Tennis Club (Newport Center) . . . as of June 2018
Coastal Development Permit going before Zoning Administrator
Project Overview: This Watch List item refers to a proposal, approved by the City Council in 2012, to convert the Tennis Club in Newport Center (abutting the eastern end of the Newport Beach Country Club golf course, and not to be confused with the similarly-named Tennis Club in Eastbluff) into a tennis resort, with homes, rental bungalows and an event center. The existing 24 tennis courts would be reduced to 7, but the 3,725 square foot clubhouse expanded, plus 5 homes and 27 hotel room like bungalows would be added, In all, the non-residential development would expand to 38,000 sf, adding 34,275 sf of development that is not in the General Plan and was never approved by voters.
Why We’re Watching: The property owner’s wish to “upgrade” the entire Newport Beach Country Club site, including building a new stadium tennis resort, was long known to the City. And the original proposal seems to have been designed to fit within the General Plan development limits approved by voters in 2006. The golf clubhouse would be rebuilt at its existing size, the 5 dwelling units would come from a floating pool of 450 units in Newport Center approved in 2006, and the 27 rental bungalows would be transferred from unbuilt hotel room entitlements approved elsewhere in Newport Center, adding no net development that had not previously been approved, and hence not needing a Greenlight vote and, arguably, not even a General Plan amendment.
The proposal hit two snags. First, a competing proposal by the golf course lessee emerged, requesting a massive expansion of the golf clubhouse (which would require a General Plan amendment). And second, the corporate owner of the nearby Marriott Hotel objected to the transfer of unused hotel room allocations from elsewhere in Newport Center (most of which had been, perhaps improperly, converted to office entitlements for the benefit of The Irvine Company).
To “solve” the latter problem, and despite City staff’s objections, the Planning Commission recommended, and the City Council accepted, the idea of creating entitlements for the 27 rental bungalows by “converting” the entitlement for 17 existing tennis courts being removed in the plan, finding that “consistent” with the General Plan (with no need, according to the Planning Commission) to formally amend it.
The problem is that the combination of the square footage created by the General Plan amendment for the enlarged golf clubhouse combined with the new hotel room square footage (created by “conversion” rather than transfer of previous approvals) adds non-voter-approved development to Newport Center far in excess of the 10 year limit allowed by Greenlight (City Charter Section 423) — not even counting other development added to Newport Center in the last 10 years, including the Central Library expansion and the 100,000 sf. new City Hall.
Although approved in 2012, the Tennis Club project now needs a Coastal Development Permit to proceed to construction. Whoever is responsible for the earlier mix up, SPON strongly objects to allowing construction that exceeds the amounts allowed in the currently published General Plan by an amount that, if acknowledged as an amendment to that Plan, would have triggered the need for a Greenlight vote.
June 28, 2018: A tentative agenda published by the Community Development Department indicated the Coastal Development Permit application could be considered by the Zoning Administrator as early as the June 28, 2018, meeting.
May 1, 2017: City receives planning application PA2017-091 for a new Coastal Development Permit to replace the expired one allowing construction of the Golf Realty proposal for the Tennis Club resort.
April 27, 2017: As Item 4 on his agenda, the City’s Zoning Administrator reviewed the Development Agreement for the Tennis Club renovation, DA2008-001. As the staff report indicates, the Coastal Development Permit for the Tennis Club, previously approved by the Coastal Commission, had been allowed to expire, and a new one would be needed before any construction could take place.
Prior Time Line:
April 25, 2014: “CDD Director” approves eliminating frontage road from golf club improvements (Staff Approval No. SA2014-003)
April 10, 2013: As Item W18b, the California Coastal Commission approves a Coastal Development Permit for the Golf Realty Tennis Club proposal. The approval does not mention or appear to include the Development Agreement, despite the Gov. Code Sec. 65869 requirement for CCC approval of agreements made in jurisdictions not having a fully certified Local Coastal Program.
December 12, 2012: As Item W11a (postponed from Item W7b on September 12, 2012, and Item Th20c on October 11, 2012), the California Coastal Commission approves a Coastal Development Permit for a new 69,088 sq. ft. golf facility (this did not include consideration of the Tennis Club proposal).
March 27, 2012: Council completes second reading of ordinances.
March 13, 2012: Council adopts some resolutions and re-introduces various ordinances related to the Golf Realty application.
February 28, 2012: Council continues second readings of Golf Realty matters to March 13.
February 14, 2012: Council completes second reading of IBC Development Agreement, but continues Golf Realty second readings to February 28.
January 24, 2012: City Council conditionally accepts Planning Commission recommendation from November 17, 2011, adopting Resolution No. 2012-10 approving a conversion of 17 tennis courts to 27 hotel rooms. The earlier staff memo to the Planning Commission explaining this would require a General Plan amendment was include as Attachment CC15 to the Item 14 staff report. Resolution No. 2012-10 is said to include approval of a Vesting Tentative Map, but the rights it might convey are unknown since the map is is not attached to the resolution and the page where the map was supposed to appear in the Clerk’s archive of Item 14 seems to be blank, as well.
November 17, 2011: Planning Commission recommends Council approve IBC plan for golf clubhouse and Golf Realty plan for Tennis Club.
- A major point of contention, and major reason for selecting the club’s proposal for the new Golf Clubhouse over the O Hill plan (see Planning Commission action report submitted to the City Council as Item 14 on November 22, 2011) was the retention of the frontage road to the Armstrong Nursery along Pacific Coast Highway. Months after the club’s plan was approved by the Council (and by the Coastal Commission), the frontage road was quietly deleted by a “staff approval” (see April 25, 2014).
- Regarding the Golf Realty proposal, City staff argued (see page 3 of the Item 2 staff report and Attachment PC4) that conversion of voter-approved tennis courts to hotel rooms required a General Plan amendment. The Planning Commission rejected staff’s analysis and recommended the conversion as a creative workaround to the applicant’s inability to move voter-approved hotel room allocations from elsewhere in Newport Center.
August 11, 2009: City Council, as Item 27 on agenda, adopts Resolution No. 2009-60 rescinding Resolution 2009-2 (which had initiated a General Plan amendment for the proposed tennis and golf club expansions), saying the competing applicants would need to make separate requests to initiate General Plan amendments.
January 27, 2009: City Council, as Item 6 on agenda, adopts Resolution No. 2009-2 initiating a General Plan amendment for the proposed tennis and golf club expansions.
July 28, 2008: City receives planning application PA2008-152 from golf course lessee, International Bay Clubs (the operator of the Balboa Bay Club), for General Plan amendment to allow larger clubhouse.
May 8, 2007: City Council, as Item 21 on agenda, adopts Resolution No. 2007-32 appointing committee of Mayor Rosansky and Mayor Pro Tem Selich to negotiate development agreement allowing construction of “32 dwelling units (5 single-family dwelling units and 27 short-term rental units) that would be drawn from the 450 dwelling units allocated for Newport Center in the General Plan.”
June 20, 2005: City receives planning application PA2005-140 for renovation of Newport Beach Country Club, including construction of a new tennis club resort and a rebuild of the golf clubhouse.
- Deal to sell Balboa Bay Club final, Orange County Register, June 4, 2012 (includes lease to golf portion of Newport Beach Country Club)
- Newport council agrees with Planning Commission recommendation, Daily Pilot, January 25, 2012 (compromise development plan adopted, need for General Plan amendment for tennis portion not mentioned)
- Clubhouse options head to council, Daily Pilot, December 21, 2011
- Balboa Bay Club, Newport Beach Country Club sold, Daily Pilot, August 05, 2011 (sale of Bay Club’s interest in golf lease announced, but later falls through)
- Facelift, new spa sought for aging country club, Daily Pilot, September 20, 2010 (O Hill plan going to planning commission)
- Country club face-lift faces obstacles, Daily Pilot, March 13, 2007 (City staff insists General Plan amendment needed for bungalows proposal)
- Land Deal Enhances Newport Country Club’s Future, Daily Pilot, November 24, 1992 (land sold from Irvine Company to O Hill Properties, golf lease continues to be held by Balboa Bay Club)
- City’s case log for CDP application (PA2017-091, not always accurate or up to date)