Watch List

It’s rare that numerous proposals potentially affecting the quality of life in Newport Beach — for better or worse — aren’t in “the pipeline” awaiting City approval.  So many, in fact, it’s hard to keep track of them all.

This page highlights a few that are currently of special concern to SPON, and why.

Additional resources are given at the end, including links to the City Planning Division’s own more extensive Case Log and Cumulative Projects List.

General Plan Update . . . as of December 2017
City Council kick-off delayed

In June, the City Council allocated funding for the first year of what is expected to be a multi-year review and revision of the City’s General Plan. City Planning staff announced the GP Update effort would kick off at the November 14 City Council meeting, however the Council preferred a slower and more thoughtful approach, the details of which remain to be determined.  On December 11, the SPON Board sent the City a letter urging the Council to reverse course and immediately initiate the GPU.  City staff is expected to update the City Council on their plans at the Council’s January 9 meeting, and will likely suggest holding public outreach meetings starting in February.  Whatever happens, given the results of the effort to update the Land Use Element that ended with Measure Y in 2014, SPON will be watching closely.  As part of that watchfulness, after hearing the City update, SPON will hold a third meeting of its own GPAC study group  . . . more here.

Koll Center Residences . . . as of November 2017
EIR released – awaiting PC study session

A Draft Environmental Impact Report has been released for this proposal to build three high-rise residential condominium towers in existing office parking lots in the Airport Area parcel adjacent to Uptown Newport (at intersection of Birch and Von Karman, south of the courthouse). The period for submitting formal public comments ended on November 13. SPON and many neighboring business owners feel the proposal is out of character for the area.  A study session regarding the project before the Planning Commission is set for January 18, 2018.  . . . . more here.

2607 Ocean Blvd … as of December 2017
Variances approved by Planning Commission at December 7 Hearing

This application for what many consider to be an oversized (for the lot), out-of-character and view-blocking new residence on the lot adjacent to the top of the China Cove Ramp went before the Planning Commission at a hearing which began on November 9 and was continued to December 7.  A slightly reduced proposal, still requiring variances from the City’s accepted development standards, was approved at that time, and the decision will become final unless appealed to the City Council  . . . more here.

Newport Crossings . . . as of November 2017
EIR being prepared for additional large Airport Area housing project

This proposal is for 350 rental units and 7,500 square feet of retail on the 5.7-acre Airport Area property known as MacArthur Square — the shopping center that housed Arnie’s Deli, Il Barone and others). It appears to be a revision of the The Residences at Newport Place proposal for 384 units at the same site, which was rejected by both the Planning Commission and the City Council in 2016. A Notice of Preparation for an Environmental Impact Report was posted on November 1. A public Scoping Meeting was held on November 16 and comments on the scope of the EIR are due by November 30 . . . more here.

Harbor Pointe Senior Living . . . as of February 2017
Waiting for EIR

The Environmental Impact Report is currently being prepared for a proposal to build a four-story, 121-bed assisted living facility at the current site of the Kitayama Restaurant on South Bristol, near Jamboree . . . more here.

John Wayne Airport . . . as of September 2017
With growing number of noise complaints, City takes renewed interest

The threat that JWA poses to the quality of life in Newport Beach has been on SPON’s radar almost since SPON’s inception.  With mounting citizen complaints, the City appears to have taken a renewed interest. . . . more here.

Local Coastal Program Amendments . . . as of October 2017
Changes submitted by City Council to Coastal Commission

SPON has been very concerned about proposed changes to the City’s recently certified Local Coastal Program. Most troubling, was the proposal to exempt “planned communities” from the City’s traditional height limits. The proposals also contained serious drafting errors. On July 11, 2017, he Council forwarded to the California Coastal Commission most of the so-called “clean-up” portion of the amendments, but minus the most controversial height changes, and at the July 25 meeting, added the Oceanfront Encroachment part. Parts were repackaged and resubmitted on September 12, with the the previously-submitted “minor” parts to be heard by the Coastal Commission on November 9 — but that hearing was continued as a result of concerns about some of the amendments not truly being “minor.”  Meanwhile the City has separately initiated efforts to incorporate the regulations for the coastal portion of Newport Coast (currently overseen by the County) into the LCP . . . more here.

Museum House Project . . . as of June 2017
Council repeals Museum Tower approvals, litigation follows

Despite strenuous opposition, the City Council, at a November 29, 2016, special meeting, approved the land use change making possible this proposal for a 25-story, 295 foot tall, 100 unit condo tower to replace the one story Orange County Museum of Art in Newport Center. SPON strongly supported the referendum effort mounted to demand that that controversial decision be repealed or put to a citywide public vote. In just two weeks, Line in the Sand PAC, and its supporters and friends, managed to collect nearly 14,000 signatures — despite persons and entities affiliated with the developer doing all they could to create confusion and miscues about the process. Although the technical validity of the LITS petition has been challenged in court by the developer/museum, at its February 14, 2017, meeting, the Council certified that the requisite number of signatures had be gathered, at their February 28 meeting they chose to rescind their November 29 approval rather than hold an expensive public election, and at their March 14 meeting they completed the repeal.

LITS was unsuccessful with a so-called “anti-SLAPP” motion seeking to promptly dismiss OCMA’s legal challenge to the petition, but has appealed that ruling. Nothing with regard to the main case is expected to happen until the appeal is resolved, which is likely to take many months, with . . . more here.

Mariners’ Mile Revitalization Master Plan . . . as of July 2017
Last Community Workshop held,  Draft Plan shelved for now

Mariners Mile has been identified by City staff as an area needing “revitalization.” With completion of a study evaluating roadway capacity requirements for West Coast Highway, the City is evaluating existing land use policies and regulations. Three public workshops regarding future plans for the area have been held, following which an outside consultant prepared a “Master Plan” for the area’s “revitalization.”  The draft Plan was reviewed by the Planning Commission at a study session, and was awaiting a formal recommendation by them.  However, on July 18, 2017, in response to public criticism, City staff announced that the Plan was being “withdrawn.”  It may be reconsidered as part of the wider General Plan Update process, or after the latter is completed . . . more here.

Newport Beach Tennis Club . . . as of April 2017
Community awaiting possible application

The Newport Beach Tennis Club and swim facility occupies 7.6 acres at 2601 Eastbluff Drive, adjacent to the “Ralphs” shopping center.  Neighbors have heard rumors that the land owner has been approached by a foreign developer interested in purchasing the property and turning it into residential condominiums,  A more recent rumor is that the property has indeed changed hands, but the new owner plans to maintain it as a tennis club (at least for now) . . . more here.

Banning Ranch . . . as of March 30, 2017
Coastal Commission denies & Cal Supreme Court overturns City approval

Banning Ranch is the last and the largest parcel of privately owned coastal open space remaining in Orange County. Its 400 acres are located at the mouth of the Santa Ana River, nestled between Newport Beach, Huntington Beach and Costa Mesa. On September 7, 2016, at the conclusion of a long and contentious hearing held here in Newport Beach, the California Coastal Commission voted 9 to 1 to deny the application for development of the site.  Subsequent to that, on March 30, 2017, the California Supreme Court concluded longstanding litigation with the issuance of a unanimous ruling that the City’s earlier environmental review had been inadequate and misleading, effectively invalidating the City’s approvals of an even larger project in 2012.  . . . more here.

Planning Commission Meeting Videos here!

From March 3, 2016, though January 19, 2017, SPON, at its own expense, recorded and posted the Newport Beach Planning Commission meetings for public review.  You can watch them on SPON’s YouTube channel.  Starting February 9, 2017, the city has finally taken over responsibility for recording and posting the meetings.   Read more here . . .

And that’s not all . . .
There are several comprehensive documents on the city’s website which capture a multitude of projects, both approved and proposed, that will give you a more complete picture of development in Newport Beach.

  • Key Private Sector Projects List
    • As presented at the January 2017 City Council planning session (note:  video also available)
    • As presented at the January 2016 City Council strategic planning meeting
  • CEQA Cumulative Projects List   (most recently updated 6/13/2017)
    • Updated by city staff as new Environmental Impact Reports are prepared
    • The actual California Environmental Quality Act documentation for individual projects is online here.
  • New Applications
    • New applications can be monitored by following the Planning Division’s Case Log (also available in an older format with additional “filters”).  The most recent applications have the highest numbers and appear at the end of the list.
  • Public hearings
    • In addition to the Case Log, anticipated dates of public hearings can be found in the tentative agendas distributed at most City Council and Planning Commission meetings. During those meetings, tentative agenda dates for future meetings are usually available in hard copy format in the City Council Chambers lobby.  They are sometimes posted with the “live” meeting materials, and almost always archived in the permanent records of the meetings.  The tentative agenda distributed at the December 7, 2017, Planning Commission meeting is posted here.

Previous Watch List Items available on our Watch List Archives page here.


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