Newport Dunes Hotel

Newport Dunes Hotel . . . as of June 2018

Project Overview: The City has received a proposal 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.

Conceptual rendering presented to OC Board of Supervisors in Jan. 26, 2016, agenda packet

Upcoming:

  • According to the “case log,” a request for proposals for an outside company to prepare the Environmental Impact Report was distributed on Feb. 1, 2018.
    • A request for the City Council to approve staff’s recommended contractor appeared briefly on a “tentative agenda,” but was withdrawn.
    • The Scoping Meeting, at which the public is invited to suggest issues needing evaluation in the EIR, normally follows shortly after award of the contract.

Recent Events:

January 26, 2016: As Item 34 on its agenda, the Orange County Board of Supervisors amends the lease to accommodate a new two-hotel proposal.

July 10, 2012: As Item 15, the Council agrees to amendments to the Settlement Agreement.

Earlier Timeline:

September 12, 2000: City Council hearing on project set as Item 17, but taken off calendar at 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 application (staff report), including the Planning Commission Chair’s project summary in the minutes.

April 20, 2000:  After multiple study sessions and hearings, Newport Beach Planning Commission adopts Resolution 1519 recommending approval of 370 room hotel (Resolutions 1518 and 1520 recommend approval of EIR and Traffic Study).  Although scaled back from the original proposal for 600 rooms in over-height buildings, the Commission’s approval galvanized support for the slow-growth “Greenlight” initiative on the November 2000 ballot.

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.  Resolution 83-49minutes.  The Agreement was amended in 1984, 1987, 1988, 1990 and most recently 2012.

News Coverage

Helpful Links

  • City’s case log for Planning Application PA2016-175 (not always accurate or up to date)