Yesterday’s Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) Board meeting resulted in a deferral of the toll lanes. I worked for many years as the Chair of the 405 Policy Working Group. My first task was to get consensus on adding one lane in each direction. By the end of the process, the corridor cities were willing to add two lanes in both directions! What a missed opportunity to build the four lanes now and then evolve toward other solutions in the future. Still, I regard the deferral of the toll lanes as a major accomplishment for my constituents and that there may still be hope for an opportunity in the future to explore how we might get funding for all four lanes. Here is the coverage in the OC Register, LA Times, Daily Pilot, Voice of OC, and FOX Channel 11.
BONUS: Today is the deadline to pay the first installment of your property tax payments. You can deliver it here at the Civic Center before midnight, use your credit card online or check out the Treasurer-Tax Collector’s website for a post office that will give you a proper postmark. A late payment results in a ten percent penalty.
OCTA SHELVES I-405 TOLL-LANE IDEA
The OCTA voted to proceed with a $1.3 billion project to add a single free lane in each direction of the freeway.
By DOUG IRVING
Orange County transportation officials voted Monday to abandon a beleaguered proposal that would have replaced the carpool lanes on I-405 with express toll lanes.
Instead, the board of the Orange County Transportation Authority voted to proceed with a $1.3 billion project to add a single free lane in each direction of the freeway. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2015, with the new lanes opening to traffic in 2020.
Monday’s vote ends months of bitter debate over the immediate future of one of the busiest freeway segments in America, 14 jammed miles of I-405 from Costa Mesa to Seal Beach. But neither the state, which owns the freeway, nor the cities along it believe one new lane in each direction will do enough.
The state faces a federal mandate to get traffic moving in its most congested carpool lanes – including those on I-405 – and has pointed to tolls as one way to accomplish that. The cities have pushed for two new lanes in each direction, not just one, saying the added benefit is well worth the added cost.
The controversy had threatened to derail the project, and OCTA staffers had grown concerned that any further delay could cost millions of dollars. They fell back on the original plan that voters approved when they agreed to charge themselves a half-cent sales tax for such transportation projects: one new lane in each direction.
“This is part of the promise that was made to the voters,” board member and Irvine councilman Jeff Lalloway said. “Let’s follow through on the promises.”
The vote directs the OCTA to plan and build the new lanes in a way that doesn’t prevent “future freeway capacity,” a phrase that has been used to describe new lanes or toll lanes. It also committed the agency to continue exploring the idea of tolls countywide as part of its long range planning efforts.
But Chief Executive Darrell Johnson said it would be neither responsible nor practical to reopen the toll debate on I-405 with shovels in the ground. That question has been answered, he said, at least until the new free lanes are finished in 2020.
Nonetheless, Assemblyman Allan Mansoor said he intends to introduce legislation next year that would block tolls on Orange County freeways, at least without a vote of the people. OCTA’s plan “still keeps the door open,” he said. “We want a definitive answer that says there will be no toll lanes.”
His proposal met immediate resistance from the Orange County Business Council, which has long supported tolls as a way to manage traffic and raise much-needed revenue for road repairs.
OCTA’s plan to add a single lane to each side of I-405 needs to win support from Caltrans, which has the final say on what happens on the freeway. District Director Ryan Chamberlain said he hopes to have a decision by early next year. “We do want to move forward in a collaborative manner,” he said.
The idea of tolls on I-405 packed public meetings with frustrated residents and united half a dozen freeway cities in opposition. The plan to add a single lane in each direction “is better,” said Westminster Councilwoman Diana Carey, who has represented the cities, but she worried it would prove to be a “placeholder” for tolls in the future.
The cities have lined up behind an alternative project that would build two free lanes in each direction, not just one. It would add $100 million to the cost, a fraction of the $1.3 billion that the OCTA has planned to spend for single lanes. “More freeway lanes are going to move more people on our freeways,” board member and Huntington Beach Mayor Matthew Harper said.
But Johnson, the chief executive, said money is so tight that funding those additional lanes would endanger other freeway projects. Economic forecasts suggest the OCTA is hundreds of millions of dollars short of what it needs to complete the 30-year slate of projects that it pledged to voters, he said.
Taking that money for I-405 “would be a total kick in the head” to South County, which has its own freeway projects to fund, board member and Mission Viejo Councilman Frank Ury said.
A few board members pushed to include the second lanes as an add-on possibility when the OCTA seeks bids from construction firms. That would allow the board to preserve the two-lane plan as an option and “at least see how the numbers come in,” board member and county Supervisor Todd Spitzer said.
In the end, after months of discussion and about two hours of debate Monday, the board voted 11-4 to proceed with the single-lane plan. Spitzer, Harper, County Supervisor John Moorlach and Seal Beach Mayor Gary Miller voted against it. Supervisor Janet Nguyen abstained, saying she favors two free lanes in each direction but wouldn’t vote against one lane because it fulfills the original promise to voters.
CONTACT THE WRITER: 714-704-3777 or dirving
O.C. officials vote to widen 405 Freeway without toll lanes
California officials have warned that they may override the decision by O.C. transportation officials and require toll lanes anyway.
By Paloma Esquivel
Orange County transportation officials voted Monday to widen a clogged stretch of the 405 Freeway without adding controversial toll lanes, but state officials have warned that they may override that decision and require the pay-to-drive lanes anyway.
After months of rancorous debate, Orange County Transportation Authority board members voted 11 to 4 to approve a $1.3-billion proposal to add one free lane in each direction on the 405 from the 605 Freeway to Euclid Street.
The most controversial alternative would have cost $1.47 billion and added two high-occupancy toll lanes in each direction along a 14-mile stretch of the freeway.
Six cities along the route banded together in opposition of the toll lanes — derisively referred to as "Lexus Lanes" by one mayor — saying that they were an inappropriate use of money from the county’s half-cent sales tax to fund transportation improvements. The cities had pushed for adding two free lanes in each direction.
On Monday, OCTA chief Darrell Johnson said the toll lane proposal had become so divisive that the agency was at risk of losing the confidence of voters who approved the tax.
Johnson urged board members to instead move forward with the plan to add the free lanes and defer any discussion on high-occupancy toll lanes until those free lanes are complete. Construction on the project is expected to begin in 2015 and last until 2020.
"It’s clear that we do not have consensus on the role of managed lanes on the 405," Johnson said.
The vote comes as communities across the country are increasingly proposing toll lanes to reduce traffic congestion and raise revenue. The federal government has opened the door by providing money for some of the work, such as toll lane projects on the 110 and 10 freeways in Los Angeles County.
Orange County was a pioneer in constructing toll lanes and toll roads. Though the lanes on the 91 Freeway are considered a success, the county’s vast network of toll roads has struggled for customers.
Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson, who sits on the OCTA board, said the vote doesn’t preclude adding additional free or toll lanes in the future.
Once the bridges are widened, which will take several years, there will be room for four additional lanes, he said.
"Whether that’s a toll lane, a free lane or we don’t even deal with the lane for a while, it wouldn’t matter," he said. "Those lanes aren’t going to be usable by anyone for at least five years."
A team of Caltrans and OCTA staff will review the approved project along with each of the alternatives and state and federal requirements. Caltrans’ district director for Orange County will make a final decision, probably by next summer.
Caltrans officials say a federal mandate requiring traffic on carpool lanes to be sped up in some areas, including the 405, is one reason they have considered toll lanes. Another is lack of funding for highway maintenance.
Diana Carey, a Westminster councilwoman who represents the six cities known as the Corridor Cities, said she was optimistic but wary that toll lanes might return in the future.
"We’re certainly not going to say ‘oh good, we won, yeah.’ Because we really don’t think we did win," she said. "We think this is going to come back."
Before the OCTA meeting began Monday morning, she and other city leaders joined Assemblyman Allan R. Mansoor (R-Costa Mesa) to denounce toll lanes.
Mansoor said he would introduce legislation next year to block toll lanes by either barring them from the 405 or the county or requiring an election to approve any pay-to-ride lanes. The group encouraged the board to add two free lanes in each direction.
While Supervisor John Moorlach, also an OCTA board member, favored that proposal, other directors said the OCTA lacks money to cover the additional costs.
"We can’t do it. We just can’t do it as it stands at this point in time," said OCTA board member and Tustin Mayor Al Murray.
OCTA approves new lanes for 405 Freeway
Decision kills contentious toll road option and allows for one additional general-purpose lane in each direction on stretch between 605 Freeway interchange and Euclid Street.
By Anthony Clark Carpio and Bradley Zint
The Orange County Transportation Authority on Monday approved new lanes for a portion of the 405 Freeway, a decision that scrapped a hotly contested toll road option that area cities have fought for months.
The estimated $1.25-billion project, known as Alternative 1, was one of three proposals to widen and alleviate traffic along a nearly 12-mile stretch of the 405, between the 605 Freeway interchange in Seal Beach and Euclid Street in Fountain Valley. It calls for adding one additional general-purpose lane in each direction.
The item passed 11 to 4, with directors Matthew Harper, John Moorlach, Gary Miller and Todd Spitzer dissenting. Director Janet Nguyen abstained. Director Patricia Bates was absent.
The $1.47-billion toll road option, Alternative 3, would have replaced the existing carpool lane with a toll route and added another general-purpose lane. Alternative 2 would have added two general-purpose lanes for $1.35 billion.
Construction on Alternative 1 is scheduled to begin in 2015 and finish by 2020. The project amounts to 20% of Orange County’s Measure M freeway projects.
Monday’s vote reaffirms the board’s October 2012 decision favoring Alternative 1.
Nguyen, a county supervisor representing District 1, said she didn’t want to vote against adding one general-purpose lane, but abstained because she believes building two lanes would have been the better option.
Moorlach, a supervisor for District 2, made a substitute motion to recommend Alternative 2. His motion failed because of funding concerns.
OCTA staff estimated an additional general-purpose lane to cost about $100 million. The authority is already short $720 million for the 405 project.
Harper supported Alternative 2, seeing it as "not just good politics, but it’s good policy."
"More freeway lanes are going to move more people on our freeways, and that’s what we should really press to be able to do," he said.
The newly elected mayor of Huntington Beach was concerned that Alternative 1 would allow the California Department of Transportation to mandate that OCTA build the toll lanes.
Alternative 1′s construction permits additional space for a second general-purpose lane in the future. Whether the second lane would be free or tolled is a topic the agency would discuss at a later date.
"Let’s not push this onto a decision from the Department of Transportation or the governor’s office or those who are in the state that seem to be pressuring this agency to self-inflict tolls on ourselves," Harper said. "Instead, we need to advocate to the state that we want to make the determination ourselves and we want freeway lanes here in Orange County, especially on the 405 Freeway, to be able to serve our public."
Costa Mesa Mayor Jim Righeimer favored Alternative 2, but said after the meeting that the county is in a better position than it was in November, when OCTA was close to approving Alternative 3.
"Clearly, we’re a lot better off than we were 30 days ago, when the train had left the station," he said.
Prior to the meeting, state Assemblyman Allan Mansoor (R-Costa Mesa) hosted a press conference in which he announced plans to introduce legislation that would stop the toll lanes. Outside OCTA’s headquarters, the 74th District representative said he would introduce the bill when the Legislature reconvenes in January.
Caltrans "has never forced toll lanes on any county, and I’m not going to let them do it on Orange County," he said.
Mansoor, a former Costa Mesa mayor and OCTA board member, also called Alternative 1 a "delay tactic to pave the way for toll lanes."
"Don’t be fooled," he said. "The only thing managed about these lanes is OCTA and Caltrans managing to get more of your money. Make no mistake: This is Alternative 3 in Alternative 1′s clothing."
Toll Lanes on I-405 a Dead Issue for Now
By NICK GERDA
The Orange County Transportation Authority board Monday killed a hotly debated proposal to add toll lanes to Interstate 405 but did approve an additional free lane in each direction on the highway and emphasized that toll lanes remain a viable option to alleviate traffic congestion.
The vote among Transportation Authority directors was 11-4 in favor of adding the free lane, with Directors Todd Spitzer, Matthew Harper, Gary Miller and John Moorlach opposed and Janet Nguyen abstaining. Pat Bates was absent from the meeting.
Those opposed had been arguing for two free lanes instead of one, something the majority criticized as unfeasible given its extra $100 million cost.
While Transportation Authority staff made it clear that the toll option remains on the table, a steady stream of public officials again appeared before the board to criticize the toll option.
“Tolling on top of taxing was never part of the deal,” Fountain Valley Councilman John Collins said of Measure M2, Orange County’s half-percent sales tax for transportation improvements.
"The 405 freeway must remain free,” added Westminster Mayor Tri Ta.
Others, including the Orange County Business Council, supported the toll lanes.
The Transportation Authority would be turning its back on $1.5 billion in future toll revenues, said Brian Starr of the business council.
But local chambers of commerce shot back, saying the countywide group doesn’t represent them.
It’s "troubling" that the business council claims to represent all Orange County businesses, said Marah Fineberg of the Seal Beach Chamber of Commerce, adding that her group’s members say "no to toll lanes."
"There is a total complete opposition to toll lanes" in our local business community, said Syed Shah of the Westminster Chamber of Commerce.
Serving as a backdrop to the meeting was legislation being pursued by Assemblyman Allan Mansoor, R-Costa Mesa, that would block toll lanes on I-405 altogether.
He presented board members with what he said were 2,400 signatures on a petition against toll lanes.
The Transportation Authority board is composed of 10 city council members, all five elected county supervisors and two “public members.” Caltrans is also represented by a nonvoting member.
Several board members, including Spitzer and Moorlach, argued for continuing to explore two new free lanes in each direction instead of one.
Transportation Authority CEO Darrell Johnson replied that it would be difficult to find the $100 million in needed financing for it as well as meet greenhouse gas requirements enforced by the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG).
And Irvine Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Lalloway, who is also a Transit Authority board member, argued that spending $100 million on an extra lane would put at risk other transportation projects promised to voters who approved Measure M2.
Ultimately the two-lanes effort couldn’t gain enough support from the board to move forward.
In their past recommendation of the toll lanes, Transportation Authority staff have cited pressure from Caltrans to comply with a new federal requirement to speed up traffic in carpool lanes.
But board members have noted that there are other options to meet that mandate, such as increasing the carpool requirement to three or more occupants during peak hours.
“I’m just surprised that we’re even battling this kind of issue,” Moorlach said before the meeting.
Others point to scarce funds for freeway maintenance as a reason to pursue tolls.
Officials noted how intense the debate has been, with Johnson calling it "one of the most divisive" projects the agency has undertaken in recent memory.
Looking forward, Johnson said the future of transportation lies with maximizing the use of existing roadways. "We can no longer build ourselves out of it" in urban areas, he said.
He said the board needs to look at the role of toll lanes over the next 30 years.
By forcing that debate now, he added, officials risk losing the confidence of the voters who approved Measure M2.
But some board members said they were worried that staff’s recommendation was simply a delaying tactic that would lead to a “bait and switch” later on, with the ultimate approval of a toll lane.
Westminster Councilwoman Diana Carey also criticized OCTA’s use of the term “managed lanes” for toll lanes, saying people don’t understand what it means.
At one point, Chairman Greg Winterbottom, who has served as the board’s nonelected “public member” for 20 years, eventually grew tired of all the talking and called for a vote.
“As much as we’ve talked about this … it doesn’t seem like we’ve moved anybody off of any positions,” he said.
You can reach Nick Gerda at ngerda, and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.
New Lanes For The 405 In OC, With No Tolls…Yet.
Posted by: Jeffrey Thomas DeSocio, Digital News Editor / Producer – email
(FOX 11 / CNS) Orange County Transportation Authority Board members voted today to add a new lane in each direction to the San Diego (405) Freeway between Costa Mesa and the Los Angeles County line in Seal Beach, avoiding the issue of toll lanes that has drawn outcries from several north county cities.
The OCTA board voted 12-4 to add a new lane in both directions from Euclid Street to the San Gabriel (605) Freeway, with board members Todd Spitzer, Matt Harper, John Moorlach and Gary Miller dissenting. Board member Janet Nguyen abstained, and colleague Patricia Bates was absent.
The vote reaffirms the board’s decision in October 2012 to add two free lanes at an estimated cost of $1.3 billion paid for by Measure M, a half-cent sales tax approved by voters for transportation improvements.
The stretch of highway is the busiest in the country, handling up to about 379,000 vehicles on busy days, based on a 2011 survey.
Caltrans officials have been pressuring OCTA leaders to add toll lanes to the San Diego Freeway, because carpool lane traffic is too slow during peak hours. Caltrans has the final say in whether toll lanes are added to the freeway.
Part of the pressure was coming from federal officials who have threatened to withdraw funding in any state where the average speed in those lanes dips below 45 mph at least 90 percent of the time.
Tolls from the Corona del Mar (73) Freeway in Costa Mesa to the San Gabriel (605) Freeway were estimated at $5 southbound and $6 northbound.
An environmental report on the free lanes is expected to be done by summer, with construction beginning in 2015, said OCTA spokesman Ted Nguyen.
Construction is expected to be done by 2020, he said.
FIVE-YEAR LOOK BACKS
E. Scott Reckard of the LA Times provided a litigation update in “2 Firms Settle in O.C. Bankruptcy for $17.9 Million – Court: The county’s recovery from its $1.64-billion loss will now exceed $800 million. One major defendant remains.” Because the nineteenth anniversary of the County’s filing for Chapter 9 bankruptcy is on December 6th, I’m providing the article in total to commemorate the milestone.
Two more financial firms agreed Thursday to pay a total of $17.9 million to settle lawsuits over Orange County’s 1994 bankruptcy, bringing the county’s recoveries to more than $800 million and hastening a showdown over its remaining claims.
Dain Rauscher Inc., which advised the county and four school agencies on municipal bonds they issued in 1994, agreed to pay $10 million. The county accused the firm of failing to sound alarms about the risks the county treasury was running.
Fuji Securities Inc., a onetime county broker, will pay $7.9 million now and up to $8.6 million later if it loses some key legal rulings on appeal. It was accused of providing illegal investments to the county and cheating the county when the firm sold securities it had held as collateral.
Both firms denied any wrongdoing or contribution to the county treasury’s loss of $1.64 billion but said they settled to avoid further litigation expense.
The agreements leave Standard & Poor’s, a bond-rating service owned by McGraw Hill Cos., as the only major defendant in the case. Fuji and Dain Rauscher had been set for trial before S&P, which the county now hopes to schedule for trial next March.
"We have always believed that Standard & Poor’s is one of the major lawsuits, and the settlement today puts the case on a fast track," said James W. Mercer Jr., one of the county’s lawyers.
The suit contends S&P had a duty under its contract with the county to warn of the investment risks being taken by former Treasurer Robert L. Citron.
S&P pronounced the treasury sound and rated the county’s bonds highly in spring 1994, despite well-publicized warnings of impending financial calamity from John M.W. Moorlach, who was in the middle of an unsuccessful run for county treasurer.
S&P "didn’t do their homework," said Moorlach, who became the treasurer after the bankruptcy. "They testified that everything was fine–and that gave a lot of public officials comfort that everything was fine."
S&P contends it was misled by Citron, who later pleaded guilty to financial felonies, and his assistant, Matthew Raabe, who was convicted of fraud.
McGraw Hill spokeswoman Leah Johnson said her firm will soon file the latest in a series of motions asking the judge to dismiss the suit and will "fight it vigorously" at trial if those attempts fail.
On another legal front, Thursday’s settlements will hasten an appeal of an important court ruling against Orange County. At issue are Citron’s investment techniques.
To multiply his bets on low-interest rates, Citron borrowed billions of dollars from his brokers through financial arrangements known as reverse repurchase agreements. He reinvested the proceeds in hopes of making an extra profit.
When rates rose sharply in 1994, the strategy compounded the county’s losses. The county suits contend it was so risky it was illegal.
But on a motion by Fuji, U.S. District Judge Gary L. Taylor ruled in October that state law permits treasurers to use reverse repurchase agreements, even to the extremes employed by Citron.
Fuji’s settlement allows the county to appeal that ruling immediately.
The settlement includes $6.5 million to cover a claim that Fuji withheld proceeds from selling county securities it held as collateral for loans.
On the claim that Taylor invalidated–providing illegal reverse repurchase agreements–Fuji agreed to pay $1.4 million now. Should appeals judges decide that the reverse repurchases were illegal, it agreed to pay up to $8.6 million more, capping a liability that otherwise could be much higher.
A final decision on the issue will determine whether the county proceeds with pending lawsuits against 11 Wall Street firms.
The brokers include such well-known names as PaineWebber, Smith Barney, Prudential Securities and Kidder, Peabody. While they were minor players in the Orange County debacle, they could be forced to pay large damages if the county prevails in arguments that they furthered Citron’s illegal strategies.
The four Wall Street firms involved most deeply with Citron already have settled for $590 million, including a $420-million civil settlement by Citron’s chief investment house, Merrill Lynch & Co.
Settlements with the county total $799 million. When interest is included from settlement funds being held in escrow accounts, the amount exceeds $800 million.
This week, Taylor week [sic] ruled that the first $703 million of those settlements were financially fair and had been made in good faith.
But distribution of the funds has been held up by wrangling over how the amounts recovered so far will be used to offset any additional damages against Standard & Poor’s and the 11 brokers.
Yvette Cabrera, columnist for the OC Register, addressed a topic that I’ve had near the top of my priorities these two terms with “Federal official urges locals to end homelessness – But homeless advocates and providers can’t go it alone, says Philip Mangano.” To say the least, Mr. Mangano is inspirational. Listening to him at the conference referred to below was quite motivating. The Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness has been completed and the Commission to End Homelessness has been successful at achieving the goals that it has set for itself. In fact, Karen Roper (mentioned in the piece) will be providing an update to the Board of Supervisors soon. The two armories are already open and the County is still actively looking to open a year-round shelter. Here is the piece in full:
When it’s cold and you’re homeless and you have nowhere else to turn, wouldn’t you knock on every last door?
Homeless shelters across the county are packed this season. So you can bet that tomorrow, when the county opens the doors to its emergency shelter program at the Santa Ana and Fullerton armories, there will be hundreds of homeless people lined up to get inside.
In recent years, the county opened these shelter doors in mid-November. But the opening was pushed back this year because of scheduling issues with the California National Guard, which allows the county to use the armories from sundown to sun up.
What’s an extra three weeks? Not much if you have a roof over your head. But tell that to a family sleeping in a car. Leti Save, a director with the Catholic lay organization, The Society St. Vincent de Paul, says that over the past two weeks she’s taken several dozen calls from homeless people desperate to find a place to sleep and wondering why the armories haven’t opened.
"I’ve been calling other shelters, but there’s no space, not right now. It’s so bad. They’ve been hanging out at the park, and I’ve been telling them to hang on there," says Save, whose organization ran the county emergency shelter program for seven years up until this past spring.
The thought that these individuals had to wait even one more day is something to think about, especially now, as the county inches forward in joining hundreds of other cities and counties in creating a 10-year plan to end homelessness.
The federally-mandated push has been underway since the first term of the Bush administration and Orange County is now finding the time to join in.
A few weeks ago, the county hosted a forum to publicly acknowledge that it’s working on this 10-year-plan. Karen Roper, director of OC Community Services, the lead county agency on the project, said that while initially they had hoped to have a draft plan by January, in time for a formal February presentation for the county Board of Supervisors, she expects this will be delayed.
"We don’t want to rush. This is very, very important…We don’t want people to be left out, we want the best and brightest ideas because we’re serious about the concept of the ten-year plan to end homelessness," said Roper, whose department began the initial research on the plan in 2007, and after hosting community discussions established a working group this past August.
Thoroughness is important, but when you look at other cities and counties across the nation, Orange County is a bit tardy to the party.
Since January, 2003 when Philip F. Mangano, executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, challenged mayors to create 10-year-strategic plans to end homelessness, 700 mayors and county executives have stepped up to join the fight.
Today there are 350 of these plans nationwide. Chicago is about to start its sixth year in the fight, emphasizing finding permanent housing as a way to end homelessness.
Earlier this year, I met with Chicago’s acting housing commissioner, who confirmed that over the past two years the city has seen a 23 percent drop in homeless families and a 12 percent reduction in homeless individuals.
Also, the nonprofit Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness, a collaborative of agencies that is responsible for implementing the plan, found that today 52 percent of the city’s homeless resources are directed to permanent housing. Five years ago, the figure was only 38 percent. In all, 2,080 permanent housing units have been created in Chicago during the last five years.
At the recent forum here in Orange County, Mangano praised the work of homeless service providers, but also pointed out that despite good intentions, well-meaning programs and humanitarian gestures, homeless statistics nationwide haven’t dropped in 20 years.
He emphasized to the group, which included County Supervisor and Chairman John Moorlach, and various supervisor representatives, that the problem won’t be eradicated if left solely in the hands of homeless service providers and advocates.
"It is important for the CEOs to own the plan," said Mangano in an interview. "What that does then is it locates the accountability for results where it is appropriately vested."
Roper says there’s always been a desire in Orange County to create a ten-year homelessness plan. But first, she says, the county had to pull the right partners together and build momentum.
Now, more than ever, we can’t afford to wait. Neither can the homeless who are knocking on doors.
Continuing in the fortieth anniversary of the city of Costa Mesa, I submitted a piece for the Daily Pilot that was titled “Costa Mesa has a history of being the place to shop.” As it is the Christmas season, this was a great time to address the retail history of the city. It’s amazing to see how much has changed in Costa Mesa since the writing of this piece twenty years ago.
Many of the longtime residents of the harbor area remember downtown Costa Mesa as a place to shop. A testimony is the inclusion of “Pink’s” drugstore memorabilia on display in the Costa Mesa Historical Society’s collection.
Today, Costa Mesa has the Harbor Boulevard of Cars, South Coast Plaza, the Courtyards, the Orange County Marketplace, and the recently opened Triangle Square. This doesn’t even mention the number of strip centers, direct marketing, and mail order sales businesses within our borders.
Retail stores have played an instrumental role in the life of Costa Mesa. The city of Fairview had the Henderson Brothers’ General Store – which opened in early 1888 – that stood on the southeast corner of Harbor Boulevard and Adams Avenue. And that area today is still a center of general commerce.
Near the end of 1908, Walter Ozment built a large two-story commercial building on the northeast corner of Eighteenth Street and Newport Boulevard. It contained a general store and post office on the bottom floor and living quarters on the second. This store, in the city of Harper, gave its residence [sic] a closer opportunity to purchase groceries. We know this location as downtown Costa Mesa today and it, too, is still a major retail shopping area.
Moving ahead five decades – with growth spurts along the way – Costa Mesans may remember the spurt in retail outlets built in the early 1960s. In April 1961, the Market Basket (now a remodeled Vons) was completed on the southwest corner of Harbor Boulevard and Baker Street. The Thriftimart opened in March, 1962. The following year, the Mesa North Shopping Center on the northeast corner of Fairview Road and Baker Street was built, with the Pantry Market completed in September (now a toy store). Two months later, the first major discount store, K-mart, opened its doors and is currently being remodeled.
The May Co. opened its doors in February of 1966. We know it now as Robinson’s-May, but it was the anchor store of the South Coast Plaza, which served as home to Sears Roebuck Department Store beginning that November. The climate-controlled multi-level Plaza Mall opened the following March. The White Front opened in late November of 1966 (which later became a Montgomery-Ward and is now the site of the Red Lion Hotel).
The seventies saw the Gold Key open in May, 1972, at Harbor Boulevard and Gisler Avenue. Followed by Fedco in mid-June, 1973, and Bullock’s at South Coast Plaza that October.
During the Christmas season we become acutely aware of the great retailers located in Costa Mesa. At the final presentation of the City’s 40th anniversary, Werner Escher, of South Coast Plaza, will be the featured speaker. He will address the impact of retail sales as it relates to the Plaza and Costa Mesa.
The meeting is tonight at 7:30 p.m. at 1870 Anaheim Ave. The general public is invited to attend. For more information, call 631-5918.
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