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Katrina Foley, positive vision for the future of Costa Mesa

Katrina Foley, positive vision for the future of Costa Mesa

A gift to the ‘City of the Arts’
Commentary by Katrina Foley
Oct 31, 2014 – Daily Pilot Mailbag

The recent opening of the new $20 million performing arts center at the Costa Mesa High School complex is another step forward for “The City of the Arts.”

This 355-seat venue, the latest upgrade at this campus, is a new local focal point for music, drama, dance and a signature arts academy: Academy of Creative Expression (ACE). But it’s more than that. It’s another example of how public investment in the arts can benefit a broad community.

One measure is that Costa Mesa High, for the first time, has a net inflow of intra-district transfers, including from Newport Beach, and also inter-district transfers: more students are transferring in than out. This is good news for the district and the city. Good schools equate to higher property values and stronger neighborhoods.

Just as carefully targeted investment can attract and return more families to our local schools, an effective city strategy for attracting more “art tourists” can attract more visitors to Costa Mesa. This in turn benefits city residents in two ways.

A successful visitor promotion program, with support for and promotion of city arts at the heart of it, can generate stronger local sales and hotel bed tax dollars. That means that non-residents will pay a higher effective subsidy in support of resident services, lessening the tax burden on local residents. And perhaps just as important, residents will benefit from living in a more vibrant and interesting community.

What would such a strategy look like? Certainly we should be working more closely with the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, including the concert halls and South Coast Repertory, as well as with the Costa Mesa Visitors & Conference Bureau.

We should also be partnering more effectively with the OC Fairgrounds and Pacific Amphitheater. I’ve no doubt that there are many ideas worth pursuing more aggressively and strategically, ideas that can directly benefit many different areas of our city.

Rather than erect a wall of four-story apartment complexes along Newport Boulevard as proposed by the council majority, let’s build partnerships with the hotels and businesses on Newport Blvd, look at some visitor-attracting and visitor-serving uses: a Fun Zone, family restaurants and family-oriented hotels run by proven and reputable operators.

Let’s support the progressive efforts of private ownership development by The Lab and The Camp to encourage a thriving bohemian arts campus.

Naturally the city must carefully consider, on a case-by-case basis and in concert with the businesses, residents and other stakeholders in each case, the best way — in terms both of vision and value-for-dollar — what makes sense for Costa Mesa.

How best to develop a well conceived program, one inspired by the city’s motto — “City of the Arts” — is worth exploring and, in my judgment, worth supporting.


Visionaries for the future -  Katrina Foley and Jay Humphrey, candidates for Costa Mesa City Council


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