Costa Mesa Adds Changes to Measure Y on November's Ballot, Allowing More Housing

Costa Mesa Adds Changes to Measure Y on November's Ballot, Allowing More Housing
An apartment complex displays leasing opportunities in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Nov. 16, 2020. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
Rudy Blalock

Costa Mesa, Calif., residents will be asked in November to approve revisions to Measure Y, which city sponsors say is necessary to remain compliant with state law.

Adopted in 2016, Measure Y required voter approval for developments that exceeded certain criteria, such as number of units in a development, square footage, or effects on traffic.

Saying they wanted to spur new housing and update old commercial corridors, the city council voted 6-1 on Aug 2, with Councilman Don Harper opposed, to put the Measure Y revisions to voters in November.

“When people talk of Measure Y’s impact, I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s killed all housing development,” Councilman Jeffrey Harlan said during the Aug. 2 meeting.

Harlan said since the enactment of Measure Y, no votes have taken place under its guidelines. Harlan said developers believe current restrictions under Measure Y pose too big a financial risk—developers could potentially spend a significant amount of money to begin a project that could then be rejected by a vote required under Measure Y.

According to Harlan, in the last 6 years, less than 200 units have been approved in Costa Mesa—adding that last year, only 8 units were approved.

If voters approve the changes in November, some affordable-housing developments would be exempt from a Measure Y vote, but single-family zoned areas would still be subject to Measure Y's requirements.

Corridors that would be potentially exempt from Measure Y’s restrictions would include fragments of Newport and Harbor boulevards, Baker Street between State Road 73 and State Road 55, Placentia Avenue, West 17th, West 18th and West 19th streets, as well as everything north of the 405 freeway within city limits.

Harper said he opposed the measure because the revisions don’t guarantee any affordable housing. “[Residents] don’t know what you’re doing and they’re nervous about that change,” he said.

With the new guidelines, the city would only be required to hold public meetings and conduct outreach toward residents or business owners in a process called "visioning."

Costa Mesa’s housing plan for 2021 through 2029 includes the construction of nearly 12,000 new units to align with state law. With the current total amount of units in the city at only 43,000—an increase of 12,000 units would be nearly a 28 percent increase.

In its draft, the city said it has three years to "complete the required zoning changes" and that if voters reject the plan in November, "the City may be out of compliance with State Housing Element law."

The plan identifies Measure Y as a potential constraint for development of residential properties, affecting the city’s plans for growth.

If approved by voters, the ordinance would be effective 10 days after certification of the election.

Rudy Blalock is a Southern California-based daily news reporter for The Epoch Times. Originally from Michigan, he moved to California in 2017, and the sunshine and ocean have kept him here since. In his free time, he may be found underwater scuba diving, on top of a mountain hiking or snowboarding—or at home meditating, which helps fuel his active lifestyle.
Related Topics