Next month, the Costa Mesa City Council will take a formal position regarding the proposed controversial expansion of the San Diego (405) Freeway through Costa Mesa. It is critical for the residents to become educated and speak out about what impact this project will have on our city.
For those not familiar with the plan, California Department of Transportation and the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) are proposing to widen the 405 from the Corona del Mar (73) Freeway, to the San Gabriel River (605) Freeway. They are looking at three proposals. The first two seek to add traffic lanes north of Euclid Street in Fountain Valley and do not impact our city directly.
However, OCTA's proposed Alternative 3 directly impacts Costa Mesa. This $1.7-billion proposal will add an additional general purpose freeway lane in each direction at Euclid and create an additional paid High Occupancy Travel (HOT) lane through Costa Mesa (similar to the one on the Riverside (91) Freeway through Corona).
Many fear that because Alternative 3 is the only proposal which generates revenue through the toll lanes, OCTA will select this option. You see, OCTA does not have enough money to build the projects and needs to find a way to pay for the construction.
Alternative 3 is a disaster for Costa Mesa. It will bring the 405, and its noise, pollution and trash up to 40 feet closer to residences and businesses. Scientific studies consistently find that those exposed to prolonged freeway pollution have increased health problems for life. What does this say to our residents about how we value their quality of life?
In addition, to make room for the paid travel lanes, OCTA will have to completely destroy and re-build both the Fairview Road and Harbor Boulevard overpasses. Recall, the Fairview overpass was just reconstructed three years ago at a cost of $7 million and major headache to Costa Mesa residents. The proposed HOT lanes will also require the construction of another elevated bridge at the 73 Freeway interchange. We do not need more elevated freeways in Costa Mesa!
Another hidden impact of OCTA's plan is that the proposed HOT lanes may divert local business revenue and sales tax dollars from our city. Drivers using the HOT lanes won't be able to exit in Costa Mesa. They will be unable to pick-up dinner at our local restaurants, buy gas at our local gas stations, or buy last minute gifts at South Coast Plaza. Where is OCTA's analysis of the financial impact of this proposal on our great city?
OCTA claims that the 405 is heavily congested and that cities need to work together to find a regional solution. However, Costa Mesa has already done its part. The 405 is not congested because of Costa Mesa. We already made freeway improvements less than 10 years ago when the transition was built for the 73. Just compare the number of lanes available on the 405 in Costa Mesa with the number of lanes available farther up the freeway. We added capacity then; why should we be forced to add more capacity now?
Everyone knows that the 405 problems begin up-stream, at the Euclid and Brookhurst Street off ramps, where traffic lanes are taken away. If additional freeway lanes are needed, they should be focused in those areas, not in Costa Mesa.
Why is OCTA spending hundreds of millions of dollars to solve a problem in Costa Mesa that does not exist? Couldn't the funds from the additional cost of Alternative 3 be better used to solve real local transportation concerns, like fixing the Costa Mesa (55) Freeway terminus?
It is time for residents to become aware of this project and understand what Alternative 3 will do to our quality of life if it is approved. Please visit http://www.octa.net/I-405/IPO.aspx for more information about the specific proposals, impacts and costs. The city is hosting an important public forum on this project June 4. We hope to see you there.
Please join Mesa Verde Inc., the Mesa North Community Assn., the Halecrest Community Assn. and a growing list of residents in recommending that our council votes no on OCTA's proposed Alternative 3 for the 405 Freeway.
President, Mesa Verde Inc.
President, Mesa North Community Assn.
Past president, Halecrest Community Assn.
'Fair' well, O.C. Fair
When I went to sleep the night of May 1, my last day at the Orange County Fair after 38 years, I wondered whether I would wake the next morning and be 12 years old again with no time having passed since I first was handed a sweeper pan and broom to pick up trash on my first day of work in 1975.
Did I just dream the last 38 years? And would I wake to go off to just another sixth-grade day?
Nope, I woke to muscle pain in both calves that was not there when I was 12. OK, it did happen, my achy calves proved I did hang with baby calves for that many years.
I leave the fair four years to the day I assumed the position of chief executive. I love even numbers, and they tell a great story, but even numbers don't tell the whole story. Odd numbers tell a story too and believe me, I would meet many odds and beat all the odds at the fair, but that's not for an article, perhaps a book.
Odd or even, I would like to issue a heartfelt thank you to the countless people who paved the most improbable road of a rubbish boy who became a CEO.
So, where am I headed next? Certainly not into retirement as we know it.
Retirement from public service? Yes.
Retirement from my restlessness? God chuckles.
There are not enough leaves to rake and please, no more soap operas, so once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.
The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer said, "Talent hits a target no one else can hit. Genius hits a target no one else can see."
I am going to work for a man who Schopenhauer must have had in mind in his penning. His name is Ronald Simon. He is a true genius and has offered me the privilege to move to the edge of his genius glow.
Simon, a man from humble beginnings, made his name in the home products industry. He is blessed with an engineer's left brain and an innovator's right brain. I will be doing work with his philanthropic venture: the Simon Foundation for Education and Housing.
Mr. Simon has devoted himself to honor his past and his good fortune (think Horatio Alger Jr.) to give young, deserving, yet under-resourced kids a chance to go to college through the Simon Scholars Program.
Hey, Newport-Mesa Unified School District, I will be knocking on your door soon to see if there is even one kid who lays awake nights dreaming of the royal, yet improbable, road to college. Hey, kid, dreams come true.
Believe this kid, whose dream came alive in carousel colors. Get on, kid, let's ride.
So here I go with a self-reinvention into education — a year from now the O.C. Fair may not recognize me, but I will forever recognize the O.C. Fair for making me nearly everything I am.
Fair well, O.C. Fair.
The writer is the immediate past president and chief executive of the Orange County Fairgrounds.
During the public comments segment at the Costa Mesa City Council meeting May 1, long-time resident David Kincaid stepped to the speaker's podium and used his allotted three minutes to plea for civility in the discourse of important issues in our city. He directed his comments to the council and, occasionally, looked over his shoulder at the audience too.
Kincaid, of course, was correct. Since this current council took office nearly 18 months ago, we've seen civility take a back seat to snide comments and vitriolic rejoinders from some members of the council directed at speakers and their peers on the dais, as well. And, a few speakers have strongly criticized members of the council, both as a group and by name specifically.
Following Kincaid's plea, some members of the council chimed in and concurred with his observations. However, it didn't take very long that evening for some of them to fall right back into their old habits of criticizing members of the public who dared to speak out against their actions, sometimes with a coarseness unbecoming officials theoretically providing leadership to our city.
For example, Mayor Eric Bever — our part-time, part-time councilman and termed-out lamest of lame ducks — chided Councilwoman Wendy Leece for demanding accountability for the junket Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer and Councilman Steve Mensinger are taking to Las Vegas this month by implying that she wanted a report on their "bowel movements." That kind of gutter language may be OK when you're tossing back a few cold ones at Councilman Gary Monahan's pub, or changing clothes in the locker room at the Costa Mesa Country Club, but it's completely inappropriate when spoken from the dais in a public meeting.
What we see from the dais is, in many instances, bullying in its purest form. Council members take advantage of their position of authority — their bully pulpit, as it were — to chide, vilify and castigate members of the community and other members of the council who express opposing viewpoints. Not only is this unseemly and rude, but it's just plain wrong, and it's providing the wrong example for those young people who attend the meetings.
Let us hope that members of our City Council will somehow find the maturity to represent the residents of this city with more decorum and civility at future meetings. No one should have to fear backhanded retaliation when they take the time to study issues and present their views for the council to consider.
Support Prop. 29
Growing up, I remember seeing and listening to teaching curricula in schools that emphasized the importance of giving up the smoking cigarettes. While today we know just how important are such messages to youth, there needs to be more done all across the board to help people to not start smoking in the first place, and to give up the habit once addicted.
I know many older adults and young adults who are having tremendous trouble trying to give up cigarettes. My own father finally gave up smoking when he was told he had emphysema at the age of 78, but by then it was too late, and he succumbed to lung and metastasized cancers at the age of 82.
Today, the No on Proposition 29 campaign orchestrated by the tobacco industry features a physician spokesperson making questionable claims about an initiative that will save lives. Please consider the source of this misinformation. Tobacco itself is lethal. The tobacco industry has been playing people for years. Almost everyone has lost loved ones because of it.
Join the American Heart Assn,. American Cancer Society and American Lung Assn. in their support of it and vote yes on Proposition 29 on June 5.
Islam's influence on founders
"There's no doubt that when the Founding Fathers were forming the Constitution, they relied heavily on thinkers like John Locke." That sentence should have been the first, second and last sentence in Mona Shadia's column (Unveiled: A Muslim Girl In O.C.: Islam's influence on the Founding Fathers, April 25). Islam today is the most anti-liberal (not anti-Democratic for Democrats are not liberals) organization, culture, military political complex existing in the modern world. I guess a few years ago The Los Angeles Times Media Group took it seriously when they were lectured about hiring Muslims to spread the faith.
State beach passes
I honestly don't think the state knows what it is doing ("Annual beach passes get increased to $195," April 25). Here is its pricing for the last few years: $75 in 1996; then, in the "good times" for the state, they dropped the price of the pass to $35 in 2001; then it was up to $67 in 2003 and $125 in 2004, and now $195? Why not $500? The state just keeps grabbing figures out of the sky. It's too bad we don't get something for our money since we have some of the dirtiest beaches compared to other states, and that is because they keep cutting back on the state personnel who clean up. Maybe for the $195, they can buy sack lunches and have prisoners clean the beaches.