Local Coastal Program Amendments

Local Coastal Program Amendments . . . as of May 2018

Latest News:  The City’s proposal to modify the jurisdictional map to move five properties from the area of original jurisdiction by the Coastal Commission to the area where the City can approve permits (subject to possible appeal to the CCC) — one of many LCP amendment requests the City has pending —  had been scheduled for hearing as Item 10a on the Commission’s agenda for May 11 in Santa Rosa, but was postponed.  Meanwhile, Item 6 on the May 8 City Council Consent Calendar is an unexpected request to amend the City’s “Categorical Exclusion Order.”  The proposed amendment (the details of which are, curiously, not shown) would exempt homes with floor area ratios of 2 on lots of 4,000 square feet and less from the need to apply for a Coastal Development Permit.  The current limit for such homes is 1.5.  While not, perhaps, technically an amendment to the LCP, it would change how it operates.  Yet, it the proposal has not been reviewed by the Planning Commission.

Project Overview:  The Newport Beach Local Coastal Program sets policies and detailed rules for issuing Coastal Development Permits, which are the main mechanism for ensuring compliance with the California Coastal Act.  Effective January 30, 2017, some 45 years after passage of the voter-enacted precursor to the Coastal Act, the City of Newport Beach finally, and for the first time, obtained a fully certified Local Coastal Program authorizing it to process and issue such permits.   But the ink was barely dry on the LCP, when it became apparent a raft of apparently staff-generated amendments was being rushed to approval with very little public awareness.

Why We Were Watching:   SPON is very concerned both with the process and with the substance of the proposed amendments.  The process is especially difficult to follow since their seems to be negotiation between City and Coastal Commission staff, out of the public eye. In all cases, if a City proposal is amended by the Coastal Commission at their hearing, possibly as a result of those private negotiations, the Council would have to agree to the CCC’s amendments or abandon the proposals. The current set of City proposals and their status is believed to be as follows:

  • “Minor” LCP “clean-up” package :
    • Originally consisted of nine unrelated insertions and deletions.
    • Submitted to the CCC by City Council Resolution No. 2017-45 on July 11, 2017, after removal of a controversial staff proposal to exempt “planned communities” from the long-standing 35-foot height limitation in the “Shoreline Height Limitation Zone” from the foot of the coastal bluffs to the sea.
    • Apparently on advice of Coastal Commission staff, three of the proposals were resubmitted as “major” LCP amendments (see next item) on September 12, 2017.
    • Coastal staff placed the remaining proposals on the Commission’s November 9, 2017, agenda, but was granted up to year to consider if some more of them were, in fact, “major” amendments.
    • These matters, the exact content of which is a bit uncertain, remain pending with no hearing date currently set.
    • “Major” LCP “clean-up” package
      • Consists of items removed from the “minor” clean-up package
      • Three of the removed items were re-submitted as part of City Council Resolution No. 2017-56 on September 12, 2017.
      • The proposals named in that resolution dealt with:
        • Rules regarding shoreline protective devices
        • Allowing a 75% expansion of nonconforming residential structures
        • Establishing rules for deviations from the development standards via variances and modifications
      • These matters remain pending with no hearing date currently set.
  • City/CCC Jurisdictional Boundary Change Request
    • According to an email from Newport Beach Planning Manager Patrick Alford, the City has asked the Coastal Commission’s mapping unit to redraw the appeal boundary (see the “Post LCP Certification Permit and Appeal Jurisdiction” map on the LCP Address Lookup & Maps page) to move five properties from Coastal Commission permit jurisdiction to City jurisdiction.  That is, allowing the City to approval permits for those properties, subject to appeal to the Coastal Commission.
    • The five properties are reportedly the Newport Harbor Yacht Club, Balboa Bay Club, Sea Scout Base, OC Harbor Patrol/USCG station and Newport Aquatic Center.
    • It is unclear when or if this request was authorized by the City Council or how it was noticed to the public.
    • The Coastal Commission is scheduled to hear the request as Item 10a on its Friday May 11, 2018, agenda.  According to the agenda, such changes can be allowed “pursuant to Coastal Act Section 30613.”
  • Peninsula Point Oceanfront Encroachment Program

    • This is a proposal to allow the yards of private homes abutting the beach from Balboa Village to the Wedge to legally encroach out onto the beach, similar to what is currently allowed in West Newport.
    • The proposal was formally submitted to the Coastal Commission by City Council Resolution No. 2017-50 on July 25, 2017, and then resubmitted as part of Resolution No. 2017-56 on September 12, 2017.
    • The matter remains pending before the Commission with no hearing date currently set.
  • Accessory Dwelling Unit amendment

    • This is a proposal to amend the LCP Implementation to align with changes recently made to corresponding sections of the Zoning Code in response to a new state law.
    • The proposal was formally submitted to the Coastal Commission by City Council Resolution No. 2017-51 on July 25, 2017, and then resubmitted as part of Resolution No. 2017-56 on September 12, 2017.
    • The matter remains pending before the Commission with no hearing date currently set.
  • Balboa Village Parking Management District
    • This is a proposal to remove the requirement for businesses in Balboa Village to provide off-street parking
    • The City Council has approved changes to the Zoning Code (Newport Beach Municipal Code Title 20), but before new development could be approved pursuant to that, corresponding changes would have to be made to the LCP Implementation Plan (NBMC Title 21).  The LCP amendment is required by NBMC Section 21.28.030.D.
    • The request was submitted to the Coastal Commission as part of City Council Resolution No. 2017-56 on September 12, 2017.
    • A major Coastal Act concern is that marine-related and visitor-attracting businesses appear to be treated less favorably than others.
    • The request remains pending with no hearing date currently set.
  • Balboa Area Residential Permit Parking Program
    • Closely related to the Balboa Village Parking Management District request, this is a proposal to initiate a residents-only parking program in the area west of Balboa Village to cope with the increased demand expected from the Parking Management District.
    • Instituting the program would not actually require an amendment to the LCP, but only a Coastal Development Permit, which the City could itself approve.  However, that approval would likely be appealed to the Coastal Commission.
    • Prior to having a certified LCP, and the local permit approval authority that goes with it, the City Council, pursuant to Item 14 at the Council’s October 27, 2015, meeting, directed City staff to file an application for a permit parking CDP with the Coastal Commission, but the application seems never to have gone anywhere.
    • Before considering approving a CDP on its own, City staff plans to re-assess residents’ interest in the program at a community meeting tentatively scheduled for May 7, 2018.
  • Adding Newport Coast to the LCP
    • The Coastal Zone portion of Newport Coast has its own LCP, created by the County of Orange prior to that area’s annexation by the City and still administered by them.
    • As Item 12 on its July 25, 2017, agenda, the City Council directed City staff to begin work on adding Newport Coast to the City’s LCP.
    • This could prove very problematic considering the large quantity of unbuilt allocations. According to the July 25 staff report, that includes 182 homes, 1,046 hotel rooms and 75,933 square feet of commercial development.
    • This would seem a major effort, and one SPON is watching with concern.
  • Port Master Plan
    • One of the City’s most recent efforts has been to promote legislation amending the Coastal Act to give the City the authority to create a Port Master Plan, described by the City as “an LCP for the water.”
    • This would purportedly allow the City to approve permits in the water areas of the harbor, which all currently require approval by the Coastal Commission.
    • Details remain sketchy, but if this ever happened, it would presumably require changes to the LCP to incorporate the Port Master Plan.

Upcoming:

  • May 7, 2018:  At 6:00 p.m. at Marina Park, City staff will be holding a community meeting to reassess interest in establishing a Residential Permit Parking Program for the area west of Balboa Village (submitted per Item 14 at the Council’s October 27, 2015, meeting) is also unknown.  To be approved, it might well require an amendment to the LCP. A recent tentative agenda suggests City staff plans to re-assess interest in the program at a May 7 Community Meeting .
  • May 8, 2018Item 6 on the May 8 City Council Consent Calendar is an unexpected request to amend the City’s “Categorical Exclusion Order.”  The proposed amendment (the details of which are, curiously, not shown) would exempt homes with floor area ratios of 2 on lots of 4,000 square feet and less from the need to apply for a Coastal Development Permit.  The current limit for such homes is 1.5.  The matter has not previously been discussed.
  • May 11, 2018:  As Item 10a on its Friday May 11 agenda, the Coastal Commission was scheduled to hear the “City/CCC Jurisdictional Boundary Change Request” (see “Why We’re Watching,” above), but the item has been postponed.

Recent Events:

    • November 9, 2017:  The California Coastal Commission granted staff a continuance of up to a year to further consider the package of “minor” LCP amendments submitted by the City.  Much less time than that is expected, but a rehearing date has not yet been set. To recap, the Coastal Commission announced that as Item Th11a at its hearing in Bodega Bay on November 9, the Commission would be reviewing their Executive Director’s declaration of the “minor” portions of the City’s July 11, 2017, submittal — which would, in the absence of objection by the Commission, be deemed approved. However, Coastal staff has asked for the entire matter to be taken temporarily off calendar, and nothing has yet been approved.
      • An exhibit to the CCC’s November 9 staff report showed the City’s Resolution No. 2017-45 with the parts deemed “not minor” by CCC staff crossed out. However, of the parts being deemed “minor,” proposed Amendment #2 would create relaxed development standards for a Lido Villas Planned Community, and Amendment #12 would eliminate the need for public hearing on many Coastal Development Permits.
      • The crossed out parts include all the worrisome language the City proposed on July 11 changing the height limit rules. Since that language is not in the September 12 repackaging and consolidation of “major” amendments, it appears the City is not pursuing a relaxation of the height limits, at least for the moment.
      • For those having trouble accessing the November 9 CCC files, they consist of a report, an exhibit (the City requests) and an addendum (asking for the continuation to a later meeting).
    • September 12, 2017:  Staff returned to the Council with a report that the City was in danger of exceeding the number of major amendments to the LCP allowed in a single calendar year.  The CCC’s rule apparently allows multiple major amendments if they are part of a single submittal.  As a result, in Item 3 on the consent calendar, City staff asked the Council to adopt Resolution No. 2017-56, which combined in a single submittal the Oceanfront Encroachment and Accessory Dwelling Unit proposals from July 25 with three proposals from July 11 that the CCC had deemed “major” (regarding shoreline protective devices, allowing a 75% expansion of nonconforming residential structures, and establishing rules for deviations from the development standards via variances and modifications).
      • The staff report did not identify which portions of the July 11 proposal had been deemed “minor,” requiring only the CCC Director’s approval.  However, Resolution No. 2017-56 submits none of the language creating new exceptions to the City’s building height limits, suggesting that request has been dropped.
      • In addition, the status remains unclear for a Parking Management District in Balboa Village (removing any requirement for businesses to provide off-street parking), which seems to have not been formally submitted at all.
    • July 25, 2017: Three items proposing changes to the LCP appeared on the City Council agenda:
      • As Item 18, the Council adopted Resolution No. 2017-50, submitting to the CCC a proposed amendment to the LCP to allow beach encroachments in the Peninsula Point area.
      • As part of Item 19, Resolution No. 2017-51 submitted an amendment allowing Accessory Dwelling Units.
      • As Item 12 on the consent calendar, the Council agreed to “Initiate amendments to the City’s certified Local Coastal Program and the Newport Coast Planned Community Development Plan to incorporate Newport Coast into the City’s certified Local Coastal Program. ”  Little more is known of this latter proposal, as it does not appear to have been the subject of any other public discussion.
    • July 11, 2017:  As Item 10 at its evening meeting, the City Council heard the  “clean-up” portion of the proposed LCP amendments, including a provision that would have exempted planned communities from the City’s longstanding height limits, even in the so-called 35′ Shoreline Height Limit Area.  The Council questioned that proposal and asked staff to come back with a revised “clean-up” eliminating that proposal.  The matter did not come back, but the resulting Resolution No. 2017-45, as signed by the Mayor, differed from the one presented to the Council in the Item 10 staff report by having the planned community exception removed.
    • May 18, 2017:  At the Corona del Mar Residents Association‘s monthly 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).   Regarding the LCP Amendments, Ms. Wisneski indicated that despite the Newport Beach Planning Commission’s action on May 4 (recommending Council approve the flawed amendment package exactly as presented by staff), instead of sending the proposal directly to the City Council, City staff is working with the Coastal Commission staff in Long Beach to figure out what might actually fly (before it becomes effective, whatever amendments the Council approves have to be certified by the Coastal Commission, which looks to their own staff to spot problems with them).  She anticipated this process might take several months, but did not explain exactly what would happen at the end of it.  That is, would a revised set of amendments be brought back to the Planning Commission for public re-consideration?  Or (as happened with the original LCP) would the Council adopt City staff’s (flawed) package, but with a forewarning (based on the staff discussions) of what parts the Coastal Commission would likely change or reject?  Apparently time will tell.
    • May 4, 2017:  The amendments were re-noticed for a hearing before the Planning Commission as Item 3 on May 4.  At that hearing, it seemed apparent most of the Commissioners either had not reviewed the item in advance of the meeting, or were not interested in it.  Despite the many flaws pointed out to them (see above under “Why We’re Watching”), on a 5:1 vote (with Commissioner Lawler absent and Commissioner Weigand voting “no”) the Commission, without any substantive comment or any revisions at all, recommended the Council approve all the amendments as submitted.
      • As presented to the Planning Commission the amendment package consisted of three (or eleven, depending on how one counts) completely unrelated items:
        • a Balboa Village Parking Management District plan (eliminating off-street parking requirements for most businesses in that area)
        • an East Oceanfront Encroachment Program (allowing private improvements on the first 15 feet of the public beach in front of most ocean-facing homes in Peninsula Point from E Street to the Wedge)
        • a “Implementation Plan Clean-up” package (itself consisting of nine unrelated insertions and changes to the Coastal Land Use Plan and the Implementation Plan)
      • Whatever one may think of the merits of staff’s proposals, the proposals themselves are deeply flawed:
        • As indicated in a SPON letter, the Parking Management plan prioritizes resident-serving commercial uses over marine-related ones, in contradiction of Coastal Act policies.
        • The Encroachment Program introduces new regulations into the Implementation Plan that permit development in areas where it is explicitly prohibited by the governing Land Use Plan.
        • The “Clean-up,” among other contradictions, deletes the Coastal Commission approved  Land Use Plan policy exceptions that allowed the Lido House Hotel (being built at the old City Hall site) to rise to 65 feet in a 35-foot height limitation zone, but retains the Implementation Plan regulations allowing such excess heights (now without explanation or justification).
      • On a separate track, City staff proposed amending both the Zoning Code and the LCP to accommodate what they say are changes required by new state laws in the City’s rules for “Accessory Dwelling Units” (small rental units) in single-family neighborhoods.  This was heard as Item 2 at the Planning Commission’s May 4,  2017, meeting. The Commission showed more interest in this than the other amendments, and voted to continue the item until they had more time to study it.
  • April 11, 2017:  With little to no prior public awareness, action by the Council on the LCP amendments was scheduled for a public hearing as Item 18 on the April 11 agenda.  As a result of reminders from the public that Council action was not legally allowed without a Planning Commission recommendation (as required by Table 21.50-1 in the newly certified Implementation Plan), the item was withdrawn.

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