By Bradley Zint
5:54 PM PST, December 5, 2012
After speaking for a few minutes toward the beginning of Tuesday's City Council session, Mayor Eric Bever left the center seat of the dais.
After serving two four-year terms, the Westside resident was termed out.
"I want to thank the members of the community who have been strong supporters over the years," he said.
"I've had a good time working with great people in every department," he added, "and without their help, we would not have resolved half the things that we managed to fix in these eight years. Thank you, staff, for all your help.
"It's been challenging, but also invigorating working with the different peers that I have served with up here on the dais. Some folks in the community have short patience for some of the people I've worked with, and actually I've found them to be a lot of fun to work with."
The fiscally conservative councilman, who was elected in 2004, took the mayoral helm from Gary Monahan in March. Monahan resigned from the position but remained on the council.
Bever's colleagues and some residents praised him for his work, particularly on defeating a proposal to add toll roads to portions of the San Diego (405) Freeway.
"He's a courageous guy," Councilman Steve Mensinger said of Bever. "He just does what's right."
Peter Naghavi, the city's deputy CEO and economic and development director, called Bever's work on the 405 his legacy project. Bever's instrumental role in rallying leaders along the freeway's corridor, and being tenacious and committed, was admirable, he said.
"I really think the community owes him gratitude, at least for that one project, very, very much," Naghavi said.
Bever, of course, had his critics over the years. His decision in 2011 to vote with the council majority to lay off city workers in hopes of replacing them with contractors drew the ire of organized labor and a grass-roots residents group that sided with city employees.
In addition, his recent comments critical of Share Our Selves and the Someone Cares Soup Kitchen, which he contends draw homeless people to the city and are detrimental to their neighbors, were criticized by advocates for the needy and social service. He later clarified that he only directed city CEO Tom Hatch to investigate the groups for possibly violating municipal ordinances.
In an interview after the meeting, Kathleen Eric recalled that she first met Bever nearly a decade ago at a community meeting to improve the Westside. Both were involved in the Westside Improvement Assn.
"He's a never-give-up, loyal, faithful to the N-th degree person," she said. "He's a very good guy."
Eric, a fellow Westside resident, said Bever never was one for accolades or credit.
"I don't care at all about the credit, as long as it gets done," she recalled him saying.
Eric did credit him, though, for efforts to save the Noguchi Garden and help make Costa Mesa's street signs identifiable.
"I don't think Eric's a politician," she said. "He never became one … he stayed an activist, true to the cause of improvement. I think he still feels that way."
Bever later added in an email, "It has been an honor to serve the citizens of Costa Mesa … and I wish the new council success in addressing the vexing problems of the day and continuing to improve our city."
If You Go
What: Reception honoring outgoing Eric Bever during the First Fridays Roadshow
Where: Costa Mesa Civic Center, 77 Fair Drive
When: 6 p.m. Friday
RSVP: Send an email to Sharon Rodelius, firstname.lastname@example.org