General Plan Update . . . as of April, 2017
Project Overview: While details remain sketchy, Mayor Kevin Muldoon has announced the initiation of an update of the city’s General Plan as a major objective for the current City Council term.
Why We Were Watching: Although SPON has repeatedly called for the development of “comprehensive” plans for specific areas of the city, such as Mariners Mile, West Newport Mesa and the Airport Area, this city proposal is different and could have worrisome consequences. In 2006, the General Plan update process was used, without the full understanding of most residents, to expand and “reset” the Greenlight development thresholds throughout the city. By by approving the update, voters in effect gave the “Greenlight” to future projects they assumed they would be given a second chance to vote on, such as the two recently erected high-rise office towers (PIMCO and Irvine Company) in Newport Center and the massive 524-unit Villas Fashion Island apartment project at the corner of Jamboree and San Joaquin Hills Road.
With greater public awareness, a similar, but even more fast-tracked and developer-driven General Plan update effort in 2013-2014 was overwhelmingly rejected when approval of the land use changes was placed on the ballot as Measure Y.
While city staff has indicated the present update may not even touch the critical land use limits needing voter approval, Council members have mentioned hoping to see the matter on the November 2018 ballot — which implies that it will.
Whatever the process turns out to be, for the sake of “our town” close watchfulness will be needed to ensure the General Plan modifications are resident-driven rather than developer-driven.
City Manager Dave Kiff described his proposal for the update process in a PowerPoint slide presented at the Council’s February 14, 2017, study session.
It is expected that funding for the update ($1 million in the first year and another $1 million later) will be requested in the budget year beginning July 1, 2017.
The most recent indications from senior planning staff are that the actual work will not start until “late” in the calendar year. This makes it seem unlikely staff expects to place any major changes in land use limits on the November 2018 ballot for Greenlight approval, as was done with Measure Y.
- Newport Beach Independent (February 17, 2017): Mixture of Humor and Seriousness in Mayor’s Message