Koll Center Residences . . . as of September 2018
Planning Commission Study Session possible in December?
Latest News: The City continues to sort out which four Planning Commissioners can hear the Koll Center Residences proposal, after which it needs to find a date on which they can all get together. At present, December 6 appears to be the earliest date on which the study session aborted on January 18 could be restarted. When the study session does happen, a good way to prepare is to review the comment letters received regarding problems with the Draft Environmental Impact Report, and the City’s responses to them.
Project Overview: This is a proposal to add 260 luxury condominium residences in three 150 foot tall towers in what is now the surface parking lot of an office campus near the corner of Jamboree and Birch in the Airport Area. See the city webpage for further details.
Why We Were Watching: This project raises multiple issues about height, density, and compatibility with neighboring uses, including the viability of the current General Plan’s vision for adding residential uses to the Airport Area, and whether it is being properly implemented. SPON feels the project is out of character with the office park environment in which it is being proposed, and that any further consideration of it should be deferred until the pending General Plan Update has been completed — hopefully providing a clearer and better thought out vision for the future of the Airport Area.
September 13, 2018: The City needs a quorum of four Planning Commissioners to take action on the Koll Center Residences proposal. However, four of the current Commissioners appear to have financial conflicts of interest that would normally prevent them from voting on it — leaving only three who. In such a circumstance, a rarely-used provision in California’s ethics laws allows a quorum be be achieved by adding conflicted Commissioners to the decision-making panel by a “drawing of lots.” This is expected to happen as a agenda item at the Commission’s September 13 meeting.
December 6, 2018: This has been suggested as the earliest date at which it may be possible to assemble the decision-making panel of four Planning Commissioners.
May 31, 2018: The four Commissioners who are allowed to hear the Koll proposal (Koetting, Dunlap, Kramer and Weigand) were expected to meet for a special afternoon public study session about the project. However, the meeting was canceled, purportedly due to an inability to to assemble a quorum, and needs to be rescheduled. A new date has not yet been set.
May 24, 2018: The City announced the long-planned May 31 study session has been canceled. Speculation is that one of the four Commissioners needed to hear the matter learned he would have been unable to attend. This likely will change the timing of the previously-announced June 21 hearing date, as well.
March 22, 2018: In his report to the Planning Commission at the end of their meeting, the Community Development Director selected May 31 at 4:00 p.m. as the date and time for a study session on the Koll Center Residences proposal. Of several dates suggested, it was one of the few on which the four Commissioners able (and needed) to hear the matter thought they could get together. The Director said the PC hearing on the application would come on June 21.
January 18, 2018 @ 6:30 p.m.: The Newport Beach Planning Commission started to hold a public study session on the project, long deferred from the date that had been scheduled and announced in the DEIR: October 19, 2017. The staff report included responses to the comments on the Draft EIR received on or before November 13, 2017. However, after a brief staff report, and introductory comments, the applicant asked for the session to be postponed due to uncertainty over which Planning Commissioners would ultimately be able to vote on the matter (several of them having financial conflicts of interest). A video of the meeting is available, with the Koll Center Residences segment running for about 17 minutes starting at 1:43. At 1:55:50 the Assistant City Attorney makes the announcement that one more of the Commissioners had to leave the room due to a potential financial conflict of interest. The discussion about future scheduling conflicts begins at 2:06:45.
January 9, 2018: Responses to the public’s comments on the DEIR were posted on the City website.
November 13, 2017 @ 5:00 p.m.: Due date for written comments regarding the accuracy and adequacy of the DEIR. In the Final EIR, the City is required to provide written responses to comments submitted by this deadline. Comments about deficiencies in the EIR can continue to be made up until the final project approval by the City Council. However, there is no legal requirement for a formal response to comments submitted after November 13.
October 31, 2017: As promised at the previous night’s developer presentation, the City amended its DEIR comment extension notice to indicate written comments on the adequacy of the DEIR will be accepted through November 10 (later corrected, in view of the City Hall being closed on that date, to the next business day, November 13).
October 30, 2017: At the City’s invitation the developer provided a roughly hour-long presentation about the project in the Friends Room at the Central Library, followed by questions and answers (but not comments) from the audience. SPON feels this City-invited sales pitch was a poor substitute for the more objective and on-record study session before the Planning Commission that had been previously announced (but cancelled without explanation) during the period the public is expected to comment on the Draft EIR. At this meeting, City staff announced the public comment period would be extended an additional seven days, to November 10, and that a Planning Commission study session on the project had been set for January 18, 2018. There was also an understanding that the developers PowerPoint would be made available on the City’s website.
October 18, 2017: City announced extension of due date for written comments on the DEIR from October 27 to a new deadline of November 3 at 5:00 pm. City also announced a “public forum” to be provided by the developer on October 30. This is a substitute for the October 19 public study session before the Planning Commission which had been announced with release of the DEIR, but cancelled without explanation.
September 13, 2017: The Draft EIR was released for public review. Comments submitted by October 27 will receive a written response in the Final EIR. The public can continue to comment on the EIR until such time as it is certified, but the City is not required to provide a formal response to comments made after October 27. Further details are available in the City’s announcement.
January 18, 2017: A scoping meeting for the project’s Environmental Impact Report was held with comments due by February 2.
- Daily Pilot (January 19, 2018): Koll Center Residences discussion on hold after planning commissioners recuse themselves
- Daily Pilot (January 19, 2017): Public gets early look at 260-unit, 3-tower condo plan for office park near JWA
- Project-specific city webpage and case log
- Notice of Preparation (initial project description)
- Scoping meeting presentation
- Draft EIR