Taking pains to avoid repeating an error that nullified its last vote on the topic, the Costa Mesa Planning Commission on Monday approved zoning changes that will permit 550 apartment units to be built on the grounds of Fairview State Hospital.
At its last meeting Feb. 25, the commission unanimously approved the changes, but because no public notice of the hearing was made, the decision was nullified. State law requires that notices of public hearings be placed in local newspapers and that neighboring property owners be advised by mail at least 10 days in advance.
Millie Summerlin, associate planner, said the commission made sure the public was informed this time. "This time we made sure, double- and triple-checking that the notice went out," she said. Despite the effort, Summerlin said, the commission received only a few phone calls before the hearing and no residents of the surrounding neighborhood were present Monday night.
Currently, 144 apartment units are slated for construction on the hospital grounds. The Planning Commission's recommendations pave the way for City Council evaluation of zoning and general plan changes that would permit the construction of an additional 406 units. The City Council will review the Planning Commission's findings and open the issue to public hearings at its regular meeting on April 15.
The apartments, which would have monthly rents in the range of $500 to $670, according to Summerlin, are intended to help the hospital attract employees who might otherwise not be able to afford housing in Orange County.