Wednesday, July 15, 2009
CM PRESS # 751
FAIRGROUNDS TO BE SOLD
Governor S. wants to sell the fairgrounds, and tonight the OC Fair Board of Directors voted to go along with his wishes.
Despite the murmurs that Costa Mesa is somehow going to keep the fairgrounds running as it is now by using our zoning powers, don't count on it.
Our guess is that the annual OC FAIR will move to the Great Park, and that the Costa Mesa fairgrounds will eventually be used for homes, businesses and some college uses.
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THE HATED WHITE RACE
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SOBECA CALLED COOL BY FOLEY AND THE WESTSIDE TAKES A HIT BY BEVER (photo of THE LAB)
At yesterday's joint City Council/Planning Commission meeting, one of the items up for discussion was whether or not to expand the types of permitted by-right uses in SOBECA, West 19th Street and on the Westside Bluffs.
At the present time, primarily due to the poor economy, there is very little change happening on the Westside Bluffs.
By expanding the by-right uses for the Westside Bluffs from the presently allowed industrial uses and live work units to include various types of retail stores including coffee shops, restaurants, art studios and more, those who want to buy industrial buildings and convert them to these uses wouldn't have to obtain a Minor Conditional Use Permit that costs about $ 1,100 and takes anywhere from weeks to months to obtain, but could simply buy the buildings, bring them up to code and open the doors for business.
This easy-in approach for those who can help transform the Bluffs is what the CM PRESS supports, with the additional proviso that such uses also add additional parking to the new uses of the industrial buildings to comply with the parking codes for the new uses.
For example, an industrial building is now required to provide 1.5 to 3 parking spaces per 1,000 square feet of building, depending on its size, but some of the retail uses that might move into industrial buildings require 4 parking spaces per 1,000 square feet of building. The CM PRESS position is, to be precise, to require the higher parking standard for the re-use by retailers of the industrial buildings.
TO BE CLEAR
As things now stand, if someone wants to buy industrial buildings on the Westside Bluffs, tear them down and put in new buildings, they can get the by-right uses for these properties. The discussion last night was about re-using the present industrial buildings for by-right uses. The CM PRESS believes that in this lousy economy, the re-use of the buildings is what will start bringing in the changes many say they want.
WHAT BEVER DID
Councilmember Bever effectively killed off the idea of letting the industrial buildings on the Westside Bluffs be used as outlined above and said that such a use would be a disincentive to improving the Bluffs. (?)
We're not sure what Bever's reasoning is in this regard, but his comments were well received by those in the room who have been trying for years to kill off the revitalization of the Westside.
It may be that Bever believes that developers will come in and pay full price for an industrial building, tear it down and then rebuild a more conventional retail building. In the three years that the plans to revitalize the Westside have been in effect, that hasn't happened, and with the present economy, it's not likely to happen.
Maybe Bever has a sharper pencil than most small developers and figures that a developer can somehow make a profit by paying full price for a perfectly good building, tear it down, and then build something else on the empty lot as though the developer just bought empty land in the first place. We'd like to see the calculations that make that work on the Westside Bluffs--with its many small lots--in this economy.
After a little discussion, the Westside was removed from consideration for the by-right uses and the focus was put on only allowing such by-right uses for SOBECA, way across town in north Costa Mesa.
As you may know, SOBECA is the area around Baker Street and Bristol that includes The LAB, The Camp and an increasing number of other hip businesses in an artsy-craftsy mix in former industrial buildings.
FOLEY'S "COOL" COMMENT
One of the streets in SOBECA is Randolph Street. Councilperson Foley said that recently she was looking for a new location for her law office and wanted to rent space on Randolph because the street is "cool," (she's right), but that because a law office was not by-right permitted she rented space in Newport Beach instead.
She also pointed out that under present rules, the by-right uses for Randolph Street are helping keep the area industrial instead of transforming it.
Foley is right about Randolph Street and the reason why it's not transforming fast enough, but the same principle applies to the Westside Bluffs.
THE BACK STORY
What you may not be aware of is that there is a mostly unspoken rivalry going on between SOBECA and the Westside as to which area will become the "cool" artsy-craftsy part of Costa Mesa.
So far, SOBECA is winning and the Westside is languishing.
In our opinion, Bever helped SOBECA last night, and hurt the Westside.
SO WHY DIDN'T SOME WESTSIDERS SHOW UP TO SUPPORT THE WESTSIDE?
The CM PRESS was the only supporter of the Westside at the meeting yesterday.
Those Westside activists who have also been calling for making the Westside cool were apparently too busy or perhaps they just relied on Bever to protect their interests.
Well, Westside activists, you can now visit a cool area, but it's not where you live and work, it's SOBECA. And, SOBECA is what many of us had envisioned for the Westside.
By the way, one of the coolest stores on the Westside: eVocal has now closed.
Had the Westside been made cool, eVocal might have been a raging success. However, not many people want to travel to a crime ridden ghetto to a rare cool store. One store does not a destination location make, saith the poet. Most people will, however, travel to a whole cool neighborhood--SOBECA.
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Those are our opinions. Thanks for reading them.
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