Watch List

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 proposals that are currently of special concern to SPON, and explains why.  For former Watch List items, see our Watch List Archives page.

2607 Ocean Blvd (Corona del Mar bluff face residence appeal)
3200 Ocean Blvd (variance requests)
Balboa Theater
General Plan Update / SPON GPAC
Harbor Pointe Senior Living
John Wayne Airport
Koll Center Residences
Local Coastal Program Amendments
Newport Crossings (Airport Area apartment proposal)
Newport Dunes Hotel
Newport Village (Mariners Mile project)
Port Master Plan
Tennis Club (Eastbluff)
Tennis Club (Newport Center)
Vivante Senior Housing

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

Planning Commission videos
Additional Watch List resources

2607 Ocean Blvd . . . as of August 2018
Coastal Commission finds “substantial issue” — full hearing to follow

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. The City rejected an appeal of the issuance of the Coastal Development Permit to the City Council, but it has been appealed to the California Coastal Commission. A hearing for the CCC to consider accepting the appeal was set for March 7 in Oxnard, however the item was postponed.  That question was finally resolved at the Commission’s August 10 meeting in Redondo Beach (Item F22a) where the Commission unanimously agreed with their staff that the appeal raised substantial issues of statewide significance.  A full hearing will be held before the CCC at a date to be announced . . . more here.

3200 Ocean Blvd . . . as of September 2018
September 25 Council review of Planning Commission approval POSTPONED

This application for a proposed home replacement on the inland side of Ocean Boulevard in Corona del Mar is troubling from the standpoint of the community’s concern regarding “mansionization.”  Most of that occurs when property owners choose to develop to the maximum limits allowed by the zoning code.  In this case, the Planning Commission approved a proposal that goes beyond even the normally allowed limits, and on a lot with nothing particularly peculiar about it.  Council member Jeff Herdman has asked for the City Council to review that decision.  A hearing was scheduled for September 25, but has been postponed to an indefinite date . . . more here.

Balboa Theater . . . as of March 2018
Plan to enlarge long-vacant Peninsula theater based on possibly expired permitting

An application has been submitted to remodel and reopen the long-vacant Balboa Theater at 707 E. Balboa Blvd, adding an all new (and non-historic) rooftop dining feature far exceeding the long-established 35-foot maximum height limit in the Shoreline Area.  Approval was taken “off calendar” with City staff now claiming approvals granted by the Coastal Commission in 2011 are still “effective.”  It is not clear if Coastal Commission staff agrees with that. . . more here.

General Plan Update . . . as of April 2019
Steering Committee awaiting responses to RFP

Although $1 million was budgeted for a General Plan Update in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2018, the City Council announced it would, instead, concentrate on promoting a Port Master Plan — an effort that has also since been abandoned. The GPU effort resumed on January 8,  2019, when the City Council heard staff’s latest proposal at an afternoon study session.  That proposal was to conduct the GPU in three phases, the first year being devoted to public outreach overseen by a five-member citizens Steering Committee, who were also to help write the request of proposals from consultants to guide the work and recommend which one to hire. On January 22, the Council adopted a resolution creating the Steering Committee, the members of which were selected by the Mayor from among 39 applications received by noon on January 30. The Mayor’s selections were announced and confirmed on February 12, with a public outreach meeting the following night. The two new members were added at the March 12 City Council meeting. The Steering Committee held its first noticed meeting on February 20 at which it recommended restricting the initial consultant to handling the public outreach (“listen and learn”) portion of the process. It signed off on the RFP on March 20, met again on April 3, and will be reconvening on May 1 to review the responses to the RFP from potential consultants, which are due by April 26. While the City was punting on the General Plan Update in 2017-2018, SPON formed its own citizens General Plan Advisory Committee, both to create a better informed populace and to generate independent ideas for improvement of the present General Plan. The last SPON GPAC workshop was held on January 12, 2019 . . .  more here.

Harbor Pointe Senior Living . . . as of February 2019
Council approves project

An Environmental Impact Report has been circulated for public review of this proposal to build a four-story, 121-bed assisted living facility at the current site of the Kitayama Restaurant on South Bristol, near Jamboree.  Comments on the EIR were due by September 28.  A Planning Commission study session on the project was held on September 13. At their December 6 meeting they recommended the City Council approve the application, and the County’s Airport Land Use Commission found the project consistent with airport planning on January 17.  The project’s final hurdle was approval by the City Council, which was unanimously granted at its February 12 meeting. . . more here.

John Wayne Airport . . . as of April 2019
Board of Supervisors to decide on General Aviation “Improvement” Program

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 and has held several community forums to air JWA issues.  SPON recently refused to agree to change the definition of “commuter” planes in the Settlement Agreement (to which SPON is a signatory). Meanwhile, the JWA has completed an Environmental Impact Report for the planned General Aviation Improvement Program. The City’s Aviation Committee discussed the GAIP, among other things, on November 5, and again on March 4. And it was discussed at a well-attended JWA Town Hall held by Mayor Dixon and  Supervisor Michelle Steel in the Newport Beach Community Room on April 6. The City’s Aviation Committee last met on April 15. The Board of Supervisors expected to act on the GAIP on May 7, after the County’s Aviation Commission makes a recommendation on May 1. Meanwhile, the last JWA Quarterly Noise Meeting was held on March 20.  The next will be on June 19, 2019 . . . more here.

Koll Center Residences . . . as of January 2019
EIR released – PC study session held on January 31

This is a proposal to build three high-rise (roughly 150 foot) residential condominium towers containing a total of 260 units in the existing street-level parking lots of the Airport Area office park adjacent to Uptown Newport (at the intersection of Birch and Von Karman, south of the courthouse). SPON and many neighboring business owners feel the proposal is out of character for the area. A Draft Environmental Impact Report was released for public review in September 2017 with comments due back by November 13. A study session regarding the project began before the Planning Commission on January 18, 2018, but was interrupted and continued to a future date while City staff sorts through which of the Commissioners need to be “recused” from the discussion due to financial conflicts of interest. At a special September 13 meeting, the conflicted Commissioners “drew lots” to select one to join the three unconflicted ones, thereby assembling a quorum.  The long-awaited study session was re-announced for November 8. However it had to be cancelled when one of the three unconflicted commissioners resigned, unexpectedly, due to health reasons.  A replacement has been appointed and the study session was finally held on January 31. . .  more here.

Local Coastal Program Amendments . . . as of March 2019
Changes requested by City being approved by Coastal Commission

Following a many-years process, the City finally obtained certification of its  Local Coastal Program  effective January 30, 2017, and has since been using it to issue Coastal Development Permits.  Almost immediately, the City began requesting changes to the LCP.  SPON has been  concerned about many of these requests, including a proposal, which seems to have been at least partially abandoned, to exempt “planned communities” from the City’s traditional height limits. Nonetheless, a large and somewhat confusing array of requests for changes from the City remains before the Coastal Commission, with Commission staff having been granted extensions of time to respond to most.  Some of the “clean-up” amendments, and a request to modify the boundary of the appeals area, were heard and accepted, with modifications, at the Commission’s July 11 meeting in Scotts Valley (Santa Cruz County). Meanwhile, a request to expand the scope of the City’s Categorical Exclusion Order (for residential construction) was approved as Item F21a on the August 10 CCC agenda in Redondo Beach and accepted by the City Council on September 11.  Setback map corrections were on the September agenda, and new provisions regarding Accessory Dwelling Units were considered as Item 15b on the October 12 CCC agenda. Some of the more controversial changes involving height limits and the City’s authority to deviate from the CCC’s certified development standards were approved, with modifications, on a 9:3 vote as Item 24b when the Coastal Commission met in Newport Beach on December 12, 2018.  The City Council accepted the modified amendments at its February 12, 2019, meeting, with final adoption scheduled for February 26.   The City’s latest proposal for an LCP amendment resurrects a plan, shelved since 2015, to exempt most resident-serving businesses in Balboa Village from the general citywide requirement to provide off-street parking.  That amendment is currently available for public review.  On February 21, the Planning Commission recommended the City Council submit it to the Coastal Commission.  According to the most recent notice, the City Council will consider the matter on April 9, 2019. . . more here.

Newport Crossings . . . as of March 2019
Feb. 21 Planning Commission approval appealed to City Council

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 is 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, 2017. A public Scoping Meeting was held on November 16. Comments on the scope of the EIR were due by November 30, 2017.  The draft EIR was released for public review on November 30, 2018, with comments due by January 14, 2019.  The Planning Commission held a Study Session on the project on December 6, 2018. The Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission reviewed the park plan and recommended approval on February 5, 2019. The Planning Commission approved the project on February 21. However, that action has been appealed to the City Council . . . more here.

Newport Dunes Hotel . . . as of November 2018

The on-again/off-again plans for this resort hotel appear to be on again, with recent lease agreement changes having been approved by the County Board of Supervisors, and an application having been received by the City, which is seeking a contractor to prepare an Environmental Impact Report.  Although City Council action on the award of the contract was on their July 10, 2018, agenda, with a recommendation for approval, the item was withdrawn without explanation. It came back and was approved on the November 27 agenda. . .  more here.

Newport Village . . . as of January 2019
Revised application submitted for large “mixed use” project on Mariners Mile

An application redevelop 11 acres of largely open and storage areas flanking Pacific Coast Highway in Mariner’s Mile was submitted to the City on December 4, 2017. As described on a City web page, revised plans, still incomplete, were submitted on November 20, 2018,  Those call for 14 condos above offices on the waterfront, 108 apartments on the inland parcel, and, between the two, a total of 121,370 square feet of office, boat sales, vehicle sales, retail, and restaurant uses. On October 18, prior to the submission of the new plans, the Planning Commission heard an application to convert an existing office building on the inland side into a luxury used car sales operation.  That was approved on November 8 . . . more here.

Port Master Plan . . . as of April 2018
Council shelves bid to add Newport Beach to list of California’s commercial seaports

Primarily at the behest of Council members Duffield (now “recused” from the matter) and Peotter, a bill (AB2464) was introduced in Sacramento, without review by the Council, that would add a “Port of Newport Beach” to the list of deepwater commercial seaports recognized in California’s Coastal Act. It is claimed that this would relieve an administrative bottleneck by allowing the City to approve permits for on-water activities, such as dredging and dock construction, that currently require Coastal Commission approval, and that this is the best approach for doing so.  At their March 27, 2018, meeting the Council engaged paid lobbyists to promote the bill which, it was revealed without prior notice, is now actually a different bill, AB1196.  On April 12, the California Coastal Commission took a formal position opposing AB-1196, likely killing any chance of its passage (video of the meeting, item starts at 1:41:20).  Reacting to this, at its April 24 meeting, the City Council directed staff to shelve the effort, and revisit the City’s options for the harbor at some time in the future. No further action on this is expected until at least after the start of the new fiscal year on July 1. . . . more here.

Newport Beach Tennis Club (Eastbluff) . . . 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.

Tennis Club (Newport Center) . . . as of November 2018
Coastal Development Permit approved

This project to create a stadium tennis resort at the current site of 24 tennis courts on the grounds of the Newport Beach Country Club was approved by the City Council in 2012.  It currently needs a Coastal Development Permit to begin construction.  The problem is that when combined with the expanded new NBCC golf clubhouse, the amount of development added to the General Plan exceeds the limits that should have required a Greenlight vote.  To complete the project, the applicant needs a Coastal Development Permit and subdivision tract maps.  The permit was approved at a special Zoning Administrator meeting on November 20 . . .  more here.

Vivante Senior Housing . . . as of April 2019
Planning Commission study session on April 18

This proposal to build a six-story, 153-bed assisted living facility at the site of the Orange County Museum of Art in Newport Center moved onto SPON’s Watch List when it was noticed that the applicants are requesting a General Plan amendment.  The OCMA property was the location of the controversial Museum House condo tower proposal, and SPON had been told an assisted living facility was completely compatible with the existing land use designation, and could be built with no changes to it.  The applicants now seem to be seeking a different designation that could accommodate a wider variety of uses, similar to that requested for  the Museum House.  The City’s Planning Commission is expected to give the project a first look at a special 5:30 p.m. study session on April 18 . . . 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 took over responsibility for recording and posting the meetings.  Those can be found in the City PC video archive.    Read more . . .

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 Lists and Presentations
    • “Citywide Project Update” by Community Development Director Semione Jurjis at Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce’s Wake Up! Newport breakfast meeting on September 6, 2018:  PowerPoint and YouTube video
    • Sample projects (and planning process) as presented at Planning Division Open House, February 2018 (projects start on page 35)
    • Project list as presented at the January 14, 2017 City Council planning session ( video also available)
    • Project list as presented at the January 23, 2016 City Council strategic planning meeting (note: there does not appear to be any recording available of this meeting)
  • CEQA Cumulative Projects List   (most recently updated 12/12/2017)
    • 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 and Pending Applications — the “Case Log”
    • 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 currently appear at the top of the list.
    • Some applications require public hearings to be approved, others do not.
    • When a public hearing is required, it will be preceded by a published hearing notice (usually 10 days before the hearing), and then, at least three days before the hearing, by an agenda (usually accompanied by “staff reports” detailing the particulars of the application and making a recommendation to the decision makers).
    • To receive an email from the City when a hearing is set, sign up for e-notification here.
  • Public hearings, agendas and staff reports
    • Notices and agendas of upcoming public meetings, including those at which formal hearings will be conducted, and the staff reports and recommendations related to them, are posted on the City’s Legistar/Granicus website (to see all, be sure to select “All Years” and “All Meeting Bodies” in the drop-down boxes).
    • In addition to the Case Log and official hearing announcements, 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 (on Legistar/Granicus), and almost always archived in the permanent records of the meetings.
      • The tentative agenda distributed at the March 12, 2019, City Council meeting is posted here, and the one from the March 7, 2019, Planning Commission meeting here.
    • For email notification from the City when hearing notices and agendas are posted, sign up for e-notification here.
    • After public hearings have been completed, the staff reports, meeting materials, videos, minutes and resulting resolutions of approval or denial (but not the notices) are eventually posted to the Archived Meetings site within the City’s Laserfiche document system.
  • Approvals without public hearings
    • The municipal code gives Planning Division employees authority to grant “staff approvals” for certain kinds of discretionary applications.
    • Those decisions are posted online weekly, on Fridays, in the Administrative Approvals folder (along with the decisions rendered by the Zoning Administrator — which are made at a public hearing, but by a City employee rather than by a body of elected or appointed citizens).  Each includes a statement of the time in which the staff decision can be appealed to a higher body.
    • Planning Division staff as also recently started posting a running list of the residential building applications in the Coastal Zone that it has deemed exempt from the requirement for a Coastal Development Permit as a result of the City’s Categorical Exclusion Order.  That list is here.  In theory, staff’s decisions on this can be challenged.

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

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