Forget the Voters: City Council Considers Development Projects Without Voter Input

    Despite Costa Mesa having legislation through 2016’s Measure Y to maintain local control in housing projects, the city council may have coordinated an effort to remove voter input from future housing projects

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    The Costa Mesa City Council is attempting to usurp a highly approved ballot measure giving voters input in city development projects. In footage from the July 19 council meeting, Mayor Pro Tem Andrea Marr alludes to the council directing staff to provide talking points to be in lockstep against the ballot measure. If true, this would violate the Brown Act

    During the council meeting, councilmembers requested a vote to approve a ballot measure which would allow the city to approve high density housing projects without voter approval. In a recent progress report conducted by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), Costa Mesa’s regional housing needs could be as many as 11,760 units of housing by the year 2029. According to the HCD, 40% of those units–or 4,714 units out of the 11,760–would need to be affordable to lower-income households. 

    Only one councilmember flagged concerns and refused to be in lockstep with the council against Measure Y.

    Councilman Don Harper said the talking points given to council members was likely a violation of the Brown Act. 

    “I’ve never [received talking points] before an item is voted on to promote an item, and almost every one of the talking points I’ve heard already here through a series of questions [by councilmembers.] 

    “I’ve just never seen that done in council before…It seems inappropriate frankly for an issue we have not voted on to give all the councilmembers the same talking points,” he said.

    Mayor Pro Tem Andrea Marr piped in, indicating she had the talking points made.

    “You weren’t at the study session, so we thought it would be helpful for you.” 

    Many residents have complained about high density housing projects, noting they would prefer to preserve single-family neighborhoods, restrict commercial and industrial growth from local neighborhoods, and maintain local control in any future planning decisions.

    Do you think the council should take away planning power from Costa Mesa voters?

    SoCal Daily Pulse

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