I have recently seen a flurry of articles about future development in Costa Mesa. Should the city allow changes that revitalize areas that may be ready for such change, even if that change negatively affects the quality of life of the neighboring community?
I have read comments about the loss of affordable housing in the quest to develop as densely as possible. There is no doubt that affordable and senior housing units throughout Costa Mesa are being lost to new development catering to the affluent.
What I have not heard or read about is a plan to protect affordable housing in Costa Mesa.
The effort to maintain and proportionately increase affordable housing is actually a regional requirement and well established within the legal framework of our community. The current rush to develop high-end, high-density housing in Costa Mesa is driven by our current mayor, with little thought to preserving affordable or senior housing or creating replacement housing affordable to those displaced.
One example: The mayor championed the conversion of a motel to "luxury" apartments with no thought of requiring that a portion be affordable until a community outcry led him to say that affordable units should be included.
But in the quiet background is a lurking bear. Under current rules, it is easy to convert mobile home parks to much higher-density housing. The units are movable with no real effort or demolition costs. The ground is already flat for the most part and easily brought to grade. And the residents are often seniors and low- or fixed-income residents, who are usually financially unable to fight such a conversion.
Costa Mesa has no protections for those residents. While there may be some compensation afforded those displaced by the conversion of mobile homes to more expensive fixed residences, it is woefully little.
It is time for Costa Mesa to take action as our neighbor did. Huntington Beach added protection to preserve the city's senior mobile home parks. The courts have stood behind Huntington's actions. Costa Mesa needs to go a step further and include affordable housing protection as part of a mobile home stabilization plan.
To do this, we need to pass an ordinance that establishes zoning requiring a number of steps before a mobile home park can be converted.
The steps should include:
•The evaluation of net balance change to senior and affordable housing caused by the conversion.
• The estimation of relocation expenses for displaced residents and establishment of a pool to fund same.
• A reasonable time frame and developer-provided search program to relocate displaced residents in a comparable area.
• A committed plan to replace senior and affordable units lost through new development.
Only by preserving the diversity of our community will Costa Mesa remain the city we choose to live in.
Former Costa Mesa City Councilman JAY HUMPHREY is running for council again in the November election.