Watch List Archives

Watch List Archives

This is a summary of projects and issues that SPON has watched, and continues to watch, but which currently appear to be in either a “resolved” or inactive state.

See the current Watch List for the more active listings.

150 Newport Center (“Car Wash” project)
3200 Ocean Blvd (variance requests)
Affordable Housing
Back Bay Landing
Banning Ranch development proposal (see also: habitat destruction and water supply proposal)
City Manager replacement
Corona del Mar High School stadium project
Harbor Pointe Senior Living
Local Coastal Program Implementation Plan
Mariners Mile Revitalization Master Plan
Museum House project
Newport Coast General Plan ‘correction’
Newport Crossings (Airport Area apartment proposal)
Port Master Plan
Sale of St. James the Great Episcopal Church
The Residences at Newport Place  (replaced by Newport Crossings)
Vivante Senior Housing


3200 Ocean Blvd . . . as of June 2019
Variance application reportedly withdrawn

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 was postponed to an indefinite date.  Apparently the application was later withdrawn . . . more here.


Harbor Pointe Senior Living . . . as of June 2019
Council allows developers to issue tax-free bonds

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. A court challenge, originally threatened by neighboring homeowners associations, does not seem to have materialized.  At its June 11 meeting, the Council unexpectedly authorized the developers to issue $75 million in tax-free bonds. . . more here.


Newport Crossings . . . as of April 2019
Appeal withdrawn; Feb. 21 Planning Commission approval stands

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. Although that action was appealed to the City Council, the appeal was later withdrawn, so the project will presumably be proceeeding . . . more here.


Vivante Senior Housing . . . as of August 2019
Council set to give final approval on September 10

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 gave the project a preliminary look at a special 5:30 p.m. study session on April 18 and on July 18 recommended approval to the City Council. The Council gave preliminary approval at their August 13, 2019, meeting, and is expected to finalize that on September 10 . . . . more here.


City Manager replacement . . . as of November 2018
Former Irvine Asst. City Manager Grace Leung is new CNB Manager as of September 4

On March 25, 2018, residents received the unexpected news that City Manager Dave Kiff planned to leave before the end of the year.  The Council later re-negotiated his contract to end on August 31.  On August 14, the Newport Beach City Council, meeting in closed session, named  City of Irvine Assistant City Manager Grace K. Leung to serve as Manager for Newport Beach beginning Tuesday, September 4.  An informal event honoring the outgoing City Manager was held on the “Civic Green” on August 30. The manager presented her thoughts about the City in a Speak Up Newport talk on November 14 . . .  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.


Museum House Project . . . as of April 2018
Council repeals Museum Tower approvals, settlement likely in OCMA lawsuit

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 initially unsuccessful with a so-called “anti-SLAPP” motion seeking to promptly dismiss OCMA’s legal challenge to the petition, but appealed that ruling. With the appeal pending, OCMA found a potential new buyer for its property (proposing to build a more modest assisted living facility there) and a tentative settlement of OCMA’s lawsuit has been announced . . . 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.


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.


Newport Beach Local Coastal Program Implementation Plan (updated December 7, 2016)
Approved by Coastal Commission — City issuing permits starting January 30, 2017

Certification of this last piece of the City’s Local Coastal Program gives the City the authority to decide if development projects in the Coastal Zone comply with the statewide Coastal Act, or not, and hence, as of January 30, 2017, to issue many permits previously requiring approval by the Coastal Commission.  At its September 8, 2016, meeting here in Newport Beach, the 12 member California Coastal Commission approved a 500+ page set of guidelines worked out between City and Coastal Commission staff.  On November 22, 2016, the City Council adopted the ordinance adding that compromise plan to the City’s Municipal Code.  The Coastal Commission accepted the City’s approval at its December 7th meeting in Ventura …  more here.


150 Newport Center (updated September 27, 2016)
(Fashion Island car wash replacement Project) 
Application withdrawn – back to the drawing board!

The 150 Newport Center Planned Community Development Plan (PCDP) proposal was a plan for a multi-story condo project, with at least 45 units, replacing the one-story Fashion Island Beacon Bay Car Wash. The Planning Commission held a three-part hearing on July 21, August 18 and September 1 resulting in a recommendation of denial.  Proponents withdrew their application moments before the City Council was scheduled to consider the Commission’s recommendation . . . more here.


The Residences at Newport Place (Airport Area) (updated July 26, 2016)
Project denied.  Applicant sent back to drawing board.

The Residences at Newport Place is a proposal to replace a small shopping center, off MacArthur near the airport and home to Arnie’s Deli, Il Barone and others, with 384 residential units.  SPON submitted comments to the Planning Commission on three separate occasions before their June 9 meeting.  At that meeting, the Planning Commission denied the proposal by a 4-1 vote. That decision has now been appealed to the City Council.   . . . more here.


Water Supply for Newport Banning Ranch Development (Updated August 2015)
The Newport Banning Ranch project’s application was recently certified, raising questions about omissions in the application, some of which directly affect water supply . . . Where is the water coming from?   Read more . . .


Petition to Halt Habitat Destruction at Banning Ranch (Updated August 2015): The California Coastal Commission Enforcement Staff has cited the owners of Banning Ranch—Newport Banning Ranch LLC and West Newport Oil Company, the oil field operator—with two major violations of the Coastal Act.  The violations are unpermitted habitat destruction and unpermitted oil field operations. The Banning Ranch Conservancy has initiated a petition asking the California Coastal Commission to permanently halt this habitat destruction and to ensure permanent restoration Read more . . .


Back Bay Landing & Balboa Marina Projects (Updated August 2015): A mixed-use waterfront development project on seven acres at 300 East Coast Highway (PCH and Bayside Dr.) which changes the current parking lot and recreational vehicle storage area to more than 82,742 square feet of office, restaurant and dry-stack boat storage, plus additional residential, parking and view tower structures.  And just one block away, Balboa Marina is slated for a major development project of over 19,000 square feet.  With higher density plans for Mariner’s Mile, traffic grid-lock is still in our future, despite the overwhelmingly opposition and defeat of Ballot Measure Y.   Read more . . .


Affordable Housing in Newport Beach (June 2015)
The Newport Beach Housing Element is a state-mandated element of the City’s General Plan.  The Housing Element evaluates the City’s population, income and housing data and sets forth goals, policies and actions to facilitate future development and preservation of housing for all economic segments within the community.  Read more . . .


Sale of St. James the Great Episcopal Church to Legacy Partners Residential (June 2015)
St. James the Great Episcopal Church in Lido Village has been purchased and developers plan to build 22 high-end townhomes in place of the popular house of worship.  Read more . . .


General Plan Projects Update (5/23/2015):  Mission Accomplished!  The Planning Commission continued Agenda Item #5. . .   Read more . . .


General Plan Projects Update (5/2015):  The May 21 Planning Commission will review a staff report/recommendation to correct a General Plan Land Use “error” which will add 300,000 square feet of hotel entitlement space to Newport Coast.  Read more . . .


Poseidon Desalination Project (4/2014):  Environmentally conscious water solutions make our community sustainable.  On May 14 for the Orange County Water District will conduct a meeting on the Poseidon Desalination Plant.  Read more . . .


General Plan Projects Update (2/2015): During the City Council Annual Planning Session on January 31, an overview of on-the-books and new projects was presented.  It seems that the projects outlined in Measure Y were just the tip of the iceberg and the City continues to persist in “piecemeal” planning.  Read more . . .


Corona del Mar High School Stadium Project (2/2015): The Newport Mesa Unified School District (NMUSD) has funding for $7.4 million of capital improvements earmarked for an artificial [turf ???] field at the current football/track location, new track surface and increased seating for the current 600 to 1,000 total seating capacity.  Private funding (estimated at an additional $6.7 million) would cover additional field lighting, 375 additional seats, a public address system, snack bar, restrooms, press box with elevator and possibly a team room. Read more . . .

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