General Plan update

General Plan Update  . . .  as of May 2017

Latest News:  At the Corona del Mar Residents Association‘s May 18, 2017, meeting, the City’s Community Development Director, Kimberly Brandt, and Deputy Director, Brenda Wisneski, gave a presentation entitled “Local Coastal Plan Amendments (Shoreline Properties) & future General Plan Update Project” (see the agenda).   As part of the latter presentation, they distributed a flyer describing their vision of the GPU project.  Although none of this, including the funding, has yet been approved by the City Council, the flyer indicates they see the present calendar year being used to select an outside consultant and appoint an Advisory Committee.  Work on actually revising the General Plan would begin in January 2018, with adoption expected in March or April 2020.  That, of course, does not preclude staff and others from deciding what they want in the plan before the Committee ever meets.  Indeed, from past experience, that seems a quite possible scenario, with an outline of the expected revisions frequently being presented at the first meeting of such a committee, with the remainder of the time being spent waiting for the committee to agree to the consultant’s recommendations — at the end of which they are congratulated for their “hard work.”

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.

Recent Events:

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.

News Coverage

Helpful Links