Category Archives: Opinion

150 Newport Center

150 Newport Center . . . as of September 27, 2016
(formerly known as Newport Center Villas;  aka the Fashion Island car wash project)
.

Note: At least for the moment, this project is history: the application for it was WITHDRAWN moments before its planned hearing by the City Council on September 27.  One of the major financial investors is now suing the developers for fraud.

Project Overview: The 150 Newport Center Planned Community Development Plan (PCDP) as originally proposed was to be composed of 49 condominium homes totaling 163,260 square feet, in a seven-story, 75.5 foot high building. The unit mix was to include ten residential townhomes, 35 residential flats on Levels 3 through 6 and four penthouses on Level 7.  It was later reduced to a proposal for 35 units in 5 stories, and rather than regarding 150 Newport Center as a “planned community” of its own, it would be incorporated into the existing North Newport Center Planned Community District and be subject to its rules (although new rules would be invented for this parcel).

Why We Were Watching:  This project would have replace the one-story 8,500 square foot Beacon Bay Car Wash directly across from Muldoon’s in Fashion Island.  The structure height significantly deviates from the standard established for that area of Fashion Island.  And, the project introduces residents into a primarily commercial/retail neighborhood, which includes late-night operations which generate business-related noise and congestion.

Recent Events:
On June 23, 2016, while the Environmental Impact Report was available for public review, the Planning Commission held a preliminary Study Session on the project, at which many criticisms were voiced, both by the Commissioners and the public, which focused primarily on its lack of compatibility with the area.  (View SPON’s June 23 Planning Commission video here.)

On July 21, 2016, a slightly scaled down project began a three part hearing process before the Planning Commission, which was tasked with making a recommendation to the City Council.  The applicants offered a scaled down proposal for 45 units in a six-story, 65.5 foot tall building with fewer shared amenities.  City staff recommended the same number of units in a five-story, 55 foot tall building (in all cases, an extra 4 to 8 feet is allowed for rooftop appurtenances, such as elevator towers).

At that first formal hearing, the Commission expressed so much concern about the required planning amendments (view SPON’s July 21 Planning Commission video here) that the expected second hearing on August 4 was rescheduled to August 18 to give staff time to consider changes.

On August 18, the matter was heard starting rather late in the evening and the discussion was halted by a mandatory 11:30 pm adjournment time. The Commission primarily decided to ask staff to bring back a proposal in which, rather than creating a new “planned community” of its own, the 150 Newport Center parcel will be added to, and be governed by the same development standards as the existing planned community governing The Irvine Company’s commercial buildings in the interior of Block 100.

The discussion continued on September 1, at which meeting the Commission considered the EIR, the comments on the EIR, and details of the project and the development agreement (providing cash payments to the City as a “public benefit” to mitigate the impact and guarantee a right to the new development).  The hearing ended, at City staff’s instruction, in a “recommendation of denial” to the City Council (even though City policies are clear that a denial by the Planning Commission is supposed to go the Council only in the event of an appeal)

On September 26, the 150 Newport Center applicants asked for a continuance of the  Council hearing — purportedly so they could have more time to privately discuss their project with the Council members.  But on September 27, barely an hour before the hearing on the Planning Commission’s recommendation of denial was to start, it was announced they had withdrawn their application entirely.  According to City planning staff, this means they would have to start completely over again, with an entirely new application.

SPON and its supporters were very well represented, both with written comments and with speakers at the Planning Commission hearings.  We need to keep up this momentum to stop other proposed projects with a similar potential to negatively impact the character of Our Town!

Petition Recap

  • Our petition against the 150 Newport Center project closed with over 1,600 signatures gathered!
  • See recap here.

News Coverage

Helpful Links

Archives

 

Planning Commission Mtg Videos

Project Update

Planning Commission Meeting Videos here!
SPON, at its own expense, is recording and posting Planning Commission Meeting videos for you to view online.   Watch them on SPON’s YouTube Channel here.


Overview:  In response to numerous earlier requests from SPON, Mayor Dixon asked that the question of televising Planning Commission meetings be put on the February 23rd Council agenda.

More than 70 community members either emailed the Council or showed up in person to support the idea of televising, live streaming and archiving videos of the meetings. No one wrote or spoke in opposition.

Council Action: Despite the clear and unanimous public sentiment, Council voted not to televise the meetings [Dixon and Petros voted in favor of televising; Selich, Muldoon, Duffield and Peotter voted to oppose televising; Curry was absent].  The Council members’ arguments for and against are well worth listening to.  Click here to view the Video; click on Agenda Item #16 to skip directly to this matter at 59:16 minutes.

The vote against televising the meetings is worrisome on several levels:

  1. The equipment and largely automated technology is already in place for City Council meetings and needs only to be turned on during the Commission meetings and manned.
  2. Staff indicated there was ample budget to cover the $3,600/year extra expense ($50 per hour).  Most meetings are under two hours so the actual cost will likely be closer to $2,500/year.
  3. Council arguments against televising meetings focused on these concerns:
    • that the public would stop coming to meetings
    • that commissioners might be inclined to grandstand more if televised
    • that access to videos would aid litigants against the city
    • and, ironically, that commissioners (and Council members) wouldn’t have the benefit of public comments delivered in person before voting
  4. The Planning Commission itself expressed displeasure both with the Council’s decision and with the fact that no one asked their views on the matter.  However an expected noticed public discussion of the matter by the Commission has not yet materialized.

SPON’s Next Step: We are not giving up on this request.  While we work to gather more support in the community and on the Council, SPON, at its own expense, has retained a videographer who will videotape Planning Commission Meetings beginning March 3.  Videos will be posted to our website and/or You Tube for public viewing. Be sure to watch for our progress on this action on our website. 

YOUR Next Steps: 

    1. Check SPON’s YouTube Channel to view videos which we post after each Planning Commission Meeting
    2. Write to City Council members to let them know how important these videos are for government transparency
    3. Write letters to the editors of our local newspapers.  Be sure to include your name, city of residence and phone number (not for publication but allows editors to check with you if they have questions).

Daily Pilot Editor
Newport Beach Independent Editor
OC Register Editor

Press Coverage: 

Helpful Links

Water Management in a Drought

 

16-486 - Correspondence

City Council reviewed the Newport Beach Urban Water Management Plan at its June 14, 2016 meeting.  And residents had something to say about it!

Newport Beach Indy: July 1, 2016 – Susan Skinner
Newport Beach Indy: March 26, 2016 – Andrea Lingle

Urban Water Management Documents:

 

Newsletter 2016 Winter-Spring

Topics covered in this newsletter include:

  • Recent accomplishments
  • New development projects that jeopardizes the beauty and peace of our coastline
  • New community outreach opportunities
  • Important upcoming dates to save

A downloadable/printable version of this Newsletter is available here.


beehiveWe’ve been busy on many fronts since our last not-quite-quarterly newsletter. Despite the crushing defeat of Measure Y (almost 70% voted NO), attempts to add more density and traffic and change the character of Newport Beach have continued in different forms. But as always we’re on our toes and watching out for residents’ interests. [Links providing Measure Y background located below.]

Here’s what we’ve accomplished:

May 21: A big thanks to everyone who wrote to the Planning Commissioners to stop them from adding 300,000 sf of development capacity to Newport Coast after The Irvine Company said it had noticed a “scrivener’s error” in the voter-approved portion of the 2006 General Plan…nine years after the fact!  [Links at bottom of page.]

September 1: We met with Dave Kiff, Ed Selich, Diane Dixon and Community Development Director Kim Brandt to discuss the spot zoning and tweaks to the General Plan we’re seeing all around our town. We reiterated that it’s probably time for a comprehensive review of the City’s General Plan[Links at bottom of page.]

jam3October 7: The Coastal Commission delayed a decision on Banning Ranch after the developer pitched a plan to build 1,175 homes, a 75-room hotel and 20-bed hostel along with 75,000 sf of retail space on a 401-acre site rich in environmentally sensitive habitat and Native American archaeological sites. The next hearing will be May 11, 12 or 13 in Long Beach [exact date and venue TBD]. We are supporting all efforts to preserve this entire site as open space and stop a project that would mean big money for developers but only give residents ten years of noise, contaminated dust and traffic jams during construction and then an ongoing drain on our roads, water, public safety and other resources. Not to mention gridlock. [Links at bottom of page.]

October 8: We had an attorney write a letter on SPON’s behalf about a plan to tear down the Beacon Bay Car Wash in Newport Center and build a seven-story building with 49 luxury condos (“150 Newport Center Project”). The project, as submitted, requires

  • a General Plan amendment, a Zoning Code amendment, and
  • a waiver of the 10-acre minimum for a “Planned Community”, and
  • an increase in the height limit for the site from 35 to 87 feet!

Our letter was received before the project could breeze by the Planning Commission and go on for approval by the City Council with no Environmental Impact Report (EIR).  An EIR is being conducted now – stay tuned.  [Links at bottom of page.]

Museum House: In the meantime, a competing project being put forward aims to redevelop the OC Museum of Art site, on the other side of Fashion Island, with a 26-story, 100-unit condominium high rise. Yes, you read that right… [Links at bottom of page.]

These are just a few highlights of the actions SPON took in 2015. Many of our battles are of the longer-term variety and will stretch out into 2016 and beyond…


Keeping our coastline beautiful…and true to Newport Beach

nbcoastlineNearly half of Newport Beach is in the coastal zone, and today projects in that zone need permits both from the City and the California

Coastal Commission. If the Coastal Commission signs off on it, the Local Coastal Program Implementation Plan, approved by the Planning Commission in October and by the City Council in November, would transfer a good deal of control over development projects to City government.

Which is fine with us as long as the City’s actions are guided by its own coastal policies and the Coastal Act. Case in point: The City approved the Back Bay Landing Project in its original form, which included building a new bulkhead, multi-story water-edge homes and a 65-foot viewing tower. The Coastal Commission deferred a final decision on the bulkhead and homes in December BUT denied the tower, saying it would be “inconsistent with the character of the area and result in adverse visual impacts to public views of the bay and the cliffs of Upper Newport Bay”.  Don’t you wonder why our City Council didn’t make that statement?

developedcoastlineSuch considerations will be all-important now that a good portion of Mariner’s Mile has changed hands and will be the subject of a number of “revitalization” proposals.   We want to make sure that stretch of PCH doesn’t wind up with oversized lots and super-sized buildings on either side, making it feel like a concrete canyon.  In particular, current height restrictions will have to be respected and enforced. [Links at bottom of page.]


Asking for transparency

We’re still working to get the City to use the state-of-the-art technology in the Civic Center to live stream and archive Planning Commission meetings, during which City Council-appointed commissioners discuss and vote on development projects with the potential to impact and even transform our community. Thanks to everyone who wrote letters about this last year. We may have gotten through to officials: this item is now on the February 23 City Council agenda!  [Link at bottom of page.] 

And we encourage you to continue writing to City Council in support of this request.  City Council will hear this matter on February 23, so time is of the essence. (Email form here).


Reaching out

We’ve been trying a new community outreach model: A few of our members have graciously opened their homes for monthly informational luncheons so people can visit with like-minded residents, keep up with the City’s development pipeline (no simple task!) and find out what they can do to help.


Expanding our network of people who care

SPON is run entirely by volunteers and funded exclusively with members’ tax-deductible donations. Every bit helps. But to carry out our mission, we need people just as much as we need money. If you care about our residential and environmental qualities and have time or special skills you’d like to contribute, we’ll be thrilled to hear from you. We all love Newport Beach and we need to show it!   Tell us how you can help hereIf you can donate, form is here.


LITS


Save the Dates:

May 11, 12 or 13: Coastal Commission hearing on Banning Ranch in Long Beach.  Exact date and venue TBD.

May 21: SPON Annual Meeting at the Environmental Nature Center. Details here.

November 8: Election Day! Remember, we need a City Council that cares about residents, so don’t forget to ask questions and research candidates before you vote.


 

Newsletter Information Links

Measure Y

General Plan Land Use Element Correction: Newport Coast Development

General Plan (voter approved in 2006)

Banning Ranch

150 Newport Center Project (Beacon Bay Car Wash Site Redevelopment)

Museum House (OC Museum of Art Site High-Rise Condo Project)

Coastline Projects

Request for Planning Commission Meeting Videos