As with so many important movements, SPON started with a small group of people who gathered together to discuss a problem in their community. In 1974, the problem residents were concerned about was the alarming amount of trash that had accumulated in the Upper Newport Bay. To address the issue, community leaders formed Stop Polluting Our Newport, and organized residents to remove the trash and return the Bay to its pristine state.
In the late 1970’s, SPON turned its attention to increasing automobile traffic and worked with the City of Newport Beach to implement a Traffic Phasing Ordinance that required all new developments to take traffic into account and adjust their plans accordingly.
The 1980’s saw SPON focusing on John Wayne Airport’s increasing noise impacts. SPON teamed up with the City of Newport Beach and the Airport Working Group (AWG) and filed a lawsuit against the County of Orange which resulted in the 1985 Settlement Agreement. The Agreement provides nighttime curfews, limits daily departures, and provides an annual passenger cap for commercial aircraft.
In the 1990’s, SPON spent countless hours touring the Bay to identify the source of nitrates polluting the water. The regulation that resulted from this work stopped treated wastewater from being drained into the Bay. Today, the City’s Water Quality Committee monitors the cleanliness of the Bay and our beaches.
In the 2000’s, SPON sponsored the Greenlight Initiative. This slow growth ordinance requires voter approval for developments that have a significant effect on Newport Beach – a powerful mechanism to give residents a voice.
In 2010, SPON began the Green Vision Project to identify and preserve open space. This resulted in efforts to protect the Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve and saw SPON partner with the Banning Ranch Conservancy to save 400 acres of open space.
In 2014, SPON successfully passed Measure Y which prevented one million square feet of new office space, retail, commercial, and high-density residential development in Fashion Island.
The 2020’s are presenting important new challenges, including providing affordable housing. To that end, SPON is working with developers to create a Land Trust. Through this Trust, the partners aim to develop high quality affordable housing for individuals who work in our City, yet cannot afford to live or own property in Newport Beach.
The most immediate challenge facing SPON and our community, is the expiration of the landmark 1985 Settlement Agreement which protects the community from John Wayne Airport’s impacts. As the only signatory to the Agreement that represents members of the community at large, SPON is preparing for the re-negotiation of the Agreement to ensure the terms remain in place and to prevent any possible future airport expansion.
SPON will continue its mission to advocate for residents and preserve the character and qualities that make Newport Beach a truly special place to live, work and raise a family.