Category Archives: Watch List

Images of Four Newport Beach Resort Hotels subject to Determination

SPON Appeal of Director’s Determination Regarding Resort Hotels

Appeal of “Director’s Determination” Allowing Construction of Residences in Place of Hotel Rooms — hearing expected on August 24

Latest news: 

The appeal described on this page was noticed for a hearing before the City Planning Commission on July 8. At that hearing, the Planning Commission denied the appeal. SPON has appealed that denial to the City Council. It has been noticed for a hearing on August 24.

Why We Appealed
Recent Events
News Coverage
Helpful Links


On April 30, 2021, City Planning Division staff posted a  “Director’s Determination”  by which the Community Development Director purports to have discovered that, without any need to amend the City’s General Plan, 30% of the current General Plan hotel room limits at four resort hotels can be used alternatively to build permanent dwellings units. The addition of this potential for new dwelling units without counting the newly-allowed units toward the Greenlight thresholds for voter approval, which this claims to do, is a clear evasion of our City Charter.

SPON appealed this “Determination” to the Planning Commission. But, at a July 8 hearing, the Planning Commission denied the appeal, leaving the Determination standingA further appeal to the City Council has been filed.

Why We Appealed:

SPON does not yet have a opinion about the value of hotel to residential conversions in general or as part of the solution to the City’s state-mandated RHNA (Regional Housing Needs Assessment) obligation to provide for 4,845 new homes in the next 10 years.

SPON does object to the process, which allowed a staff person to effectively amend the City’s General Plan ahead of the larger update to meet RHNA that is in progress, and improperly avoid the Greenlight tracking required by our voter-enacted City Charter. In particular, the increase in General Plan housing capacity declared by the Community Development Department’s Director, if properly enacted by the City Council as a General Plan amendment, is, for the Newport Center statistical area, well in excess of the amount that requires voter approval under Charter Section 423 (Greenlight).

Additionally, for hotel conversions to be part of the RHNA solution, there would have to be an assurance that they would lead to construction of affordable units, which is the primary category of housing Newport Beach is struggling with. The staff Determination creates flawed policy in that respect since it contains no obvious requirement that any of the newly allowed resort living units would be in the affordable categories.

City staff’s finding that its Determination is consistent with its state-certified Local Coastal Program is equally flawed. The portion of the City subject to the LCP is divided into an area in which City decisions can be appealed to the California Coastal Commission for further consideration of their consistency with state coastal policy, and an area where they cannot. The Determination is said to apply only to hotels outside the appeal area. It is very difficult to see how what is good and consistent policy outside the appeal area would not also be good and consistent policy inside the appeal area. Especially since the Determination excludes from eligibility the two coastal zone hotels (The Resort at Pelican Hill and the Marriot’s Newport Coast Villas) that seem most readily adaptable to residential resort living, while the single coastal zone hotel it includes (the Newport Beach Marriot at Newport Center) seems much less suitable for residential construction.


The citizens of charter cities are supposed to be able to control what their city government can and cannot do.

Newport Beach citizens adopted a charter in 1954 and in 2000 amended it to include the Greenlight provision, limiting the Council’s ability to add growth potential to the City’s General Plan.  Greenlight counts hotel rooms separately from residential units.

In 2006, a slim majority of voters approved specific General Plan limits for the allowable number of hotel rooms and residences in each of the City’s 50, or so, statistical areas. Any subsequent increases to allowed number of hotel rooms or residences are supposed to counted toward the Greenlight thresholds for what the City Council is permitted to add without voter approval.

This “Determination,” effectively allowing hundreds of new dwelling units to be added to the General Plan without counting any of them toward the Greenlight thresholds, is a clear evasion of Greenlight.

The Determination is particularly problematic with regard to the Newport Center statistical area, because the voter-approved allotment for dwelling units has all been built, and the City Council recently increased that limit by 90 units. Since Greenlight allows the Council to add only 100 units in 10 years without voter approval, should they add a policy allowing previously-approved hotel rooms provide entitlements to build residences it would have to be limited to creating around 10 new units. Any more would have to be placed on a ballot for voters to decide.

Yet, through this Determination, staff is claiming it can add the potential for something like 250 new residential units in the Newport Center statistical area without the Council having to do anything and with no need for voter approval.

As the SPON appeal says, there is something fundamentally wrong with this notion that City staff has greater authority than the Council to make changes to land use policy in Newport Beach.


August 24: date tentatively scheduled for appeal of Planning Commission decision to City Council.

Recent Events

  • July 8, 2021: The City Planning Commission heard SPON’s appeal of the Community Development Department Director’s Determination regarding hotel room to residences conversion, and denied the appeal on a 6:0 vote, with one Commissioner absent. See meeting materials, archived here.
  • May 14, 2021: SPON appealed the Determination to the Planning Commission for an independent decision regarding it.
  • May 6, 2021: Although not legally required, City staff presented the Determination to the Planning Commission as a “receive and file” item at their May 6 meeting.
  • April 30, 2021: Director posted his Determination.

News Coverage

Helpful Links


Newport’s “Greenlight” City Charter Provision

Latest news: 

SPON has appealed a “Directors Determination” issued by City staff on April 30, 2021, and purporting to have discovered that without amending the City’s General Plan, 30% of the current General Plan hotel room limits at four resort hotels can be used alternatively to build permanent dwellings units. SPON believes this is an evasion of Greenlight, for Greenlight treats dwelling units (a residential use) separately from hotel rooms (a non-residential use), and if the City Council had amended the General Plan to incorporate such a policy, the newly-added allowance for dwelling units would count toward the thresholds of what the Council can add without voter approval.  SPON does not believe the Council can avoid this Greenlight counting by asking staff to effectively amend the General Plan for them, while claiming the Council has not actually amended it.

The appeal has been set for a hearing before the Planning Commission on July 8. Should they support staff’s “Determination,” it can be further appealed to the City Council.

Helpful Links


City charters, if adopted, allow the citizens of California cities to define the structure of their city government and what it can do.

California cities are also required by the state to adopt and maintain what are called “general plans.” A general plan is a legally-binding vision of the city’s future, typically looking out 20 to 30 years and stating development limits.  The Newport Beach General Plan divides the city into some 50 geographic sub-areas (called “statistical areas”) and sets limits on the development in each, sometimes on a parcel-by-parcel basis.

Greenlight” refers to a citizen-initiated charter amendment adopted by Newport Beach voters at the November 2000 election, where it appeared as “Measure S.” It is now codified as City Charter Section 423 and supplemented by the City Council’s subsequently-adopted Policy A-18 (Guidelines for Implementing Charter Section 423 (Measure S Guidelines)).

Greenlight is a “slow growth” measure, restricting the amounts by which the city council can increase those general plan development limits over a ten-year period without seeking voter approval. It sets separate limits for how much the Council is free to add, in 10 years, to a statistical area in terms of dwelling units (100), non-residential floor area (40,000 square feet) and traffic increases anticipated as a result of newly allowed development of either type (100 peak hour trips).


Coming soon.

Helpful Links

    • Mailer sent to voters by Greenlight proponents prior to November 2000 election.
    • Pages from November 2000 sample ballot describing Greenlight and providing arguments for and against it.
    • City staff’s Greenlight tracking tables showing General Plan amendments in the last ten years, the amount of potential development added by the amendment, and the remaining amount the Council could add without voter approval.

Nature Preserve Land Sale

Attempted Sale of 0.32 acres of Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve as of September 2022: abandoned sale criticized by Grand Jury, Notices of Violation issued by Coastal Commission and State Lands Commission, but Supervisors refuse to remove private fencing

Latest news:

Without clear announcement, the promised Board discussion of a response to the CCC Notice of Violation came in closed session as Item SCS3 on the Board’s September 13, 2022, supplemental agenda, where it was listed only as “CONFERENCE WITH LEGAL COUNSEL – ANTICIPATED LITIGATION – SIGNIFICANT EXPOSURE TO LITIGATION.”

Similar to the August Notice of Violation from the California Coastal Commission, on September 9, 2022, the California State Lands Commission sent the OC Parks Director a letter informing him the County’s allowing a private fence on public trust land violates the County’s duties as a holder of that trust and ordering its removal. 

As Item S37J at its August 23 meeting, the Board of Supervisors approved a response to the June 9 Grand Jury report stating the County would not comply with requests to remove the fence because they were “unreasonable” and “unwarranted.” They also asked staff to provide a plan to respond to the August 17 CCC notice.

On August 17, 2022, the California Coastal Commission served OC Parks with a Notice of Violation that concurred with the OC Grand Jury findings and asked the County to remove the fence from public land.  

On June 9, 2022, the Orange County Grand Jury issued a scathing report on the attempted land sale and requested removal of the fence before the end of 2022.

On July 8, 2021, in response to a request to move his fence back to his property line, Mr. Johns, the adjacent property owner, through attorneys, sent a letter to the Board of Supervisors threatening a lawsuit and hefty attorney’s fees if the County attempted to proceed with this, as well as a claim for compensation for the public’s use of a dirt trail on another part of his property. Despite the requests for removal of the fence in the petitions, the Board of Supervisors apparently met in closed session on July 13 to discuss Mr. John’s attorney’s threat. The following day, the County’s Chief Real Estate Officer sent a letter to Mr. Johns assuring him the Board has directed County staff to leave the property as it is. On July 28, two residents served the Supervisors with a cure or correct letter seeking to void this improperly-noticed action. With no response from the County a Brown Act violation lawsuit was filed.

Prior to that, in a memo dated May 6, Orange County’s Chief Executive Officer deleted from the Board of Supervisors’ May 11, 2021, agenda the matter originally scheduled as Item 46 — to consider completing the sale to the abutting homeowner of 0.32 acres of Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve land that the County has allowed the homeowner to privately fence in for the last 30 years.  A May 7 newsletter from Supervisor Foley says OC Parks will work to “revoke” the private fencing on public land. SPON had written to the Board of Supervisors expressing its concerns (see also our Letter to the Editor).

Separately, a petition objecting to the sale (available below) was being circulated, and received many more than the 200 signatures of registered Orange County voters needed to block the sale. The circulators reportedly delivered 1,361 petitions to the Board prior to the meeting and an unknown number more were sent directly to them. 

What you can do:

  • Express your concerns about private fencing blocking access to dedicated public trust park land to the Board of Supervisors at:

Project Overview
Why We’re Watching
Recent Events
News Coverage
Helpful Links

Project Overview:

  • The County of Orange proposed to sell to the adjoining homeowner for $13,000 the portion of the Upper Newport Bay Nature Reserve outlined in red in this aerial map prepared by OC Parks (the green tint highlights land donated to the County for park purposes in 1989, accepted by the County as dedicated park land in 1990 and accepted by the state as public trust land in 2004):
OC Parks aerial map of abandonment area and parcel

Click for larger image

The lower parts of the red triangle proposed to be sold are a fence (see, also, title image, above) that has blocked public access (and access by nature) to this piece of land for much of the 30 years it has been part of the Nature Preserve — but the fenced land has always been open and accessible to the adjoining homeowner:

Buck Johns' fence from dirt trail

View from dirt trail – click for larger image

SPON, and many others, sought to prevent the County from completing the sale, and to get the fence relocated to the true property line (which is the curved top of the red triangle) or removed entirely.

The sale was successfully blocked, but the County refuses to take action to remove the fence, effectively leaving the public’s property as part of a private estate.

  • Additional recent photos of the area, including panoramas, can be viewed here.

Why We’re Watching:

  • The preservation for nature and for future human generations of the Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve and Nature Preserve was the culmination of a hard-fought battle over many years. SPON supported and participated in it. We see no reason to give up the fruits of that struggle.
  • This fence around public trust land not only prevents public access to and enjoyment of it, but impedes public conservation efforts and the ability of wildlife to traverse the natural corridor (the green area) to the north of the paved bike and walking trail. It creates a pinch-point in the ecosystem.
Buck Johns' fence from paved trail looking over detention basin

View from paved trail – click for larger image

  • The reasons the homeowner suddenly wants to purchase the property, other than to add value to his private holdings, have not been made clear. But even if they are benign, no deed restriction is being proposed (County Parks officials suggest restrictions on future use would lower the value even below the $13,000). So there is no guarantee future private owners of the triangle would not attempt to develop it.
Buck Johns' fence along detention basin

View from detention basin – click for larger image

  • Even if there were a reason to sell the land, which SPON does not believe there is, the price the County is being asked to accept represents at best a tiny fraction of its true value.
    • The County itself assesses the land value of the extremely similar privately-owned adjacent landlocked 0.36 acre APN 439-051-10 (the quadrangle touching the red triangle at its upper right corner) at $1,186,852. If that is a more accurate valuation, and if this homeowner through this sale were able to establish a “fair market” value of $13,000 for “his” nearly identical parcel, it appears he would be adding roughly $1 million to the future resale value of his land for an annual property tax payment to the County of just $130 (1% of the $13,000 FMV).


  • In the 1960’s and 1970’s, The Irvine Company accumulated property for what they hoped would be an eventual extension of University Drive, connecting Costa Mesa to Irvine along the northern edge of Upper Newport Bay (also known as “the Back Bay”). See The Irvine Company’s land use plan from 1961. The properties acquired for that purpose are represented by the green swath in the County’s aerial map shown above.
  • Among the properties acquired by The Irvine Company was a portion of what they had previous sold to become the privately-owned lot at 2600 Mesa Drive. The southern portion containing the fence in question was evidently deeded back to TIC in late 1970. Parts of the fence may have been erected before The Irvine Company’s purchase, and they may have allowed it to stand after that.
  • The current owner of 2600 Mesa Drive is believed to have purchased that property in 1977, and may have thought it extended to the fence line, even though most of it did not (see the more detailed chronology. for recent additions to the fencing).
  • As a result of public protest and environmental issues, plans for the University Drive extension were eventually dropped. And as a result of litigation and as mitigation for development elsewhere, in 1989, The Irvine Company offered to donate the green swath, and more, to the County as dedicated passive public park land.
  • In 1990, the Board of Supervisors accepted the offer and it became part of the Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve.
  • In 2003, the Board offered the Nature Preserve to the state as public trust land, and the state accepted it in 2004  (see Item 24 from the April 5, 2004, meeting of the State Lands Commission and Section 5 of AB-435).
  • Despite its becoming public park land, and later public trust land, the original fence has continued to stand on it, and, indeed, been expanded.
  • The following visualization prepared with Google Earth, using imagery likely taken in 2018 (before the City of Newport Beach, in cooperation with the neighboring homeowners, built a detention basin to alleviate storm water erosion problems), shows the public land boundary and how the triangle of fenced-in property intrudes into it (note, however, that a small piece of the fence at the top could be moved to the left, over a part of the dirt trail):
    Google Earth visualization of abandonment property (using old imagery)

    Click for larger image

  • Google Street Views allows an exploration of the area’s appearance and the fencing that existed in October 2016, prior the City’s construction of the detention basin:
Google Street View of fence from Bayview Trail (Oct. 2016)

Click for larger image

  • The present-day photo below (taken from the top of the detention basin) shows the location of the Nature Preserve boundary line as currently seen from ground level.  The wood fence in the right foreground runs along the Nature Preserve boundary line and marks the edge of the 0.36-acre  similarly land-locked parcel owned by a different  Mesa Drive homeowner and valued by the County at over $1 million.  The chain-link fence in the far distance is old; but much of that in foreground was added quite recently (part of it since completion of the basin and the City’s filling in of the ravine).
    April 2021 view of abandonment property

    Click for larger image

  • It is also troubling that the official Park Map of the Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve provided by the County to visitors uses the fence as the Preserve’s boundary at this point, making it appear the publicly-owned natural open space pinches down to almost nothing in the vicinity of the detention basin, and that what is north of the fence is private land, not part of the Preserve:

This is not the true boundary of the County-owned lands in the Nature Preserve as shown in green on this OC Public Works Department image from their land records interactive mapping page, which corroborates the green swath shown in the aerial map OC Parks has presented to  the OC Parks Commission and the Board of Supervisors (see Project Overview, above):

OC Public Works map of County portion of Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve

Click for larger image

The correct, and hard-won, boundary needs to be preserved:

we need to Preserve the Preserve!

  • For a more complete chronology, with additional commentary, click here.


    • September 13, 2022: County staff was expected to seek direction from the Board of Supervisors as to how to respond to the California Coastal Commission’s August 17, 2022, Notice of Violation that supported the Grand Jury’s conclusions and requested removal of the unpermitted fence from public land (see video of conclusion of Item S37J from the August 23, 2022, BOS meeting).  County staff’s recommended plan of action will apparently be discussed in closed session as Item SCS3 on the Board’s September 13, 2022, supplemental agenda, where it is listed only as “CONFERENCE WITH LEGAL COUNSEL – ANTICIPATED LITIGATION – SIGNIFICANT EXPOSURE TO LITIGATION.”

Recent Events

  • January 7, 2021: On its monthly agenda, the OC Parks Commission was informed of the proposed sale of a portion of APN 439-051-14 and was asked to make a recommendation about to the Board of Supervisors. The meeting was held by Zoom. No members of the public asked to speak on the matter. In making their decision, the commissioners were not shown, and did not ask to see, any images of the property in question other than the aerial map. The Commission was told by County staff that the adjacent homeowner had previously owned the land in question and was simply reclaiming it from the County. They were also told the Newport Bay Conservancy “supports” the transaction. Neither is correct. The Commission’s final 3:2 vote in favor of the sale was eventually deemed insufficient to make a positive recommendation to the Board of Supervisors. See staff report (see page 12) and video.
  • January 26, 2021: California law has, since 1959, set a high bar against the sale of dedicated county park land. Among other things, it requires any notice of intention to abandon dedicated park land to be approved by unanimous consent of the Supervisors.
    • Despite this, with only four supervisors in office, and no representation from District 2 (in which the property is located), nor a recommendation to proceed from their Parks Commission, the Board adopted, without comment, a resolution of intention to abandon as “unnecessary for park or other county purposes” the 0.32 acres of its Nature Preserve. See agenda packet and video of vote. Chair Do made the motion “on behalf of District 2.”
    • The final vote on the sale was to be taken on April 13.
  • April 13, 2021: The final vote on the sale, which the staff report said would have to be unanimous, was continued to May 11, apparently at the request of newly-elected District 2 Supervisor Katrina Foley. See as Item 45 on the agenda.
  • May 7, 2021: A newsletter from Supervisor Foley says that in response to receipt of more than 790 petitions protesting the sale, she has asked staff to remove the item from the agenda and OC Parks will work to “revoke” the private fencing on public land.
  • May 11, 2021 (vote canceled): Having adopted a “Resolution of Intention,” the final vote to abandon the 0.32 acres of park land and direct County staff to complete its sale to the abutting homeowner had been announced as Item 46 on the Board of Supervisors’ agenda,
    • However, under California’s County Park Abandonment Law of 1959, the supervisors must drop the matter or put the sale to a countywide public vote if they receive a petition objecting to the sale signed by 200 or more registered county voters.
    • Likely 1,000 or more petitions have been presented to the Board’s Clerk.
    • County staff decided to remove the item from the agenda without action, effectively ending the abandonment effort. See May 6 Deletion Memo.
  • July 8, 2021: Having apparently been told to move his fence back to his property line, Mr. Johns, through an attorney, sent a letter to the Board of Supervisors threatening a lawsuit and hefty attorney’s fees if the County attempted to proceed with this, as well as a claim for compensation for the public’s use of a dirt trail on another part of his property.
  • July 13, 2021: The Board of Supervisors may have met in closed session to discussion Mr. Johns’ attorney’s threat of litigation.
  • July 14, 2021:  County of Orange Chief Real Estate Officer Thomas Miller sends Mr. Johns a letter assuring Mr. Johns that the Supervisors have directed County staff to take no action with regard to the fence.
  • July 28, 2021: Two Newport Beach residents (Susan Skinner and James Mosher) serve a “cure or correct” demand on the Board of Supervisors, asking them to void any action taken at the improperly noticed July 13 meeting.
  • September 13, 2021:  Receiving no reply from the County, the residents file an action in OC Superior Court requesting a writ of mandate directing the Board of Supervisors to cure or correct any action taken on July 13 in violation of the Brown Act (Susan Skinner vs Orange County Board of Supervisors, Case No. 30-2021-01220379-CU-WM-CJC).
  • June 9, 2022: The 2021-2022 Orange County Grand Jury issues a report, County Land Transactions: Will the Public Notice?, criticizing the attempted land sale and requiring a response from the County.
  • August 9, 2022: As Item 28 on its regular agenda, the Board of Supervisors is scheduled to approve a response to the Grand Jury report. The proposed response says no errors of any kind were made and the County has no intention of removing the fence, as it would be “unwarranted” and “unreasonable.”  But the item is deleted to allow staff more time to consider the response.
  • August 17, 2022: California Coastal Commission staff sends a Notice of Violation to OC County Parks Director Tom Starnes regarding the fence.
  • August 23, 2022:  As Item S37J on its Supplemental Agenda, the Board of Supervisors is set to approve a slightly modified response to the Grand Jury report. The only change from August 9 seems to have been deletion of an assertion that the posting of the site had been adequate because the public sent in petitions protesting the sale (the petitions were, in fact, prompted not by the onsite notices, but by the newly-elected Supervisor questioning the April 13, 2021, agenda item to complete the sale). It continues to say the County will not remove the fence.
    • Despite dozens of letters protesting the response, it was approved as presented on a 4:1 vote with Supervisor Katrina Foley dissenting. The decision was prompted, in part, by a false claim that it was too late to request an extension of time to submit the response.
    • County staff was, however, directed to report back for direction on a plan to respond to the Coastal Commission notice of violation (see video of conclusion of Item S37J discussion).
  • September 9, 2022: The California State Lands Commission sent a letter to the County Parks Director informing him that it is a violation of the public trust to allow a private fence on public trust land, and he fence must be removed.

News Coverage

(note: this Stu News editorial, presented from the adjoining homeowner’s perspective, repeats the questionable account of what is now park land having been taken from a previous owner by eminent domain (government seizure). It appears instead, that the previous owner subdivided his property — historically part of the Irvine Ranch — in 1969, selling the western part to create the present-day 2412 Mesa Drive, and then again in 1970 to deed the southern piece to The Irvine Company, before later selling the remaining piece to Mr. Johns. That narrative, confirmed by The Irvine Company chronology in the real estate appraisal commissioned by Mr. Johns and reviewed by the County, hardly sounds like government “taking” through eminent domain. Instead, it sounds like The Irvine Company repurchased a piece of a property they had previously sold after realizing that piece of the property was in the way of their vision for a possible new roadway across the land. However it was acquired (whether by the government or a private party), someone paid the previous owner for the eventual park land parcel and the value received was probably a lot more than $13,000 in present-day dollars. According to The Irvine Company chronology, the property was in fact deeded back to TIC in exchange for TIC’s relinquishment of 30-foot wide roadway easements they had retained on the remaining sides of the property.)

Helpful Links

General Plan update

General Plan Update

SCAG to hear appeal of Newport’s RHNA allocation on January 15; Housing Advisory Committee to next meet on January 20


The City’s Housing Element Update Advisory Committee seems to be cutting back to once-per-month meetings, and is expected to next meet in public on December 2 starting at 6:00 p.m. The update of the Circulation Element has been assigned to the Planning Commission. Meanwhile, SCAG recently approved the long-delayed draft RHNA allocations (increasing Newport’s allocation by 2 to 4,834 units) on September 3, 2020. Newport’s appeal of its allocation, as well as the low number assigned to Santa Ana, is expected to be heard on January 15, 2021. The City’s Final post-appeal 6th Cycle RHNA Allocation is anticipated to be issued in February with the new general plan housing element due to the state by October. See Upcoming, below,

For the remainder of the City’s response to the recent announcement that Newport Beach needs to plan to add 4,832 (now 4,834) new housing units by 2029, see their new 2020 Housing Action Plan webpage.

At the January 28 City Council meeting, SPON submitted a resolution protesting the announcement and suggesting ways to deal with it.

439 Newport Beach residents, as well as 94 from neighboring cities, added their names and comments to the SPON resolution.  You may see the resolution in its final form here.

Thank you to all who signed and commented!

Latest News
Project Overview
Why We Were Watching
Recent Events
News Coverage
City Document Links
Earlier Newport Beach General Plan documents
Prehistory of General Plans in Newport Beach
Non-City Links
Other Helpful Links
Links to videos of comments on 2006 General Plan Update process

Details of what happened at the SPON GPAC meetings, including workshop notes, are archived in the Recent Events sections for the dates on which they were held:

Latest News:

On January 8 (see video and “Recent Events,” below), the City Council held a study session about its proposal for the General Plan Update.  Staff’s proposal was similar to the one heard on November 14, 2017 (see “Recent Events“).  As proposed, it will consist of three phases, the first year of which will consist of a consultant-facilitated “Listen and Learn Tour” collecting input from the community.  A five-member citizens committee appointed by the Council will help develop a Request For Proposals for the consultant and recommend who to hire. The resolution formally creating the committee was approved as Item 5 on the January 22 consent calendar. Following a one week application opportunity (applications were due by noon on January 30), the Council deviated from its normal Policy A-2 appointments procedure, and allowed the Mayor to select the five appointees in private consultation with two other Council members. The Mayor will also serve as a non-voting member of the committee. The full Council  “confirmed” the Mayor’s selections at its February 12 meeting (see “Recent Events,” below), but plans to expand the committee with two new members to be named on March 12. On February 13, City staff conducted a community outreach meeting  at Marina Park with the newly-appointed five-member Steering Committee in attendance, but not participating. The first formally-noticed meeting of the Steering Committee was held on February 20.  Originally tasked with reviewing a Request for Proposals for a single consultant to manage the entire General Plan Update process, the committee told staff to “bifurcate” the process and prepare an RFP to solicit a consultant for the public outreach (“listen and learn”) phase only.  A separate RFP for a consultant to manage the actual update would come after that.  The Steering Committee, with its original five citizen members, reviewed the revised RFP on March 6 and (with all seven citizen members in attendance) completed its recommendations on March 20.  On April 3 the committee heard staff presentations about the City’s traffic model and state requirements for the Housing and other elements.  It met again on May 1 to review the five responses to the RFP received from potential consultants.  Three of the respondents were publicly interviewed at the committee’s May 15 meeting, with the committee selecting Kearns & West. After reviewing to their cost proposal and detailed scope of work on May 29, the voted unanimously to recommend Kearns & West to the Council.  The Council approved the contract with them on June 25, although it was not signed by the Mayor until August 1. Steering Committee meetings disappeared while City staff worked with Kearns & West to develop a work plan for consideration by the Committee. The Steering Committee meetings resumed on September 12, and on September 25 they approved plans for an interactive GPU website and a community-wide launch event, which was held on Saturday, October 26, 2019. That was followed by a series of consultant-facilitated “Listen & Learn” workshops — one in each Council district with a follow-up series expected in early 2020. However, in view of an unexpectedly large state-mandated housing requirement, to add 4.832 new units in the next planning cycle, they thought they needed further direction from the Council on how to proceed. On January 14. the Council voted to dissolve the Steering Committee, and create a new committee focused on modify the General Plan’s Housing, Circulation and Land Use Elements to add the 4,832 units. Applications to serve on the new committee were due by January 25. On January 28, the Council adopted a resolution protesting the 4,832 unit requirement, and also received a resolution from SPON doing the same. Appointments to the new Housing Element Update Advisory Committee were made at the February 25 Council meeting, and it was expected to commence monthly meetings starting March 25, but that was postponed due to the coronavirus stay-at-home order. Its first meeting was finally held on July 1 and was broadcast live with phone-in participation available. It has met six times, and will meet again on December 2. See Upcoming below.

While the City was waiting to start its GPU, SPON continued its efforts to press for improvements to the present General Plan and to the prepare public to participate in the broader update. To those ends, SPON created its own General Plan Advisory Committee.

The SPON GPAC functioned as an independent citizens interest group. Starting on November 18, 2017, it held multiple well-attended and lively meetings,  (see “Recent Events,” below). The last SPON GPAC meeting was held on January 12 (see “Recent Events,” below). SPON thanks all who have and will participate!

Project Overview:  Ever since incoming Mayor Kevin Muldoon announced the initiation of an update of the city’s General Plan as a major objective for the City Council during the 2017 calendar year, the details of what that might entail have been a moving target.  No activity actually occurred in 2017, and it now appears none will occur in 2018 as well.  SPON nonetheless hopes to prepare citizens to have some influence over the process as further details emerge, as well as to lobby for improvements to the existing General Plan, most of which was adopted in 2006, and none of which appears to have been implemented entirely as promised.

Why We Were Watching:  Although SPON has repeatedly called for the development of “comprehensive” plans for specific areas of the city, such as Mariners Mile, West Newport Mesa and the Airport Area, the city proposal could be different and could have worrisome consequences. In 2006, the General Plan update process was used, without the full understanding of most residents, to expand and “reset” the Greenlight development thresholds throughout the city.  By approving the updated land use tables and maps, voters in effect gave the “Greenlight” to future projects they assumed they would be given a second chance to vote on, such as the two recently erected high-rise office towers (PIMCO and Irvine Company) in Newport Center (whose erection was specifically contrary to policy statements in the 2006 General Plan) and the massive 524-unit Villas Fashion Island apartment project at the corner of Jamboree and San Joaquin Hills Road.

With greater public awareness, a similar, but even more fast-tracked and developer-driven General Plan update effort in 2013-2014 was overwhelmingly rejected when approval of the land use changes was placed on the ballot as Measure Y.

Measure Y did nothing to allay the widespread impression that staff, consultant and others, guided by unknown influences, formulate most of the content of General Plan Updates “off camera,” spoon-feeding largely predetermined recommendations to what is ostensibly a citizens committee, eventually congratulated for its “hard work.”

While city staff has indicated the present update may not even touch the critical land use limits needing voter approval, some Council members, early on, mentioned hoping to see the matter on the November 2018 or 2020 ballot — which implies that it will.

Whatever the process turns out to be, for the sake of “our town” close watchfulness will be needed to ensure the General Plan modifications are resident-driven rather than developer-driven.


January 15 @ 9:00 am – 3:00 pm – SCAG Housing Allocation Appeal Hearing
(Public participation by Zoom only)

  • Look for agenda here
    • In connection with the 4,834 dwelling units assigned to Newport Beach for its General Plan Update, the Southern California Association of Governments RHNA Appeals Board will be hearing Newport Beach’s appeal of the small number assigned to the City of Santa Ana as well the high numbers assigned to Newport and the three other cities appealing Santa Ana’s allocation.
    • No conclusions will be reached until after all the appeal hearings have been completed a week later.

January 20 @ 6:00 pm – Housing Element Update Advisory Committee meeting 
City Council Chambers (100 Civic Center Drive)
(This meeting will be broadcast on NBTV and live streamed on the City website with an opportunity for those interested to phone in comments or to observe and comment from the Community Room adjacent to Council Chambers) 

  • February 2021: Final RHNA allocation expected from SCAG
  • October 15, 2021: Deadline for City to submit to the State an updated Housing Element demonstrating compliance of plan with State-mandate quotas for the 2021-2029 housing cycle.
  • In other recent and upcoming City activity related to the current General Plan, on February 12, 2019, the City Council approved a GP amendment to make possible the Harbor Pointe Senior Living project (a use not presently allowed at the proposed site).  On August 13, 2019, it approved another General Plan amendment, this time to allow zoning changes needed to construct the Vivante Senior Living project.  Ironically, the first was changed to “Private Institution” and the second was changed from “Private Institution.”
  • In addition, approval of the Ford Road Residential application would require a General Plan amendment to change the that property’s current land use designation (currently “Public Facility”).  The Koll Center Residences proposal also requires at minimum a minor change to the General Plan to transfer 3,000 square feet of retail development allocation, and many, including SPON, have questioned whether the proposal is otherwise in compliance with the General Plan vision for the Airport Area.  It was the subject of a Planning Commission study session on January 31, 2019, but appears to have since been completely redesigned.

Recent Events:

December 2 @ 6:00 pm – Housing Element Update Advisory Committee meeting 
City Council Chambers (100 Civic Center Drive)
(This meeting will be broadcast on NBTV and live streamed on the City website with an opportunity for those interested to phone in comments or to observe and comment from the Community Room adjacent to Council Chambers) 

  • Look for agenda here
    • This will be the seventh meeting of the Housing Element Update Advisory Committee tasked with finding, and recommending, by October 2021, locations where 4,832 (now 4,834) new housing units could be built in Newport Beach between 2021 and 2029 in compliance with a state mandate.
    • The committee consists of nine citizen volunteers with expertise in real estate and land use appointed by the City Council to oversee the Housing Action Plan portion of the larger General Plan Update. The Mayor serves as a non-voting observer
    • Topics will presumably include a recap of the November 16 and 17 “Housing Suitability Workshops”

November 17 @ 6:00 pm – Housing Suitability Workshop  (Part 2)
(Public participation by Zoom only)

  • Details here
    • This online workshop is related to the Housing Element portion of the City’s General Plan Update effort.
    • The public will be asked to weigh in on what kinds and density of housing would be “suitable” at sites identified by the Housing Element Update Advisory Committee.
    • Part 1 will cover half the sites, and Part 2 the other half.
    • Register on Newport, Together

November 16 @ 6:00 pm – Housing Suitability Workshop  (Part 1)
(Public participation by Zoom only)

  • Details here
    • This online workshop is related to the Housing Element portion of the City’s General Plan Update effort.
    • The public will be asked to weigh in on what kinds and density of housing would be “suitable” at sites identified by the Housing Element Update Advisory Committee.
    • Part 1 will cover half the sites, and Part 2 the other half.
    • Register on Newport, Together

October 23, 2020: City files with SCAG the appeal (approved by Council in closed session on October 13) of the RHNA allocation assigned to the City of Santa Ana, asking that it be increased.

October 21 @ 6:00 pm – Housing Element Update Advisory Committee meeting 
City Council Chambers (100 Civic Center Drive)
(This meeting will be broadcast on NBTV and live streamed on the City website with an opportunity for those interested to phone in comments or to observe and comment from the Community Room adjacent to Council Chambers) 

  • Look for agenda here
  • This will be the fifth meeting of the Housing Element Update Advisory Committee tasked with finding, and recommending, by October 2021, locations where 4,832 (now 4,834) new housing units could be built in Newport Beach between 2021 and 2029 in compliance with a state mandate.
  • The committee consists of nine citizen volunteers with expertise in real estate and land use appointed by the City Council to oversee the Housing Action Plan portion of the larger General Plan Update. The Mayor serves as a non-voting observer.
  • Topics to include:
    • Presentation from the “Kennedy Commission” (a private group) on affordable housing
    • Orange County Mayors’ letter to SCAG seeking challenge to the SCAG region’s 1.34 million unit RHNA goal
    • Updates from subcommittees
    • Recap of October 20 virtual workshop
    • Receive input and determine feasibility of housing sites identified by subcommittees in Airport Area and West Newport
      • It appears this may be the public’s one and only opportunity to influence the committee’s decision as to which sites in these two areas should be explored further as future housing sites
      • Decisions regarding the remainder of the City will follow at the November 4 HUEAC meeting

October 20 @ 6:00 pm – Online Housing Workshop
(Public participation by Zoom only)

October 13, 2020:  City Council amends resolution empowering Housing Element Update Advisory Committee so as to remove the Circulation Element from their purview and assign its update to the Planning Commission, to be working in cooperation with the HEUAC outreach committee. In open session, it approved filing an appeal of the RHNA allocation assigned to Newport Beach, asking that it be reduced. In closed session, it also approved filing an appeal of the RHNA allocation assigned to the City of Santa Ana, asking that it be increased.

October 7 @ 6:00 pm – Housing Element Update Advisory Committee meeting 
City Council Chambers (100 Civic Center Drive)(This meeting will be broadcast on NBTV and live streamed on the City website with an opportunity for those interested to phone in comments or to observe and comment from the Community Room adjacent to Council Chambers) 

    • Look for agenda here
    • This will be the fourth meeting of the Housing Element Update Advisory Committee tasked with finding, and recommending, by October, locations where 4,832 (now 4,834) new housing units could be built in Newport Beach between 2021 and 2029 in compliance with a state mandate.
    • The committee consists of nine citizen volunteers with expertise in real estate and land use (plus the Mayor), appointed by the City Council to oversee the Housing Action Plan portion of the larger General Plan Update.
    • Topics to include:
      • Hear updates from the Site Subcommittees, Outreach Subcommittee and Affordable Housing Subcommittee, as appropriate.
      • Discuss the approach for engaging the public and property owners of sites that may be included on the Housing Opportunity Sites Inventory.
      • Receive an overview of the overall outreach plan for the Housing Element and Circulation Element updates, including upcoming workshop dates for both elements. • Review the City’s appeal letter of its final draft regional housing needs assessment (RHNA) allocation.
      • Hear about new requirements in State Housing Element Law related to affordable housing and how that translates into the sites inventory. Discuss how compliance may be achieved.

September 11, 2020:  Start of period for City to appeal it’s draft RHNA allocation to plan for 4,834 new dwelling units the 2021-2029 cycle.

September 3 @ 1:00 p.m. – SCAG Regional Council Meeting (Zoom meeting)

  • Agenda here (28 MB)
  • Live Stream
    • The Southern California Association of Governments is the “metropolitan planning organization” that sets regional policy and assigns housing quotas to Orange County cities
    • Expected actions at this meeting include:
      • Item 1: Adoption of the Connect SoCal regional transportation plan
      • Item 23: Assignment of Draft Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) Allocations for the 2021-2029 planning period (as affected by Connect SoCal plan)
        • Newport Beach is expected to receive a draft allocation to plan for 4,834 new dwelling units (up 2 from previous estimates)
        • Issuance of the draft allocations will set in motion an appeal period starting September 11, 2020
        • The Final 6th Cycle RHNA Allocations are anticipated to be issued to local jurisdictions in February 2021 with new general plan housing elements due to the state by October 2021.

September 2, 2020:  The new Housing Element Update Advisory Committee held its third meeting in the Council Chambers. Topics covered included a presentation from the consultant regarding their public outreach plan, and from City staff about their “roadmap to compliance” plan for meeting the state’s RHNA assignment. There was also a report about a subcommittee’s search for housing “opportunity sites” in the Airport Area.

August 20, 2020: As Item 3 on its agenda, the City’s Planning Commission was expected to discuss the Commission’s new role as the body overseeing the update of the General Plan Circulation Element. However, the meeting was canceled. It may meet again on September 17.

August 19, 2020: The expected third meeting of the Housing Element Update Advisory Committee was canceled.

July 15, 2020: The second meeting of the new Housing Element Update AdvisoryCommittee was held in the City Council Chambers, and again broadcast on NBTV and live streamed on the City website.

    • The Chair appointed two additional subcommittees of three members each to privately look into and report back regarding: (1) housing “opportunity site” identification in the West Newport Mesa area (north of Hoag Hospital); and (2) community outreach.

July 1, 2020: The first meeting of the new Housing Element Update Advisory Committee, originally planned for March 25, has finally held in the City Council Chambers, broadcast on NBTV and live streamed on the City website. Those interested could phone in comments during or observe and comment from the Community Room adjacent to Council Chambers

    • The Chair appointed subcommittees of three members each which will meet privately to look into and then report back regarding: (1) housing “opportunity site” identification, apparently in the Airport Area; and (2) affordable housing options.

June 3, 2020: The first meeting of the new Housing Element Update Advisory Committee was once again postponed, this time to a possible date of July 1.

May 6, 2020: The first meeting of the new Housing Element Update Advisory Committee was expected, but again postponed, with June 3 indicated as the new date.

April 14, 2020: The City Council approved a contract with Kimley Horn as the primary consultant for the Housing Element update. Kimley Horn will subcontract with Urban Crossroads and LSA (former Council member Tony Petros) on traffic issues.

March 25, 2020: First meeting of the new Housing Element Update Advisory Committee was scheduled for this date. Topics were expected to include: introduction, mission and purpose of the committee, establish subcommittee(s), process to identify potential housing opportunity sites, consultant proposal review — but the meeting was postponed due to coronavirus concerns.

March 24, 2024: The City Council to “reviewed” staff’s annual progress report to state on current General Plan. It was on the “consent calendar” and approved without comment.

March 5, 2020: The SCAG Regional Council voted to confirm the 6th cycle RHNA allocations made at its November 7, 2019, meeting, including the 4,832 units to Newport Beach.  Agenda packet here.

    • An appeal process, most likely running through May 25, was also decided upon (see Items 1 and 2).
    • The Regional Council also discussed the status of its Connect SoCal Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy, which is related to the RHNA allocations (see Items 10 and 11).
    • The meeting is archived on SCAG-TV.

March 5, 2020: The Planning Commission reviewed the City’s Annual Progress Report to the state on the status of the current General Plan. The City Council will review the same report on March 24.

February 25, 2020: As Item 6 on its agenda, the City Council made minor changes to the qualifications for membership on the new Housing Element Update Advisory Committee  and ratified the Mayor’s appointments to those positions.

February 20, 2020: Deadline for proposals from firms interested in assisting with the preparation of revisions to the Housing, Circulation and Land Use Elements. Reportedly just one proposal was received, from Kimley Horn. The new Housing Element Update Advisory Committee is supposed to make a recommendation about it to the City Council. But per the Action Plan posted by the Community Development Department, the proposal will be reviewed by three members of the existing Steering Committee.

January 31, 2020: City creates a 2020 Housing Action Plan webpage.

January 28, 2020: At the City Council meeting, SPON submitted a resolution protesting the recent announcement that Newport Beach needs to plan to add 4,832 new housing units by 2029, and suggesting ways to deal with it.  439 Newport Beach residents, as well as 94 residents from neighboring cities, added their names and comments to the SPON resolution.  You may see the resolution in its final form here.

Thank you to all who signed and commented!

January 25, 2020: The City received a total of 45 applications to serve on the new Housing Element Update Advisory Committee. The applications will be screened by a committee consisting of Mayor O’Neill, Mayor Pro Tem Avery and Council member Brenner, with Mayor O’Neill ultimately recommending nine people for appointment, most likely at the February 11 City Council meeting.

January 23, 2020:  In connection with the search for a consultant to assist with preparing revisions to the Housing, Circulation and Land Use Elements, the City received no bids in response to the Request for Proposals posted on December 20, 2019, and extended the deadline to February 20.

January 18, 2020: The Notice of Vacancy announcing the opportunity to serve on the new Housing Element Update Advisory Committee was published in the classified section of the Daily Pilot. This triggered the start of a very short one-week window in which to submit applications.

January 14, 2020: The City Council held a study session to review a staff-recommended “Housing Action Plan” to address the expected state requirement to add 4,832 units to the General Plan for potential construction by October 2029.

  • At its evening session, the Council adopted Resolution No. 2020-06, dissolving the Steering Committee and creating a new Housing Element Update Advisory Committee consisting of nine citizen members with expertise in various areas and one non-voting Council member.
  • The new committee is expected to find locations for the 4,832 units by late July or early August, at which time the City can begin preparation of an Environmental Impact Report investigating the change’s effects.
  • The Council did not endorse a staff proposal to amend the Greenlight City Charter provision to exempt this and future Housing Element Updates from the voter-approval requirement.
  • In addition, to creating the new committee, the City promises to work with others to protest the state mandate and to seek a 2-year delay in the due date for the new Housing Element.

Early 2020:  The earlier plan to appoint a large (25-30 member) General Plan Advisory ” Tour seems to have been abandoned, for now.Committee to comprehensively revise the entire GP at the conclusion of the “Listen and Learn

December 20, 2019: City staff posts a Request for Proposals for a consultant to assist with preparing revisions to the Housing, Circulation and Land Use Elements of the General Plan. Proposals are due by January 17, 2020.

December 12, 2019: The last of seven “Listen & Learn” Workshops was held in City Council District 1 at Marina Park (1600 W. Balboa Boulevard)..

December 11, 2019: The sixth of seven “Listen & Learn” Workshops was held in City Council District 4 at the Bonita Creek Community Room (3010 La Vida). Only about 4 residents attended.

December 4, 2019: The General Plan Update Steering Committee meeting met in the Council Chambers at 100 Civic Center Drive. In view of the large newly-imposed state housing requirements and new legislation, they recommended sending the process back to the City Council for further direction. City staff said they would be proposing a Regional Housing Needs Assessment “action plan” to the Council on January 14.

December 3, 2019: The fifth of seven “Listen & Learn” Workshops was held in City Council District 7 at the Central Library Friends Room (1000 Avocado Avenue). About 13 residents attended.

November 21. 2019: The fourth of seven “Listen & Learn” Workshops was held in City Council District 6 at the OASIS Senior Center (801 Narcissus Avenue). This was reportedly the best attended of the series with about 30 attendees as a result of promotion by the Corona del Mar Residents Association.

November 20. 2019: The third of seven “Listen & Learn” Workshops was held in City Council District 7 at the Newport Coast Community Center (6401 San Joaquin Hills Rd.).

November 14. 2019: The second of seven “Listen & Learn” Workshops was held for City Council District 3, but outside the district, at the Back Bay Science Center (600 Shellmaker Road – off Back Bay Drive – north of Newport Dunes).

November 12. 2019: The first of seven “Listen & Learn” Workshops was held in City Council District 2 at the 16th Street Recreation Center (870 W. 16th St — in West Newport Mesa).

November 7, 2019: The Southern California Association of Governments, a six-county body operating per state law, assigned Newport Beach the task of updating its General Plan, by October 2021, to accommodate the potential construction of 4,832 new housing units by October 2029 — the City’s so-call Regional Housing Needs Assessment allocation (see SCAG minutes and video).

November 6, 2019: The General Plan Update Steering Committee meeting met in the Council Chambers at 100 Civic Center Drive.

  • Agenda here
    • The topics were:
      • Discussion of October 26 Launch Event and engagement activities
      • Planning for Listen & Learn workshops to be held in each Council district in November and December.
      • Discussion of timeline and drafting request for proposals for updating Housing Element by 2021.

October 26, 2019:  The consultant arranged a 4-hour community-wide launch event, held in the Civic Center Community Room and adjacent outdoor areas Civic Green (100 Civic Center Drive). A variety of booths represented City departments and community organizations. The event was announced on the new GPU website and on the following flyer:

Flyer for October 26 GPU Launch Event

Flyer for October 26 GPU Launch Event

    • The stated purpose of the event was to attract interest from persons who would not normally express views on matters like the General Plan.
    • Despite the offer of 200 free hamburgers, attendance seemed sparse.
  • October 16, 2019: General Plan Update Steering Committee meeting
    • See agenda here
      • The Committee reviewed the consultant’s plans for the Listen & Learn “Community Fair” scheduled for October 26 (the “Launch Event”).
      • They also reviewed the new General Plan Update website and heard a brief presentation about the difference between General Plan policies vs. Zoning Code regulations, with a conclusion that comments received during the Listen & Learn process that did not fit easily into the “General Plan” category would not be rejected.
  • October 11, 2019:  launch of interactive GPU website.
  • September 25, 2019: General Plan Update Steering Committee meeting
    • See agenda here
      • The committee approved plans for an interactive GPU website and for the October 26 launch event at City Hall.
      • They also heard a presentation about the upcoming state-mandated Regional Housing Needs Assessment numbers which the City will need to accommodate in a revised General Plan.
  • September 12: After a two-month hiatus, the General Plan Update Steering Committee met at Marina Park (see agenda).
    • In preparation for the meeting, SPON summarized the key take-aways from its own General Plan Update Workshops, held Nov. 2017 through Jan. 2019, and based on those made a series of recommendations to the Committee. See them here:
    • The Committee the approved the general concept of the community outreach plan proposed by the consultant, including an October 26 “launch” event on the Civic Green at City Hall.
    • It also selected “Newport, Together.” as the theme or slogan for the outreach from among three suggested by the consultant.
  • August 1, 2019: Contract C-8180-1 with Kearns & West, effective June 25 and signed by them on June 11, was finally signed by Mayor Dixon.
  • July 2019:  Originally stated as the launch date for the consultant-facilitated “Listen and Learn” Tour, the schedule appears to have slipped.
  • June 25, 2019:  City Council approved the contract with Kearns & West as Item 9 on their consent calendar (which to say, without comment).
  • May 29, 2019:  The Steering Committee reviewed Kearns & West‘s cost proposal and a very slightly revised scope of services.  They voted unanimously to recommend approval of the contract to the City Council.
  • May 15, 2019:  The Steering Committee  publicly interviewed three of the five consultants who expressed interest in working on the “Listen and Learn” (see April 26 and May 1, below).  They were happily surprised by Kearns & West and agreed unanimously to recommend them to the City Council, pending the opening of their cost proposal and a possible refinement of their scope of work.
  • May 1, 2019: The Steering Committee met in the Council Chambers to review the five responses received to the RFP.  The overall sentiment was one of disappointment regarding the meagerness of the responses.  However, the committee decided to interview at least two of the applicants on May 15, with no commitment to hire any.
  • April 26, 2019: 11:00 a.m. was the deadline for consultants to submit proposals in response to the RFP.  By that deadline, 45 firms had reviewed the RFP, but only five proposals were submitted in response.
  • April 15, 2019:  City staff posted the questions and their responses to them.
  • April 8, 2019:  Due date for potential consultants to submit questions they may have about the RFP.
  • April 3, 2019: The Steering Committee met in the Council Chambers to hear staff reports on the City’s traffic model and the state requirements relevant to the Housing and other elements of the General Plan. The PowerPoint presentations have been posted on the City’s General Plan Update page, and a video of the meeting should be available here.
  • March 26, 2019:  As Item 14 on its agenda, the City Council received the Planning Commission’s recommendation regarding staff’s annual report on the status of current General Plan’s Implementation Program and the City’s progress in meeting the Housing Element’s goals and approved submitting the reports to the state regulators.
  • March 25, 2019:  City staff posts Request for Proposals (RFP) for consultant to conduct the “Listen and Learn” phase of the General Plan Update process.
  • March 20, 2019:  The GPU Steering Committee held its third meeting, this time in the City Council Chambers (agenda here).  The Committee, for the first time with all seven citizen members appointed, completed its revisions to the RFP for an outside consultant to manage the “listen and learn” phase of the GPU process, only. The group is also heard a presentation about the Harbor Commission’s visioning process, as well as a presentation from staff about updates to the City’s website.
  • March 12, 2019:  The Council approved the Mayor’s selection of two additional community members to serve on the GPU Steering Committee. The new members are Jim Carlson, an architect, and Catherine O’Hara, a former city planner and currently a college counselor.
  • March 7, 2019:  As Item 4 on its agenda, the Planning Commission heard staff’s annual report on the status of current General Plan’s Implementation Program and the City’s progress in meeting the Housing Element’s goals, and recommended the City Council direct staff to submit the report to the state.
  • March 6, 2019.:  The GPU Steering Committee held its second meeting in the Friends Room at the Central Library (agenda here).  The committee recommended changes to staff’s revised RFP for an outside consultant to manage the “listen and learn” phase of the GPU process, only. The committee also discussed the merits of appointing the larger citizens General Plan Advisory Committee before the “listen and learn” ends, and decided to revisit that question later in the year.
  • March 6, 2019 @ noon:  Was the deadline to submit applications for appointment as one of the two additional citizen members being added to the GPU Steering Committee. Three new applications were received and added to the 34 previously submitted (but not appointed).
  • February 27, 2019:   The City Clerk posted a notice of the two new citizen opportunities to serve on the Steering Committee, and published the notice in the classified section of the Daily Pilot.  To be considered, applications must be submitted by noon on Wednesday, March 6, 2019.
  • February 26, 2019:  The City Council voted to adopt a new resolution increasing the size of the GPU Steering Committee to seven members (see agenda Item 14).
    • The Mayor, in consultation with the ad hoc nominations committee (consisting of Council members O’Neill and Brenner), will select two new names from among the new and old applications received.
    • Those selections will likely be announced and confirmed at the Council’s March 12 meeting.
  • February 20, 2019:  The GPU Steering Committee held its inaugural meeting in the Civic Center Community Room (see agenda here). Although the committee was expected to review a Request for Proposals for a single consultant to manage the entire General Plan Update process, the committee told staff to “bifurcate” the process and prepare an RFP to solicit a consultant for the public outreach (“listen and learn”) phase only.  A separate RFP for a consultant to manage the actual General Plan update would come after that.
  • February 13, 2019:  City staff conducted an hour-long public outreach event at Marina Park.  Per the flyer and announcement, this was to have been the Steering Committee’s inaugural meeting, intended to familiarize the committee and public with the General Plan and seek input on the Request of Proposals for an outside consultant to lead the Update effort. Although all five newly-appointed Steering Committee members were present in the audience to hear the staff presentation, they did not run or participate in the meeting, supposedly because they had not been sworn into office. It also appears staff had forgotten to prepare and post in advance an agenda, as California’s Brown Act requires them to do before a group like this can meet.
  • February 12, 2019:  As agenda Item XIII, the Council received the Mayor’s choice of five appointees to the Steering Committee — Nancy Gardner (Chair), Ed Selich, Debbie Stevens, Larry Tucker and Paul Watkins. The full Council (with Duffield absent) unanimously “confirmed” the selections, although on a motion by Council member Joy Brenner it also voted to bring back a resolution expanding the number of members from five to seven, with the remaining two to be appointed at a future meeting.
    • The names were drawn from among some 39 applicants volunteering to serve on the committee.
    • SPON is concerned about these selections because, despite their long histories of service to the City, all the designees, with the exception of Debbie Stevens, were on the review committee (“LUEAAC“) that brought us Measure Y — the ill-fated previous attempt to update the General Plan, rejected by 69.2% of voters in 2014 — with Selich having been the chair of that committee.
    • Two of the designees — Ed Selich and Larry Tucker — were also strong supporters of the proposal to amend the General Plan to make way for the Museum House in Newport Center/Fashion Island (whose approval was overturned in response to a public referendum petition in 2016).
  • February 2, 2019:  At its annual planning session, the Council was told the GPU could cost as much as $2.5 million dollars.  Staff recommended allocating $1.5 million in the fiscal year 2019-2020 Capital Improvement Program budget, with an expectation another $1 million might need to be added in 2020-2021.
  • January 30, 2019:  Noon was the deadline to apply to be on five-member citizens Steering Committee which will be developing a Request For Proposals for an outside consultant, recommending who to hire and overseeing the “Listen and Learn” phase of the City’s General Plan Update, expected to last through early 2020.  The Council will then dissolve the Steering Committee and appoint a larger General Plan Advisory Committee to review draft revisions to the General Plan.
    • See the City Clerk’s website for the vacancy notice and the Steering Committee application form
    • To submit an application online, save the completed PDF form on your computer or device and send it back to the City Clerk as an email attachment to:
    • As explained in more detail below under “Recent Events” for January 22, the five successful applicants will be privately selected by Mayor Diane Dixon after consultation with a screening committee consisting of herself, Mayor Pro Tem Will O’Neill and Council member Joy Brenner.
  • January 23, 2019:  Applications invited to serve on GPU citizens Steering Committee.  The deadline to apply is noon on January 30.
  • January 22, 2019:  As Item 5 on its consent calendar, Council adopted Resolution No. 2019-7 formally initiating the General Plan Update and defining and calling for the creation of a year-long, five member citizens Steering Committee, with the City Clerk then soliciting applications (see video).
    • According to the proposed resolution, the Mayor, after privately consulting with Mayor Pro Tem Will O’Neill and Council member Joy Brenner (whose names were announced at the start of the Study Session under “Clarification of Items on the Consent Calendar”), will privately select the five citizen members from among the applicants.
    • The Mayor will also be on the Steering Committee, but as a non-voting member.
    • The proposed selection process is quite different from the normal one described in City Council Policy A-2 for situations in which a nominations committee is convened .  Under that policy, the Council’s nominating committee would present to the Council as a whole at least two names per opening, from among which, at a subsequent meeting, all Council members, equally, would vote, with persons being selected out of that pool when, and only when, a majority vote for them.
    • The Steering Committee will be subject to California’s Brown Act, which means, as with the Council, all of the discussion between members and any direction it gives to staff is supposed to occur at noticed meetings open to the public and at which the public is given opportunities to comment before any action is taken.

January 12, 2019:  A SPON GPAC workshop was held at the Santa Ana Heights Fire Station.  It was the group’s ninth (and for the moment, final) meeting.  Guest speaker. Kevin K. Johnson, an environmental lawyer from San Diego, discussed the California Environmental Quality Act and provided information on how to read and more effectively comment on Environmental Impact Reports.  There was no PowerPoint, but participants were provided with a number of handouts (copied below) as well as a set of excerpts from the Planning and Conservation League’s very helpful Community Guide to CEQA, a roughly 100 page publication which can be purchased for $35 by contacting the PCL through their website at the previous link.  They also have some free examples of ways to create effective and ineffective comments on CEQA documents.

January 8, 2019:  The City Council held a 5:00 p.m. study session (see video) at which the Community Development Department presented its proposal for a General Plan Update, including a draft Request for Proposals for a consultant to assist with the process (see staff report and PowerPoint).  The proposal was similar to the one presented (and rejected by the Council) at the November 14, 2017, study session (see below).  The Council is expected to create a five-member citizens committee will help develop a Request For Proposals for a consultant and recommend who to hire. The consultant will then facilitate a roughly year long “Listen and Learn Tour” collecting input from the community. See “Upcoming” (above) for the expected sequence of events over the next few weeks (per the PowerPoint and Council/staff discussion)

August 18, 2018: The eighth meeting of SPON’s independent General Plan Update Advisory Committee was held at the Santa Ana Heights Fire Station.  It continued the guest speakers series, with a presentation by a planning principal Laura Stetson from MIG, the private company that conducted the public outreach/community visioning portion of our City’s current General Plan in 2001-2002 (see Item 18, April 10, 2001, City Council meeting). Ms. Stetson shared her thoughts on “Data-driven General Plans,” including how to ensure the community vision expressed in a city’s general plan is actually implemented.  She also provided many detailed insights into the current Newport Beach General Plan. Her PowerPoint includes links to a number of resources where useful planning data can be found.  She mentioned an older website of Model General Plans for examples of good plans, as well as the more recent online-only Hayward 2040 General Plan (which she believes to exemplify the wave of the future, at least in terms of presentation).

June 16, 2018:  The seventh SPON GPAC meeting, held at the Santa Ana Heights Fire Station, continued the recent guest speakers series. Matt Foulkes, the City of Fullerton’s Community Planning Manager, spoke about the Fullerton General Plan, also known as “the Fullerton Vision,” which modified the “standard” layout of a General Plan by focusing on the four key pillars of the community: the built environment, the economy, the community, and the natural environment.

April 14, 2018:  The sixth SPON GPAC meeting, held at the Santa Ana Heights Fire Station, featured  Pete Peterson, Dean of the Pepperdine University School of Public Policy, and Jennifer Lilley, an urban and regional planner working for the City of Brea, who provided insights on how to better engage government officials and drive change (rather than just respond to it).

March 31, 2018: The fifth SPON GPAC meeting, held at the Santa Ana Heights Fire Station, inaugurated a planned guest speakers series.  Chris Carter, GIS manager for the City of Anaheim, gave an fascinating talk on the push for cities to provide “open data” and the difficulties of making that data engaging and useful for the general public.

March 27, 2018: As Item 11 on its Current Business agenda, the City Council authorized submitting to state agencies, without any changes or corrections, City staff’s Annual Status Report (Planning Activity PA2007-195) on the state of the City’s General Plan Implementation Program and its progress on the Housing Element goals.  Some of SPON’s thoughts posted preceding that meeting are preserved here:

  • SPON, and its GPAC Working Group, feel there are multiple problems with the City’s current General Plan and with its implementation since its adoption in 2006.
  • Although the City Council rarely shows much interest in this annual item, it is an opportunity for the public to show they’re interested, watching and engaged — including asking questions about whether a rash of bad planning decisions (Banning Ranch, AutoNation, 150 Newport Center and Museum House, to name a few) has been the result of a bad plan or bad execution of it.
  • Being a “Current Business” item means that not only will the public be allowed to offer their comments, but the Council will be invited to discuss the report, and the public’s comments on it, among themselves (although they have no requirement to do so).
  • This year’s nearly identical report to the Planning Commission is here.  The Commission showed little interest in it, but the one suggestion they offered appears to have been ignored by City staff.  It was to mention under the report on progress made in 2017 on Implementation Program 1.2 (keeping the General Plan up to date) that the City had at least started considering the need for a General Plan update.
  • Last year’s report to the City Council is here (Note that it is mostly the same as this year’s report, even though there have been substantial changes in the state requirements — one of many things not mentioned in the report.  In particular, although the report repeatedly states it is being submitted pursuant to California Government Code Section 65400, that section was extensively revised effective January 1, 2018, and the report about to be submitted appears to be missing the information newly required by subsections C through I.  In addition, the California Office of Planning and Research issued entirely new General Plan Guidelines in 2017, and there is no evidence our General Plan has been compared against the new guidelines, even though Imp 1.3 requires such disclosure).
  • Regarding the items it’s important to comment on, including the City’s failure to provide clear information on the development capacity remaining under the existing General Plan limits, and an even more serious problem with the published development limits not correctly representing the development that has been approved, and thus short-circuiting what the public thought were our Greenlight protections, SPON has prepared some background information and some possible talking points.
  • You may also find helpful the questions about the City’s execution of the Implementation Program that SPON submitted to the Community Development Department in advance of its February 26 “Open House & Community Forum,” which remain unanswered — and the additional public comments submitted when this item was before the Planning Commission on March 8.

March 8, 2018: City staff’s Annual Status Report on the state of the General Plan was presented to the Planning Commission as Item 8 on their agenda.  The Commission showed little interest in it, and recommended passing it on to the City Council with no suggestions for changes or actions to be taken as a result of it.  Several members of the public attempted to comment on the report, and its shortcomings.  They were treated shabbily.

February 26, 2018: SPON submitted to City staff a letter raising questions about the City’s compliance with the General Plan Implementation Program(s) adopted in 2006.  SPON hoped some of those questions could be answered at the Community Development Department’s first ever “Open House & Community Forum” on February 26, but the forum’s format did not allow for that.  A written follow-up was promised, but none has been received.

February 24, 2018: The fourth SPON GPAC meeting was held in the Santa Ana Heights Fire Station training room. The main segment  focused on the promises made in the existing General Plan and the extent to which they have been met, or not, with emphasis on City staff’s assessment of that as seen in their Annual Status Report to the state.

  • The meeting materials included the SPON GPAC agenda and a link to City staff’s 2016 Annual Report (as presented to the Council on March 28, 2017).  It includes a copy of the Implementation Program followed by the status of each task.  A new report for calendar year 2017 will be presented to the Planning Commission on March 8, and to the City Council on March 27.
  • Those who missed the meeting may view the 2/24/2018 SPON GPAC presentation here (although it may be hard to follow without the words).

February 13, 2018: As consent calendar Item 7, the City Council was expected to adopt a resolution confirming a “go slow” approach to the General Plan Update, with 2018 being largely devoted to listening and educating, with any actual update starting only after that is completed.  Instead, the Council unexpectedly changed direction, with Council member Scott Peotter encouraging staff to prepare an alternative resolution (available only to the public attending in person) putting off the start of the staff-facilitated “listen and learn” workshops, that it had been agreed should precede a GPU, until 2019.  As a result of Resolution No. 2018-7, no staff activity at all on the GPU is expected during calendar year 2018.

February 8, 2018 – CANCELLED: The Planning Commission was expected to hold a meeting (agenda here) devoted entirely (because of postponement of the night’s two hearing items) to a discussion of property development standards (including what to do about “mansionization”) in the Cliff Haven area (the blufftop neighborhood between Newport Harbor High and PCH).  Despite having received numerous messages of interest, City staff announced (just a few hours before it was scheduled to begin) that the February 8 Planning Commission meeting would not be held. Supposedly, staff decided not to address Cliff Haven separately, but to include it in a broader investigation of similar concerns citywide, in some forum yet to be determined (but apparently not involving the Planning Commission).

January 29, 2018:  At a special Monday evening annual Planning Session held at Marina Park, after receiving a PowerPoint on the subject, the City Council discussed if and when to embark on a General Plan Update.  The Council’s direction (modified slightly on February 13) appeared to be for staff to embark soon on a program of listening to the public (“with an educational component”), but not hire consultants and launch a full-blown update until state housing requirements for the near future are better understood.

January 13, 2018: A capacity crowd met at the Santa Ana Heights Fire Station for the third meeting of SPON’s independent citizens GPAC group.  Through its GPAC working group SPON hopes to create an informed  citizenry to participate in and influence the General Plan Update outcome, as well as to produce citizen-driven alternatives for conduct of the update process. At this third meeting the participating citizens pored over maps of the city, identifying areas where current General Plan policies appear to be working, and identifying areas where improvement is needed.

December 2, 2017:   SPON’s independent citizens GPAC group held its second meeting at the Santa Ana Heights Fire Station from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.  The group generally agreed that a update to the General Plan is needed, and will assist SPON in formulating a letter to the City to that effect. The resulting letter was approved by the SPON Board and sent to the City on December 11.

November 18, 2017:  As was apparent from Measure Y, SPON anticipates that City staff and Council may have a vision and goals for the future of the City that diverge markedly from the views held by a majority of residents, and even business owners.  As a result, SPON convened a meeting of interested citizens, calling themselves the SPON GPAC, to review what happened on November 14 and assess interest in creating an independent, truly citizens advisory panel to monitor developments and attempt to keep the City’s process on a track residents approve of.  Such true independent citizens’ oversight was lacking from previous GPU efforts in Newport Beach.  The response was a enthusiastic, and a second meeting will be held on Saturday, December 2.

November 14, 2017: Based on the City’s announcement, formal initiation of a General Plan update process was expected to come at the November 14, 2017, City Council meeting. A discussion of staff’s update proposal was expected at an afternoon public “study session” (see Item SS3, PowerPoint and video) followed by action at the regular evening meeting (Item 18).  A staff team leading the effort was also announced.  It was to consist of Community Development Director Seimone Jurjis, former Principal Planner and newly-appointed Deputy Director Jim Campbell and Associate Planner Ben Zdeba, and in addition to outside consultants, the larger plan involved the appointment of a Steering Committee (to consist of Council members O’Neill and Herdman and former Council member Nancy Gardner) and a citizens advisory committee (“GPAC”) chaired by Ms. Gardner and consisting of 4 Commissioners and up to 25 community members (it might be noted that it is unusual for City staff to specify who the City Council should appoint).

Largely rejecting staff’s recommendations, the Council instead leaned toward a slower and more deliberate evaluation of the current situation before launching into a major and costly update process.  That alternative approach might include creation of a “Blue Ribbon Committee” to consider the need for an update and explore options for conducting it, but no final decisions were made on November 14.  Staff’s initial suggestion for the alternate exploratory committee was for one consisting of 10 members:  a resident or business owner from each of the City’s seven Council districts, plus a member of a board or commission plus two Council members.  Although it was originally thought a variation of that alternative might be coming back for consideration by the Council as early as November 28, it now looks like that will not be happening until next year.

June 13, 2017: Funding for the update ($1 million in the first year, with at least another $1 million expected in later years) was allocated, without much discussion or direction, in the budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2017.

May 18, 2017: At the Corona del Mar Residents Association‘s May 18, 2017, meeting, the City’s then Community Development Director, Kimberly Brandt, and then Deputy Director, Brenda Wisneski, gave a presentation entitled “Local Coastal Plan Amendments (Shoreline Properties) & future General Plan Update Project” (see the agenda). As part of the latter presentation, they distributed a flyer describing their vision of the GPU project. Although most of this has not yet been approved by the City Council, the flyer indicates staff sees the present calendar year being used to select an outside consultant and appoint an Advisory Committee. Work on actually revising the General Plan would begin in January 2018, with adoption expected in March or April 2020. Although funding for Year 1 was subsequently approved, Ms. Brandt retired on July 28, and Ms. Wisneski left to accept a job in another city at the end of September, which may delay the plans as new staff is put in place. As of late September, the new Community Development Director, Seimone Jurjis (former Deputy Director overseeing the Building Division), has indicated a Request for Proposals for consultants is being prepared, but will be submitted to the City Council for review and approval before actually being posted.

February 16, 2017:  Incoming Mayor Kevin Muldoon announced a General Plan Update as a major priority for the coming year in his speech at Speak Up Newport’s 36th annual Mayor’s Dinner (City video here).

February 14, 2017: City Manager Dave Kiff described a proposal for a General Plan Update in a PowerPoint slide presented at a Council study session regarding the upcoming budget.

News Coverage

City Document Links

  • A set of City webpages regarding the General Plan Update has been posted and should be consulted for the City’s latest official news about the process.
  • Existing Newport Beach General Plan (note: although originally adopted in 2006, and subsequently amended as indicated in these files, the land use allocations shown on the maps and in the land use tables may have been altered by transfers and conversions not reflected in these documents,  As an example, one is not likely to find authorization for a PIMCO tower or Irvine Company headquarters building in it.)
  • The Environmental Impact Report prepared in connection with the 2006 update.  See particularly “Volume 1A,” which is the Final EIR which contains tables showing how the “EIR project” was scaled down during the hearings before the Planning Commission and City Council.  Additionally, although not available online, the reference shelves of the Newport Beach Central Library include a binder of Technical Background Studies that supported the 2006 General Plan.  The City is also known to have agendas, minutes and meeting materials from the hearings held during development of the 2006 General Plan, but aside from those before the Planning Commission and City Council they have not been made accessible online.
  • City Manager’s February 2017 PowerPoint slide requesting $1 million budget allocation for first year of update (approved with overall budget in June)
  • May 2017 Community Development Department flyer describing City staff’s vision for possible update

Additional documents divulged in response to a September 2017 Public Records Act request:

Earlier Newport Beach General Plan documents

Newport Beach has had a General Plan (originally called a “Master Plan”) since at least 1958, with major revisions in 1973/4, 1988 and 2006.  At least the last three of these led to extensive revisions to the detailed Zoning Code regulations which implement the General Plan (the Zoning Code is currently Title 20 of the Municipal Code),

In parallel, but separate from this, and responding to  a separate state mandate, Newport Beach has a Coastal Land Use Plan additionally controlling development in the roughly half of the City in the Coastal Zone.  This was first adopted by Council Resolution 82-25 in 1982.  The CLUP underwent major revisions in 2005 (with Resolution 2005-64) and again in 2009 (with Resolution 2009-53).  Only in January 2017 did the City receive certification of the Implementation Plan portion of the Local Coastal Program, which now exists as Title 21 of the Municipal Code. Title 21 largely mirrors the Zoning Code (Title 20), but gives the City the authority to issue most Coastal Development Permits.

  • Newport Beach appears to have first contracted with a consultant to develop a “Master Plan” in April 1956 (Resolution 4486)
  • That plan, addressing  Land Use, Streets and Highways, and Parks and Recreation, was adopted by Resolution 4728 at the City Council’s January 13, 1958, meeting (see minutes).   However, the plan itself does not appear to have been preserved.
  • In 1969 the City Council endorsed a “Newport Tomorrow” visioning process, involving a consultant, a steering committee and “84 public spirited citizens.”  In 10 months, the process generated a report used as the vision for the City’s first General Plan in the modern sense mandated by the state legislature.  The Newport Beach Central Library has preserved a copy in its reference/historical collection, and we have posted a scanned copy (here) for those interested in reading it.  Responding to new state requirements for more formal, comprehensive planning, the City Council officially received the Newport Tomorrow report with Resolution 7172 on April 13, 1970, and although generally accepting it as the basis for general plan, rejected at least four specific proposals:  (1) an annexation policy, (2) a high-rise development policy, (3) a design review board, and (4) creation of a body to pursue “townscape planning goals.”
    • The General Plan resulting from the Newport Tomorrow effort was adopted in pieces between 1973 and 1974.  For example, the Land Use Element was adopted by Resolution 7968 (May 29, 1973) while the Circulation Element was adopted by Resolution 8206 (March 11, 1974).  Unfortunately, the resolutions reference documents “on file in the City Clerk’s office,” which may or may not have been preserved for posterity.
    • The 1973 Land Use Element triggered a comprehensive update of the Zoning Code, the results of which, including the new code, can be seen in Ordinance No. 1657, adopted in 1976.
  • The next major revision of the General Plan came in 1988, with adoption of a new Land Use Element with Resolution 88-100 and a new Circulation Element with Resolution 88-101.  In this case, the full documents have been posted with the resolutions, and can be viewed at these links.
    • As described in Resolution 88-100, the 1988 update process, which began in February 1987 and was completed on October 24, 1988, does not seem to have involved “visioning.”  Instead, staff appears to have prepared the updates over a period of about a year, after which they were vetted with stakeholder groups by a small committee of Council members, followed by hearings before the Planning Commission and City Council.
    • The new Land Use Element defined, described allowable development in, and set limits for each of a large number of “statistical areas” — which became the conceptual basis for controlling future growth in the citizens’ Greenlight initiative of 2000, adopting City Charter Section 423.  As detailed in Resolution 2000-98, Greenlight (“Measure S”) was adopted by a 63% margin despite vigorous opposition from development interests, which pushed an opposing “Measure T” (that lost by an equally large margin).
    • The revised Zoning Code that resulted from the 1988 update was adopted by Ordinance No. 97-9 and can be seen at that link.
  • The current General Plan followed on the heels of Greenlight.
    • A new “visioning” process, officially lasting 10 months, started with the production by an outside consultant, in November 2001, of the booklet “Newport Beach: current conditions, future choices: step up to the future!” (see scanned copy on Dropbox) and culminated in a November 16, 2002, “Visioning Summit” as detailed in the consultant’s report to Council (see January 28, 2003, Study Session Item SS2).
    • The 2000-2006 GPU process involved a General Plan Update Committee (“GPUC,” initially created by Resolution 2000-45, with several later revisions)  interposed between the Council and a larger citizens General Plan Advisory Committee (“GPAC,” created by Resolution 2001-22), very similar to what is currently being proposed, except that the visioning and updating were performed by two different outside consultants.
    • The new draft General Plan was adopted by the City Council with Resolution 2006-76 on July 25, 2006, contingent on voters “giving the Greenlight” to the new development limit tables.  That question was submitted to the County Registrar via Resolution 2006-77, and voted on as “Measure V” the following November 7.  Based, perhaps in part, on the City Attorney’s analysis, it passed by a narrow 53.6% margin (see Resolution 2006-103).
    • The revised Zoning Code that resulted from the 2006 General Plan update was adopted by Ordinance No. 2010-21 and can be seen at that link.  It was accompanied by a Summary of Changes (relative to the prior Zoning Code) prepared by the Planning Division.
  • Several of the General Plan elements have been amended or replaced in subsequent years, resulting in the plan currently presented on-line.
    • While the many changes have been made to the development limits allowed by the Land Use Element (see City’s list of General Plan Amendments), no changes appear to have been made to the underlying Land Use Element text and policies adopted by the Council in 2006.
    • The policy changes proposed as part of the 2013 through 2014 attempt to update the Land Use Element, culminating in Measure Y, seem to have been abandoned when voters, by a 69.2% margin, rejected the changes to development limits that went with them.

Prehistory of General Plans in Newport Beach

In 1923, Newport Beach adopted a cryptic Ordinance No. 247 creating a City Planning Commission, although the group does not appear to have actually been empaneled and functional until May 1926 (per the first minutes, the initial body agreeing to discuss business over dinner at the Newport Harbor Yacht Club shortly before the Monday evening City Council meetings).  As new state laws were adopted, the existing Planning Commission was reaffirmed as the relevant review body in Newport Beach — Ordinance No. 349 (1928) and Ordinance No. 430 (1935) — the latter being in response to the “Planning Act” of 1929, which called for “establishment of official master plans.”

The City’s first master plan in the 1929 sense was duly adopted in January 1936 by Ordinance No. 440, created with the assistance of consultant L. Deming Tilton (a prominent land use planner of the era).  It established land classifications and “districts,” and is essentially equivalent to what would today be called a Zoning Code.  The stated reasons for adopting it were: “(1) to secure for the citizens of the City of Newport Beach the social and economical advantages resulting from an orderly, planned use of Its land resources, (2) to provide a definite, official land-use plan  for the City of Newport Beach and 3) to guide, control and regulate the future growth and development of said City in accordance with said plan.”

A new Zoning Code was adopted at the end of 1950 with Ordinance No. 635.

Non-City Links

  • General Plan Guidelines (2017) : recently revised version of the definitive guide to requirements for General Plan elements from the California State Office of Planning and Research (the agency that oversees General Plans in California)
  • General Plans and Zoning (2007) : a very useful and readable “outsiders” overview of California land use regulation, including General Plans and Zoning Codes, prepared by the California Department of Health Services, specifically for those interested in pursuing healthy living initiatives.
  • Orange County General Plan Resource Directory (2011) : publication from Friends of Harbors, Beaches and Parks highlighting desirable policies from General Plans in Orange County (and other parts of California).  Includes more general information on General Plans and planning in general, with a focus on creating sustainable communities.
  • Land Use 101 (2015) :  detailed citations to the legal authority (and limitations) of California land use planning, prepared by the  of the San Luis Obispo City Attorney.
  • Land Use and Planning (2010) : useful overview publication from California’s Institute for Local Government.
  • 150 Years of Land Use (A Brief History of Land Use Regulation, 1999) : a private attorney’s view of the tug-of-war between development and regulation in California, and its status circa 2000.
  • General Plan Overview :  FAQ handout about General Plans from the December 2, 2017, SPON GPAC meeting.

Other Helpful Links

SPON letter to City Council urging General Plan Update (December 11, 2017).

Links to videos of comments on 2006 General Plan Update process

  • July 25, 2006 City Council meeting (where the Council voted to approve the GPU as Item 18 and put the Greenlight tables on the ballot as Item 21).
    • Allan Beek speaks at 2:17:50.
    • Dolores Otting supports Allan about the GPU circumventing Greenlight at 2:23:40
    • Larry Porter speaks about the City’s failure to address water and climate change starting at 2:26:50, saying with regard to the EIR, “don’t certify this false document” at 2:31.
    • Elaine Linhoff talks at 2:31:15 about moving housing from Banning Ranch, where it won’t happen, to Mariner’s Mile, where it will.
    • Sandy Genis comments on (with regard the EIR numbers) “that’s magic” at 2:36:55, about the “special qualities of Newport Beach” at 2:37:45, and “why change that?” at 2:38:30.
    • Jan Vandersloot notes his 4 years on GPAC at 2:38:45, that the measure being proposed is a “developer’s wish list” at 2:43:20, and recommends keeping the old plan at 2:43:20.
    • Nancy Gardner (chair of the Council-appointed GPAC) rebuts the other public speakers at 2:43:50, proclaiming the GPU is good because it will add “workforce housing” to the Airport Area.
    • Phil Arst starts at 2:45:40 and returns at 5:06:15 (for Item 21, where he accuses last minute changes to the ballot wording as changing it into a “marketing message” — which the opponents weren’t allowed in their Greenlight II).
    • At 2:47:20 he charges the ballot measure is a violation of the Charter because it claims it will given voter approval to all previous non-voter-approved amendments — but Charter Section 423 requires each amendment to be voted on separately. At 2:48:45 he attributes the purported “reductions” to comparing the projections to “phantom trips” that would never have happened under the existing plan.
  • June 13, 2006 City Council meeting.
    • Phil Arst speaks starting at 3:38:20 and ticks off a litany of problems with it. It assumes a 19th St bridge when there will be none (3:40:50), the measure would arbitrarily increase the allowable floor area ratio in CdM (possibly allowing the present mansionization?, 3:41:20), it adds sloped parts of a lot to the “buildable area” (even though it’s not buildable) thereby increasing the development allowed (3:42:50), it introduces new, out-of-character extremely dense housing categories for no apparent reason (3:43:15) and it is a fatally flawed EIR (3:44:10).
  • May 9, 2006 City Council meeting.
    • Jan Vandersloot comes to the podium at 3:23:30 to comment on Item 17, despite Mayor Don Webb giving him condescending looks.
    • Jan argues there is no way the proposal to add mixed use housing to the harbor side of Mariner’s Mile could decrease traffic, and their action to allow it will be completely contrary to what the residents of Newport Heights want.
    • At 3:23:30, Councilman Rosansky agrees with Jan, saying the GPU will make Newport Beach like the housing being added in Costa Mesa, and offers an amendment to remove the housing. He can’t get a second, but warns Webb his constituents will be mad.
    • Jan is allowed a rejoinder at 3:28:45, accusing the analysis of the GPU to be based on “sleight of hand,” and at 3:29:40 that if they do this, they “will have a fight.”

John Wayne Airport

John Wayne Airport issues . . . as of November 2020
2021 commercial capacity allocations approved

Latest News:  General Aviation “Improvement” Program

Information related to the proposals for the General Aviation Improvement Program were posted for public review on July 9. They may be downloaded via Dropbox. The proposals were reviewed by the County’s Airport Commission on August 5, and selections are expected to be made by the Board of Supervisors on August 11. The City’s Aviation Committee discussed them on July 27 and the City Council on July 28. There is significant concern as to whether the improvements will comply with promises agreed to by the Supervisors in 2019. See the City’s GAIP page for details.

The latest news for JWA-watchers revolves around the so-called General Aviation “Improvement” Program:  a plan to modernize and possibly expand the mini-terminals on the tarmac that serve the small planes stationed at, and passing through, the airport, including unscheduled jet flights.  On May 7, 2019, the County Board of Supervisors considered several options available for the future of GA facilities at JWA and were poised to choose a variant of one on May 21. However, that was postponed to June 25, at which time a compromise plan was approved. The Board later authorized publication of a Request for Proposals (RFP) seeking parties to construct and operate the contemplated facilities on land leased from the County. The Airport Commission reviewed the draft RFP on September 4 and the Supervisors approved it on September 10. Proposals were due by December 19 with the results of a preliminary evaluation to be released by March 13, 2020, at the latest. That release was delayed (and complicated by an April 2020 change to the RFP), with the proposals (and their scoring by a panel) finally posted on July 9. Following an August 5 review by their Airport Commission, the Supervisors, on August 11, directed County staff to pursue lease negotiations with ACI Jet, Clay Lacy Aviation and Jay’s Aircraft Maintenance. Following a closed session on August 25, approval of 35-year leases with ACI and Clay Lacy were slipped into the September 15 Superviors’ agenda as an urgent last-minute “supplemental item” even though the leases would not start until 2021. The two leases were unanimously approved. The third lease, with Jay’s Aircraft Maintenance, was approved separately, on the Board’s November 3 agenda.  See Recent Events, below.

Meanwhile, the City’s Aviation Committee meeting expected on September 28 has been canceled. It will not meet again until October 26 at the soonest. See Upcoming.

Project Overview
Recent Events
Settlement Agreement related events
News Coverage
Helpful Links
Environmental Documentation

More on the General Aviation “Improvement” Program

In addition to the following, see the City web page on the General Aviation Improvement Program.

  • General Aviation refers to planes, whether privately or commercially owned, that are unaffiliated with the major airlines and serviced by the mini-terminals on the tarmac known as “Fixed Base Operators” or “FBO’s”, and which do not sell tickets on a regular published schedule.
  • Unlike the scheduled airlines operating out of the main terminal on MacArthur, the “general aviation” activity is not subject to the Settlement Agreement, and hence not limited as to number of flights or hours of operation (other than a rather weak after-hours noise limit).
  • Under the rubric of a General Aviation Improvement Program, JWA staff has been exploring several possible alternatives for modernizing the GA facilities at JWA and correcting certain safety deficiencies in the present layout.
    • The options do not seem to be described other than in an Environmental Impact Report for the GAIP, the draft of which was posted for public review on September 20, 2018, with the deadline for comments originally set as November 6, but extended to November 21.
      • A public presentation about the EIR, with an opportunity for public comment on it, was provided at the JWA Administration building on September 26, 2918, at 5:00 p.m.
      • The City submitted a comment letter on November 14, and others later.
      • The County’s responses to all the comments , and any resulting changes to the Final EIR, were posted on April 9.
      • The intent of the eventual project appears to be to grant 30-year leases for private operators to develop portions of the airfield for GA use.
      • For each of several alternatives, the EIR lists projections of the amount of construction that would take place under them by 2026, and the resulting number and mix of stored aircraft and flight operations. It is not clear if these are hard limits on what would be allowed, or only estimates of what could happen. It is equally uncertain what the levels of activity under each might be in future years.
        • Under the County’s Alternative 1, favored by JWA staff, it is predicted the FBO’s would expand in size to a total of 85,360 square feet compared to the current 32,840 square feet, displacing many of the small piston-powered planes housed on the airfield.  Alternative 1 would even include customs facilities for international small-jet passengers.
        • Alternative 3, much preferred by SPON and the City of Newport Beach, would correct the safety violations (buildings too close to taxiways) while reducing the FBO facilities to 17,580 square feet
    • SPON’s (and the City’s) primary concern was the potential for Alternative 1 to significantly increase the number of unregulated business and “Uber in the sky” jets flying over Newport Beach, including during the “curfew” hours.
  • The JWA Airport Commission began its review of the proposals on April 17, 2019,  and after hearing more public testimony on May 1 reached a mixed conclusion, two of the Commissioners recommending “Alternative 1” and two recommending “Alternative 3.”  The group as a whole voted 3 to 1 to pause for 30 days while they explore the possibility of a variant of Alternative 3 providing better improvements for the piston plane owners than JWA staff had offered.
  • Despite the absence of an Airport Commission recommendation, JWA staff asked the County Board of Supervisors to certify the EIR and choose a project from among the alternatives studied on May 7 (agenda Item 20).
    • Supervisor Michelle Steel moved adoption of Alternative 3, but was outvoted 4:1.
    • The Supervisors appeared close to choosing a new alternative proposed by Supervisor Andrew Do, capping the number of GA turbo-jets allowed to be “based” at the airport to something close to the present number (65).
    • In the end they  decided to continue their decision until their next regular meeting on May 21.  However, the May 21 vote was postponed to June 25.
    • Two of the Supervisors, Bartlett and Wagner, were convinced that allowing more private jets to be based at the airport will reduce the number of jet overflights of Newport Beach — even though this seems to be contradicted by the EIR which predicts more jet operations with Alternative 1 than with Alternative 3 (despite the latter’s smaller number of based jets)
    • The SoCal Pilots Association recommended rejecting all the County staff alternatives, and instead concentrating on the amount of airport acreage reserved for “light GA” (piston-driven planes) versus GA jets, and keeping the former close to its current number.
  • In response to the SoCal Pilots recommendation, at the June 25, 2019 , meeting, Supervisor Steel offered an alternative, in which a substantial portion of the available acreage would be reserved for the smaller planes, as designated on her “yellow-green map”:
    Yellow-green map

    Supervisor Steel’s map, approved on June 25, 2019

    • This was approved by the full Board as part of Item 45 on June 25, 2019, along with a promise to keep the proportions of hangars of various sizes in the green area in the same ratios as they currently are for small planes.
  • The supervisors met again on September 10, 2019 , where, as Item 18, they approved County staff’s release of a Request For Proposals to the nine entities that had previously qualified as potential bidders. SPON and other community groups were concerned that the RFP did not include a clear commitment to following the yellow-green map and other promises made on June 25. JWA staff argued that doing anything more specific than designating areas for large and small (defined as a wingspan less than 49 feet or a maximum takeoff weight of 12,500 pounds or less) planes would violate federal grant agreements and non-discrimination clauses.
  • After much delay, certain aspects of the responses to the RFP, and their scoring by a supposedly impartial panel, were posted for public review on July 9, 2020.  The 2019 RFP had been modified in April 2020 by an “Addendum 16” which further weakened any requirement for compliance with the yellow-green map.
  • Seven companies responded to the RFP, with a total of nine proposals for the three facilities under consideration (a full-service FBO on the east side of the airport, another on the west side (the two yellow areas on the map) and a limited-service general aviation maintenance facility on the southwest side.
  • Following review by the County’s Airport Commission on August 5, 2020, the proposals went to the Board of Supervisors on August 11, where staff was directed to initiate negotiations with ACI Jet for the full-service on the east side of the airport along Campus, with Clay Lacy Aviation for the smaller “northwest” full-service FBO (near the control tower) , and with the incumbent, Jay’s Aircraft Maintenance for the limited service facility in the southwest area.
  • After a closed session discussion on August 25, approval of 35-leases with ACI and Clay Lacy has been slipped into to Supervisors’ September 15 agenda as “urgent” last-minute supplemental items. They were unanimously approved at that meeting.
  • To read the staff reports and view videos, see Upcoming and Recent Events below.
  • See also the News Coverage.
  • For more about what you can do to make your concerns known to the Supervisors, see the City web page about the General Aviation Improvement Program.

In addition to following the GAIP, the City Manager continues to oversee a three-pronged approach to reduce JWA impacts from the scheduled airlines — an approach that appears to have never been formally discussed, endorsed or budgeted by the full City Council (see October 10, 2017, entry under “Recent Events,” below).  The approach consists of promoting higher, quieter, less polluting flights through a combination  of: (1) collecting and analyzing technical data on existing versus potential noise levels, (2) lobbying legislators and air carriers in Washington, DC, and (3) placing public pressure for change on the air carriers through a coordinated public relations campaign.  Most recently, the City mailed to some 45,000 households a printed newsletter describing its JWA efforts, and conducted an on-line survey regarding resident knowledge of, and concerns about, the airport (see July 20, 2018, entry under “Recent Events,” below).

Project Overview:  Orange County’s John Wayne Airport has long been cited as one of the greatest continuing threats to the quality of life in Newport Beach. Although a convenient travel option for residents and businesses, it brings unwanted noise and pollution.

Why We Were Watching:  SPON’s concern with the airport dates almost from our organization’s inception and is memorialized by SPON’s role as a signatory to the 1985 Settlement Agreement, and each of its extensions.  Since 2002, many of SPON’s concerns have been championed by AirFair, a regional political action committee focused on containing JWA’s impacts.

Although there is perennial concern in the community about flight paths, SPON tends to stay away from issues whose solution will benefit one area at the expense of another, and focuses instead on efforts benefiting all residents:  seeking fewer, higher, quieter and less polluting flights.

SPON is particularly concerned about the as-yet-to-be-finalized General Aviation Improvement Program, which could significantly alter the mix and number of small jets, unregulated by the Settlement Agreement, flying out of the airport.


December 16 @ 2:00-3:00 pm – John Wayne Airport Quarterly Noise Meeting
JWA Eddie Martin Admin. Bldg. (3160 Airway Avenue, Costa Mesa, CA 92626)

Recent Events

November 3, 2020:  Orange County Board of Supervisors
BOARD HEARING ROOM (333 W. Santa Ana Blvd/10 Civic Center Plaza, Santa Ana)

  • Look for the agenda here
    • The Board of Supervisors is expected to approve commercial air carrier capacity allocations of operations at John Wayne Airport during calendar year 2021.
      • Under the terms of the Settlement Agreement, the “Million Annual Passengers” limit will be increasing from the current 10.8 to 11.8 and the number of allowed “Average Daily Departures” of the noisier “Class A” aircraft will increase from the current 85 to 95.
    • The Board is also, as part of the General Aviation Improvement Program, expected to approve a 30-year lease with Jay’s Aircraft Maintenance to operate the aircraft repair and storage area in the southwest portion of the airfield.
    • Due to the COVID-19-related slow-down it is not yet clear if the carriers will seek the maximum possible capacity (JWA incentivizes use of the airport by penalizing the carriers if they don’t use their full request).

October 26, 2020:  Aviation Committee
Civic Center Community Room  (100 Civic Center Drive, adjacent to Council Chambers)

October 21, 2020:  John Wayne Airport Commission
JWA Eddie Martin Admin. Bldg. (3160 Airway Avenue, Costa Mesa)

  • Agenda here
    • The Commission is expected to make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors regarding the commercial air carrier capacity allocations of operations at John Wayne Airport for calendar year 2021.
      • Under the terms of the Settlement Agreement, the “Million Annual Passengers” limit will be increasing from the current 10.8 to 11.8 and the number of allowed “Average Daily Departures” of the noisier “Class A” aircraft will increase from the current 85 to 95.
      • Despite this, due to the COVID-19-related slow-down, and because JWA penalizes carriers if they don’t use their full request, it was expected the carriers would seek lower quotas than in 2020, but surprisingly they all appear to be seeking approval of capacity limits larger than the ones they didn’t fully use in 2020.
    • The Commission will also, as part of the General Aviation Improvement Program, be making a recommendation regarding a 30-year lease with Jay’s Aircraft Maintenance to operate the aircraft repair and storage area in the southwest portion of the airfield.
    • The Supervisors are expected to take action on both items on November 3.
  • September 28, 2020: The City’s expected Aviation Committee meeting was canceled.
  • September 16, 2020: The JWA Quarterly Noise Meeting was held at their headquarters building. Information disclosed included:
    • The County has ended its long-running contract with Landrum Brown as its noise consultant and has signed with HMMH to do the noise analysis necessary for preparing the quarterly reports. BridgeNet will continue to maintain and operate the monitors.
    • Access & Noise staff are working on the commercial carrier allocations for calendar year 2021, with a recommendation expected to go to the Airport Commission on October 21 and to the Supervisors on November 3.
    • JWA has waived for 2020 the penalties for commercial carriers not fully using their requested capacity allocations, but is not expected to waive the penalties in 2021.
    • As a result, despite the MAP cap jumping from 10.8 to 11.8 on January 1, requests are down, so the 11 carriers on the wait list were contacted. Only Spirit Airlines responded and they are in line for 3 Average Daily Departures next year, with flights to San Francisco and Las Vegas. Spirit is expected to fly the Airbus A320neo.
    • Commercial flights are thought to be running at a load factor of about 60% compared to 80% pre-COVID. It is assumed the lighter loads mean the flights are quieter, but it is not known by how much.
    • JSX has asked to continue its 945,000 passengers allocation out of the ACI FBO but been told the old ACI lease expires January 1 and the new one won’t allow “commercial” (i.e., scheduled) operations other than from the main terminal. So they will have to move.
  • September 15, 2020: In an action not expected until November, the Orange County Board of Supervisors discussed and voted to approve two of the three leases being negotiated for the General Aviation Improvement Program at John Wayne Airport (see agenda/report here in “Revisions-Supplemental Agenda Items”)
    • Up for approval were the leases for the “full service” Fixed Base Operators on the east and west sides of the airport, with ACI Jet and Clay Lacy Aviation
    • Not considered was the lease for the “limited service” (aircraft maintenance and storage) FBO on the west side
    • Approval of these two 35-year leases was added to the agenda subsequent to its initial posting as an “urgent” supplemental item even though the leases don’t start until January 1, 2021
  • August 24, 2020: The City’s Aviation Committee held an entirely virtual meeting by Zoom. Topics included:
    • Updates on JWA General Aviation Improvement Program and federal legislation consultant’s activities
    • Presentation on noise consultant’s analysis of  John Wayne Airport Noise Abatement Departure Procedures
  • August 25 @ 9:30 am – Orange County Board of Supervisors
    BOARD HEARING ROOM (333 W. Santa Ana Blvd/10 Civic Center Plaza, Santa Ana)

    • As a poorly-noticed supplemental Agenda Item SCS3  the Board met in closed session to discuss the FBO lease terms. This apparently also included a discussion of the City’s proposals for terms limiting operations. The legitimacy of discussing that matter in closed session is highly questionable, as the private discussion is supposed to be confined to the rent amount and methods of payment the Board would be willing to accept. In any event, the County Counsel’s “read out” claimed “no reportable action” was taken.
  • August 11 @ 9:30 am – Orange County Board of Supervisors
    BOARD HEARING ROOM (333 W. Santa Ana Blvd/10 Civic Center Plaza, Santa Ana)

    • Agenda here  (see Item 11)
      • The Board of Supervisors selected ACI Jet, Clay Lacy Aviation and Jay’s Aircraft Maintenance as their preferred bidders for the General Aviation Improvement Program at John Wayne Airport.
      • County staff will then negotiate with the selected companies to develop contracts for them to replace and then privately operate (for the next several decades) the general aviation facilities at the airport.
  • August 5, 2020: The Orange County Aviation Commission met to review the bids for the General Aviation Improvement Program (see agenda, in particular Item 2, which is an advance copy of Item 11 on the County Supervisor’s August 11 agenda).
    • After listening to nearly three hours of written and oral public comments, the Commission voted to recommend the County Board of Supervisors select ACI Jet for the northeast FBO (along campus), Clay Lacy Aviation for the northwest FBO (near the control tower) and Jay’s Aircraft Maintenance for the limited service FBO on the west side of the airport.
  • July 28, 2020:  Item 17 on the City Council‘s agenda provided for discussion of the City’s response to the Fixed Base Operator proposals received by the County, and the Aviation Committee’s July 27 recommendation regarding them. 
  • July 27, 2020: The City’s Aviation Committee held an entirely virtual meeting by Zoom. Topics included:
    • Introduction of Washington DC and flight path consultants
    • Recommendation regarding the City’s response to the GAIP RFP responses received by the Board of Supervisors
  • July 9, 2020: The GAIP proposals, and the scores they received, were posted to a Dropbox page.
  • June 17, 2020:  After a break due to COVID-19, JWA’s Quarterly Noise Meetings resumed.
  • March 23, 2020: The City Aviation Committee‘s meeting was cancelled due to the coronavirus stay-at-home order.
  • March 18, 2020: The JWA Quarterly Noise Meeting was cancelled due to the coronavirus stay-at-home order.
  • March 12, 2020: JWA staff emails City staff informing them that release of information about the General Aviation Improvement Program proposals, previously promised to be made public by March 13 at the latest, was being delayed (along with the meetings related to them) to a future date, as yet unknown.
  • February 24, 2020: The City’s Aviation Committee meet in the Evelyn Hart Event Center at OASIS  (801 Narcissus Ave – Corona del Mar). Topics included:
      • 2020 Community Outreach Plan
      • Aviation Committee Priorities for Calendar Year 2020
      • Subcommittee reports
  • January 27, 2020: The City’s Aviation Committee met in the Civic Center Community Room. Topics included:
      • Report on information presented at Jan. 25 Council Planning Session
      • Adoption of 2020 committee priorities
      • JWA update, including posting of detailed noise information
  • December 19, 2019 @ 2:00 pm – GAIP proposals due
    • According the timeline on page 4 of the RFP, those seeking to lease, build and operate the new general aviation facilities must submit their responses to the RFP by this date.
    • The timeline further specifies a 2-1/2 month evaluation period during which the proposals will be scored by a private panel, but during which the public may not be allowed to see the proposals.  The Airport Commission is expected to see the results in March 2020, and the County Supervisors in April.  Leases may be awarded in June 2020.
  • December 18 @ 2:00-3:00 pm – John Wayne Airport Quarterly Noise Meeting
    JWA Eddie Martin Admin. Bldg. (3160 Airway Avenue, Costa Mesa, CA 92626)

  • November 18, 2019: The City’s Aviation Committee met in the Civic Center Community Room (agenda here). It discussed:
    • Overview of City Council Policy A-17
    • Recap of Washington D.C. trip
    • Reports from subcommittees
  • October 28, 2019: The City’s Aviation Committee met in the Civic Center Community Room  (agenda here). It discussed:
    • History of Next Gen at John Wayne Airport
    • Developing a Vision Statement for Aviation Committee
    • Altitude Study
    • Plans for Washington D.C. Advocacy Trip
    • Reports from subcommittees on government relations and technical matters/departures
  • September 18, 2019: JWA staff conducted its state-required Quarterly Noise Meeting in the airport administration building with just two members of the public in attendance.
    • The Noise Abatement Report for the second quarter of 2019 was available in advance of the meeting.
    • Staff announced the launch of the new Viewpoint noise complaint system had been delayed but should start in the next week.
    • They also announced the Delta Airlines had replaced its Boeing 717’s flying to Salt Lake City with the Airbus A220, which is substantially quieter on takeoff.
  • September 10, 2019:The Orange County Board of Supervisors voted to approve the Request for Proposals from private vendors seeking to lease, develop and operate airport property in furtherance of the General Aviation Improvement Program.  See agenda here on which this was Item 18 (see video).
      • Earlier on the agenda, as Item 4 on the Consent Calendar, the Board approved JWA staff’s passenger allocations to the commercial carriers for the 2020 calendar year.
  • September 4, 2019: The John Wayne Airport Commission reviewed the Request for Proposals to be issued seeking private parties to lease airport property to develop and operate the controversial General Aviation Improvement Program. See agenda here, on which this was Item 2.
  • August 26, 2019:  The City’s newly-constituted Aviation Committee held its second meeting (agenda here). It heard a presentation by City Attorney Aaron Harp about the 1985 John Wayne Airport Settlement Agreement, including its history and present provisions, as well as the General Aviation Noise Ordinance and noise monitoring.  The Committee also received an update on the status of the John Wayne Airport General Aviation Improvement Program (GAIP), and created a four-member sub-committee to meet privately and report back to the main committee about it.
  • July 22, 2019:  The City’s newly-constituted Aviation Committee met for the first time.  Only two of the citizen members — Bonnie O’Neil and Tom Meng — were hold-overs from the previous committee, both having served since 2012.  The members received a binder containing documents relevant to the City’s relationship with JWA (see under “Committee Member Notebook” at preceding link), and heard a presentation about the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990 (ANCA) from Bill O’Connor, of Cooley LLP, an outside attorney consulting with the City. The minutes, including as an attachment the slides from his presentation, can be found here.
  • June 25, 2019:  At a well-attended meeting (agenda here), the Orange County Board of Supervisors approved a compromise General Aviation Improvement Program project.
      • The matter appeared as Item 45 (see video).
      • The “winning” proposal was advanced by Supervisor Michelle Steel.
      • Unlike the compromise proposed by Supervisor Do on May 7, it does not appear to set any cap on the number of jets that can be based at JWA, and no estimate of the number it could allow was provided.
      • See City’s description here.
  • June 20, 2019:  JWA staff conducted its state-required Quarterly Noise Meeting in the airport administration building with just four members of the public in attendance.
    • The Noise Office is expected to begin posting detailed monthly noise spreadsheets detailing each noise event at each monitor starting with the month on July 2019 (to be posted in late August).
    • It is also expected to launch its new “ViewPoint” self-reporting noise complaint system in July by which members of the public will enter information about the complaint directly into the system via a desktop web form or phone application.
  • June 10, 2019:  The City’s Aviation Committee began its 4:30 pm meeting (agenda here) in the Friends Room of the Central Library.  However, in the midst of public comments, before any of the scheduled agenda items were heard, a gentleman in the audience who had previously spoken suffered an apparent heart attack and the remainder of the meeting was cancelled so the room could be cleared to allow paramedics to assist him.  It is not clear if the meeting will be rescheduled.
  • May 28, 2019:  As Item 14 on the consent calendar portion of its agenda, the Newport Beach City Council was expected to authorize City officials to support modified proposals for the General Aviation Improvement Program, but they decided to wait until they had more information.
  • May 21, 2019: A continued consideration of the certification of the EIR for the General Aviation Improvement Program and the selection of a project was listed as Item S74A on the supplemental agenda for the Orange County Board of Supervisors’ meeting. However, the item was continued (again), to June 25.
  • May 7, 2019:  The Orange County Board of Supervisors met before an overflow audience to consider certifying the EIR for the General Aviation Improvement Program and approving one of the development alternatives.
      • This was noticed as Item 20 on the agenda.
      • The revised staff report, providing the Supervisors with resolutions for approving each of the possible alternatives (not just Alternative 1), can be found under Item 20 in the 1,148 page PDF supplement to the agenda.
      • After several hours of public testimony and discussion, the Board rejected Supervisor Steel’s motion to adopt Alternative 3.
      • The Board then appeared poised to adopt a proposal by Supervisor Do, similar to Alternative 1, but reducing the number of full-service FBO’s from 3 to 2, capping the number GA turbo-jets that could be based at the airport at 65, and deleting the proposed GA customs facility.
      • In the end, they decided to postpone the vote until their next regular meeting on May 21.
      • The video of the May 7 meeting, with part of Item 20 in the morning and part in the afternoon, can be viewed here.
      • See also the News Coverage.
  • May 1, 2019:  The County Airport Commission held its second meeting regarding the General Aviation Improvement Program (Item 3 on agenda here).  After hearing additional public testimony from an overflow crowd, Chair John Clarey and Commissioner David Bailey decided to recommend “Alternative 1,” which would increase the quantity of GA facilities to 85,360 square feet from its present 32,840. Vice Chair Lee Lowrey and Commissioner Bruce Junor recommended “Alternative 3,” which would reduce the facilities to 17,280 square feet (the alternative much preferred by SPON and the Newport Beach City Council).  Being unable to make a choice between those, the Commission voted 3 to 1 (with Commissioner Angie Cano absent) to continue the item for 30 days so airport staff and the Commission could explore possible changes to Alternative 3 to improve service for light general aviation (the small propeller planes).  However, the item remains of the Board of Supervisors’ May 7 agenda for possible action without a recommendation from the Airport Commission.  See City News Splash.
  • April 23, 2019: The Orange County Board of Supervisors was expected to make a decision on the General Aviation Improvement Program, which was listed as agenda Item 35.  However, the item was postponed to the May 7 meeting.
  • April 17, 2019:  As Item 1 at a well-attended special 5:30 pm meeting (see agenda here — scroll down to bottom), the County Airport Commission heard a staff presentation and public testimony regarding the EIR and project alternatives for the General Aviation Improvement Program A recommendation to the Board of Supervisors regarding the matter was postponed to the Commission’s next regular meeting on May 1.
  • April 15, 2019: The  City’s Council-appointed Aviation Committee met in the  Friends Room at the Central Library to hear about various airport issues, primarily the proposed JWA General Aviation Improvement Program.  See agenda here.
  • April 9, 2019:  JWA posted responses to some 300 comment letters it received regarding the General Aviation Improvement Program EIR.  The announcement outlined next steps and future hearing dates.
  • April 6, 2019:  An overflow audience turned out for a two-hour JWA Town Hall in the City’s Community Room hosted by County Supervisor Michelle Steel and Newport Beach Mayor Diane Dixon (see City video here — there is also a privately produced video of the entire meeting from Barry Friendland of Costa Mesa Briefs, accompanied by a video of interviews with attendees). The County’s PowerPoint presentation has been posted here.
  • March 26, 2019:  As Item 5 on its “consent calendar,” the City Council adopted Resolution No. 2019-26 amending the structure of the City’s Aviation Committee.  The size of the group was reduced from 24 to 15 members starting July 1.  The changes were the result of an evaluation by a Council Committee appointed on February 12.
  • March 20, 2019:   JWA staff conducted its state-required Quarterly Noise Meeting in the airport administration building.
    • The Noise Abatement Reports for the last quarter of 2018 (normally due by March 16 at the latest) has been delayed by the 30,000 noise complaints received during the quarter, largely as the result of community members with automated aviation noise reporting “clickers.”  The report is expected to be posted in a few weeks.
    • JWA will be instituting a more automated noise complaint logging system over the next few months.  Citizens will be required to enter information directly into the system through either desktop or mobile phone “app” or a “telephone tree,” rather than relaying the information through JWA staff.
    • As part of the contract, JWA will also be posting detailed monthly noise spreadsheets, listing for public viewing all the noise events observed at each noise monitor during the prior month.  These will be produced by the same vendor, and therefore very similar to, those posted by the Metropolitan Washington (DC) Airports.
  • March 4, 2019: The City Aviation Committee met.  It voted to recommend General Aviation Improvement Program Alternative 3 to the City Council, and to downsize the Committee from 23 members to 15 by eliminating the 7 district alternates and consolidating the SPON and AirFair delegates into a single position.
  • February 12, 2019:  As Item 7 on its “consent calendar,” the City Council adopted Resolution No. 2019-12, creating a committee to consider changes to the structure and role of the City’s Aviation Committee.  Council members Dixon, Herdman and Muldoon were appointed to conduct the evaluation.
  • December 19, 2018: The JWA Quarterly Noise Meeting was held at JWA headquarters
  • November 21, 2018:  was the deadline for submitting comments on the General Aviation Improvement Program EIR.
    • See Notice of Availability for details, and  Notice of Extension of deadline for comments.
    • JWA is required to respond in writing to comments received by the deadline.
    • Comments can continue to be submitted after the November 21 deadline, but JWA does not have to respond to those.
  • November 14, 2018: The City submitted a comment letter on the General Aviation Improvement Program Draft Environmental Impact Report (see September 26, 2018, below).
  • November 5, 2018: The City Aviation Committee met in the Central Library’s Friends Room to discuss John Wayne Airport issues.  The agenda is here. This was the first meeting since June 18, and the next meeting is expected in February, on a date yet to be announced.
  • September 26, 2018: JWA provided a public presentation about, and opportunity for the public to comment on, the recently released Draft Environmental Impact Report for the proposed General Aviation Improvement Program.
    • The proposal is likely to change the future mix and number of non-scheduled jets taking off over Newport Beach.
  • September 25, 2018: As Item 16 on its agenda, the City Council approved adding $30,000 to contract C-7292-2 with HMMH (see February 18, 2018, below).  This request to pay for additional analysis that had been performed by HMMH in studying the effects of alternative departure paths and procedures is the first time one of the airport-related contracts appeared publicly before the Council for approval, presumably because the new total contract cost exceeded the City Manager’s signing authority.  The payment for work already performed appears also to have been granted in violation of Article XI, Section 10 of the California Constitution.  The results of the departure studies have not been publicly released.
  • September 20 , 2018:  JWA posts Notice of Availability of draft Environmental Impact Report regarding their proposed General Aviation Improvement Program.  The GAIP offers several alternatives for reconfiguring the layout of planes and hangars on the airport property, in part to accommodate a larger number of unscheduled jet flights, unregulated by the Settlement Agreement.
  • September 12 , 2018:  JWA Quarterly Noise Meeting held at JWA headquarters with five members of the public from Tustin in attendance in addition to five from Newport Beach. Those living under the arrival path in Tustin were particularly vocal about the increased impacts of aircraft noise on their quality of life.
  • July 20, 2018:  City posts a News Splash announcing the mailing of a Community Newsletter regarding JWA issues, as well as an online survey polling recipients on a number of questions.
  • June 18, 2018: -The City’s Aviation Committee held one of its rare meetings in the Civic Center Community Room adjacent to the Council Chambers.  The agenda appeared to indicate the Committee would be hearing a report from the City’s consultant, HMMH, on the results of their analysis of the pros and cons of various departure procedures. This turned out to be only an update from outgoing City Manager Dave Kiff on the status of HMMH’s work on the contact items.  He said HMMH had completed its study of noise data from departures flown by Alaska, American, United and Southwest Airlines from October through January and had compared the data to an FAA noise model.  They would next be asking if any of the carriers were doing things that could be applied beneficially to the others, with a conclusion about that due by the end of July.  Finally, they would be asked if there is a beneficial new and currently unused procedure that could be suggested to the FAA as a replacement for one of two alternatives currently approved.  That conclusion is expected in August or September, to be followed by the “big ask” to the FAA and carriers to adopt it.  In the preceding, “departure procedure” refers not to the flight path or ground track, but rather to the height and speed with which the aircraft ascends over the ground track.
  • June 13, 2018:  JWA Quarterly Noise Meeting held at JWA headquarters with just four members of the public in attendance.  JWA staff called attention to the Metropolitan Washington (DC) Airports Authority’s noise reporting, which, since 2015, has posted for the public in spreadsheet form information from the noise sensors at the Reagan National and Dulles International Airports.  These provide both monthly summaries, giving various statistical measures (such as minimum, maximum, and mode), and detailed listings of every sound event at every monitor, identified by aircraft or as a “community” (non-aircraft) event, along with the background noise levels observed between events.  Equally importantly, the DC airports measure events with lower loudness levels and shorter durations than other airports (including JWA), which is important if they are to continue to accurately gauge aircraft impacts as planes become quieter but more numerous (JWA logs and reports only events that exceed 65 dB for 10 to 60 seconds).
  • June 13, 2018:  City posts HMMH report on side-by-side noise testing (conducted December 2017 through January 2018) on the Aviation Committee’s Special Reports page. HMMH took readings at two JWA noise monitor locations, and at three locations not normally monitored by JWA.
  • May 22, 2018:  As Item 15 on its agenda, the City Council approved an extension of its contract for airport consulting with former Council member and Mayor Tom Edwards.
  • May 4, 2018:  On short notice, the City held a Friday Aviation Forum in the City Council Chambers at which the delegation from the recent Washington, DC, trip debriefed the public on the results of their effort.  The City has posted the PowerPoint shown by the City Manager.
  • April 24-27, 2018:  A delegation consisting of City Manager Dave Kiff, Deputy City Manager/Public Information Manager Tara Finnigan, and Council Members Herdman, Dixon and Muldoon flew to Washington, D.C., to introduce themselves to the City’s lobbyist at Buchanan, Ingersoll and Rooney (see January 23, below), and visit various congressional and FAA offices.  It is unclear who appointed the delegation, or who authorized the travel, as there was no Council or Aviation Committee discussion of it.
  • April 19, 2018:  City Manager signs contract C-7391-1 with Probolsky Research to convene two 90-minute focus groups of 12 or more people each regarding outreach to FAA and air carriers relative to quieter departure paths.
  • March 29, 2018:  First “STAYY” departure using the FAA-approved curving path over the Upper Bay that the City had long lobbied for.  Preliminary results were provided in the City’s April 2018 Monthly Report.
  • March 14, 2018:  The JWA Quarterly Noise Meeting was held at JWA headquarters.
  • March 9, 2018:  The City held a Friday Airport Forum in the City Council Chambers.  As the third of three presentations from them, the JWA Access and Noise Office explained the process by which the limited commercial capacity at JWA is assigned, each year, to the various carriers under the Access Plan.
  • February 12, 2018:  The City Aviation Committee met (agenda), with Councilman Herdman (Chair) out sick and the JWA personnel on holiday. Results from the City’s independent noise monitoring (see December 1, below) are not yet available, but may be by the next meeting, likely in April. On the same day, the City Manager signed contract C-7330-1 with Dynamic Strategy Group for public relations/outreach assistance in approaching and influencing air carriers.
  • February 9, 2018:  A Friday Airport Forum was held with JWA Access and Noise Office staff providing the second of three presentations from them, this one about the Settlement Agreement and Access Plan.
  • February 8, 2018: City Manager signs contract C-7297-2 with HMMH for updated study of departure pattern alternatives (promised as part of Resolution 2017-63 from September 26; see also December 1, below).
  • January 26, 2018:  A Friday Airport Forum was held with JWA Access and Noise Office staff giving a “Noise 101” presentation detailing how aircraft noise is monitored and reported.
  • January 23, 2018:  City Manager Dave Kiff posted a Letter to the Community regarding airport issues.  On the same day, he signed contract C-7390-1 with Buchanan, Ingersoll and Rooney for lobbying the FAA and airlines(?) in Washington, D.C. (see, request #1 from October 10, below)
  • January 19, 2018:  US Department of Justice signs agreement concluding City’s lawsuit against the FAA’s NextGen/Metroplex Project.  The agreement has been posted and can be viewed as City Contract No. C-7291-1.  It encourages trials of an “S-curve” departure, and promises City and public review of any future changes to flight paths.
  • January 9, 2018:  The City has announced a tentative agreement with the FAA resulting from mediation over the FAA’s handling of their Environmental Impact Statement regarding the new GPS-controlled NextGen flight paths.  The settlement (the text of which has not yet been released) purportedly involves a number of deal points favorable to residents, as detailed in the City announcement.  SPON was supposedly invited to participate in the mediation, but to the best of its knowledge was not informed of that opportunity.
  • December 13, 2017: The JWA Quarterly Noise Meeting was held in a new format, with Noise Office staff giving PowerPoint presentations to the public in attendance on various topics of interest, followed by an open question and answer period.
  • December 11, 2017: the City Aviation Committee met. The announced topics (see agenda) included possible implementation of a “Fly Quiet” program, encouraging airlines to reduce noise impacts, although nothing concrete appeared to decided regarding that.
  • December 8, 2017: Aviation Committee Chair Jeff Herdman and City Manager Dave Kiff held their second informal community get-together regarding JWA issues in the City Council Chambers from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. Mr. Herdman collected sets of four questions from members of the audience and Mr. Kiff attempted to answer them.
  • December 1, 2017:  City Manager signs contract C-7297-1 with Harris Miller Miller & Hanson, Inc. (“HMMH“) for independent monitoring and verification of aircraft noise levels (see October 10, request #2).
  • November 30, 2017: Council member Diane Dixon held a town hall on NexGen issues for Peninsula residents at Marina Park from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m.
  • The City’s online calendar has twice listed a “Community Forum on John Wayne Airport,” apparently featuring work done by AWG.  It was first listed for November 15 and then for December 6.  Both times the listing disappeared without the event happening.
  • November 17, 2017: Council member (and Aviation Committee Chair) Jeff Herdman and City Manager Dave Kiff held the first of planned periodic opportunities for informal discussions about airport issues. The meeting, as will apparently be the pattern, was held in the City Council Chambers from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. on a Friday afternoon.
  • October 30, 2017: The City’s Aviation Committee held one of its rare meetings. There was some talk of the City instituting a “Fly Quiet” incentive program, but little concrete happened.
  • October 10, 2017: Under Item XIII, the City Council unanimously directed City staff to return with future agenda items regarding two matters proposed by Mayor Muldoon: (1) “Seeking the assistance of a federal advocate to work with the City on FAA and related aviation matters, including communication with major air carriers,” and (2) “Supporting additional review and verification of data accuracy from the County of Orange’s seven noise monitoring stations on the JWA departure corridors.”  Those items do not appear to have ever been placed on a Council agenda, yet contracts for executing them were signed by the City Manager on December 1, 2017, and January 23, 2018 (see those dates in this list).
  • October 6, 2017:  Following on the September 15 event, AirFair hosted a second, even better attended public forum. Mayor Kevin Muldoon, Council member Jeff Herdman, City Manager Dave Kiff and City Attorney Aaron Harp presented and fielded questions.
  • September 26, 2017: the City Council held a public study session at 4:00 p.m. regarding the City’s response to the new departure procedures at JWA, and at its evening meeting passed Resolution 2017-63 endorsing certain new and renewed actions with respect to the airport. Mayor Muldoon additionally (under Item XII) “Requested a future agenda item to hire a Washington DC lobbyist to help the City and Airport Consultant Tom Edwards work with the FAA and County; enter into direct communications with the major air carriers; and come up with a method to track sound levels to confirm that decibel readers are accurate. “
  • September 15, 2017:  AirFair hosted on a public forum on JWA issues at the Newport Beach Tennis Club in Eastbluff.

Settlement Agreement related events

  • In 2018, JWA again approached SPON inquiring whether its position regarding the commuter aircraft definition had changed, but seemed less aggressive about demanding an answer.
  • In 2017, JWA approached SPON and the other signatories with a second request to amend the recently-extended Settlement Agreement, this time to increase the allowed number of seats on “commuter” aircraft from 70 to 76.  Although the change seemed very small, SPON was not convinced of the airport’s claim that this would reduce noise, and was concerned that it would instead lead to the present Settlement Agreement limited number of passengers being placed on a larger number of planes, each as noisy as the present ones carrying more.  In addition, SPON was concerned about a rumored threat by Southwest Airlines to attempt to invalidate the Agreement in its entirety if the change was made. The airport tabled the matter after SPON requested indemnification, but it is likely to return in 2018.
  • In 2015, SPON reluctantly agreed to minor increases in the noise levels allowed by the Settlement Agreement at the airport’s seven automated monitoring stations in Newport Beach, supposedly necessitated by the installation of newer, “more sensitive” microphones.
  • In 2014, SPON completed negotiation of the second of two extensions of the historic JWA Settlement Agreement.  This one limits commercial jet operations through 2030.  The previous extension, signed in 2003, would have expired in 2015.
  • 2003:  Settlement Agreement extended, but allowing still more expansion of terminal facilities and jet flights.  Out of disappointment with the negotiations, in May 2002, AirFair was created as yet another issue-oriented outgrowth of SPON.
  • 1985: Settlement Agreement reached to resolve disputes over new 1985 Master Plan and related EIR 508, as well as EIR 232 (see “Helpful Links,” below).
  • 1981 or 1982: SPON joins City lawsuit challenging the February 18, 1981, certification of Environmental Impact Report (EIR 232) related to the County’s Master Plan for airport expansion (see “Environmental Documentation,” below).  The Airport Working Group was later formed as an issue-specific outgrowth of SPON, which joined the lawsuit and participated in the negotiations.
  • October 7, 1968:  First day of Air California 113 passenger Boeing 737 (“Sunjet”) service from Orange County Airport.
  • August or September, 1967:  Bonanza Airlines adds 72 passenger DC-9 “Funjets” (the first regularly scheduled jets, and probably the first jets of any kind to fly from JWA) to its existing Fairchild F-27 turbo-prop service. The City protested the overflights and tried to convince the County Board of Supervisors (which controls the airport) to look for a different location for commercial aircraft activity serving Orange County. Litigation over impact of jet flights begins in 1968.
  • 1952:  Bonanza Airlines initiates commercial airline service from Orange County airport with DC-3 (propeller) flights to Los Angeles, San Diego, El Centro-Yuma and Phoenix.

News Coverage

see also:  LA Times archive stories about Orange County Airport, JWA and John Wayne Airport

Helpful Links

  • JWA’s Noise and Access page, including:
  • JWA’s Settlement Agreement page, including key terms.
    • Many of the features of the Settlement Agreement, including the commercial aircraft curfew and general aviation noise restrictions (which both pre-existed but are protected by the Agreement) can be found in Title 2, Division 1, Article 3 (“Airport Noise”) of the County’s codes, collectively referred to by JWA administrators as the GANO.
    • Regarding the curfew, the Settlement Agreement has always referred to “County Ordinance 3505 [the original GANO], and the provisions of paragraph 4, at page 62, of Board of Supervisors’ Resolution 85-255 (February 26, 1985)” — protected for 5 years beyond the rest of the agreement.  Those documents can be viewed here.
    • The Agreement also limits changes to the Phase 2 Commercial Airline Access Plan and Regulation
  • JWA Historical Chronology of airport development and airport-related events.
  • Newport Beach City Council Airport Policy (Policy A-17) and archive of past versions (most recent includes Settlement Agreement as an attachment)
  • City’s Aviation Committee page, including links to Monthly Reports prepared by the City’s JWA consultant (and one-time Mayor) Tom Edwards, which seem to be the City’s primary mechanism for disseminating JWA-related information
  • City’s JWA Documents and Resources page contains a growing list of airport-relevant documents arranged chronologically, with the oldest at the bottom.  These include the “ARTS” study of departure options prepared for the City in 2008 and the so-called “Spheres Agreement” with the County from 2006 which, if honored, contains promises limiting extension of the runway to the south (but not to the north).
  • City’s JWA General Aviation Improvement Program with the latest information on efforts to get the County Board of Supervisors to adopt Alternative 3.
  • The City’s Aviation Committee Chair, Councilman Jeff Herdman, maintains a blog on his campaign website that includes entries updating constituents on aviation-related matters
  • AirFair (citizens activist group affiliated with SPON, but currently dormant)
  • Airport Working Group (similar to AirFair, but an older outgrowth of SPON;  board meetings closed to public)
  • Citizens Against Airport Noise & Pollution (a recently formed group with goals similar to AWG and AirFair)

Environmental Documentation

  • Environmental Impact Statement (“Docket 33237”) adopted by Civilian Aeronautics Board in February 1981, containing comments and responses (this is related to, but not the same as the Environmental Impact Report for the County’s Master Plan for airport expansion — EIR 232/102 — which triggered the dispute leading to the 1985 Settlement Agreement) — online on Hathi Trust and Google Books
  • EIR 508 for 1985 Master Plan, all volumes available in draft and final form on Hathi Trust digital library, or Google books.  New litigation related to this EIR reportedly led to adoption of 1985 Settlement Agreement, resolving disputes over both EIR 508 and EIR 232:
  • EIR 546, from 1993, deals with “The Phase II Access Plan, Noise Limits and Noise Monitoring.”  It has been recently posted in four parts on the City’s JWA Special Reports page (see bottom of page).  It also seems to be available as a single 118 MB 660 page PDF via a link at the bottom of the City’s JWA Issues page.
  • EIR 573, from 2001, studied splitting aircraft operations in Orange County between JWA and a proposed Orange County International Airport at the site of the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station. Part of it is available via a link on the Airport Working Group website. Much more was posted by opponents of the El Toro site, and remains available on the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.
  • EIR 582 for the 2003 Settlement Agreement extension (which allowed massive expansion of the terminal) is available in print at Newport Beach Public Library , including a 2004 Supplemental EIR for terminal construction.  A scanned copy of the latter (only) is available on the AWG website.
  • EIR 617 for the 2014 extension: draft online at JWA (with explanation here);  in print at Newport Beach Public Library (draft and final).  There is also an associated Mitigation Monitoring Program listing tasks to be accomplished after adoption of the extended Settlement Agreement. See also the County’s certification of this EIR with Resolution No. 14-084.

Newport Village

Newport Village — as of November 2019
EIR being prepared

Latest news:  The City has created a web page describing revised project plans received on November 20, 2018, and differing in appearance from the earlier images used above.  The application remains “incomplete,” but the applicant continues to confer with a coalition of area residents and business owners who call themselves Protect Mariner’s Mile (and who were not told about the revised plans). The SPON Board, also, expects to hear a presentation from the applicant on January 15. Meanwhile, on October 18 — despite promises that none of the existing uses would be changing prior to approval of the redevelopment — the Planning Commission heard an application to convert the existing office building at 2244 West PCH into a luxury automobile showroom.  That application was approved at their November 8 meeting. Since then, City staff has been seeking a consultant to prepare an Environmental Impact Report for the main project. The City Council awarded a contract on September 24. A public “scoping meeting” to develop topics to be covered in the EIR was held on November 20. Additional written comments on the scope of the EIR could be submitted in writing through December 9. The EIR is presumably now being prepared by the City’s consultant.

Project Overview: As originally submitted on on December 4, 2017, this application for a major “mixed use” development on the former “Ardell” properties along Mariner’s Mile (at the present Duffy Boats through A’maree’s sites and the boat sales/storage yard across PCH from them) was to consist of 11.05 acres on which would be built 175 residential units, 240,650 square feet of office, retail and restaurant uses, and a new 75-boat marina.  All the existing buildings were to be demolished, and a new signalized intersection on Coast Highway created to serve the project.

The revised plans submitted on November 20, 2018, removed the property to the west of A’maree’s, reducing the project area to 9.4 acres.  The originally-proposed 175 residential units have also been reduced to 14 condos on the waterfront and 108 apartments on the inland parcel, with a total, between the two, of 121,370 square feet of office, boat sales, vehicle sales, retail, and restaurant uses.  The A’maree’s building would be preserved in the new plan.

Why We’re Watching:  In 2016-2017 the City spent considerable money on a “Mariner’s Mile Revitalization” planning effort, which was officially withdrawn pending a possible General Plan Update (which now also seems to be in an uncertain state).

Although the official purpose of the 2016-2017 effort was to solicit public input on the future of Mariner’s Mile, and develop a plan for future development consistent with that, many felt, at the time, that it’s purpose was geared more toward forcing a vision on the public to justify  this redevelopment project, now known as Newport Village. In that connection, many felt the the existing Mariner’s Mile Strategic Vision and Design Framework, adopted in 2000, stated the public’s vision better than anything coming out the the new workshops.

Given public reaction to the 2016-2017 Mariner’s Mile Revitalization workshops, as well as City staff’s endorsement in 2016 of the rejected AutoNation proposal for a large new auto dealership cutting into the bluffs along Mariner’s Mile, SPON will be keeping a close eye on “Newport Village” as further details of the project emerge.


  • Summer 2020: According to the City’s web page, this is the likely time at which the EIR will be released for public comment.
  • Fall 2020: Hearings before Planning Commission and, if appealed, the City Council.

Recent Events:

December 9, 2019: was the deadline to submit written EIR Scoping comments. According to the notice, written comments on topics that need to be addressed in the Environmental Impact Report can be submitted through the close of business. No information about the proposal, other than that in the notice, has been officially posted.

November 20, 2019: About 40 people attending an EIR Scoping Meeting in the Community Room at the Civic Center. See Notice here.

November 11, 2019: The developer held a well-attended evening public outreach meeting in his property at 2429 West Coast Highway, adjacent to A’maree’s. He showed posters illustrating the plans and simulations of the completed buildings, and answered questions from the audience. See announcement here.

September 24, 2019:  As Item 13 on their agenda, the City Council awarded a contract to the outside firm Psomas to prepare an Environmental Impact Report. They were chosen from among the respondents to the RFP posted on March 21. The eventual Scoping Meeting for the EIR will likely be the first “official” presentation of a definite development proposal to the public.

March 21, 2019:  City staff posted a Request for Proposals for a consultant to prepare an Environmental Impact Report.

January 15, 2019:  At the beginning of its regular meeting, the SPON Board heard a presentation about the application from the “Newport Village” development team.

December 20, 2018: City sends second “incomplete” letter.

November 20, 2018: Revised project plans submitted to City per case log.

November 8, 2018:  The Planning Commission approved the application for a luxury car showroom at 2244 West PCH (one of the properties proposed for eventual redevelopment). Note: although it is not clear from the City’s website, the revised project plans submitted to the City on November 20 may indicate this building will be preserved, and not redeveloped.

October 18, 2018: As Item 6 on its agenda, the Planning Commission heard a proposal to convert the existing 15,823-square-foot office building at 2244 West Coast Highway into a pre-owned luxury automobile sales showroom.  The property is outside the areas designated for auto-related uses in the Mariners’ Mile Strategic Vision and Design Framework.  The Planning Commission is expected to make a decision on the application at their November 8 meeting.

May 21, 2018:  The property owner erected “story poles” (poles between which strings representing edges of a planned building are hung and draped with flags) on May 21, to illustrate, for the benefit of Newport Heights neighbors, the size of part of the proposed construction.  They were reportedly removed on May 24.

February 26, 2018:  As reported at the Community Development Department’s Open House/Forum, the application remains “incomplete.”

December 4, 2017Application submitted to City.

Trivia:  Perhaps unknown to the applicants, “Newport Village” has been in use since 1983 as the official name of the 33(?) acre planned community in Newport Center lying between Avocado and MacArthur — originally from PCH to San Miguel, but later extended to San Joaquin Hills Road.  That “other” Newport Village is home to the City Hall, Central Library, Civic Center Park, OCTA Transportation Center and the Corona del Mar Plaza Shopping Center (containing Bristol Farms Market and many other shops).  “Newport Village” is also the name of an existing apartment complex at 635 W. Baker St., near the airport in Costa Mesa.

News Coverage

Helpful Links

Bayside Family Resort Hotel (Newport Dunes)

Bayside Family Resort Hotel (formerly the “Newport Dunes Hotel”) . . . as of December 2019
EIR being prepared

Latest News: As Item 10 on its July 10, 2018, consent calendar, the City Council was expected to award a contract to Environmental Services Associates for preparation of environmental studies for the project.  The scope of services includes a detailed timeline, showing an Environmental Impact Report tentatively scheduled for public review from February 21 to April 8, with final hearings before the Council expected in August or September of 2019.  However, Item 10 was taken off the agenda at the last moment by staff with no explanation. It would appear changes in the contract terms are being negotiated. Approval of the consultant contract reappeared as Item 16 on the Council’s November 27 consent calendar, where it was approved without comment.  After another unexplained delay, a public “scoping meeting” to kick off preparation of the EIR was held on September 25. Written comments on the problems that need to be addressed in the EIR were requested there and needed to be submitted to the City by October 16. The EIR is now presumably being prepared by the City’s consultant.

Project Overview: On September 29, 2016, the City received an application to build “a 275-room, 201,498-square-foot hotel with amenities including a coffee shop, gift/sundry shop, business center, event function rooms, spa/fitness facilities, restaurant, pool, tennis courts, sand volleyball courts and picnic area” on the west side of the Newport Dunes Lagoon, in a 14.3 acre area currently used mostly for boat/RV storage and summer camps.  When and if the Council approves development at the site, it would then additionally need a Coastal Development Permit approved by the California Coastal Commission (as this would apparently be regarded as an amendment to the development previously approved by the CCC).

Why We’re Watching: The Newport Dunes is in theory a county park (per NBMC Sec. 11.08.055 it is officially named the “Harry Welch Memorial Park,” as dedicated in May 1958), but for many years it has been leased by the County to a private operator with an eye toward recreation-related commercial development. Conceptual entitlement for a project similar to what is currently being proposed at this site was granted as part of a settlement agreement decades ago. In 2000, the initial City approval of a former leaseholder’s plans to build a project significantly larger than what had been agreed to was one of the forces that propelled the slow-growth “Greenlight” City Charter amendment to success that Fall.

Subsequent to 2000, plans to build on the site appeared nearly dead, but were given new life in 2008 and again in 2016 when the county Board of Supervisors renegotiated the terms of the lease to accommodate interested hotel developers. On Sept. 29, 2016, an application was submitted to the City.

SPON is concerned not only about the impacts of this project, by itself, but also how they will combine with prior City approvals for significant development at the nearby Back Bay Landing and Balboa Marina sites — all of which will affect both the appearance of the area and the already busy intersection of Bayside Drive and PCH.

Conceptual rendering presented to OC Board of Supervisors in Jan. 26, 2016, agenda packet


Spring 2020:  Likely time for release of the draft EIR, which will be posted for a 45-day public review period, followed by written responses to comments received.

Summer 2020: Like time for hearings before Planning Commission and City Council as to whether to approve or deny the project.  If approved by the City, it will need additional approval by the California Coastal Commission.

Recent Events:

October 16, 2019:  Deadline to submit written public comments on potential problems with the project that need to be covered in the Environmental Impact Report. See the Notice of Preparation for details on how to submit comments, and the Initial Study to see topics the consultant already plans to address.

September 25, 2019:  A public “Scoping Meeting” seeking input on the topics to be covered in the EIR was held in the Civic Center Community Room. See the Initial Study and Notice of Preparation here. The latter contains details about the meeting. The PowerPoint presentation from September 25 has also been posted here.

February  2019:  Per the EIR contract (see Nov. 27, 2018, below), an Initial Study of environmental impacts was expected to be released for public review. This does not seem to have happened.

November 27, 2018:  As Item 16 on its consent calendar, the City Council approved a contract to prepare an Environmental Impact Report.  The new milestones are:

  • February 14, 2019:  Initial Study released for public review.
  • March 5, 2019: Public scoping meeting for EIR.
  • March 18, 2019: Public review of Initial Study ends.
  • August 6, 2019:  Draft EIR posted for public review.
  • September 20, 2019: Public review of Draft EIR ends.
  • January/February 2020:  Planning Commission hearings
  • February/March 2020:  City Council hearings.

July 10, 2018:  As Item 10 on its consent calendar, the City Council was expected to award a contract to prepare the Environmental Impact Report for the project.  The following tentative dates were identified in the scope of services of that contract, but these may change since instead of being approved, the item was taken “off calendar”:

    • September 6, 2018:  Initial Study released for public review.
    • September 25, 2018: Public scoping meeting for EIR.
    • October 8, 2018: Public review of Initial Study ends.
    • February 21, 2019:  Draft EIR posted for public review.
    • April 8, 2019: Public review of Draft EIR ends.
    • July/August 2019:  Planning Commission hearings
    • August/September 2019:  City Council hearings.

May 18, 2018:  City selects Low Cost Overnight Visitor Accommodations consultant.

February 1, 2018:  City advertises for environmental consultant.

September 29, 2016:  City receives application for development (per case log“).

January 26, 2016:  Facing lease options set to expire in August 2017, as Item 34 on its agenda, the Orange County Board of Supervisors amends the lease to  accommodate a new two-hotel proposal.

    • Per the staff report, “Newport Dunes is a 102-acre recreation facility on County-owned tidelands in Upper Newport Bay in Newport Beach and is currently leased to Waterfront Resort Properties, L.P. and Newport Dunes Marina, LLC (Newport Dunes) through 2039.”
    • The amendments allow Brighton Management LLC to develop a Holiday Inn Resort and a Staybridge Hotel on Parcel C, totaling 275 rooms, provided it can obtain entitlements to begin construction by December 2023 and complete it in 2025.

July 10, 2012: As Item 15, the Council agrees to amendments to the Settlement Agreement.

Earlier Timeline:

September 12, 2000: With the Greenlight initiative having qualified for the November ballot, a City Council hearing on the project, set as Item 17, was taken off calendar at the applicant’s request.

June 27, 2000:  Testimony to City Council continues as Item 30, with Council deciding to continue hearing to September 12.  A new staff report consists of 718 pages of correspondence received since the June 13 meeting.

June 13, 2000:  As Item 28, City Council receives extensive testimony on the application (staff report), including future Councilman/Mayor and then Planning Commission Chair Ed Selich’s project summary in the minutes.

April 20, 2000:  After multiple study sessions and hearings, Newport Beach Planning Commission adopts Resolution No. 1519 recommending approval of 370 room hotel (companion Resolutions No. 1518 and 1520 recommended approval of the EIR and Traffic Study).  Although scaled back from the 1998 proposal, the Commission’s approval galvanized support for the slow-growth “Greenlight” initiative on the November 2000 ballot.

September 28, 1998:  As Item 13 on its agenda, the City Council awards contract C-3235 for preparation of an Environmental Impact Report regarding the Newport Dunes Hotel proposal.

1997:  Newport Dunes “owner” approaches City with a proposal for a destination resort including 600 rentable rooms (400 hotel rooms plus 100 two-bedroom time-share units) plus a 55,000 square foot conference center, apparently to be accompanied by the removal of 150 existing Recreational Vehicle stalls.  See Item 3 in the October 21, 1999, Planning Commission minutes for a description.  General Plan Amendment 97-3, including exploration of changes for the Dunes property, was initiated as Item 8 at the October 9, 1997, Planning Commission meeting, and Item 13 at the October 27, 1997, City Council meeting.

1983:  The City, the County of Orange, and Newport Dunes, Inc. ( predecessor to Waterfront Resort Properties, L.P. and Newport Dunes Marina L.L.C.) signed a settlement agreement to resolve jurisdictional and entitlement disputes relating to the development of the Newport Dunes. See City Resolution No. 83-49, approving the Agreement, and the minutes of the meeting at which it was adopted.  The Agreement, archived as contract C-2394, was amended in 1984, 1987, 1988, 1990 and most recently 2012. See page 367 for the Resolution No. 83-49 with a draft of the original Agreement, which limited the hotel to 275 rooms, attached.

February 1981: According to City Resolution No. 83-49 and the 1986 staff report to the State Lands Commission, the City of Newport Beach filed suit to overturn the environmental documentation for the project approved by the County in 1980.

1980: According to City Resolution No. 83-49 and a 1986 staff report to the State Lands Commission, the County approved a redevelopment plan for the Newport Dunes.  As Detailed in Resolution No. 83-49, it included plans for a 350 room motel or family inn.

1976:  According to City Resolution No. 83-49, the County and Newport Dunes, Inc. (predecessor to Waterfront Resort Properties, L.P. and Newport Dunes Marina L.L.C.) began negotiating a plan to redevelop the 72 acre Newport Dunes site.

News Coverage

Helpful Links

  • City’s case log for Planning Application PA2016-175 (not always accurate or up to date)

Election Forums – 2020

Election Forums – 2020

Election Day is November 3, 2020 

It is up to us to elect City Council members who will represent residents.

While SPON cannot take positions on candidates, it does encourage everyone to become informed about the candidates’ positions on issues important to the quality of life in Newport Beach.

A variety of groups organize forums at which the public has a chance to learn about City candidates and ballot issues.  The following information is primarily based on that on the City Clerk’s 2020 Election page.  See the Clerk’s page for additional information about the election time line, the Council candidates profiles and ballot statements, and the City ballot measure (on which SPON, also, takes no position).

Vote responsibly.  Vote informed.
2020 Election Forum Schedule

Event/Host Location           When 
Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce (video replay) held by Zoom – registration required August 20, 2020 9:00 a.m.
Speak Up Newport (video replaytext follow-up) held by Zoom – registration required September 9, 2020
4:00 p.m.
West Newport Beach Association (video replay) held by Zoom – email to register September 16, 2020 6:00 p.m.
Corona del Mar Residents Association (video replay) held by Zoom – registration form September 30, 2020
6:00 p.m.
Friends of OASIS Zoom ID: 806 395 3593 / Password: OASIS October 2, 2020
10:00 a.m.

News Coverage

2607 Ocean Blvd

2607 Ocean Blvd as of December 2019:

Application withdrawn to avoid unanimous rejection by Coastal Commission

Latest News:  A modified project was approved by the Planning Commission on December 7, 2017.  After fruitless attempts to get the City Council to review the compliance of the Planning Commission’s decision with the City’s Local Coastal Program (LCP), a free appeal was submitted to the California Coastal Commission on January 21, 2018.  A CCC determination of whether the City’s approval raised “substantial issues” of statewide significance was originally scheduled for the CCC’s March 7 meeting in the Oxnard Harbor District offices, Port Hueneme, but was postponed at the last minute.  The determination was finally made as Item F22a at the August 10, 2018, meeting in Redondo Beach, where, in response to a new staff report, supporting exhibits and correspondence, the twelve commissioners voted unanimously to find “substantial issue” and directed staff to schedule a full hearing on the application at future meeting (date to be determined). A hearing was finally scheduled as Item 15b on the Commission’s agenda for December 12, 2019, in Calabasas. Coastal Commission staff recommended approval with very minor modifications but, it became evident the Commission was going to vote unanimously to reject the project, prompting the proponents to withdraw the application, terminating their proposal.

Project Overview:  This proposal for a multi-story replacement, with rooftop pool and living area, of the small existing single family residence on the bluff face adjacent to the China Cove Ramp in Corona del Mar has drawn considerable public interest.

Why We Are Watching: This is the first time the Planning Commission has been asked to review an application for a Coastal Development Permit.  This particular application requests numerous “variances” from the City’s normal development standards (none of which are currently allowed for CDP’s) and, as approved, would cause a permanent loss of public views from the ramp, which are supposed to be protected by the City’s Local Coastal Program, as well as permanently destroy a currently undeveloped portion of the China Cove bluff face and fence off public access to the City land at the top of the property, between it and Ocean Blvd, which would otherwise have potential as a public view spot.  Aside from these Coastal Act issues (the Coastal Act, though the local LCP, is supposed to protect, for all Californians, coastal views, coastal landforms and public access to them), it is regarded by many as an example of a disturbing trend toward “mansionization,” out of tune with the City’s existing character.  It is also an example of people buying properties and expecting to get an easy approval from the City to build something on it not allowed by the existing City codes and policies.


  • No upcoming events are currently scheduled, the proponents having withdrawn their application in view of imminent rejection by the California Coastal Commission.
  • Technically, the proponents still have the local variance approvals granted by the City on December 7, 2017, but they cannot use that to build anything without a Coastal Development Permit — which would require an entirely new application.

Recent Events

  • December 12, 2019:  A hearing on this item was finally held as Item 15b on the Commission’s Thursday agenda for its meeting in Calabasas.  Coastal staff recommended approval with some trivial changes to the project: lowering the glass privacy screen by 6 inches, reducing a projecting deck by 41 square feet and removing a gate blocking access to public property.  See staff report, exhibits, correspondence and the Coastal staff’s response in the form of an addendum (rejecting the concerns expressed in the correspondence and continuing to recommend approval). Despite this, it became apparent the Commission was going to vote unanimously to reject the application, prompting the proponents to withdraw it — effectively terminating the present process. Withdrawing allows them to submit a new application — something they would have been allowed to do for one year if the vote to deny had been completed. The item starts at 5:18:30 in the Coastal Commission video, The applicant’s slide at 5:21;42 showed obvious visual impacts inconsistent with the Coastal Act.
  • December 10, 2019: Although not on the agenda, some questions about this were asked at the City Council meeting.
  • November 27, 2019: Coastal staff posts its report recommending approval of the project with minor modifications.
  • November 25, 2019: Coastal staff mails notices to those who had previously contacted them about the project announcing a hearing to be held on December 12.
  • November 22, 2019: Coastal staff posts a preliminary online agenda for its December meeting, showing, without further detail, an Item 15b on December 12 regarding an application for 2607 Ocean Boulevard. It is indicated as an “application” rather than an “appeal.”
  • October 23, 2019: The applicant’s new representative, who happens to be the former Newport Beach Assistant City Attorney who advised City staff and the Planning Commission during the 2017 local hearings, sends a letter to Coastal staff touting three “positive developments” that should justify approval: (1) the deck and glass wall have been marginally reduced, (2) the Coastal Commission has allowed variances to its development standards, and (3) the applicant is offering $50,000 if the project is approved.
  • October 8, 2019:  City staff sends a letter to Coastal staff, reaffirming its support, and indicating that if the project is built, the applicant has offered to donate $50,000 to the City to improve public views and access elsewhere in the city.
  • September 16, 2019: The developer, on behalf of the applicant, asks the appellant, in view of “community outreach and support,” to withdraw the appeal so they can go ahead with their project.
  • July 24, 2019: Approximately 14 residents meet with the developer and City staff at the home of a resident overlooking the site. The meeting appears to have been intended to garner support for the project, although it was announced no changes to the plans had been made.
  • January 8, 2019:  CCC staff reportedly visited the site to view the story poles and other features at the invitation of the applicant.
  • December 12, 2018: On a 7:3 vote, with Commissioners Escalante, Groom and Howell voting “no,” the Coastal Commission, as Item W24b at its meeting in the Newport Beach City Council Chambers, approved major amendments to the City’s LCP, including allowing the City, among other things, to grant variances to the certified development standards. The City Council accepted them on February 12 and 26, 2019, and the Coastal Commission certified them on April 11.
  • September 17, 2018: CCC staff issues official notice that “substantial issue” was found at August 10 meeting.  At the time of the notice, a hearing date for the appeal had not been set.
  • August 10, 2018:  As Item F22a on the agenda for the CCC’s Friday meeting in Redondo Beach, the Commission voted 12:0 to find the appeal raised sufficient issues of statewide significance to merit the holding of a full hearing on the proposed development.
    • The hearing was confined to the question of whether the appeal raises sufficient “substantial issues” with Local Coastal Program compliance to require the scheduling of a full re-hearing of the project before the CCC at a future meeting.  CCC staff recommended the Commission make that finding.
    • A new staff report, supporting exhibits and correspondence (an odd hodgepodge of old and new letters) were posted for public review.
      • Comments to the CCC on them were invited by clicking the “Submit Comment” button following the Item 22a listing on the CCC agenda page, or by sending an email to with the subject line “Public Comment on August 2018 Agenda Item Friday 22a – Appeal No. A-5-NPB-18-0006 (Nicholson Construction, Newport Beach)“.
  • March 14, 2018:  The “story poles (see December 7, 2018, below) have been re-installed.  The reason for this is unknown.
  • March 7, 2018: A hearing on the January 22 appeal of the City’s approval of the Coastal Development Permit for 2607 Ocean Blvd was scheduled as Wednesday Item 11a (“W11a”) during the California Coastal Commission’s March 2018 meeting in Port Hueneme. As explained in the CCC’s Appeals FAQ, that hearing was to have focused on whether the appeal raises “substantial issues” of compliance with the City’s certified LCP. However, that hearing was postponed to a future date.
    • The CCC posting for March 7 consisted of a staff report recommending a finding of substantial issue, and supporting exhibits including a letter from the applicant’s representative opposing the appeal. If the Commissioners agree with CCC staff, the actual hearing on the modifications that would be necessary to bring the project into compliance with the LCP would occur at a later meeting. CCC staff also posted correspondence received in connection with the expected hearing, including a five-page letter from the City attempting to rebut each of the contentions raised in the appeal.
    • The online agenda includes a button to view the meeting remotely, by live stream.
    • It is important to understand that the postponed Item 11a on March 7 was a procedural hearing to accept for future hearing, or deny, the appeal of the City’s approval of the permit for the development.
    • As such, the only issues under consideration on March 7 will be whether there is reason to doubt the City’s approval could be justified under its certified Local Coastal Program, and if there is a question of compliance, whether there is reason to believe the lack of consistency had detrimental effects of enough statewide significance to warrant review by the Coastal Commission.
    • Comments were invited to be submitted to the CCC by email using the “Submit Comment” button following the Item 11a listing on the CCC agenda page, or by sending an email to with subject line “Public Comment on March 2018 Agenda Item Wednesday 11a – Appeal No. A-5-NPB-18-0006 (Nicholson Construction, Newport Beach)“.
    • To be most helpful, comments should be based on an understanding of the CCC staff report, and focus on Coastal Act consistency issues, not local zoning ones (purely local issues being things like whether the design or size matches that of nearby homes, or a statement residents don’t like it). For reference, the overarching goals of the Coastal Act are that all development in the Coastal Zone will, for the benefit of all Californians, and our visitors, be sized and sited to minimize impacts to public coastal views (from and to the ocean), coastal landforms and the public’s ability to freely access them. In reviewing the Newport Beach Planning Commissions decision on 2607 Ocean Blvd, CCC staff found possible issues of inconsistency with all three of these, and comments in support of those findings of inconsistency are especially helpful.
    • As an example, moving the LCP-required setback lines to allow the home to be built lower down the slope, closer to Way Lane (as the present one is), might be consistent with the Coastal Act goal of minimizing impacts to treasured public views. Relaxing the setback requirements to permit construction of home larger than the LCP allows, as the Planning Commission did, is not consistent, since it maximizes impacts to views and landforms.
    • To reach the Coastal Commissioners as part of the posted agenda item, emailed comments had to be sent by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, March 2.
  • February 23, 2018:  With a hearing on the validity of the appeal scheduled for March 7 in Oxnard/Port Hueneme, CCC staff posts a report recommending a finding of “substantial issue.”
  • January 23, 2018: Notice of Appeal mailed by Coastal Commission staff, ordering the City to forward to them the materials on which the City’s decision was based.
  • January 21, 2018: appeal of City approval filed with California Coastal Commission.
  • January 9, 2018:  City returns December 21 CDP appeal and the appeal of the City’s challenge to it, saying it will take no action on either.
  • January 6, 2018:  City sends a “Notice of Final Action” to the Coastal Commission, triggering the opportunity for an appeal to them, since the project site is within the LCP appeal area (City approvals within that area can be appealed directly to the Coastal Commission if the City charges for local appeals, as it now appears it does).
  • January 5, 2018:  Appellant challenges City threat to reject appeal.
  • January 2, 2018:  City challenges and threatens to reject the December 21 appeal for refusal to pay a $1,536 filing fee, which was claimed due even though it was not mentioned in the notice of the hearing and (unlike for Zoning Code appeals, pursuant to NBMC Sec. 20.64.030.B.2) is not called out in the City’s LCP code.  The claim was the CDP had to be appealed along with any other matters approved at the same hearing, under any other codes, again something not called out in the LCP code, nor even logical since the Coastal Commission routinely rules on the compliance of CDP approvals with an LCP independent of all other local approvals.  The City’s offer to allow the appellant to add an appeal of the variance approval under Title 20 by January 6 was arguably itself illegal, since the original appeal made clear it was not appealing that, and the publicly announced time for filing a Title 20 appeal had ended on December 21.
  • December 21, 2017:  After unsuccessful efforts to get a City Council member to call the Planning Commission’s December 7 decisions up for review, a private citizen filed an Appeal Application for the Coastal Development Permit portion of the approval, only, with the City Clerk, as allowed under Section 4.3 of Resolution 2075.
  • December 7, 2017: The application was heard as Item 5 at the Planning Commission’s December 7 meeting, for which a new staff report was posted. According to the staff report, by eliminating the elevator stop on the roof, the applicant is no longer asking for a deviation from the City and coastal height standards, but still seeks variances to reduce the required setbacks and increase the allowed floor area. It might be noted that heights in Newport Beach are measured from the underlying land, so even though it may not technically be a height variance, allowing the land owner to reduce the setback from Ocean Blvd allows him to build farther up the bluff face, and hence higher. Reducing the setbacks also, in staff’s view, increases the buildable area and allows the land owner to build bigger (that is, allowing more floor area, even without a variance). Also according to the staff report, as suggested by the Planning Commission on Nov. 9, the applicant installed “story poles” (connected by strings and flags representing various key rooflines) on the property from Nov. 27 to Dec. 1, illustrating how the proposed construction would impact views. Although the staff report continues to say the poles will disappear on Dec. 1, a later email from the applicant’s representative said the poles will be left in place through Dec. 8. Equally disturbingly, even though view impacts is a major concern with this project, the staff report contains no photos showing what the poles look like from various vantage points, and absolutely no computer simulations of how the actual building will affect existing views.Regarding the Coastal Development Permit issue, City staff clearly knows the City has no authority to grant variances from the recently adopted Local Coastal Program development standards, since they have asked the Coastal Commission for permission to add variance provisions to the LCP Implementation Plan. Coastal Commission staff has informed the City that adding those provisions would constitute a major amendment to the authority granted the City under the IP. To date, no hearings on the matter have yet been scheduled. Until language allowing variances from the LCP is certified, it seems the height of impudence for the City to be exercising an authority it has been clearly notified it has not been granted. At the hearing, staff said the Community Development Director has the authority to interpret the IP, and hence could “interpret” that it allows variances even if it doesn’t say so.  After hearing testimony from the applicant and public, on a motion by Commissioner Bill Dunlap, the Planning Commission voted 4:2 (with Commissioners Weigand and Lowrey voting “no” and Vice Chair Zak absent) to approve the application, provided the “public view obstruction problems” could be solved, apparently largely by using clear glass for the screening around the rooftop pool deck.  The final approval (PC Resolution No. 2075) was for 4,500 total square feet of floor area (including the garage, but not counting the livable roof area) on a lot where the maximum floor area allowed with the code-required setbacks would be 2,865 sf.
  • November 9, 2017:  The application began to be heard as Item 2 at the Newport Beach Planning Commission’s November 9, 2017, meeting (see video), but was continued to December 7.  Commissioners Kramer and Kleiman were inclined to grant the variance requests provided the elevator was moved back to the Ocean Blvd side of the property (where, although reaching exactly the same top elevation, it is technically less tall since its “height” is measured from a higher point on the slope.   The remaining Commissioners appeared to have problems with the project and asked the applicant to come back with something better.  Vice Chair Zak expressed the opinion that relaxing setback requirements should not serve as an excuse to use the resulting larger buildable area to justify a corresponding increase in floor area .

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Koll Center Residences

Koll Center Residences . . . as of October 2019
Project being redesigned; not expected to return to Planning Commission for a year

Latest News:  After determining that four Planning Commissioners had financial conflicts of interest that would normally prohibit them from taking part in discussions about this project, a little-known provision of state law was used whereby at their September 13 meeting the four “drew lots” to select one to join the three unconflicted Commissioners in order to have a quorum available to hear the Koll Center Residences proposal. The long-awaited Study Session (which had started on January 18, 2018), was then re-scheduled for November 8 at 5:00 p.m.   — however, even that plan had to be cancelled due to the resignation on September 25 of Planning Commission Secretary Bill Dunlap (one of the four members needed to hear the Koll application). With a new Commissioner having been appointed, the study session was held on January 31.  However, given community pushback, the owners appear to have decided to completely redesign the project. Based on City staff comments made at the October 3 Planning Commission meeting, a new application that will require a new EIR is expected, so the matter is not expected to return to the Commission for at least a year (see “Recent Events,” below).

Project Overview:  The Koll Center Residences is a proposal to add 260 luxury condominium residences in three 160 foot tall towers in what is now the surface parking lot of an office campus near the corner of Jamboree and Birch in the Airport Area.  See the city web page devoted to this project for further details and links to additional documents.  The towers are described on that page, and in the EIR, as “13 stories” but they appear to be 13 stories of residential on top of two of above-ground parking, for a total of 15.

Why We Are Watching:  This project raises multiple issues about height, density, and compatibility with neighboring uses, including the viability of the current General Plan’s vision for adding residential uses to the Airport Area, and whether it is being properly implemented.  SPON feels the project is out of character with the office park environment in which it is being proposed, and that any further consideration of it should be deferred until the pending General Plan Update has been completed — hopefully providing a clearer and better thought out vision for the future of the Airport Area.


  • A new application for a redesigned project, requiring a new EIR, is expected, but has not yet been submitted. As a result, it is likely it will be at least a year before  the matter returns to the Planning Commission for them to make a recommendation to the City Council.
  • The park component of the project will likely need to go to the Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission for their advice to the Council.  Again, a date for that is not yet known.
  • If the Newport Planning Commission recommends approval, the project will go to the County’s Airport Land Use Commission for their finding of its consistency or inconsistency with airport planning.
  • The final decision on the project will lie with the City Council.

Recent Events:

October 3, 2019:  In a status update to the Planning Commission, Deputy Community Development Director Jim Campbell indicated the proponents are redesigning the project. This will likely require a new application and a completely new EIR.  As a result, the project is not expected to return to the Planning Commission for approximately one year. See the video starting at 39:50.

January 31, 2019:  The Planning Commission held a special study session on  the project application, starting at  4:30 p.m. (see public notice and video).  Agenda and staff report here.

In yet a another twist, the newly-appointed Planning Commissioner, Curtis Ellmore, revealed that his real estate company leases a building at 5000 Birch, adjacent to the project.  As a result, he and three of the other conflicted Commissioners drew cards to decide who among them would hear the matter.  Commissioner Lee Lowrey (who is conflicted because of a membership interest in the adjacent Pacific Club) was selected by the random process.

The study session continued with Commissioners Zak, Koetting, Weigand and Lowrey listening to comments from staff, the applicant’s team and members of the public.  At the end of the meeting, the applicant, Bill Shopoff, said he would “make some adjustments” based on what he’d heard.

A good way to prepare for the study session was to review the comment letters received regarding the Draft Environmental Impact Report, and the City’s responses to them, which, due to the long delay have been available for more than a year, now. The new staff report referenced the report posted in 2018 as well as additional letters received since then. Still more letters, pro and con, were received in connection with the January 31 meeting.

January 17, 2019:  Staff obtains Planning Commission agreement to change previously announced January 31 study session time from 6:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

November 27, 2018:  The City Council appoints Curtis Ellmore to fill the vacancy on the Planning Commission.

November 8, 2018:  The 5:00 p.m. re-do of the Study Session (that originally began on January 18) was cancelled due to the unexpected resignation (on September 25) of Bill Dunlap, one of the four Planning Commissioners needed to hear the application.

September 25, 2018:  Planning Commission Secretary Bill Dunlap, one of the four Commissioners constituting the quorum expected to hear the Koll Center Residences application, submitted a letter of resignation, informing the City medical issues forced him to leave the Commission.  The City clerk has since posted a vacancy notice.

September 13, 2018:  The City needs a quorum of four Planning Commissioners to take action on the Koll Center Residences proposal.  However, four of the current Commissioners — including the previously announced Commissioner Kramer — were found to have financial conflicts of interest that would normally prevent them from discussing the matter.  That left only three who could vote, which is less than a quorum.  In such a circumstance, a rarely-used provision in California’s ethics laws allows a quorum be be achieved by adding a conflicted Commissioner to the decision-making panel by a “drawing of lots.”  This was done at the Commission’s September 13 meeting, with Chair Peter Zak (who has an interest in a business with offices across Von Karman from the project site) drawing the “winning” card. The panel hearing the Koll Center Residences application will thus consist of Dunlap, Koetting, Weigand and Zak.

May 31, 2018:  The four Commissioners who are allowed to hear the Koll proposal (Koetting, Dunlap, Kramer and Weigand) were expected to meet for a special afternoon public study session about the project.  However, the meeting was canceled, purportedly due to an inability to to assemble a quorum, and needs to be rescheduled.  A new date has not yet been set.

May 24, 2018:  The City announced the long-planned May 31 study session has been canceled.  Speculation is that one of the four Commissioners needed to hear the matter learned he would have been unable to attend.  This likely will change the timing of the previously-announced June 21 hearing date, as well.

March 22, 2018:  In his report to the Planning Commission at the end of their meeting, the Community Development Director selected May 31 at 4:00 p.m. as the date and time for a study session on the Koll Center Residences proposal. Of several dates suggested, it was one of the few on which the four Commissioners able (and needed) to hear the matter thought they could get together.  The Director said the PC hearing on the application would come on June 21.

January 18, 2018 @ 6:30 p.m.: The Newport Beach Planning Commission started to hold a public study session on the project, long deferred from the date that had been scheduled and announced in the DEIR:  October 19, 2017. The staff report included responses to the comments on the Draft EIR received on or before November 13, 2017.  However, after a brief staff report, and introductory comments, the applicant asked for the session to be postponed due to uncertainty over which Planning Commissioners would ultimately be able to vote on the matter (several of them having financial conflicts of interest).  A video of the meeting is available, with the Koll Center Residences segment running for about 17 minutes starting at 1:43.  At 1:55:50 the Assistant City Attorney makes the announcement that one more of the Commissioners had to leave the room due to a potential financial conflict of interest. The discussion about future scheduling conflicts begins at 2:06:45.

January 9, 2018Responses to the public’s comments on the DEIR were posted on the City website.

November 13, 2017 @ 5:00 p.m.:  Due date for written comments regarding the accuracy and adequacy of the DEIR. In the Final EIR, the City is required to provide written responses to comments submitted by this deadline. Comments about deficiencies in the EIR can continue to be made up until the final project approval by the City Council. However, there is no legal requirement for a formal response to comments submitted after November 13.

October 31, 2017:  As promised at the previous night’s developer presentation, the City amended its DEIR comment extension notice to indicate written comments on the adequacy of the DEIR will be accepted through November 10 (later corrected, in view of the City Hall being closed on that date, to the next business day, November 13).

October 30, 2017:  At the City’s invitation the developer provided a roughly hour-long presentation about the project in the Friends Room at the Central Library, followed by questions and answers (but not comments) from the audience. SPON feels this City-invited sales pitch was a poor substitute for the more objective and on-record study session before the Planning Commission that had been previously announced (but cancelled without explanation) during the period the public is expected to comment on the Draft EIR. At this meeting, City staff announced the public comment period would be extended an additional seven days, to November 10, and that a Planning Commission study session on the project had been set for January 18, 2018. There was also an understanding that the developers PowerPoint would be made available on the City’s website.

October 18, 2017:  City announced extension of due date for written comments on the DEIR from October 27 to a new deadline of November 3 at 5:00 pm.  City also announced a “public forum” to be provided by the developer on October 30.  This is a substitute for the October 19 public study session before the Planning Commission which had been announced with release of the DEIR, but cancelled without explanation.

September 13, 2017:  The Draft EIR was released for public review. Comments submitted by October 27 will receive a written response in the Final EIR.  The public can continue to comment on the EIR until such time as it is certified, but the City is not required to provide a formal response to comments made after October 27.  Further details are available in the City’s announcement.

January 18, 2017: A scoping meeting for the project’s Environmental Impact Report was held  with comments due by February 2.

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