Costa Mesa council members, new and old, are set to meet this morning and talk about what their main goals will be for the next three years and how best to accomplish them.

The discussion starts at 8:30 a.m. and can be accessed telephonically use the number on the meeting agenda linked here

Mayor Katrina Foley said in big picture terms, she expects the top priority for city leaders will be addressing the impacts of the Coronavirus.

“The top priority is going to be COVID Economic relief and recovery. That’s, that’s going to be the big picture for the next year. But we’re looking at tomorrow talking about a three year plan,” Foley said. 

At the same meeting, there will be a discussion on the financial outlook of Costa Mesa – a city that last year in May projected a $30 million budget deficit as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The projected deficit drew the previous council criticism for not building up reserves for the city from candidates looking to replace incumbents during the election season including Don Harper who ultimately won a seat on the council.  

In October, The city’s finance and pension board projected a $250,000 surplus following close to $11 million in department cuts, layoffs and furloughs.

Foley said because of the pandemic the city had to cut funding to the capital improvement projects budgets which impacted the ability to make progress on improving mobility and parking in the city – one of their goals set in January 2019.

Another one of the goals council members set in 2019 was to keep the city financially sustainable. 

Last year voters approved a ballot measure allowing retail cannabis in Costa Mesa. City Staff estimated last year that doing so could bring in between $1.4 million to $3.1 million in sales tax revenue.

At Huntington Beach’s Strategic Planning meeting earlier this month, council members decided to hone in on the pandemic, economic recovery, homelessness as well as other issues.

In Costa Mesa, there have been over 8,000 cases of the virus as of Thursday. The O.C. Fairgrounds has been being used as a testing site and will be used as a vaccine site as well.

Since the pandemic started, the city has implemented a moratorium on evictions — which received backlash from some property owners — and is offering rental assistance to residents as well. They have also been providing grants to small businesses in the city.

Another goal set in 2019 Costa Mesa by council members was addressing homelessness.

The city is partnering with Newport Beach on a new homeless shelter near John Wayne Airport currently under construction expected to open early this year. The creation of the shelter is a result of a lawsuit filed against the County of Orange, and the cities of Anaheim, Orange, and Costa Mesa in 2018 over the removal of homeless people from the Santa Ana riverbed. 

Foley said another priority on top of her list is addressing the city’s housing obligations. 

The city and other cities in Orange County have been pushing back against state mandated housing goals that would require Costa Mesa to zone for over 11,700 new homes in the next decade.

The city filed an appeal to the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) to reduce that amount by close to 6,000 units.  SCAG- a body of elected officials have been assigned by the state to zone for almost 1.3 million new homes in the region and oversee the allocation of the housing goals to the cities.

SCAG didn’t approve it.

Foley said despite a few of the goals being disrupted by the pandemic the council has made great progress towards accomplishing the goal they set in 2019.

“Some of the highlights would be improving our staffing, addressing sober living in our city and building our shelter,” she said among others.

In six months, the council will meet to discuss their progress on the goals set and update the strategic plan.

Hosam Elattar is a Voice of OC Reporting Fellow. Contact him or on Twitter @ElattarHosam

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