Newport Dunes Hotel . . . as of July 2018
Contract for EIR expected, but not yet signed
Latest News: As Item 10 on its July 10, 2018, consent calendar, the City Council was expected to award a contract to Environmental Services Associates for preparation of environmental studies for the project. The scope of services includes a detailed timeline, showing an Environmental Impact Report tentatively scheduled for public review from February 21 to April 8, with final hearings before the Council expected in August or September of 2019. However, Item 10 was taken off the agenda at the last moment by staff with no explanation. It would appear changes in the contract terms are being negotiated. When and if the Council approves development at the site, it would then additionally need a Coastal Development Permit approved by the California Coastal Commission (which would apparently be regarded as an amendment to the development previously approved by the CCC).
Project Overview: On September 29, 2016, the City received an application to build “a 275-room, 201,498-square-foot hotel with amenities including a coffee shop, gift/sundry shop, business center, event function rooms, spa/fitness facilities, restaurant, pool, tennis courts, sand volleyball courts and picnic area” on the west side of the Newport Dunes Lagoon, in a 14.3 acre area currently used mostly for boat/RV storage and summer camps.
Why We’re Watching: The Newport Dunes is in theory a county park (per NBMC Sec. 11.08.055 it is officially named the “Harry Welch Memorial Park,” as dedicated in May 1958), but for many years it has been leased by the County to a private operator with an eye toward recreation-related commercial development. Conceptual entitlement for a project similar to what is currently being proposed at this site was granted as part of a settlement agreement decades ago. In 2000, the initial City approval of a former leaseholder’s plans to build a project significantly larger than what had been agreed to was one of the forces that propelled the slow-growth “Greenlight” City Charter amendment to success that Fall.
Subsequent to 2000, plans to build on the site appeared nearly dead, but were given new life in 2008 and again in 2016 when the county Board of Supervisors renegotiated the terms of the lease to accommodate interested hotel developers. On Sept. 29, 2016, an application was submitted to the City.
SPON is concerned not only about the impacts of this project, by itself, but also how they will combine with prior City approvals for significant development at the nearby Back Bay Landing and Balboa Marina sites — all of which will affect both the appearance of the area and the already busy intersection of Bayside Drive and PCH.
Upcoming: Approval of a contract to prepare an Environmental Impact Report is expected to come to the Council, but the date at which that might happen is currently unknown.
July 10, 2018: As Item 10 on its consent calendar, the City Council was expected to award a contract to prepare the Environmental Impact Report for the project. The following tentative dates were identified in the scope of services of that contract, but these may change sicne instead of being approved, the item was taken “off calendar”:
- September 6, 2018: Initial Study released for public review.
- September 25, 2018: Public scoping meeting for EIR.
- October 8, 2018: Public review of Initial Study ends.
- February 21, 2019: Draft EIR posted for public review.
- April 8, 2019: Public review of Draft EIR ends.
- July/August 2019: Planning Commission hearings
- August/September 2019: City Council hearings.
May 18, 2018: City selects Low Cost Overnight Visitor Accommodations consultant.
February 1, 2018: City advertises for environmental consultant.
September 29, 2016: City receives application for development (per “case log“).
January 26, 2016: Facing lease options set to expire in August 2017, as Item 34 on its agenda, the Orange County Board of Supervisors amends the lease to accommodate a new two-hotel proposal.
- Per the staff report, “Newport Dunes is a 102-acre recreation facility on County-owned tidelands in Upper Newport Bay in Newport Beach and is currently leased to Waterfront Resort Properties, L.P. and Newport Dunes Marina, LLC (Newport Dunes) through 2039.”
- The amendments allow Brighton Management LLC to develop a Holiday Inn Resort and a Staybridge Hotel on Parcel C, totaling 275 rooms, provided it can obtain entitlements to begin construction by December 2023 and complete it in 2025.
July 10, 2012: As Item 15, the Council agrees to amendments to the Settlement Agreement.
September 12, 2000: With the Greenlight initiative having qualified for the November ballot, a City Council hearing on the project, set as Item 17, was taken off calendar at the applicant’s request.
June 27, 2000: Testimony to City Council continues as Item 30, with Council deciding to continue hearing to September 12. A new staff report consists of 718 pages of correspondence received since the June 13 meeting.
June 13, 2000: As Item 28, City Council receives extensive testimony on the application (staff report), including future Councilman/Mayor and then Planning Commission Chair Ed Selich’s project summary in the minutes.
April 20, 2000: After multiple study sessions and hearings, Newport Beach Planning Commission adopts Resolution No. 1519 recommending approval of 370 room hotel (companion Resolutions No. 1518 and 1520 recommended approval of the EIR and Traffic Study). Although scaled back from the 1998 proposal, the Commission’s approval galvanized support for the slow-growth “Greenlight” initiative on the November 2000 ballot.
September 28, 1998: As Item 13 on its agenda, the City Council awards contract C-3235 for preparation of an Environmental Impact Report regarding the Newport Dunes Hotel proposal.
1997: Newport Dunes “owner” approaches City with a proposal for a destination resort including 600 rentable rooms (400 hotel rooms plus 100 two-bedroom time-share units) plus a 55,000 square foot conference center, apparently to be accompanied by the removal of 150 existing Recreational Vehicle stalls. See Item 3 in the October 21, 1999, Planning Commission minutes for a description. General Plan Amendment 97-3, including exploration of changes for the Dunes property, was initiated as Item 8 at the October 9, 1997, Planning Commission meeting, and Item 13 at the October 27, 1997, City Council meeting.
1983: The City, the County of Orange, and Newport Dunes, Inc. ( predecessor to Waterfront Resort Properties, L.P. and Newport Dunes Marina L.L.C.) signed a settlement agreement to resolve jurisdictional and entitlement disputes relating to the development of the Newport Dunes. See City Resolution No. 83-49, approving the Agreement, and the minutes of the meeting at which it was adopted. The Agreement, archived as contract C-2394, was amended in 1984, 1987, 1988, 1990 and most recently 2012. See page 367 for the Resolution No. 83-49 with a draft of the original Agreement, which limited the hotel to 275 rooms, attached.
February 1981: According to City Resolution No. 83-49 and the 1986 staff report to the State Lands Commission, the City of Newport Beach filed suit to overturn the environmental documentation for the project approved by the County in 1980.
1980: According to City Resolution No. 83-49 and a 1986 staff report to the State Lands Commission, the County approved a redevelopment plan for the Newport Dunes. As Detailed in Resolution No. 83-49, it included plans for a 350 room motel or family inn.
1976: According to City Resolution No. 83-49, the County and Newport Dunes, Inc. (predecessor to Waterfront Resort Properties, L.P. and Newport Dunes Marina L.L.C.) began negotiating a plan to redevelop the 72 acre Newport Dunes site.
- Orange County Supervisors approve Newport Dunes project amendment, The Log, Feb. 18, 2016.
- Newport Dunes gets early go-ahead from county for two more hotels, Orange County Register, Jan. 27, 2016.
- 2 hotels could be built at Newport Dunes after O.C. Supervisors approve plan, Daily Pilot, Jan. 27, 2016.
- Plans advance for hotel in the Dunes, Daily Pilot, Dec. 4, 2008.
- Plans for waterfront Newport Dunes hotel on drawing board again, Orange County Register, Dec. 3, 2008.
- Two groups plan Dunes takeover, Daily Pilot, June 14, 2002.
- New Dunes owners say no hotel in future, Daily Pilot, Oct. 03, 2002.
- Dunes asks council to postpone hotel vote, Daily Pilot, Sept. 06, 2000.
- Editorial, Daily Pilot, Apr. 22, 2000.
- Point-counterpoint, Daily Pilot, Mar. 18, 2000.
- City’s case log for Planning Application PA2016-175 (not always accurate or up to date)