U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Office of Community Planning and Development

Consolidated Plan Contact


The City of Costa Mesa incorporated in 1953, when the area was mostly wide open fields of beans and strawberries. The City experienced a sensational 93.6 percent growth rate in the 1960's with the completion of the San Diego freeway permitting access to Los Angeles and the construction of a major regional mall, South Coast Plaza on the city's northern boundary. Growth continued as the population increased by 17 percent during the 1980's reaching 96,357 in 1990. However, the City has experienced rising unemployment over the past several years with a decline in certain types of skilled employment positions in Southern California, such as in the defense and aerospace industries.

Action Plan

For the 1995/1996 fiscal year, the City will receive $1,478,000 in CDBG funds and $509,000 in HOME funds. The City of Costa Mesa will pursue a variety of CDBG and HOME-funded programs/activities to address the identified housing and community development needs.

Citizen Participation

The City launched the Consolidated planning Process with public hearing at a regularly scheduled meeting of the City Council on Monday, November 7, 1994 at 6:30 pm. The Public Hearing informed the community about the Consolidated Plan Process and about opportunities for public input into the formulation of the Plan. The Citizen Participation Plan consisted of the three interacting components: the Community Development Needs Survey; Community Meetings; and functioning of the Consolidated Plan Task Force.

The Community Development Needs Survey assisted the City in developing priorities for expenditure of CDBG and HOME funds by asking a diverse cross section of residents and service providers about their housing and community development needs. A total of 34 persons responded to the survey, ranking priority needs for the following categories: infrastructure improvements, community facilities, community services, economic development, and housing.

The community meetings, in which City staff solicited input on priority community development needs, provided the backbone of the Citizen Participation Plan. The community meetings consisted of a Public Hearing Kick-off, an Issue Forum with Social Service Providers and City Committee Members, an Issue Forum with the Business Community, two Town Hall meetings, three Consolidated Plan Task Force Meetings, and a meeting before the City's Redevelopment and Residential Rehabilitation (3R) Committee.


The City's household population is almost evenly split between married couples (42.5 percent) and non-family households (42.8 percent. Small households of two to four persons predominate. During the previous decade, Costa Mesa became more ethnically diverse. The minority population increased by 93 percent from 1980 to 1990, with Hispanics representing 20 percent of the total population and 12.4 percent of households.



Since 1989, the Country, the State, and the Southern California region has suffered through a recession and through a period with high rates of unemployment. Industries once prosperous in California have moved out of state, leaving their employees out of work. Military base closings in accordance with the federal Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC) of 1988 have caused a decline in the economic environment of Southern California as well.

Housing Needs

Participants in the Consolidated Plan Town Hall Meetings expressed the need for more affordable housing and for rehabilitation of older rental housing. Many complained of high rents for dilapidated units. Residents who cannot afford their rental units are doubling up with families and live in overcrowded conditions. Residents complained that carports behind apartment structures are deteriorating and poorly lighted. Code enforcement programs are not sufficient and residents would like to see the Neighborhood Improvement Program expanded. Residents suggested that more affordable housing for the City's growing elderly population be developed. Meeting participants requested the City's support in forming a Neighborhood Association and more programs in landlord/tenant education.

Market Conditions

The total number of housing units in Costa Mesa grew by 17 percent during the 1980's, which is consistent with population growth during this period, and reached 39,611 in 1990. The number of households in the City grew at approximately the same rate of 15.4 percent. Although the City has an adequate number of available units, not all the units are affordable to lower and moderate income groups.

The total vacancy rate in Orange County in 1993 was 5.42 percent. Costa Mesa had a slightly higher rate of 5.64 percent. However, the vacancies appearing in the rental market are largely confined to the more expensive rental stock occupied by potential first time home buyers. Studies indicate that slightly less than 10 percent of all occupied units are overcrowded. However, overcrowding is more prevalent in renter households than in owner households.

In public meetings, residents expressed the need for rehabilitation of substandard apartment buildings. While physical deterioration is not a major housing problem citywide, it impacts some neighborhoods significantly.

Affordable Housing Needs

Median monthly rent in 1990 was $810, representing a 137 percent increase over the 1980 figure of $341 per month. While average rents are affordable to moderate income households, they are not affordable to low income households earning less then half the county median income. The City has found that low income families can only afford approximately two thirds of the fair Market Rents without experiencing overpayment.

Homeless Needs

A significant need identified by homeless social service providers at the Issue Forum is the need for transitional housing in which residents may live for up to three years. Current transitional housing programs allow residents to stay for one year, and many formerly homeless persons need longer than one year to regain economic and personal stability. With the provision of transitional housing, case management services lasting two and a half to three years is necessary as well. Substance abuse must be treated more effectively. At both Issue Forums, participants expressed the need for the City to be more involved in job training and employment services for the homeless as part of an approach to foster self-sufficiency.

Public and Assisted Housing Needs

There are no public housing units located in the City of Costa Mesa and there are none operated by Orange County Housing Authority (OCHA). The supply of units with rents that are affordable to very low income households is very limited. OCHA administers the Section 8 Housing Assistance Payments Program (Section 8) that provides rental assistance to owners of private market rate units on behalf of very low-income households. There are still over 3,000 households on the County waiting list for rental assistance.

Barriers to Affordable Housing

Participants in the Town Hall Meetings and Issue Forums expressed the need for less expensive city fees for redevelopment and rehabilitation projects. Many factors inhibit the ability to provide affordable housing in Southern California. Barriers to affordable housing in Costa Mesa include both market and government constraints. The private market in Costa Mesa and through out the county is a constraint to affordable housing due to the net costs of land and construction. In Costa Mesa, the supply of vacant residential land is decreasing rapidly. Existing ownership housing is not affordable to low and most moderate income households. Government constraints cause barriers to affordable housing as well. Local governments impose regulations on housing developers which affects the price of owner and rental units. Time delays caused by the review and approval process and fees and exactions required for project approval contribute to the high costs of housing within Costa Mesa. In addition to on-site costs including those for parking, open space, and site coverage, and to the costs charged by the City for public works improvements associated with housing development, there are off-site improvement fees.

Fair Housing

Similar to Orange County as a whole, the population of Costa Mesa has changed in the last fifteen years. The minority population is growing and now represents 41 percent of the City's population. Furthermore, according to the 1990 Census, 22.7 percent of the City's population was foreign born and 54 percent of those persons entered the Country between 1980 and 1990.

The lack of communication and education between tenants and landlords is a potential impediment to access to fair housing. Based on input received at the Town Hall meetings and Issue Forums, landlords do not want to rent to tenants who are perceived to have problems. Tenants complained that landlords with restricted affordable units may not be following through on responsibilities to provide affordable housing.

The City of Costa Mesa completed an analysis of the impediments to fair housing in 1993, titled the State of Fair Housing in the Last Decade, 1982 to 1992. The City contracts with the Fair Housing Council of Orange County in order to establish maintain, and further fair housing choices. It is committed to achieving equal housing opportunities through the administration of local, state and federal programs.

Lead-Based Paint

More than three-fourths of pre-1978 homes contain lead based paint. In Costa Mesa, 82 percent of the dwellings were built prior to 1979. Of the City's total housing inventory, 14.2 percent were built between 1980 and 1990. Nearly one-fourth (23.4 percent) were built between 1970 and 1980; 32.5 percent were built between 1960 and 1970; 22.7 percent were built between 1950 and 1960; 4.4 percent were built between 1940 and 1950 and 2.8 percent were built prior 1940. By applying nationally recognized percentages to the number of units by age of building and income group, it is estimated that slightly over half of the housing stock may have lead-based paint.

Community Development Needs

The Community Development Needs Survey identified street improvements as the highest priority infrastructure need in Costa Mesa. Citizen participation meetings also identified flood control/drainage deficiencies on the west side of town, and indicated some neighborhoods have inadequate street lighting. It was suggested that upgraded infrastructure and streetscape improvements in the downtown would enhance the area's economic vitality.

Affordable child care centers, and youth centers were identified as the highest unmet community facility needs. There is also a shortage of neighborhood-serving recreation facilities on the west side of town and the Downtown Community Center needs to be rebuilt or significantly renovated.

Employment training, youth services and child care services were identified as the top priority community service needs.


The Costa Mesa Housing and Community Development Department served as the lead agency in coordination of the consolidated planning and submission process. The City undertook extensive efforts in soliciting input in the development of its first Consolidated Plan both in the form of input from public and private agencies, and from the community.


Vision for Change

The Five Year Strategic Plan is the centerpiece of the Consolidated Plan. It describes: 1) the general priorities for assisting households; 2) strategies and activities to assist those households in need; and 3) specific objectives identifying proposed accomplishments. The Strategic Plan also addresses the following: anti-poverty strategy; lead-based paint hazards; institutional structure; barriers to affordable housing; and coordination among agencies.

Housing Priorities

A high priority was assigned to addressing the affordability needs of all lower-income renter households. Lower income renters have the largest unmet need for affordable housing. Since over half, (57 percent) of the substandard units suitable for rehabilitation are rental, a high priority was assigned to the rehabilitation needs of lower income renter households. All low and moderate income homeowners who reside in substandard or overcrowded housing are assigned a high priority for assistance. While mobile homes represent only 5 percent of the owner-occupied stock, they comprise a significant proportion of the applications for City rehabilitation assistance.

The provision of emergency and transitional housing to all homeless persons has been given a high priority including the provision of support services. However, the City has concluded that placing homeless families and individuals in permanent housing and providing a continuum of transitional support services is the only way to break the cycle of homelessness. The City has also placed a great emphasis on persons who are at-risk to becoming homeless.

Priority For Special Needs Populations

A high priority has been established for special needs populations such as the low income elderly and persons with disabilities including persons with HIV/AIDs. Due to the increasing longevity and to high costs of long term care for the elderly, it is necessary to accommodate the growing aging population and to provide support services which will allow elderly persons to live independently or in supportive environments for as long as possible.

Non-Housing Community Development Priorities

Services for lower income children and youth have been assigned a high priority to meet the need for affordable child care and day care programs.

The Community Development Needs survey identified employment training and job creation as the top two community development needs in Costa Mesa. Economic development, including business retention/attraction and job training, is one component of an overall strategy designed to assist income persons in becoming economically self-sufficient.

There will also be a continuing focus on providing planning activities for low/mod areas of the City, as well as Citywide activities which primarily benefit low/mod households.

Anti-Poverty Strategy

The City has designated economic development and job training activities as a high priority. Activities include support for youth employment training programs and a small business assistance program. In addition, using HOME funds, the City sponsors a Tenant Based Rental Assistance Program which includes an intensive case management component promoting family self-sufficiency.

As means of reducing the number of persons with incomes below the poverty line, it is important for the City to coordinate with both public and private organizations in economic development and job training programs. The Consolidated Plan Needs Assessment describes in detail the range of economic development activities available to Costa Mesa residents. The City has several resources such as the Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce, Jobs Center, Senior Center, Adult Program and the Business Assistance Guide. County programs include the Community and Housing Rehabilitation Program and the Orange County Small Business Development Center. The City will access state programs such as the California Trade and Commerce Agency and the State of California Employment Development Department (EDD) and the federal JTPA Program. The City will also coordinate it's efforts with educational institutions

Housing and Community Development Resources

The housing service delivery system in Costa Mesa consists of an extensive network of public, private, and non-profit organizations that sponsor new construction, rehabilitation, rental assistance, emergency shelter, transitional housing and support services. The public institutions include the City of Costa Mesa's Housing and Community Development Division which administers CDBG and HOME funds and the Costa Mesa Redevelopment Agency that operates the Affordable Housing Set Aside program. Numerous non-profit organizations provide housing related services and areawide non-profit housing development organizations that have sponsored projects such as the Civic Center Barrio Housing Corporation. Many private developers have participated in bond financing and the density bonus programs to produce affordable housing.

Coordination of Strategic Plan

The City will coordinate and implement its strategies through the following actions:


Description of Key Projects

The Action Plan delineates the City's plans for one year use of funds. It describes 1) the resources available for program implementation; 2) activities to be undertaken; 3) monitoring; 4) homelessness; 5) anti-poverty strategy; and 6) coordination. The following provides a list of the key projects.

Key Projects


MAP 1 depicts points of interest in the jurisdiction.

MAP 2 depicts points of interest and low-moderate income areas.

MAP 3 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and minority concentration levels.

MAP 4 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and unemployment levels.

MAP 5 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and proposed HUD funded projects; in addition, a table provides information about the project(s).

For further information, please contact:
Ms. Muriel Berman
Redevelopment and Housing Manager
(714) 754-5167

Return to California's Consolidated Plans.