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 February 2018
City involvement delayed to 2019, SPON GPAC continues

Although $1 million was budgeted for a General Plan Update in fiscal year 2017-18, the City Council has put the brakes on that frequently delayed effort, with no City involvement now expected until 2019. Meanwhile, SPON has taken it upon itself to form 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 next SPON GPAC workshop is planned for February 24. . . more here.


Balboa Theater . . . as of January 2018
Application being processed to reopen long-vacant Peninsula theater

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, but approval has been taken “off calendar” . . . more here.


Newport Village . . . as of December 2017
Application submitted for large “mixed use” project on Mariners Mile

An application for this project to 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. The plans reportedly call for 175 new residential units, 240,650 square feet of office, retail and restaurant uses, and a 75-boat marina, as well as a new signalized intersection . . . more here.


Koll Center Residences . . . as of January 2018
EIR released – awaiting PC study session

This is a proposal to build three high-rise (roughly 150 foot) residential condominium towers with 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 before the Planning Commission began 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 . . . . more here.


2607 Ocean Blvd … as of January 2018
Approved by Planning Commission; appeal to Coastal Commission pending

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 . . . 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.


John Wayne Airport . . . as of December 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 December 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, 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, 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.


Harbor Pointe Senior Living . . . as of January 2018
Waiting for EIR

An Environmental Impact Report was to be 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, but it appears that effort was placed on hold while revised plans, which were submitted to the City in October, were prepared.  On January 23, 2018, the Council will be asked to authorize additional costs (to be paid by the applicant) and a one year extension for preparation of the EIR . . . 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 . . . 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.  Meanwhile plans have been submitted for a large private development proposed to be called Newport Village . . . 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 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 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
    • Notices and agendas of upcoming public meetings, including those at which formal hearings will be conducted, 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).  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.
    • 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 January 9, 2018, City Council meeting is posted here, and the one from the January 18 Planning Commission meeting here.
  • Make your views known!  (helpful contacts)

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