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.
General Plan Update . . . as of June 2017
First year budget approved
The City is widely expected to begin a review and revision of the General Plan in the current fiscal year, starting July 2017. City Planning staff recently distributed a flyer outlining a proposed structure and timeline for the update, and funding for the first years’ effort was approved as part of the budget adoption process in June. Given the results of a similar effort to update the Land Use Element (ending with Measure Y in 2014), SPON will be watching closely . . . more here.
Local Coastal Program Amendments . . . as of July 2017
Changes submitted by City Council to Coastal Commission
SPON is very concerned about proposed changes to the City’s recently certified Local Coastal Program. Most troubling, the original proposal exempted parcels declared to be “planned communities” from the City’s traditional height limits. They also contained serious drafting errors. Nonetheless, on May 4 a seemingly uninterested Planning Commission perfunctorily passed them on to the City Council. At a July 11 hearing, The 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, the Oceanfront Encroachment part. 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.
Koll Center Residences . . . as of September 2017
EIR released – comments due October 27
A Draft Environmental Impact Report has been released, with public comments due by October 27, 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). SPON, and many neighboring business owners, feel the proposal is out of character for the area. . . . more here.
Newport Pointes . . . as of June 2017
Application received for Airport-area project
This proposal, called Newport Crossings in the Planning Division’s case log and Newport Pointes in their Cumulative Projects List, 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 follow-on to 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. Nothing more about this latest incarnation is known at the moment.
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.
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 . . . 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
- 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. The most recent applications have the highest numbers and appear at the end of the list.
Previous Watch List Items available on our Watch List Archives page here.
Stop Polluting Our Newport (SPON) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit public education organization working to protect and preserve the residential and environmental qualities of