or enough money is put into a trust to ensure affordable units will be built.

If the City allows developers to get three pieces of the pie ( the first being not having to build the units, the second being not having to build as many affordable units as other cities, and the third being not having to pay much (or nothing if they use a development agreement) to avoid building the units), then Costa Mesa returns to being the “easy lay” it was a few years back.  As someone who worked in the transactional law field for 40 years, I guarantee the developers are all laughing at how poorly our City Council negotiated this deal.  And I mean laughing all the way to the bank.  Too bad it’s the people of Costa Mesa who are the ones on the losing end.

MERCY HOUSE RENTAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM:  This will be Amendment No. 5 to the Subrecipient Agreement with Mercy House for the purpose of providing rental assistance by way of $500,000 in FEMA reimbursements (updated not to exceed amount will be $2,442,633).  This rental assistance is direct financial assistance to avoid eviction and retain their housing and will assist the 36 households currently requesting assistance as well as up to 36 additional households over the next six (6) months. 

E-BIKE ORDINANCES.  This is the first of the two Public Hearings. These ordinance changes will give the CMPD the laws it needs to enforce some of the reckless and illegal behavior we see in e-cyclists.  The problem is, do we have enough police officers to enforce it?

JUNE 17 – HIVE LIVE PROJECT.  On Monday, June 17, at 6:00 p.m. at the Norma Herzog  Community Center on Park Avenue (near the Central Library), there will be a scoping meeting for the Hive Live Project to be located at 3333 Susan Street (right down Sunflower from OMW).  This meeting is mostly informational, but since it is about public input into the scope of the Environmental Impact Report for the project, some public comment will likely be solicited.

The proposed project will demolish the existing office building and football practice field for the Chargers and construct a new multi-phased master-planned residential community. The developer wants to build up to 1,050 rental units in three buildings, 3,692 sq ft of retail, and 335,958 sq ft of open space. Each building includes its residential amenities, such as a clubhouse, fitness center, pool/spa, etc., along with open space. The project would provide paseos and bicycle/pedestrian access to the nearby Rail Trail that runs between this project and the Press next door.  The developer contends that NO TRAFFIC STUDY IS NEEDED since the project will generate 2,034 net greater daily trips.  As mentioned above, there is no taking into consideration the cumulative impacts with the OMW project.  Note that under Measure Y, this project would have gone to a vote of the people.  However, with the passage of the City Council’s Measure K, the residents do NOT have that right.

And depictions can be found here:

This is currently a five-story project, but OMW also started at five stories, so it may end up at seven stories too.  We often hear that things need to get larger to “pencil out.”

Cyclists:  You will love these snapshots from the depictions (to the rest of you, what is wrong here?):

We have until Friday, July 5, 2024, to submit a list of what we desire to see contained in the draft Environmental Impact Report.  This deadline is 30 days from June 6, 2024, the date of the Notice of Preparation on the project, and there is no allowance for holidays that occur during the period.  Costa Mesa First will submit our request, including a traffic study (despite the developer’s claim).  We hope you will do the same.  Here is the address to send letters/emails:

Chris Yeager, Associate Planner

City of Costa Mesa Development Services Department

77 Fair Drive

Costa Mesa, CA 92626


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