We here at GHPALS do not take political positions. But we cannot help but notice the flood of campaign mailers filling up our mailboxes. Being a literary society, we read them all, and admire the photo-shopped art They are, after all, some of the most amusing fiction printed today.
And it gives us an opportunity to explain Costa Mesa to those who've never heard of us, much less been here. (Too bad if you haven't. You're missing a great place.) We do seem to make the news a lot for a small city of slightly more than 100,000 people.
Most of Costa Mesa's citizens for the most part live and let live types. Many of us are here because we don't want to live in places like Irvine, where everyone else tells us what we can and can't do. The kind of people who move here are individualists, and want to be left alone and, for the most part, leave other people alone. But that doesn't mean we aren't willing to face up to things that need to get fixed.
And when we find them, we don't badger others to fix things for us, we try to fix them ourselves. That often puts us at the bleeding edge. But it is why we have one of the most successful shopping malls anywhere in the US, and why it's at the intersection of two major freeways (South Coast Plaza, originally constructed in bean fields by the 405 and 55 freeways that ran through undeveloped property, People around here needed a Sears store.). It's why we have lots of private schools and small businesses. It's why we have some of the most successful charitable organizations in the county (no government formed SOS or the Soup Kitchen, concerned citizens did). It's why our city councils have not been afraid to tackle controversial issues, and why our voters don't hesitate to shout out disagreement, in council meetings and at the polls. Votes are why we have an Ikea on South Coast Drive and not the two tall buildings proposed by the Segerstroms in the 1980's. (Voters approved propositions disapproving them.)
Our own citizen action rescued and restored the Estancia adobe, and the Costa Mesans at the Costa Mesa Historical Society keep it preserved today. (If you haven't been to the museum they operate, it's worth a visit just to see the aerial photos of Goat Hill.)
It's why here on Goat Hill we have a fabulous Victorian house with all kinds of beautiful brick work and stained glass windows. Drive by the corner of Santa Ana Ave. and Costa Mesa St. to see the handiwork of a Costa Mesa couple. They did the work themselves; they couldn't have done it in Irvine.
It's why a house on 19th street has a canon on the roof. And one down the street from it has built a pirate ship in the front yard for Halloween. And why when the family who built a fabulous Snoopy Christmas display in their front yard fell on financial distress, the City took it over and does it in front of City Hall. (They are looking for volunteer performers, so if you can sing or play an instrument, call them. You'll get great exposure.)
And it's why we have two independent special districts providing our water (Mesa Consolidated Water District) and sewer/waste (Costa Mesa Sanitary District) needs. MCWD was formed in 1960 when several smaller districts merged and a whole bunch of elected officials gave up their seats to do it. Can you imagine that happening today? It might in Costa Mesa.
In this election a major issue is the proposed Costa Mesa Charter. We've always kind of been the servants quarters for Newport Beach, though we look down on them, not the other way around, thanks to geography. We here at GHPALS keep up on the doings of the rich folks down below the mesa. Our local paper covers both towns, after all. We are amused by the flyers that say a charter puts all the controls in the hands of a 5 member city council, when the Newport Beach citizens will soon be voting on a whole bunch of charter amendments.
As near as we can tell, that puts control in the hands of Newport Beach voters instead of Sacramento. And we here at GHPALS trust our neighbors a whole lot more than we trust those strangers up north, however well intentioned they might be.