Category Archives: Watch List

Vivante Senior Housing


Vivante Senior Housing Project  . . .  as of September 2019
City Council approves project on September 10

Project Overview:  This is a proposal to build a 153-bed, 6-story senior assisted living and memory care facility on the Orange County Museum of Art property in Newport Center (Fashion Island), which was the location of the now-abandoned Museum House condo tower proposal.

Why We Were Watching:  SPON originally understood this project could be built entirely within the existing institutional land use designations and zoning.  The City’s description now suggests approval will require both a General Plan amendment and zoning changes.  Such changes to the voter-approved land use designations are always of concern.  This request is particularly strange because the similar-sounding Harbor Pointe Senior Living project was said to require a change to a “Private Institutions” land use designation, which is the designation the OCMA property already has.

Upcoming

The City Council has approved construction. No further public hearings are expected at this time.

Recent Events

September 10, 2019:  The City Council approved the ordinances introduced on August 13. They change the zoning (the “Planned Community text”) as necessary for the project to proceed and approve a development agreement protecting the developer’s rights.

August 13, 2019:  The City Council unanimously approved resolutions and introduced ordinances that will allow the project to proceed (see agenda Item 16).

July 18, 2019:  At their 4:00 p.m. meeting, the County’s Airport Land Use Commission found the project to be consistent with airport planning regulations, the main concern being interaction with the nearby Newport Beach Police Department Heliport (see agenda). Then at 6:30 p.m., the Newport Beach Planning Commission considered the project and recommended the City Council approve it (see agenda Item 3).

July 8, 2019:  The City posted for public review an Addendum to the Museum House EIR.  There does not appear to have been any public announcement it was doing so.

June 20, 2019: A Planning Commission tentative agenda showed a hearing regarding Vivante, at which the Commission was expected to make a recommendation to the City Council, set for this date. However, it did not appear on the final agenda.

April 18, 2019: The Planning Commission held a special 5:30 p.m. study session to review the proposal.

August 8, 2018:  Proponents submit application (PA2018-185) to City.

News Coverage

Helpful Links

 

150 Newport Center

150 Newport Center . . . as of September 27, 2016
(formerly known as Newport Center Villas;  aka the Fashion Island car wash project)
.

Note: At least for the moment, this project is history: the application for it was WITHDRAWN moments before its planned hearing by the City Council on September 27.  One of the major financial investors is now suing the developers for fraud.

Project Overview: The 150 Newport Center Planned Community Development Plan (PCDP) as originally proposed was to be composed of 49 condominium homes totaling 163,260 square feet, in a seven-story, 75.5 foot high building. The unit mix was to include ten residential townhomes, 35 residential flats on Levels 3 through 6 and four penthouses on Level 7.  It was later reduced to a proposal for 35 units in 5 stories, and rather than regarding 150 Newport Center as a “planned community” of its own, it would be incorporated into the existing North Newport Center Planned Community District and be subject to its rules (although new rules would be invented for this parcel).

Why We Were Watching:  This project would have replace the one-story 8,500 square foot Beacon Bay Car Wash directly across from Muldoon’s in Fashion Island.  The structure height significantly deviates from the standard established for that area of Fashion Island.  And, the project introduces residents into a primarily commercial/retail neighborhood, which includes late-night operations which generate business-related noise and congestion.

Recent Events:
On June 23, 2016, while the Environmental Impact Report was available for public review, the Planning Commission held a preliminary Study Session on the project, at which many criticisms were voiced, both by the Commissioners and the public, which focused primarily on its lack of compatibility with the area.  (View SPON’s June 23 Planning Commission video here.)

On July 21, 2016, a slightly scaled down project began a three part hearing process before the Planning Commission, which was tasked with making a recommendation to the City Council.  The applicants offered a scaled down proposal for 45 units in a six-story, 65.5 foot tall building with fewer shared amenities.  City staff recommended the same number of units in a five-story, 55 foot tall building (in all cases, an extra 4 to 8 feet is allowed for rooftop appurtenances, such as elevator towers).

At that first formal hearing, the Commission expressed so much concern about the required planning amendments (view SPON’s July 21 Planning Commission video here) that the expected second hearing on August 4 was rescheduled to August 18 to give staff time to consider changes.

On August 18, the matter was heard starting rather late in the evening and the discussion was halted by a mandatory 11:30 pm adjournment time. The Commission primarily decided to ask staff to bring back a proposal in which, rather than creating a new “planned community” of its own, the 150 Newport Center parcel will be added to, and be governed by the same development standards as the existing planned community governing The Irvine Company’s commercial buildings in the interior of Block 100.

The discussion continued on September 1, at which meeting the Commission considered the EIR, the comments on the EIR, and details of the project and the development agreement (providing cash payments to the City as a “public benefit” to mitigate the impact and guarantee a right to the new development).  The hearing ended, at City staff’s instruction, in a “recommendation of denial” to the City Council (even though City policies are clear that a denial by the Planning Commission is supposed to go the Council only in the event of an appeal)

On September 26, the 150 Newport Center applicants asked for a continuance of the  Council hearing — purportedly so they could have more time to privately discuss their project with the Council members.  But on September 27, barely an hour before the hearing on the Planning Commission’s recommendation of denial was to start, it was announced they had withdrawn their application entirely.  According to City planning staff, this means they would have to start completely over again, with an entirely new application.

SPON and its supporters were very well represented, both with written comments and with speakers at the Planning Commission hearings.  We need to keep up this momentum to stop other proposed projects with a similar potential to negatively impact the character of Our Town!

Petition Recap

  • Our petition against the 150 Newport Center project closed with over 1,600 signatures gathered!
  • See recap here.

News Coverage

Helpful Links

Archives

 

1113 Kings Road

1113 Kings Road
City Council upholds grant of variances

Project Overview
Why We’re Watching
Background
Regarding the Variances
Other Issues
Upcoming
Recent Events
News Coverage
Helpful Links

Project Overview:  Application to construct a three-level single family residence with 10,803 sf of enclosed living space floor area plus a 1,508 sf garage on the ocean-facing bluff side of Kings Road, a City street high above Newport Harbor, with the Mariners Mile section of Pacific Coast Highway (specifically the Balboa Bay Resort) below.  The new residence (seen as two stories from Kings Road) would replace an existing two-level home (seen as one story from the road) with 3,000 sf of living area and 1,285 sf of garage, including a previously-approved over-height RV garage.  The application came before the Planning Commission for approval because the applicant requested variances  (exceptions) to the City’s building height standards. SPON appealed that decision to the City Council, where it was heard on September 10. as Item 20 on the agenda.  The Council upheld the variances by a 4:3 vote with Council members Avery, Brenner and Dixon voting “no.” Council member Herdman attempted to change his vote to “no” at the September 24 meeting, but only Council member Brenner supported his request to revisit the appeal.

Why We’re Watching:  While the appeal is technically an objection only to the height variances, SPON sees a larger need to call attention to development standards that fail to prevent construction inconsistent with the existing and expected pattern of development in the city. Many SPON members, and other residents, have expressed concern about the increasing “mansionization” of our community, of which this seems an example. Much of that change in character has been accomplished simply by filling lots to the very limits of the building envelope allowed by the City’s current zoning codes.  In the present case, City staff says 29,024 square feet of enclosed floor area is allowed on the lot, yet even the proposed 12,311 square feet seems too much for the neighborhood, and wantonly destructive of the coastal bluffs.

Specific points raised in the appeal include:

  • Opposition by the local homeowners association
  • A possibility of environmental impacts not assessed by City
  • Inconsistency with General Plan policies protecting natural resources, including coastal bluffs
  • The “findings” justifying the variances are not defensible
  • Alternatives to granting the variances were rejected without explanation

An attorney representing SPON has submitted a letter detailing some of the legal reasons for denying the requested variances.

Background

Newport Beach development standards (specifically Municipal Code Sec. 20.18.030 referencing Sec. 20.30.060.C) limit the height of flat roofs and railings on single family homes to a maximum of 24 feet above the grade of the lot, and up to 29 feet for portions with sufficiently sloping roofs.  Deviations require what is referred to as a “variance” from the zoning code (granted per Newport Beach Municipal Code Sec. 20.52.090).

Variances are supposed to be difficult to obtain, and are supposed to be allowed only when due to some unusual physical peculiarity of the property not properly anticipated in the code, and such that a strict application of the standards would deprive the owner of a right enjoyed by other property owners not suffering from that peculiarity.  In this case, the hardship is claimed to be a gully that cuts through lots to the east and the edge of which protrudes into the eastern part of this one.

The present matter came to a public hearing only because of the applicant’s request for some relatively minor deviations from the City’s height standards at a few points on the roofs and decks as shown below, viewing the structure from the east.

By way of explanation, the middle (or street level) portion of the proposed three-level structure begins with a garage (the area with no windows), on the right, followed by an office area and then a patio on the left. Above the garage is “Bedroom 2” of the five-bedroom home, and above the office is a “Teen Room.”

Heights on sloping lots are measured not from the actual land surface, but from a series of “planes” that approximate it.  The surfaces show in yellow, above, are 29 feet above these City-assigned grade planes (which are somewhat arbitrary and do a rather poor job of approximating the true ground surface, which in some places is a much as 4 feet above them and in others as much as 6 feet below the staff-selected planes).

As measured from City staff’s grade planes, the sloping eaves of the patio cover, office, teen room, and “bedroom 2” bath and closet roofs exceed the City’s 29 foot height limit by the amounts shown in blue. In addition, portions of a third level flat deck and rail (hidden behind the 29-foot yellow planes, and serving as the cover for parts of the mid-level living room and office area) exceed the 24 foot height limit for flat roofs

The applicant claims the unusual situation of “having” to build over the edge of a gully justifies these exceedances (click on images to see full size):

Regarding the Variances

The City’s Zoning Code sets minimal standards that construction must comply with and variances from those can be approved only (NBMC Sec. 20.52.090.F) if all of six required “findings” can be made. As detailed in our letter, SPON believes they cannot be made for the following reasons:

  1. There are special or unique circumstances or conditions applicable to the subject property (e.g., location, shape, size, surroundings, topography, or other physical features) that do not apply generally to other properties in the vicinity under an identical zoning classification;

Staff claims the unique circumstance is the east-west and north-slopes created by the gully on the eastern edge of the property.

However, all the lots on the south side of Kings Road slope down from the road to bottom of the bluff where it ends behind the commercial properties on West Coast Highway and development on sloping lots is a condition anticipated and dealt with in the Code (through provisions such as measuring structure heights from grade). Staff provides no compelling explanation of why an east-west (or steeper) slope is more constraining than a north-south (or shallower) one. Indeed, it says owners of sloping lots are generally able to comply with the code by building terraced two-level structures that follow the grade.

  1. Strict compliance with Zoning Code requirements would deprive the subject property of privileges enjoyed by other properties in the vicinity and under an identical zoning classification;

In an attempt to validate this required finding, staff makes some odd observations. Among them is this: “Modifying the proposed design to eliminate the height variance for enclosed living area would require eliminating an office on the main level, located behind a compliant garage.” Not only does staff not explain where building an office behind a garage is a “privilege” afforded by the Code to other properties, but a few pages later (on handwritten page 17 of the staff report) it observes the proposed garage is deeper than it needs to be to comply with code, and if the garage was reduced in depth, an office could be built behind a compliant garage without any height exceptions. On the same page, staff explains how each of the other uses claimed to require height exceptions could, with redesign, be constructed without the exceptions.

  1. Granting of the variance is necessary for the preservation and enjoyment of substantial property rights of the applicant;

Staff asserts that because of the east-west slope created by the gully, “Strict compliance with the Zoning Code would deprive the applicant of the substantial property
right of building a residence of uniform height across the subject site” and  “would effectively reduce the buildable width from approximately 90 percent of the lot width to 72 percent of the lot width at those locations.”

Staff does not explain where the “right” to build a residence of uniform height exists in the code, or why the applicant could not enjoy a terraced code-compliant design that follows the grade.

Indeed, as indicated below, treating the “gully feature” as if it doesn’t exist and building over it, far from being a “right,” seems inconsistent with City’s goals and policies. expressed in the Natural Resources Element of its General Plan, to preserve the natural topography, especially coastal bluffs such as this. In fact, in areas where multiple units are allowed on a lot, unusually steep or submerged portions are excluded from the area used to determine how many units are allowed.

  1. Granting of the variance will not constitute a grant of special privilege inconsistent with the limitations on other properties in the vicinity and in the same zoning district;

Exemption from the general rule that building heights follow the topography of the lot would appear to be a special privilege.

  1. Granting of the variance will not be detrimental to the harmonious and orderly growth of the City, nor endanger, jeopardize, or otherwise constitute a hazard to the public convenience, health, interest, safety, or general welfare of persons residing or working in the neighborhood; and

The opposition of neighbors provides strong evidence that approval of the height variances would be detrimental to the harmonious and orderly growth of the City. And there is a rational basis to their opposition. Neighbors, especially future owners of properties to the immediate east and west, have an expectation that construction at 1113 Kings Road will not protrude beyond the envelope prescribed by the Code. In particular, the lot at 1101 is even more strongly impacted by the “gully feature” and over-height construction at 1113 would incentivize over-height construction at 1101 to restore views blocked by 1113, in a cascading effect contrary to any notion of orderly growth.

  1. Granting of the variance will not be in conflict with the intent and purpose of this section, this Zoning Code, the General Plan, or any applicable specific plan.

The requested variances clearly do conflict with our General Plan.

Their purpose is to facilitate construction over the “gully feature.”  However, such construction, let alone facilitating it, is completely contrary to the goals and policies of our General Plan.

In particular, Goal NR 23 of Natural Resources Element is that “Development respects natural landforms such as coastal bluffs,” to which end Policy NR 23.1 (“Maintenance of Natural Topography”) was adopted to “Preserve cliffs, canyons, bluffs, significant rock outcroppings, and site buildings to minimize alteration of the site’s natural topography and preserve the features as a visual resource.”

That commitment is echoed in one of the most fundamental “Who We Are” policies of the Land Use Element — Policy LU 1.3 (“Natural Resources”): “Protect the natural setting that contributes to the character and identity of Newport Beach and the sense of place it provides for its residents and visitors. Preserve open space resources, beaches, harbor, parks, bluffs, preserves, and estuaries as visual, recreational and habitat resources. “

Other Issues

While the variances were the reason for a public hearing, and SPON questions the need for them (as explained above), there are a number of other issues with this project.

Environmental Impacts

SPON questions the Planning Commission’s finding that this project qualifies for the Categorical Exemption from environmental analysis found in the CEQA Guidelines — something that normally applies to single-family home construction. The categorical exemptions do not apply  when there an unusual circumstances leading to the possibility of a significant impact (the “exception to the exemptions”). Building on steep slopes is itself unusual and the City staff report identifies this slope in a visually sensitive area as particularly “unusual,” event for Kings Road. In that connection, neighbors have raised concerns, based on both experience and previous geotechnical studies, about the impact of the construction and the weight of the structure on the stability of the the slope. SPON does not feel the possibility of environmental impacts should be dismissed without analysis.

Neighborhood Compatibility

  • Much of the neighborhood concern about this application has focused on the incompatibility of two-story homes facing the south side of Kings Road being incompatible with the historic character of the street.
  • Promises about preserving the character of neighborhoods are found primarily in the City’s General Plan.  Policy LU 5.1.5 (“Character and Quality of Single-Family Residential Dwellings”) assures the public that “Compatibility with neighborhood development in density, scale, and street facing elevations” will be implemented through revisions to the Zoning Code.
  • However, the Zoning Code does this, if at all, in a very obscure way which makes it extremely difficult for the public to challenge staff’s decisions about the present application which many think — even without the variances — is incompatible in scale and street facing elevations:
    • Without the variances, the present application for development would require a Zoning Clearance from the Director (per NBMC Sec. 20.16.030).
    • In approving the Zoning Clearance the Director makes findings of consistency with the General Plan that can be appealed to the Planning Commission (see NBMC Sec. 20.52.100).
    • However, the fact that the Director has approved a Zoning Clearance, and thus made an appealable finding of consistency, is known only to the applicant making the opportunity for others to appeal essentially meaningless.

Preservation of Natural Resources

  • As noted above, the General Plan also makes promises about how development in Newport Beach will respect the natural topography including preserving coastal bluffs as visual resources for all to enjoy.
    • Again, the General Plan promises these protections will be implemented through provisions in the Zoning Code.
    • However, as currently written, the Bluff Overlay District concept in NBMC Sec. 20.28.040 applies to only selected bluffs, of which this is not one.
  • This project disturbs a large portion of a coastal bluff despite the policy language in the General Plan promoting preservation of coastal bluffs. By extending both the structures and the retaining walls farther out from Kings Road, the amount of the bluff face not modified by substantial development will be reduced to less than half of what it currently is:

Sadly, even where bluffs are supposed to be protected by the City codes, that protection does not seem to be very strong. Here is an example of bluff-face construction currently underway at 124 Kings Place, where Kings Road wraps around above Dover Drive:

Coastal View Roads

The portion of West Pacific Coast Highway below this development is a designated Coastal View Road in both the City’s General Plan (see Figure NR3) and its Coastal Land Use Plan (Map 4-3).

Since views to the harbor and ocean from this stretch of road are already blocked by existing development along PCH, the scenic feature is evidently the coastal bluffs below Kings Road — in this case directly opposite the entrance to the Balboa Bay Resort (which, although privately operated, sits on publicly-owned property):

This provides even stronger reason to be concerned about the destruction noted above.

Errors in Staff Analysis?

The City’s code regulations for residential “third stories” (for which special development restrictions apply per NBMC Sec. 20.48.180), including the definition of what constitutes a third story are fraught with uncertainty.

For residential structures built on slopes, the Zoning Code gives the Community Development Director the discretion to decide which level (if any) counts as a third story.

In the present case, the staff report notes how portions of the structure are seen as three stories when viewed from the east (the “Left Side Elevation” below), and emphasizes how the third floor walls are stepped back from the property line as required. But in Table 1 on handwritten page 9 it regards, without explanation, only 411 sq. ft. as “3rd floor area.”

It inexplicably fails to note that much of the structure is also seen as three stories when viewed from the west (see “Right Side Elevation” above).  Possibly this is because the lowest level, as viewed from that side, is regarded as a “daylighting basement” rather than a first “story” because it is claimed to be partially below “natural” grade. But it seems to be above the existing or at least the finished grade after construction (it will have a door exiting on the west side).

In any event, it appears much of the uppermost level (the one at the top, including the “Master Bedroom” above the red arrow) has two levels below it, qualifying in most people’s estimation as a third floor.

In addition to comprising much more third floor area than reported, the “Master Bedroom” actually steps out closer to the property line than the floor below, rather than back away from the line:

and a portion of it may be closer to the west property line than the minimum setback (4 feet) required even without the additional 2 feet of step back expected for a third floor:

When viewed from the west, this three-story-looking portion of the house will, in addition, loom 37 feet in height as measured from the peak of the roof to the exterior ground, even though because of the City’s peculiar method measuring heights it counts as only “29 feet”  (measured from the slanting line near the bottom, representing “natural grade” — some 9 feet above the actual finished grade):

In summary, SPON feels there is much more problematic about this proposal than just the few height variances which are the technical issue the City allows to be appealed.

Upcoming

(no future actions expected)

Recent Events

  • September 24, 2019:  Council member Herdman had second thoughts about upholding the variances, and asked the Council to reconsider the matter so he could change his vote to “no.” However, it takes a majority of the Council to re-open a matter that has been voted on, and only Council member Brenner supported his effort.  As a result, he was unable to change his vote.
  • September 10, 2019:  SPON’s appeal was heard as Item 20 on the City Council agenda.  Despite an attorney representing SPON submitting a letter detailing some of the legal reasons for denying the requested variances, the Council voted 4:3 to uphold the variances, with Council members Avery, Brenner and Dixon voting “no.”
  • June 5, 2019: SPON appealed the Planning Commission decision for a new hearing before the City Council.  It has been scheduled for September 10.
  • May 23, 2019:  As Item 4 on their agenda, the City’s Planning Commission approved the variance request.

News Coverage

  • none yet

Helpful Links

The Residences at Newport Place

Project Update – July 2016: Back to the Drawing Board
City Council unanimously rejects developer’s appeal to overturn Planning Commission decision at Council’s July 26, 2016 meeting. 
(Video here . . . Staff Report here)  

Project Overview: The originally proposed project was composed of 384 residential units and 5,677 square feet of retail space, replacing an existing small shopping center. View the project proposal here (large file; takes a minute to load).

Why We’re Watching: Among other things, the proposal includes a request for “adjustments to development standards pertaining to building height”.  In other words, the developers are seeking an exception to the current building height (an example of SPOT ZONING).  The developers are also seeking a WAIVER of a General Plan Policy that requires them to dedicate a minimum of ½ acre for a neighborhood park.  Apparently, they don’t have room for a park (again . . . another example of SPOT ZONING). Read the Planning Commission Staff Report for yourself.

Recent Events:

March 2016: The Residences at Newport Place, an Airport Area proposed project,  went before the Planning Commission for an initial review on March 3, 2016.  Subsequent meetings scheduled for May were temporarily tabled as a result of concerns from both the public and the Planning Commission.

June 2016: The applicant requested a continuance and the project finally came back to the Planning Commission for review at their June 9 meeting.  SPON submitted comments to the Planning Commission on three separate occasions before the project came back to Planning Commission on June 9 (see Helpful Links below).  The Commission was further concerned about a lack of responsiveness to the comments received in March.  In a 4-1 vote they denied the developer’s request to continue the hearings and rejected the project.

July 2016: The developer appealed the decision to City Council and the appeal hearing was set for the Council’s July 26, 2016, meeting (Public Notice).  The City Council unanimously rejected the appeal, forcing the developer to start over with a completely new application if they wish to continue.

Next Step:  Let’s keep the standing-room-only momentum going! City meetings are great opportunities for residents to come together in a show of solidarity and for getting their comments included in the public record.

Helpful Links

Planning Commission Mtg Videos

Project Update

Planning Commission Meeting Videos here!

After many months of public requests by SPON for the Newport Beach Planning Commission meetings to be video recorded and televised (as they are in most other cities), on February 23, 2016, the City Council voted 2 (Dixon, Petros) in favor to 4 (Selich, Muldoon, Duffield, Peotter) against televising.

In response, from March 3, 2016, though January 19, 2017, SPON, at its own expense, recorded and posted Planning Commission meeting videos for the public to view online.   Watch them on SPON’s YouTube Channel here or in the SPON Video Library.

The City finally relented by placing Item 12 on the Council’s January 24, 2017, consent calendar, directing staff to begin “filming” and making available the Planning Commission meetings and adopting Resolution No. 2017-10, amending then City Council Policy A-13 to remind the Commissioners to behave with decorum while being filmed.  The item was unanimously approved, without comment.

Starting February 9, 2017, the City finally took over responsibility for video recording and posting the meetings.  Those can be found in the City Planning Commission video archive.  The meetings are still not broadcast or streamed live, but in addition to being archived, the recordings are later shown on the City’s cable station, Newport Beach TV.

The following archives SPON’s effort to accomplish that —


Overview:  In response to numerous earlier requests from SPON, Mayor Dixon asked that the question of televising Planning Commission meetings be put on the February 23, 2016, Council agenda.

More than 70 community members either emailed the Council or showed up in person to support the idea of televising, live streaming and archiving videos of the meetings. No one wrote or spoke in opposition.

Council Action: Despite the clear and unanimous public sentiment, Council voted not to televise the meetings [Dixon and Petros voted in favor of televising; Selich, Muldoon, Duffield and Peotter voted to oppose televising; Curry was absent].  The Council members’ arguments for and against are well worth listening to.  Click here to view the Video; click on Agenda Item #16 to skip directly to this matter at 59:16 minutes.

The vote against televising the meetings is worrisome on several levels:

  1. The equipment and largely automated technology is already in place for City Council meetings and needs only to be turned on during the Commission meetings and manned.
  2. Staff indicated there was ample budget to cover the $3,600/year extra expense ($50 per hour).  Most meetings are under two hours so the actual cost will likely be closer to $2,500/year.
  3. Council arguments against televising meetings focused on these concerns:
    • that the public would stop coming to meetings
    • that commissioners might be inclined to grandstand more if televised
    • that access to videos would aid litigants against the city
    • and, ironically, that commissioners (and Council members) wouldn’t have the benefit of public comments delivered in person before voting
  4. The Planning Commission itself expressed displeasure both with the Council’s decision and with the fact that no one asked their views on the matter.  However an expected noticed public discussion of the matter by the Commission has not yet materialized.

SPON’s Next Step: We are not giving up on this request.  While we work to gather more support in the community and on the Council, SPON, at its own expense, has retained a videographer who will videotape Planning Commission Meetings beginning March 3.  Videos will be posted to our website and/or You Tube for public viewing. Be sure to watch for our progress on this action on our website. 

YOUR Next Steps: 

    1. Check SPON’s YouTube Channel to view videos which we post after each Planning Commission Meeting
    2. Write to City Council members to let them know how important these videos are for government transparency
    3. Write letters to the editors of our local newspapers.  Be sure to include your name, city of residence and phone number (not for publication but allows editors to check with you if they have questions).

Daily Pilot Editor
Newport Beach Independent Editor
OC Register Editor

Press Coverage: 

Helpful Links

Water Management in a Drought

 

16-486 - Correspondence

City Council reviewed the Newport Beach Urban Water Management Plan at its June 14, 2016 meeting.  And residents had something to say about it!

Newport Beach Indy: July 1, 2016 – Susan Skinner
Newport Beach Indy: March 26, 2016 – Andrea Lingle

Urban Water Management Documents:

 

Video Library

Council Candidate Forums

As a 501(c)3 organization, SPON cannot, and does not, take a position on the merits of candidates for elective office. Providing information to the public is, however, part of SPON’s core mission, and as such — in the interest of an informed electorate — SPON provides links to videos of public election forums, present and past, at which competing candidates for the Newport Beach City Council have expressed their views on issues of interest to residents. To access our full playlist of YouTube videos click on the little horizontal bars in the upper left-hand corner of the video below.  Links to additional election forum videos can be found by following the first link above.

Community Interest Videos

This is a collection of videos that may be of interest to members of the SPON community.  To access the full playlist, click on the little horizontal bars in the upper left-hand corner of the video below.

Community interest videos recorded and broadcast by the City can be found linked to from their Newport Beach Television (“NBTV”) webpages.  Many of the NBTV videos can also be found on the YouTube page of Edward Olen.

SPON GPAC presentations

These videos archive presentations made at SPON’s GPAC workshops. For additional details, including copies of the PowerPoints, see the SPON General Plan Update page.  To access the full playlist, click on the little horizontal bars in the upper left-hand corner of the video below.

City Workshops recorded by SPON

These are videos, recorded at SPON’s expense, of public workshops conducted by the City of Newport Beach.  To see the full list, click on the little horizontal bars in the upper left-hand corner of the video below and scroll through the selections.

SPON-recorded Planning Commission Meeting Videos

From March 3, 2016, though January 19, 2017, SPON, at its own expense, recorded and posted the Newport Beach Planning Commission meetings for public review.
To see the full list, click on the little horizontal bars in the upper left-hand corner of the following video and then scroll through the selections.

Alternatively, to see the full playlist directly on SPON’s YouTube channel click on this link.

 City-recorded Planning Commission Meeting Videos

Effective February 9, 2017, the City of Newport Beach assumed responsibility for filming Planning Commission meetings, and maintains them from that date forward on the city’s website.

Videos filmed by the City are available here:

  1. Click on this link
  2. Then click on the Video folder
  3. Then click on a Year of interest
  4. Finally, click on the meeting date you wish to view

The City also records its City Council meetings, the videos of which can be similarly found here.

Newsletter 2016 Winter-Spring

Topics covered in this newsletter include:

  • Recent accomplishments
  • New development projects that jeopardizes the beauty and peace of our coastline
  • New community outreach opportunities
  • Important upcoming dates to save

A downloadable/printable version of this Newsletter is available here.


beehiveWe’ve been busy on many fronts since our last not-quite-quarterly newsletter. Despite the crushing defeat of Measure Y (almost 70% voted NO), attempts to add more density and traffic and change the character of Newport Beach have continued in different forms. But as always we’re on our toes and watching out for residents’ interests. [Links providing Measure Y background located below.]

Here’s what we’ve accomplished:

May 21: A big thanks to everyone who wrote to the Planning Commissioners to stop them from adding 300,000 sf of development capacity to Newport Coast after The Irvine Company said it had noticed a “scrivener’s error” in the voter-approved portion of the 2006 General Plan…nine years after the fact!  [Links at bottom of page.]

September 1: We met with Dave Kiff, Ed Selich, Diane Dixon and Community Development Director Kim Brandt to discuss the spot zoning and tweaks to the General Plan we’re seeing all around our town. We reiterated that it’s probably time for a comprehensive review of the City’s General Plan[Links at bottom of page.]

jam3October 7: The Coastal Commission delayed a decision on Banning Ranch after the developer pitched a plan to build 1,175 homes, a 75-room hotel and 20-bed hostel along with 75,000 sf of retail space on a 401-acre site rich in environmentally sensitive habitat and Native American archaeological sites. The next hearing will be May 11, 12 or 13 in Long Beach [exact date and venue TBD]. We are supporting all efforts to preserve this entire site as open space and stop a project that would mean big money for developers but only give residents ten years of noise, contaminated dust and traffic jams during construction and then an ongoing drain on our roads, water, public safety and other resources. Not to mention gridlock. [Links at bottom of page.]

October 8: We had an attorney write a letter on SPON’s behalf about a plan to tear down the Beacon Bay Car Wash in Newport Center and build a seven-story building with 49 luxury condos (“150 Newport Center Project”). The project, as submitted, requires

  • a General Plan amendment, a Zoning Code amendment, and
  • a waiver of the 10-acre minimum for a “Planned Community”, and
  • an increase in the height limit for the site from 35 to 87 feet!

Our letter was received before the project could breeze by the Planning Commission and go on for approval by the City Council with no Environmental Impact Report (EIR).  An EIR is being conducted now – stay tuned.  [Links at bottom of page.]

Museum House: In the meantime, a competing project being put forward aims to redevelop the OC Museum of Art site, on the other side of Fashion Island, with a 26-story, 100-unit condominium high rise. Yes, you read that right… [Links at bottom of page.]

These are just a few highlights of the actions SPON took in 2015. Many of our battles are of the longer-term variety and will stretch out into 2016 and beyond…


Keeping our coastline beautiful…and true to Newport Beach

nbcoastlineNearly half of Newport Beach is in the coastal zone, and today projects in that zone need permits both from the City and the California

Coastal Commission. If the Coastal Commission signs off on it, the Local Coastal Program Implementation Plan, approved by the Planning Commission in October and by the City Council in November, would transfer a good deal of control over development projects to City government.

Which is fine with us as long as the City’s actions are guided by its own coastal policies and the Coastal Act. Case in point: The City approved the Back Bay Landing Project in its original form, which included building a new bulkhead, multi-story water-edge homes and a 65-foot viewing tower. The Coastal Commission deferred a final decision on the bulkhead and homes in December BUT denied the tower, saying it would be “inconsistent with the character of the area and result in adverse visual impacts to public views of the bay and the cliffs of Upper Newport Bay”.  Don’t you wonder why our City Council didn’t make that statement?

developedcoastlineSuch considerations will be all-important now that a good portion of Mariner’s Mile has changed hands and will be the subject of a number of “revitalization” proposals.   We want to make sure that stretch of PCH doesn’t wind up with oversized lots and super-sized buildings on either side, making it feel like a concrete canyon.  In particular, current height restrictions will have to be respected and enforced. [Links at bottom of page.]


Asking for transparency

We’re still working to get the City to use the state-of-the-art technology in the Civic Center to live stream and archive Planning Commission meetings, during which City Council-appointed commissioners discuss and vote on development projects with the potential to impact and even transform our community. Thanks to everyone who wrote letters about this last year. We may have gotten through to officials: this item is now on the February 23 City Council agenda!  [Link at bottom of page.] 

And we encourage you to continue writing to City Council in support of this request.  City Council will hear this matter on February 23, so time is of the essence. (Email form here).


Reaching out

We’ve been trying a new community outreach model: A few of our members have graciously opened their homes for monthly informational luncheons so people can visit with like-minded residents, keep up with the City’s development pipeline (no simple task!) and find out what they can do to help.


Expanding our network of people who care

SPON is run entirely by volunteers and funded exclusively with members’ tax-deductible donations. Every bit helps. But to carry out our mission, we need people just as much as we need money. If you care about our residential and environmental qualities and have time or special skills you’d like to contribute, we’ll be thrilled to hear from you. We all love Newport Beach and we need to show it!   Tell us how you can help hereIf you can donate, form is here.


LITS


Save the Dates:

May 11, 12 or 13: Coastal Commission hearing on Banning Ranch in Long Beach.  Exact date and venue TBD.

May 21: SPON Annual Meeting at the Environmental Nature Center. Details here.

November 8: Election Day! Remember, we need a City Council that cares about residents, so don’t forget to ask questions and research candidates before you vote.


 

Newsletter Information Links

Measure Y

General Plan Land Use Element Correction: Newport Coast Development

General Plan (voter approved in 2006)

Banning Ranch

150 Newport Center Project (Beacon Bay Car Wash Site Redevelopment)

Museum House (OC Museum of Art Site High-Rise Condo Project)

Coastline Projects

Request for Planning Commission Meeting Videos

Coastal Commission Hearing on the Banning Ranch Confirmed

This is it! The fate of the Banning Ranch will be decided by the Coastal Commission on Wednesday, October 7, 9 a.m. at the Long Beach Convention Center, Seaside Ballroom. 

It’s up to all of us, the residents who want to protect our quality of life—our health, our safety!—from the severe impacts of the proposed Banning Ranch development.

1375 homes, a hotel and 75,000+ square feet of commercial space will generate:

  • TRAFFIC!! 15,000 more car trips on our roads. DAILY
  • Air pollution, oil field toxins and health risks!
  • More water cuts and rate hikes
  • Noise pollution 

Only a HUGE turnout at the hearing will tell the commissioners the public does not want massive development on the Banning Ranch.  Can we count on you to be there?

Please reserve your seat NOW for a FREE bus trip to the hearing.  We still have two more buses to fill.  We need you!

To sign up for the bus, go to http://banningpledge.com/longbeach.

Bus pick up locations will be posted when the information becomes available.

The Agenda and Staff Report for the proposed Banning Ranch project is now available on the Coastal Commission website at http://www.coastal.ca.gov/mtgcurr.html. Look for October 7, agenda item #9b.

Back Bay Landing Project

Back Bay Landing & Balboa Marina Projects: Update by Seychelle Cannes August 2015:  The Back Bay Landing Project is proposed as a mixed-use waterfront development on seven acres at 300 East Coast Highway (PCH and Bayside Drive).  This site now functions as a parking lot and recreational vehicle storage area.  The Newport Beach City Council approved the project entitlement on February 11, 2014 for over 82,742 square feet of office, restaurant and dry-stack boat storage.  The approved footage for the project does NOT include the propose 49 individual residential units, a three-story parking lot (partially under-ground) nor a 65 foot viewing tower.  These additions are being requested by the developer through an amended Conditional Land Use Plan (CLUP).  This parcel is currently zoned for marine use only.  The architect for the Back Bay Landing project is the same architect that designed the Mariner’s Pointe retail and restaurant development located on West Coast Highway at Dover Drive.

For more information

The Balboa Marina is slated for a development project as well.

BalboaMarinaOnly one block away from the proposed Back Bay Landing Project, just west of Bayside Drive, is the expanded development proposed by the Irvine Company at the West Balboa Marina.  Located at 201 West Coast Highway, this project will expand the existing Balboa Marina by constructing a 19,400 square foot marine commercial building for a yacht brokerage office, public restrooms and a restaurant.  It is essentially at the site of the former Ruben E. Lee.

For more information: The Log – Boating & Fishing News

With higher density plans for Mariner’s Mile, traffic grid-lock is still in our future, despite the overwhelmingly opposition and defeat of Ballot Measure Y in November 2014.

* * * * * *

Article by Seychelle Cannes (2/2015): A mix-use waterfront development project on 7 acres at 300 East Coast Highway (PCH and Bayside Dr.) which changes the current parking lot and recreational vehicle storage area to more than 82,742 square feet of office, restaurant and dry-stack boat storage.

With higher density plans for Mariner’s Mile, traffic grid-lock is still in our future, despite the overwhelmingly opposition and defeat of the 2014 Ballot Measure Y.

Newport Beach City Council approved the project entitlement on February 11, 2014 for over 82,742 square feet of office, restaurant and dry-stack boat storage.  The total approved square feet of 82,742 for the project does not include the propose 49 single residential units, 3 story parking lot (partly under-ground) nor a 65 foot viewing tower that the developer is requesting through  an amended Conditional Land Use Plan (CLUP).  Presently the parcel is zoned for marine use only.  The architect for the Back Bay Landing project is the same architect that designed the Mariner’s Pointe retail and restaurant development located on West Coast Highway at Dover Drive. For more information, read this article about the December 2014 Coastal Commission Meeting, as well as the project write up on the Newport Beach City website.

Another development, adjacent to this project, is the expanded development proposed by The Irvine Company at the West Balboa Marina, located at 201 East Coast Highway (West Coast Highway and Bayside Dr.).   The project will expand on the existing Balboa Marina and construct a 19,400 square foot marine commercial building for a yacht brokerage office, public restrooms and a restaurant.   For more information on the Balboa Marina project, read the article here.

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