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Is Development Worth the Burden?

April 07, 1985

The other day, as I was sitting bumper to bumper on the 55 Freeway, my mind wandered to the ultimate horror--gridlock. That's when traffic ceases to move for long periods of time. The worst-case scenario is that you would have to leave your car on the freeway and take a cab or a bus home, or even hoof it. The experts say this catastrophe may be just around the corner in the greater Los Angeles area.

And there is no doubt in my mind that this could happen on the freeways in and around Costa Mesa, where the traffic crawls even during off-hours. Then I got to thinking, why does the traffic slow to a crawl in the Costa Mesa area. The reason became apparent. South Coast Plaza and its environs with the perpetually jammed parking lots and constant comings and goings add to the freeway crush, along with the Irvine industrial areas, major thoroughfares and the confluence of two major freeways.

This thought led to another. The Costa Mesa City Council has approved in recent months one major development after another. No project is too dense or too likely to produce traffic congestion, noise and pollution, for the pro-growth council majority.

And no amount of pleading and reasoning can deter the three pro-growth council members. The most recent transgressions are the expansion of South Coast Plaza west of Bear Street and the Arnel development north of the 405, both of which will pour thousands of additional cars onto the already-crowded streets, and, ultimately, onto the slow-moving freeways.

Why this lust for one crushing development after another? The developers' goal is apparent--money. But why would a city council consistently vote to destroy the quality of life for its constituents?

There is, of course, a city council's constant quest for more revenue. But in Costa Mesa with its South Coast Plaza, are more sales-tax dollars worth the burdens that these extremely dense developments place on the citizenry?

Maybe it's time for Costa Mesa residents to take some sort of action.

JERE LIPMAN

Costa Mesa

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