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Guest Column

Dave Kiff

An insider’s look at what’s going on in and around City Hall

Dave Kiff

Newport Beach City Manager Dave Kiff

On Tuesday, June 13th, the Newport Beach City Council will meet briefly for a few presentations starting at 6 p.m., then go to Closed Session, then have the Regular Session starting at 7 p.m. More detailed Council meeting information is at the end of the Guide. I don’t summarize every item on the agenda, so make sure you look at the City Clerk’s agenda page to read the whole agenda if you’d like. 

As noted, the evening’s Regular Session is at 7 p.m. The items worth noting are:

Two items under Public Hearings relate to the yearly renewals of the Business

Improvement Districts (BIDs) for Corona del Mar and for Restaurants across Newport Beach.

The annual City Budget is up for adoption, pretty much on schedule with past years. As I noted two weeks ago, this proposed budget:

Allocates a total of $50M for pensions (that’s a lot). About $9M of this is an “additional discretionary payment” above and beyond what we are required to pay. The LA Times wrote about this last Sunday. Importantly, about $10M of the $50M is paid for directly by employees (me included). A number of residents regularly ask me about pension issues. I am always happy to discuss it with anyone, so please call or e-mail me.

It proposes reserving about $6M towards critical harbor infrastructure, including sea walls around Balboa Island.

Is balanced.

The capital project side of it:

Proposes some new efforts that Mayor Muldoon first spoke of back in January, including using better technology for traffic solutions and to start an update of the 2006 City General Plan.

Allocates funding for the Corona del Mar Library and Fire Station, as well as for a replacement of Fire Station #2 next to Lido Isle. It allocates the funds, but does not expend them – that would take separate action by the City Council at a later date.

On the subject of the Budget, we have a new budget portal to allow you to get to know the budget better. What fun! You might want to take some time to look at the portal a bit – it’s really pretty interesting (says the guy who thinks budgets are interesting). Doing this will make you more educated about your local government and the least popular person at area cocktail parties.  

For our Newport Heights neighbors, the long-awaited Heights alley repair project is up for contract award. It’s nearly a $4M item. If approved, it means that work will start in just a few weeks – first up will be the new 15th Street Sidewalk. So, it’s actually an Alley Repair and Sidewalk Contract.

Today’s Fun Questions from Residents/Visitors:

Are we having Junior Guards this summer even with shark sightings off of the Orange County coast? Yes. For more details, I will defer to Amy Senk as she fills in relevant facts via her column in Stu News.

What’s new on July 4 this year? Well, it’s a Tuesday this year, which may tend to lower our crowd levels. Beyond that not much is new, but we still expect a fun time for all on Independence Day. If you live in the West Newport Beach “Safety Enhancement Zone” area, be sure to be aware of and learn more about the additional regulations that apply in this Zone between 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, July 4, and 3 a.m. on Wednesday, July 5. Please do not bring in fireworks in any part of town. Fireworks are illegal here except for the really great shows that the City and others produce on the evening of July 4. Remember the family-friendly activities and parades – there will be one in West Newport and the Mariners neighborhood, as always. More details to come.

As always, thanks for reading. Please forward this Guide to family, friends and members of your HOA if you represent one. I always like hearing from you, too, so please don’t hesitate to ask a question or offer a comment. 


Dave Kiff

City Manager

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Letter to the Editor:

“Peotter caught again” 

Scott Peotter’s record of ignoring our laws, from public disclosures in violation of the Brown Act, acceptance of excess campaign contributions, failure to report his campaign expenses and mis-use of the city seal are well documented.  

Now we learn that Peotter has failed to properly report his economic interests to the Fair Political Practices Commission. For two years, he reported an interest in a property in Irvine, but provided an address on Culver Drive that does not exist.  

In 2015 he apparently worked in a “ministry” whose web site indicates “ministers” raise their own support from private, undisclosed, donations. Peotter reports he received between $10,000-$100,000 in income from this source. Exactly who was providing cash for living expenses to our councilmember?  

Our state does not allow elected officials to receive undisclosed gifts of cash and puts a $460 limit on the value of such gifts. 

For the four years he was on the Newport Beach Planning Commission, Peotter reported no income, investments, business interests, spousal income or gifts at all. 

How did he manage to live in Newport Beach during that time? It depends on which newspaper you read. In the Daily Pilot he said he lived off his savings (despite reporting no investments nor investment income). In the Orange County Register he says that his income came from outside the city and he did not think he needed to report it.

What’s next? 

Our community deserves council members who respect our residents and respect our laws.  Peotter fails on both counts.

Brad Alewine

Corona del Mar

Letters to the Editor:

McCaffrey calls out Skinner for Peotter attacks

Saying it often doesn’t make it true.

Susan Skinner’s recent email diatribes calling for Scott Peotter’s recall are an exercise in fantasy. Skinner is a well-known obstructionist with a personal vendetta against Councilman Scott Peotter. Scott is a conservative Republican and property rights advocate, Skinner isn’t. 

When she doesn’t get her way she sues the city at great cost to taxpayers.

Skinner calls for Peotter’s recall because he stood up for private property rights in supporting the Museum House project. After a two year planning process, the project was approved unanimously by the planning commission and by the city council on a 6-1 vote.

Skinner claims the Line in the Sand PAC raises its money “mostly in small amount from many people who support its goals.” Not the case.

Public records filed under the penalty of perjury confirm that Skinner has a PAC of her own, Newport 1st.

Newport 1st received $47,500 on December 16, 2016 from an anonymous donor funneling money through Citizens Against Urban High Rise Towers, a non-profit organization that doesn’t report donors’ names as required for PAC’s.

On the same day, Skinner transferred $46,506 from her PAC, “Newport 1st, to Line in the Sand PAC. In some circles this is called laundering political donations.

Why should taxpayers write a $500,000 check for Susan Skinner’s political vendetta?

Why doesn’t she just run against Peotter in 2018 and save taxpayers the money?

Bob McCaffrey

Volunteer Chairman, Residents for Reform

Balboa Island

Mom advocates for safety and helmet awareness for all

My name is Carmen Lofgren and I advocate safety and helmet awareness. I noticed some pictures (in StuNewsNewport) of kids on scooters without helmets. I thought it may be a good idea with summer coming and more families being out having fun, you may want to do a piece on safety, following rules, safety check for bikes, scooters, skateboards, etc., wearing helmets & proper fitting. 

It is a law for kids under 18 to wear a helmet riding any of the above and it is simply a smart idea to wear them no matter your age as accidents happen, and adult brains aren’t any stronger than a child’s brain. Parents should want to protect themselves (who will take care of their child if they’re hurt) and they should lead by example.

I have been raising awareness for the past 2 1/2 years. My son Gary Lofgren was 25 years old, a great human being, and his life was cut short from a bicycle accident. He was not wearing a helmet and all his injuries were to his brain. 

Please check out FB page, Love and Support For Gary to see what we have been doing in the community. I reached out to the CEO of Kaiser Permanente and he started a region wide Helmet Awareness Campaign because of my son’s story & my efforts; I started a Helmet Awareness program at the high schools in the OUSD; I’ve shared the video & donated helmets to students at Ensign Middle School in Newport Beach; did the same at La Purisima Church in Orange; and shared my story with Anaheim Fire and Rescue.

I am currently a member of the Newport Beach Sunrise Rotary Club and will be working to get a Helmet in a Box program started with Rotarian Steve Bender. I’ve done events with Kaiser Permanente, volunteered with Helmet Heads in Colorado, and recently the Mayor of Baldwin Park has asked me to speak on this very important issue over the summer. 

I hope you find this important enough to share. 

Thank you,

Carmen Lofgren

Concerned citizens still keeping an eye on JWA

Residents who live close to our bay and ocean enjoy incredibly beautiful neighborhoods and spectacular views, but many also have to endure the noise and pollution from airplanes flying out of John Wayne Airport. From the first time Orange County Supervisors introduced the idea of commercial flights from the former small airfield known as Eddie Martin, concerned citizens complained and initiated efforts to prevent the airfield from becoming a commercial airport. Some residents were so furious they developed a plan to lie on the tarmac of the runway, arm in arm, to prevent planes from departing. Orange County Supervisors stopped their plan with the promise they would seek an alternative site, a more appropriate one than that small piece of land.  

When El Toro Air Base closed and the Marines vacated the property, County Supervisors believed they had found the perfect site for a county airport. Having runways which had been used by Marine jet planes, the surrounding property was zoned to prohibit homes, parks, and schools, thus providing the perfect departure pattern. It seemed an ideal site. However, the city of Irvine and other southern Orange County cities waged war against the Supervisors’ proposed plan for this property and won. Irvine ended up with the large piece of property, with the promise they would build a “Great Park.” That was 15 years ago! To date, the Great Park has not materialized. Instead JWA was forced to increase in size, number of flights, and complaints from residents. Not a single official has been held responsible for broken promises. The following website provides a brief history and timeline of JWA: ( 

The battle to keep JWA from further expansion has been a struggle ever since the first commercial flight left the ground. Fortunately, the Newport Beach City Council, County Supervisors and SPON developed a Settlement Agreement that was accepted by the FAA. It provides specific protections for those under the JWA flight path and is one of the few airports in our Country to have such a contract. It offers specific protections for impacted residents, such as having designated noise limits that are monitored by sound equipment and a curfew that prevents departures of commercial airlines between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. Residents most impacted by the planes resent the increasing number of airplane departures. They are concerned that the accumulated noise and pollution are detrimental to their health and have asked Newport Beach officials for an official study to determine the extent of these potential health risks.  

JWA has a “hot line” citizens can call to report any suspected violations of rules regarding commercial planes, such as those flying below the required height, planes that sound significantly louder than usual, or a commercial plane violating the curfew. It is helpful to provide as much information as possible regarding the plane in question, such as exact time of the flight, identification of the specific carrier, the plane’s identification number, and any other specific information to help JWA representatives identify the offender. The airport number to call is: 949.252.5185. 

Citizen groups such as AirFair, AWG, SPON and the Newport Beach Aviation Citizens Committee have worked to ensure all rules and regulations are followed. As a current Board member of AirFair, I invite all who are interested in airport issues to attend our meetings and join us in our efforts to keep Newport Beach as one of the most desirable places to live in the World by insisting JWA and the FAA consider citizens’ safety and health over airline profits. Please access our website for exact the dates and times of our meetings.

Bonnie O’Neil

AirFair Board member
Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor:

Mayor Pro Tem says wait until 2018

In my sixty-five years in Newport Beach I have always admired the kindness of our residents. My wife Terry and I have been blessed to raise our children and build a worldwide business in one of the most unique and beautiful harbors I have ever seen.

I was honored to be elected in 2014 to the City Council. As just a boat builder I was excited to give back to the community in the best way possible.  

I was unfamiliar with the intricacies of local politics but was willing to put in the time and use my business background to help bring common-sense policies to our great city. Maybe I was naïve, I thought doing the right thing for taxpayers was enough.  

The attempted recall of Councilman Scott Peotter has revealed an ugly side of our community.  

A few people led by former Councilman Keith Curry, are upset that they lost the 2014 election. They desperately want the controlling votes on the council. That’s what this is all about. To achieve this they continually write letters that are inaccurate and unfair.

For example, they claim Scott wants to gamble with tax dollars in the stock market. They don’t tell you that in 2007 Councilman Curry led the charge to create a section 115 Trust allowing the City to invest funds for employees receiving lifetime health insurance. It’s the vehicle we are reviewing to help pay down the City’s massive pension debt created by the Curry City Council.  

They didn’t recall former Mayor Rush Hill for swearing at constituents from the dais saying “We’re here in large part because previous councils did not want to take the kind of sh** you’re giving out.”  

They didn’t recall Keith Curry for saying, “This is designed to leave a big turd in the City after (Peotter) leaves. This is pathetic. This is bad public policy. Nobody else in America has this policy. It’s an absolute disgrace.” (Daily Pilot, June 15, 2016 -

They criticize Scott for his support of private property rights and the Museum House project. They don’t tell you that recall leader Keith Curry voted for it.  

Scott is hardworking and accessible. He’s on the ballot next year. That’s the time to hash out these issues, not in a recall election that will cost taxpayers $500,000.00, money that could be used to pay down our pension and Civic Center debt.

Duffy Duffield, Mayor Pro Tem

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor:

“Three compelling reasons” for Peotter recall

Many residents oppose Councilman Scott Peotter, but some wonder if a recall is the right thing to do.

I believe there are three compelling reasons why a recall is critical to our city:

First, Peotter has violated his oath to defend the Constitution and has compromised the rights of the residents to petition our government. When he added 3700 unnecessary pages to the Museum House petition, he was trying to stop all of us from exercising our right to petition our government. What’s next? Residents must stand up for our rights.

Second, Peotter simply refuses to obey the law. Twice, he violated the city contribution limits. This is a serious offense and the penalty is removal from office. Twice he violated the state Political Reform Act and is currently under investigation by the FPPC. On more than seven occasions he used the city seal contrary to local law and continued to do so citing a perceived “loophole”. He violated the Brown Act by disclosing confidential information that could have cost the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. Because the city attorney believes he is prohibited from prosecuting and the city council has not appointed a special prosecutor, he thinks he can simply get away with it. We cannot tolerate lawlessness by our public officials. We must hold them to a higher standard.

Third, there is the potential for Peotter to do lasting damage over the next two years. In the upcoming budget, he wants to eliminate funding for several projects. These include traffic improvements, public safety buildings, and libraries. He wants to sell the old city hall site eliminating a long-term revenue source and potentially opening up the option for high-rise condo development on this site if the hotel is not successful. He wants to slash revenues by $3.5 million to create justification for more service cuts. He wants to take funds needed to reduce pension liability and speculate in the stock market. He wants to update the General Plan, so that it will reflect his high-rise vision of our city and he wants to replace our outstanding city management with those loyal to him. Our city could be changed forever in the next two years.

Some worry about the cost of a special election, but this is small compared to the millions in lost revenues and costs if even some of Peotter’s ideas are implemented. Visit for more information.

Lynn Swain

Committee To Recall Scott Peotter

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor:

“Rules don’t apply” to Councilman Peotter

Of all of the characteristics embodied by Newport Beach City Councilman Scott Peotter, his disrespect is the one that bothers us the most.

We could have predicted that he would act in this manner because of the disrespect that he showed our neighborhood between 2007 and 2010 while building his house behind us. Although he was a Newport Beach Planning Commissioner at the time and certainly knew the city’s rules and requirements, he consistently behaved as if those rules didn’t apply to him. 

City rules allow 2 years for the construction of a home, but this particular site was allowed to remain unfinished for almost 4 years despite multiple complaints to the city begging for action to close it down. In an extraordinary departure from protocol, he continued to live in the construction site during this time. 

A 2009 OC Register article about the site contains photos of the mounds of debris present at the site, including mattresses and tires left outside. To those of us who endured this fiasco, his disregard for the very rules he was charged with enforcing presaged his future behavior on the council.

Respect for the rules is a basic expectation for our elected representatives, but Mr. Peotter continues to behave as though the rules don’t apply to him. The Brown Act requires that confidential information disclosed in closed session remain confidential for obvious reasons, but Mr. Peotter readily shared confidential information with his political associates.  

Rules concerning fundraising exist to ensure that politicians are not unduly influenced by donations, yet Mr. Peotter flouted those rules as well, with no expressions of regret.

How a councilman comports himself is important not just with those with whom he agrees, but also with those with whom he disagrees. He represents every resident in the city and it is incumbent upon him to behave like an adult and behave respectfully to everyone. Here again, Mr. Peotter continues to behave as though the rules do not apply to him. After voting in support of the Museum House, he published an editorial in the Daily Pilot in which he made this comment about the environmental organization SPON: “I like to spell it SPAWN (Still Pouting And Whining in Newport).” What kind of respectful person says that?  

It is time to restore respect and integrity to the Newport Beach City Council. It is time to recall Scott Peotter.

Liddy and Scott Paulsen

Newport Beach

Guest Column

Dave Kiff

An insider’s look at what’s going on in and around City Hall

Dave Kiff

Newport Beach City Manager Dave Kiff

On Tuesday, May 23rd, the Newport Beach City Council will meet for a 3 p.m. Joint Meeting with the City’s Finance Committee to hear the first formal budget presentation of the year. Then the regular non-Joint Study Session gets underway 4 p.m.-ish. Finally, there is a 7 p.m. regular session. More detailed Council meeting information is at the end of the Guide. I don’t summarize every item on the agenda, so make sure you look at the City Clerk’s agenda page to read the whole agenda if you’d like. 

As noted, the Joint Meeting starts at 3 p.m. and is focused on the proposed Fiscal Year 2017-18 City budget. What’s newsworthy about it? A couple of things:

It socks away more money than ever before for pensions, including to address our unfunded liability issue. Another $9 million (!) is proposed to go towards a discretionary additional payment for pensions.

It proposes sending about $6M towards critical harbor infrastructure, including sea walls around Balboa Island.

It’s balanced (wait, that’s not news – our budget is always balanced).

Our capital plan proposes some new efforts that Mayor Muldoon first spoke of back in January, including using better technology for traffic solutions and to start an update of the 2006 City General Plan. 

Then the Study Session is really focused on one main item, that being preparing for Summer along Ocean Front Walk. Folks interested will hear about ideas from the PD for safer travels, as well as our ongoing discussions about things like Surrey cycles. If I were planning on listening in, I’d try for a little after 4 p.m. 

The evening’s Regular Session is at 7 p.m. The items worth noting are a handful:

An airport item involving how Commuter Aircraft at JWA are defined. A bit complex, but simple at the same time. Operators of commuter planes (like SkyWest) are buying new Embraer and Bombardier planes that have seating capacities of 76 seats, but the JWA Settlement Agreement defines commuter planes as having up to 70 seats. JWA is still governed by a “million annual passenger” cap that is in the Settlement Agreement – and any new seats filled on a plane count towards the cap. 

Some changes to the lease agreement involving the Lighthouse Café at Marina Park. The changes would include allowing the Café to have a mobile cart for some food (and coffee). Changes would also allow them to move from a beer and wine license to a spirits license (Type 47). The restaurant and all sales must end/close at 11 p.m. nightly.  

More turf removals are coming to town. The drought may be behind us, but it’s still not legal going forward to use potable water to irrigate turf in medians. That’s a state prohibition. So we’re continuing our efforts to remove turf from medians and to replace it with a colorful but drought-friendly palette – this time on San Joaquin Hills Road and San Miguel Road.   

The Calendar Notes involve some interesting and fun things:

Friday, May 26

3 p.m. – John Wayne Park Dedication, 2501 Cliff Drive. It’s helpful for this one if you RSVP. Please do so to Jenny Sudo at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 949.644.3003.

Today’s Fun Questions from Residents/Visitors:

This one came to me from a gal at the gym. She wondered: On street sweeping day, if the sweeper has gone by but the “no parking” sign still has some time left (say it’s 11 a.m. and the sign says “no parking” until 12:30 p.m.), will I get a ticket if I park there? The answer:  Generally no, but this is a “spirit of the law” question at this point. To be safe, you should still try and avoid parking there during the street sweeping times, as sometimes the sweeper can surprise you by being delayed or on a different schedule because of an emergency somewhere else. The PD does, though, try to understand that parking is often tight and will work with known issues in a neighborhood to make sure residents get the most flexibility possible to get back needed parking spaces. 

A visitor from Utah asked me this week why there are small smelly tar mats along the beaches. He assumed they were from oil wells offshore. Though we’ve stepped on them, too, Newport residents know that this isn’t so (and how to dodge them) – they’re from naturally occurring seeps beneath the ocean floor, and often make their way to the beach in the form of innocent-looking small pieces of what appear to be thick black plastic. But they’re not, and when you step on them you’ve got some very sticky oil to deal with. He seemed better when he understood that this happens all up and down the Southern CA coast, again via natural causes. Thanks, NOAA.

As always, thanks for reading. Please forward this Guide to family, friends and members of your HOA if you represent one. I always like hearing from you, too, so please don’t hesitate to ask a question or offer a comment. 


Dave Kiff

City Manager

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Guest Column

Mike Glenn – Save Newport

Save Dog Beach – your help is needed Tuesday

Mike Glenn

Courtesy of Save Newport

Save Newport Publisher Mike Glenn 

After many long months of dredging, the heavy machinery will likely be gone from Dog Beach by the end of next week and the next big South Swell will drop the sandbars back in the channel right where they used to be, returning the area to the Dog Beach we have all known and loved for 100 years.

However, as you might know, Newport Beach has been in the midst of an anti-dog-on-beaches campaign right now that was begun right as the Dog Beach is being released back into the hands of the dog-loving public. Newport has recently begun placing signs and enforcement agents at the mouth of the county land, blocking access from people who wish to use the off-leash area for their dogs. While we (and local residents!) have been asking for doggie bag dispensers there for years, the city has spent thousands of dollars on signage designed to scare people from the area. The recent Twitter “virtual ride along” with a patrol unit highlighted why dogs are supposedly not welcome on the beaches. The assaults are escalating.

Diane Dixon – the originator of the idea that we should close Dog Beach – wrote that she supported Dog Beach in the past, but recently used a private email account with city letterhead and the city seal to tell county officials that she no longer supports it. Suddenly, inside of the city, the ratcheting-up of anti-dog-beach sentiment has begun once again.

Our efforts previously won us a unanimous 7-0 approval by Parks, Beach and Recreation to not only approve, but actually to expand Dog Beach to Orange Street – making it partially on city land and partially on county land. Somehow, after the meeting, the meeting minutes were modified to strike this from the record – even though we have what was actually said and actually passed on video (we foresaw “oddities” and wanted to keep a record for ourselves in case they materialized).

The county voted 5-0 to approve Dog Beach, but then “certain elected officials” began emailing organizations and groups to get them to complain, stopping the process before it got to the required second vote. All and all, the Dog Beach remained – so we figured everyone was happy. But now the attacks have begun once again and it is time to go on the full offensive if we want to keep this treasured area of land for our four-legged friends. This time, we won’t stop until we have an actual official dog beach – and if that requires removing people from their positions, then that is what it will require.

Here is what we need from you: Please show up at Newport Beach City Hall (100 Civic Center Drive) on Tuesday at 7 p.m. and speak on “Non-Agenda Items.”

Speak about why we need to keep and support Dog Beach.

Ask the council why the Parks, Beach and Recreation vote calling for the expansion of Dog Beach was modified in the meeting minutes to not reflect what was actually voted on.

Ask them who has approved the sudden enforcement against dogs in the area.

Ask them if they will hold Diane Dixon accountable for using the city seal and official city letterhead for non-official business (they previously held other council people accountable for this, so they should hold her accountable, too).

Ask council if they will hold Diane Dixon accountable for illegally withholding documents despite them being requested via a Public Document Request Act.

Ask Diane Dixon to explain the reasons why she is against Dog Beach (she won’t respond, but the public outcry will make media attention).

Ask the council to agendize expanding Dog Beach to Orange Street, as the Parks, Beach and Recreation committee had originally suggested a year ago.

Dog Beach has been around for a full 100 years, since 1917, it’s Newport Beach’s last remaining dog beach, and I do not want to see it go away. We need literally just three minutes of your time to speak on this, on Tuesday. Every voice makes a tremendous difference and can really help to sway council people. Please, share this with your friends. We need to send a message to council that we want to keep and preserve Dog Beach.

Letter to the Editor:

Peotter’s financial past brings questions of qualifications

The fact that Councilman Scott Peotter defaulted on his Ports Streets home and was compelled to move back to Irvine is well known in the community. What is less well known is that after moving back to Irvine, Peotter defaulted on a $13.7 million commercial construction loan and was sued.

In this case, Peotter executed a Commercial Guaranty on July 20, 2006 for $13.7 million. This was used to refinance a prior loan and to fund construction activity. By 2009, Peotter defaulted on the loan. In court documents, he argued that he did not believe the Guaranty would actually be enforced and therefore he should not be required to pay back the loan. The building was sold at auction for $9 million, leaving the lender with a $5.1 million loss guaranteed by Peotter. In his own court filing, Peotter acknowledged that the amount of the loan far exceeded his own net worth and capacity to repay, yet, he signed it anyway.

California Bank and Trust sued and in a settlement, our councilmember has been making court ordered financial restitution in the amount of $1,666.67 per month for five years. No wonder he has maneuvered to collect four public paychecks from the city, Sanitation District, TCA, and Vector Control District. Every dollar of taxpayer income goes to fund his restitution requirements.

This record of poor financial decision-making, and failure to honor his legal obligations is highly relevant to Peotter’s service on the city council where he has taken the lead in promoting policies that could cost the taxpayers millions and result in taxpayer liability for millions more.

For example, he has proposed refunding debt in a way that would have increased costs by $20 million. He has promoted the sale of the old city hall site that would otherwise be a perpetual revenue generator for our Tidelands needs. He has advocated speculating with millions of taxpayer dollars in the stock market, and he facilitated the appointment of his politically ally to the Finance Committee, a person subsequently convicted of embezzlement. Because of him, the city sewer system operates at a structural deficit. Many of us have made financial mistakes, but with a record like Poetter’s, we cannot allow him to do to the city what he did to his own personal finances. Scott Peotter should be recalled, before it’s too late. Please go to for more information.

Craig Sawin

Corona del Mar

Letter to the Editor:

McCaffrey Wrong About Peotter

Bob McCaffrey, the political boss of Team Newport, recently wrote to the Daily Pilot in support of Scott Peotter.

We last heard from Bob when he acted as a shill for Dave Ellis and Peotter’s disgraceful efforts to deny residents the right to referend the Museum House project. Bob filed a Fair Political Practices Commission complaint against project opponents that was quickly rejected as being without merit.

Bob shares Peotter’s high rise vision for our city.

McCaffrey and Ellis control Peotter and use his vote to enrich themselves and their cronies. For example, Peotter voted for $500,000 in fee cuts to mostly out of town mooring holders.

Bob McCaffrey considers Peotter a “Fiscal Conservative”.

Fiscal conservative Bob? Peotter changed the rules so that a person who would later be convicted of embezzlement could be put on the finance committee. He wants to speculate in the stock market with our tax dollars and his refunding scheme would have cost us $20 million more. He also collects pay checks from four public agencies.

Adult in the room? With Peotter’s name calling, insults and bizarre videos of him vandalizing the civic center park that is the last word to describe him. Add to that his continued inability to follow our laws, including the ongoing investigation by the FPPC over his campaign law violations.

As for debt, Peotter himself has defaulted on a $13 million loan and even lost his own house due to financial mismanagement.

And Keith Curry is one councilman, how did he block the initiatives of the four vote Team Newport majority? I guess pointing out embarrassing facts and being able to do math was too much for Scotty and Team Newport.

You may want to pay closer attention Bob, last week your boy Peotter appeared in the paper playing and supporting Pickle Ball and last Tuesday he flip-flopped and now wants to support the Corona del Mar Library and Fire Station. I guess he is feeling the heat from the recall. Go to for more information.

Lori Morris

Balboa Peninsula

Guest Column

Dave Kiff

An insider’s look at what’s going on in and around City Hall

Dave Kiff

Newport Beach City Manager Dave Kiff  

On Nueve de Mayo, the Newport Beach City Council will meet for both a 5 p.m. Study Session and a 7 p.m. regular session. More detailed Council meeting information is at the end of the Guide. I don’t summarize every item on the agenda, so make sure you look at the City Clerk’s agenda page to read the whole agenda if you’d like.  

Study Session starts at 5:00 p.m. has two main items:

Council’s second look at the proposed Capital Improvement Program (CIP) for Fiscal Year 2017-18. This is the blueprint for construction projects large and small that are planned for 2017-18. It also includes one-time expenses, like a planned Update of the General Plan, that fit better in the CIP than in our other budget document, the Budget Detail. By the way, both documents are posted online now and can be viewed here. The CIP includes things like water mains, sewer repairs, road repairs, park upgrades, and a lot more. 

Much of our CIP items come from detailed “master plans” that usually describe upgrades planned for specific functions (like water, sewer, streetlights, and more) over 10 to 20 years. We’ve been working recently on a Harbor Master Plan – at the request of our City Council – that would better outline what our short- and long-term harbor obligations are. So, this would address sea walls, dredging, amenities, and more. This too will be a part of the Study Session discussion on Tuesday.  

Regular Session is at 7:00 p.m. The items worth noting are:

Getting right to the “big deal” of the evening, Bayside Drive. This last came to the Council in November 2016, with a general preference by the Council to look at something with a roundabout at Bayside and Harbor Island Drive. But as more community members have weighed in, our Public Works staff has reviewed other options. Those include:

Not changing anything, but just doing our planned repavement job (Option Zero? J)

Option #1 - Staying with four lanes total, but narrowing the lanes slightly to allow for limited traffic calming measures, such as medians and landscaping and a better bike lane.

Option #2 – The option with a roundabout at Harbor Island Drive and Bayside. This uses one lane in each direction to approach and leave the roundabout, with the staying one lane in each direction until Bayside restaurant and the shopping center.  

Option #3 -- A “three lane” option, whereby if you are going westbound, you have 2 lanes in your direction. If you are going eastbound between Harbor Island and the pedestrian crossing which is just past the homes, it’s one lane. The traffic counts on the road show that the road’s capacity would be OK with this. This option likely provides more traffic calming than the four-lane alternative.

You will want to read a lot more about all of this issue. There are a LOT of opinions about it (we often say we have 85,000 traffic engineers in town J). Please read the staff report and related attachments. 

And allow me one gentle bit of commentary. Many people have weighed in on this issue. By and large, people offer friendly comments. But this issue has been very polarizing, too. Folks who live on Bayside say there is no way to make the road safe except with a roundabout. Folks who live on Balboa Island say, “There isn’t a problem here, so don’t change it so that there IS a problem.” Both of these statements are on the extreme side of the debate. Our roads are safest when we drive safely and conservatively – and without distractions. We can engineer improvements to the road that help here, but there is nothing better than a safe driver observing the speed limit. Whatever is decided needs to involve as much of the community as possible (as well as our good Public Works engineers), dialoguing in a civil way that recognizes that even though someone may disagree with you, it doesn’t mean they’re wrong (Dave dismounts well-used soapbox).

Council will again consider establishing a temporary (summer) anchorage area in Newport Bay, up near Lido Marina Village (i.e. the Turning Basin).

Residents in the Finley area (across from the Old City Hall at the start of the Peninsula) have asked the Council to consider initiating a resident-only parking permit program in their small neighborhood. As it stands today, some of the employees who work across the street in Lido Marina Village appear to be using the residential streets to park. While this is legal (these are public streets), it’s certainly a new issue and problem for the folks who live in the Finley neighborhood. Residential parking permit programs within the Coastal Zone don’t have an easy go of it – it will be challenging to get full approval should it be called up to the Coastal Commission. But we are trying to be creative in seeking the best solutions to this new parking problem. 

Today’s Random Note:

I will reiterate here again that NextGen has arrived at John Wayne Airport. Forgive the duplication from 2 weeks ago, but I’ve gotten a lot of calls about this issue (most folks saying, “Why didn’t I know about this?”). So, we are now in Week Nine or so of the FAA’s implementation of NextGen in our community. NextGen made more precise flight paths from JWA (and nearly 2 dozen other airports in Southern California). On April 27th, the FAA moved the second half of JWA’s departures on the NextGen paths. Generally, these track the historic patterns of flights from JWA. Please know that we will follow this closely to ensure that the community’s overall goals are met. However, the FAA always has the final determination on where flights go. As I noted before, if you ever want to talk NextGen with me, I’m happy to do so – just call.    

As always, thanks for reading.  Please forward this Guide to family, friends and members of your HOA if you represent one. I always like hearing from you, too, so please don’t hesitate to ask a question or offer a comment. 


Dave Kiff

City Manager

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Guest Column

Gary Sherwin

25 years after the LA riots…Gary Sherwin asks:

How do you promote a city that’s burning?

Gary Sherwin

Newport Beach & Company President & CEO Gary Sherwin

Much has been said this past week during the 25th anniversary of the 1992 riots in Los Angeles, obviously one of the most socially turbulent periods in the city’s history.

In addition to the discussion on race, justice, police brutality and other pertinent issues, another challenge presented itself that doesn’t get discussed much in reflecting upon those challenging months. And that was: How do you promote a city that was under siege and literally burning?

At that time, I was serving as the chief media person for the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau, which promoted the city as a wonderful tourism destination. My job was to work with media around the world to develop stories that would highlight the amazing attributes of the City of Angels. I was the Minister of Good News.

I was early in my career and I loved working with media from across the globe to create stories you read in travel sections and entertainment programs. It was LA baby, the entertainment capital of the world, and I loved it.

That is, until April 29, 1992, when we stood in our conference room in a high-rise in downtown LA and watched the verdicts come in on the Rodney King trial in Simi Valley. As the multiple non-guilty verdicts came in, we looked at the TV and no one said a word. After the judge dismissed the jury, we all left the room and returned to our offices.

We all knew what was next.

The media depicted a community on edge in South Central. In less than an hour, my assistant came in and said simply, “Well, it’s started.” I returned to the conference room and watched the beginning of the civil unrest. Within an hour and a half, the smoke was so thick outside our offices; we could barely see the Bonaventure Hotel across the street. Downtown was packed with cars jamming the freeway entrances to escape.

Meanwhile, we had work to do. We knew there were thousands of visitors from around the world who were staying throughout the city and like us, they would probably be frightened and unsure of what to do. They also couldn’t get out of town, since shortly thereafter Los Angeles International Airport was closed due to smoke making take offs and landings hazardous.

We set up a “war room” and established communications with police and fire. Faxes, (then a dependable form of communication) was our chief means of communication between the city’s entire visitor industry and us.

We determined at that point we were now in the business of providing crisis communications to our visitors and tourism stakeholders, which also included theme parks, cultural institutions as well as hotels. It was non-stop with 15-hour days and for the first couple of days, I’d almost swear we were the only business operating in downtown. Coming into work was eerie with literally no one on the streets beyond law enforcement.

One day on my way into work, with nary a car on the Harbor Freeway, a sight that I will probably never see again, a police officer stopped me and asked why I was out and about. I told them about my work and he pointed to a fire just off the freeway with an admonishment to be careful since they were seeing widespread gun use on overpasses.

After the crisis died down in the days ahead, we still had a dilemma, how do you promote LA now? The California dream of sunny days and carefree lifestyle was not only an illusion now, but it was highly inappropriate. We couldn’t dismiss the issue that caused the civil unrest but we couldn’t condone it either. We had to walk a messaging tightrope of sensitivity while still expressing faith in the future of the city. And, oh yes, the key visitor attractions remained unharmed and you could still come for a visit if you really wanted to.

Worrying about the effect on tourism in a crisis like that seems petty until you realize that tourism is the lifeblood of much of LA and the people who would be hurt the most had jobs in many of the affected areas. In addition to neighborhoods being burned, an economic price was about to be felt that made a bad situation even worse.

Remember that 54 people died in the unrest, 2,000 people were injured and 862 buildings burned to the ground.

Subsequently, our team in LA literally dispatched people all over the globe to tell the LA story and to try and give some perspective on what happened. I was assigned to Mexico City with a map of the city and red dots highlighting the specific points of the fires. (Hey folks, look at how far the fires were from Disneyland!)

Our goal was not to minimize what happened or dismiss it. Our job was to try and minimize the economic fallout and protect jobs; a mission that was essentially ignored as LA tried to look inward and to find out how we got here.

I’d like to think that our efforts made a bad situation a bit better economically, but when you see 24-hour coverage of your city burning with inflammatory headlines screaming on newspapers around the world, you question how you counter program all of that.

Nonetheless, I did dozens of live TV and radio interviews as well as print and it was an awkward message to convey that LA was open for business and visitors could have a great time when there was such underlining tension throughout the city. Truth be told, most of the areas visitors did usually frequent, except parts of Hollywood, were unaffected physically by the unrest. But we had to trend carefully as to not isolate parts of the city and create an image of “dangerous” and “safe.”

More than a year a half later, we were still involved in crisis recovery. But what took the unrest off the radar was something else entirely. 

The 6.7 Northridge earthquake hit in the early morning of January 1994. In fact, I was in New York City to meet with the media about the civil unrest recovery efforts. That morning before I left for the press event, I got a call from my office to cancel the day’s activities. I had to get home to discuss collapsed freeways and impacted visitor attractions. 

We weren’t talking civil unrest anymore but much to our exhaustion, our crisis communications continued.

Gary Sherwin is the President and CEO of Newport Beach & Co./Visit Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor:

Why recall…why now, former Assemblywoman tells why

Recall of an elected official is a serious issue: a decision that should not be made lightly or without serious forethought. The Recall of Scott Peotter is a serious matter and is a worthy effort. Those of us who have had the privilege of holding public office understand that it brings the responsibility of adhering to a higher standard, a standard that Peotter is unwilling or unable to meet. He has clearly demonstrated this a number of times, embarrassing himself and putting the city at risk with his decisions.

He refuses to respect the law and was forced to read an apology at the City Council meeting for violating the Brown Act, a tenet that city councils are required to follow.  

Peotter attended a public gathering in Costa Mesa and disclosed confidential information about city business and made statements that could have exposed the city to liability.

He has violated the municipal code related to the correct use of the city seal; and continued to do so even after being reprimanded twice by his fellow council members.

Peotter is currently under investigation by the State of California’s Fair Political Practices Commission over violating campaign contribution limits. He failed to report or return contributions in excess as set by State law.

He endorsed the use of racist Farsi language campaign signs that were not properly identified as required by law. Other candidates in the race condemned the racist signs.

Scott Peotter refused to enforce the campaign contribution limit laws against his ally, Lee Lowrey.

He supported the appointment to the city’s Finance Committee of a man accused and convicted of embezzlement.

Mr. Peotter’s actions demonstrate a defiant disregard of the laws of this State. It speaks to his lack of respect and common sense in adhering to standards that we all live within. His actions demonstrate that he is untrustworthy and self-serving.

Why no…Peotter has demonstrated time and again that State laws don’t apply to him and he has failed to understand City issues. He made a motion to refinance the City bonds at a so-called savings. His proposal would have cost the City hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

This recall must occur now. If we delay until 2018, Scott Peotter would be involved in two budget cycles and will have the opportunity to do our City great harm with his thoughtless decisions.   

The decisions he has made clearly show that he is defiant and does not uphold the city goals and directions. He is not guided by what is in the best interest of this community.

He moved to Newport Beach because he couldn’t get elected in Irvine. Newport Beach deserves an upstanding councilman with integrity, who respects the constituency and cares about the good of the community.

Peotter – by his actions has proven – he is not fit for public office in Newport Beach!

Assemblywoman Marilyn C. Brewer, ret.

Newport Beach

• • •

Rush believes in free speech and Scott Peotter

I caught a recent story in a competing publication (Wall Street Journal) reporting on a survey conducted of Yale University students testing their opinion on the value of free speech. Yale is hardly a bastion of right-wing thought. It’s one of America’s most prestigious and liberal institutions.

I was mildly surprised to learn that 72 percent of the students “opposed speech codes to regulate speech for students and faculty” while 16 percent favored the idea.

Juxtapose this on the intolerant few that want to recall Newport Beach City Councilman Scott Peotter. Peotter is an outspoken fiscal and social conservative that has riled up those opposed to his views. They’re willing to waste $500,000 of YOUR TAXPAYER money on a special recall election when Peotter is already on the ballot next year.

I firmly believe that in these times of political correctness that Peotter has the right to express his views – that’s free speech.

Even the intellectual elite and Yale seem to agree.

Bob Rush, former Assembly candidate

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor:

Peotter “violated his oath”

I support the recall of Scott Peotter because he violated his oath in trying to prevent the people from stopping the Museum House Project and because he violated several state and local laws. But as I read his statement in response to the recall a new reason has emerged; his fundamental refusal to tell the truth.

The following are some of the false statements contained in his response:

The recall will waste $500,000 of taxpayer money. In fact, the city clerk has said a special election would cost $300,000. Peotter was a strong advocate for a special election when the Museum House petitions were submitted and had all the documents he demanded for the petitions been included, the cost for that election would have been over $4 million.

Recall supporters are spouting lies and half-truths…check out my website for a direct response. Two weeks later and there is not a single word on his web site refuting any of the charges. He cannot deny his campaign law violations because they were on his own reports. He bragged in print about his efforts to subvert the rights of the people to petition to stop Museum House.

The recall is just sour grapes by Keith Curry … and his handpicked 2014 candidate Mike Toerge. This recall was organized by a grassroots citizen’s committee from across the city including some who have not been supporters of Curry in the past. Curry was running for the Assembly in 2014 and both Curry and Toerge confirm he did not “hand pick” anybody to run against Peotter.

Since my election, I have worked to deliver the following: Save the Fire Rings. The plan adopted was essentially the same one adopted in November 2013 by the prior council. Stop the Dock Tax. The Dock fees still exist. Two-thirds of dock owners received a cut averaging $18.00 annually. A few of Peotter’s donors received cuts of several hundred dollars per year.

Audit the Civic Center. This boondoggle cost more than a special election, was rushed to council before it could be completed and still has not been submitted in final form. It was a waste of money to advance Peotter’s political career. 

Enact the Taxpayer Protection Act. This is perhaps the most deceitful statement. The Taxpayer Protection Act was introduced by Councilman Curry, Peotter hijacked the issue, put his name on it to make it look like his and now tries to take credit for it. He even formed a campaign committee and used the funds raised to instead support his endorsed candidates in the 2016 election. His one accomplishment is one he stole from his main political rival. How dishonest.

Eliminate the Business License Tax. This would have created a $3.5 million budget deficit and even the Finance Committee and his Team Newport colleagues found it so irresponsible they defeated it each of the three times Peotter brought it up.

Peotter not only disrespects the law and the rights of residents, he simply can’t tell the truth. Visit  for more information. 

Lynn Swain

On Behalf of the Committee to Recall Scott Peotter

Guest letter

Newport-Mesa Unified School District

New math program for K-5 selected for NMUSD approval

Dear Kindergarten through Fifth Grade Parents,

In August 2016, the Newport-Mesa Unified School District (NMUSD) Board of Education gave direction to staff to begin the process of evaluating and piloting new elementary math instructional materials. Through this collaborative, seven-month pilot process, NMUSD K-5 teachers and staff have identified Bridges in Mathematics by

Math Learning Center as the comprehensive set of kindergarten to fifth grade math instructional materials that will best meet the needs of NMUSD students and teachers.

As you may recall from previous communications, this process began with assembling a steering committee of teachers and administrators to develop and guide the pilot process and future recommendation to the Board of Education. The steering committee identified two viable sets of instructional materials that were implemented, analyzed and evaluated in select primary and upper grade classrooms at each site.

Teachers used and evaluated each set of materials for seven weeks and then collaboratively reached consensus that Bridges in Mathematics is the best set of K-5 math instructional materials for NMUSD.

As part of the evaluation process parents and students in pilot classrooms were provided an opportunity to provide feedback on the instructional materials. Community members were able to review website links to publishers and provide feedback through the District Elementary Math Instructional Materials Pilot website at

We are grateful for the guidance and leadership of our Board of Education and their commitment to ensure that we provide teachers with opportunities to identify the best resources to prepare our students for the ever-changing world.

District staff will report on the pilot process and the resulting recommendation of Bridges in Mathematics at the Board of Education meeting on May 9, 2017.

Bridges in Mathematics materials will be on display for public review in the Sanborn Building from May 10 - 23.

A recommendation for final approval will go forward to the Board of Education on May 23, 2017.

We appreciate your feedback and support throughout the process, and will continue to provide communication to our school community to work toward a seamless adoption process.

Guest Column

Marshall “Duffy” Duffield

Duffield complimentary on Peotter’s contributions

Duffy Duffield

Newport Beach Mayor Pro Tem Marshall “Duffy” Duffield 

Scott Peotter works hard for our City fighting to lower costs, eliminate overtaxing and reducing government every day. He aggressively took on putting the firewood back on the beaches immediately after we got in office. He did it with more vigor than any councilperson and got it done. Team Newport made a lot of promises and Scott led the charge on many issues.  

I was easily intimidated by members of the old council, but not Scott. I supported Scott on 99 percent of his motions. Obviously, the old guard disliked what we were doing and fought back with vindictive and mean remarks. It was not fun and I did not look forward to Council meetings knowing whatever we tried we would be ridiculed in public by one or more of the old remaining councilmembers. Team Newport has done their best to deliver what we promised and Scott was and is a big part of that effort. We inherited a huge debt, therefore we had to revert to limited spending and smarter planning to keep the City running like the citizens expect.

Scott knows Newport Beach. He raised his children in the Port streets and they all graduated from Corona del Mar High School. He spent years on the Newport Beach planning commission donating his valuable time away from his architecture business. He is the only councilmember who has expertise in building and development. I believe his knowledge in this field is vital for the council to know if a project is good, viable or bad for the City.    

Like so many others, Scott was hit hard during the recession. Unfortunately, he had to sell his property and move to a more affordable neighborhood until he could find his way back to the City he loves. Scott is a very sincere man who speaks his mind. I am proud to be working with him on the Council and I always listen to what he has to offer in an objective way. Don’t always agree, just like I don’t always agree with others on the Council but that’s not bad, it’s healthy.

If you want to recall Scott, you may as well recall me too. I’m proud to sit on the council with him and continue fighting for what Team Newport promised.  

Duffy Duffield

Mayor Pro Tem

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor:

Peotter keeps changing his mind

Wow, the recall is only two weeks old and already Scott Peotter has had four positions. First, he said the recall was to inhibit his “free speech”. When one considers that Peotter’s own extraordinary efforts to prevent residents from circulating petitions on the Museum House project was the greatest denial of free speech in recent city history, that argument quickly went away.

Then he said it was about him “keeping his promises” to cut city spending.  But the record shows that under Peotter, pension liabilities are up $70 million, the operating budget is up $22 million and because of him, we now run the sewer system at a structural deficit. His debt reduction strategy actually cost $20 million more than doing nothing and he arranged for a man later convicted of embezzlement to be placed on the Finance Committee. Not a lot of credibility there Scott.  

Next, he hooked up with liberal Democrat Bob Rush as his chairman and claimed he was being recalled because he was “politically incorrect”. Well yes, supporting the racist Farsi campaign signs, opposing the city Sexual Harassment Prevention policy, and insulting residents who speak before the council is politically incorrect, but it is also unacceptable behavior as a member of the city council. Rush was perhaps surprised to find that Peotter opposes nearly all of the capital improvements needed for West Newport and the Peninsula where Rush is an activist.

Now he is wrapping himself in the Republican banner, hoping voters will not notice that the 14,000 residents who signed the Museum House petitions were overwhelmingly Republican and that Peotter alone among the council is using his position to collect compensation from four public agencies.  

The real issue is that Peotter trampled on our constitutional rights and he refuses to obey the laws he swore to uphold regarding leaking confidential information, campaign finance and the municipal code. He is controlled by Dave Ellis and serves the special interests who moved him into town to run.  

Who knows what Peotter’s slogan will be tomorrow? Here are some we know he won’t be using: “Scott Peotter: Working to reduce traffic and improve our quality of life,” “Peotter: Champion of parks and libraries,” “Scott Peotter: He respects the public.”  

It’s time for a change on the city council.  

Richard C. Ingold

Newport Beach

Guest Column

Dave Kiff

An insider’s look at what’s going on, in and around City Hall


Newport Beach City Manager Dave Kiff  

I hope you get to enjoy some spring weather outside as well as the Newport Beach Film Festival inside. By Friday, it’s NOSA time and boats will be lined up for the 2017 Newport-Ensenada race. Always a nice time of year in town before we get too crowded.

But on to what’s on the Council’s agenda for April 25, 2017. More detailed Council meeting information is at the end of the Guide. I don’t summarize every item on the agenda, so make sure you look at the City Clerk’s agenda page to read the whole agenda to if you’d like.  

Study Session starts at 4:00 p.m. and has two items:

A re-scheduling of an emergency preparedness update from Katie Eing, the City’s Emergency Preparedness Coordinator. Learn about how the City will work with you and our loyal CERT members across town to help address virtually any natural or other disaster. We do ask that folks try to have the ability to survive without us as best they can for up to 72 hours, though.    

Members of the Orange County Water District will update us on the status of the huge groundwater basin from which we get about 70% of our drinking water. This is a big deal because as the drought officially ends (!), it’s important to factor in how replenished (or not) the basin is. Tune in please if you’re curious about the end of the drought (though it could choose to come visit us again soon!) or how we get our potable water. Fun and interesting stuff, actually. 

Regular Session is at 7:00 p.m. The items worth noting are:

Speaking of drought, it’s officially over. At least the Governor’s emergency decree has ended. That means that our water cutback restrictions can go away (resounding cheers for slightly longer showers!) but some permanent restrictions will remain in place. Such as: no watering before, after, or during rain. No wasteful watering such as hosing down of sidewalks and driveways. No watering of turf in medians (that’s for the City). But things that will go away include the 15% reduction goal as well as the limits on days/week you can water. An agenda item declares locally that the “Level 2” water use restrictions can go away.

Council members have asked that their colleagues consider renaming Ensign View Park (for John Wayne) and Balboa Island Park (for Ralph Rodheim).

Council may update its policy on invocations before meetings to more closely follow US law.

Pickleball! A contract to install the community’s first permanent pickleball courts (at the edge of Bonita Canyon Sports Park, near MacArthur) is up for consideration. If you don’t know what pickleball is, it’s like shorter-court tennis with a firmer ball (I’m sure I just wrote something blasphemous and will be corrected there). It has a growing support base in town.

Appointments to the Harbor Commission will be made. We always get such a good crop of dedicated volunteers to help out on our commissions. I know that the Council wishes that they could appoint every candidate just to honor their commitment and interest. But there are only a few slots open at any one time.  

The Council’s direct appointees – that’s the City Manager, the City Attorney, and the City Clerk – will have their contracts reviewed and possibly approved. These follow relatively detailed performance evaluations with our seven bosses. 

Today’s Random Notes:

As you know, there is a lot of work going on out there in town that can get in your way or invite questions. Here’s a brief summary of some of them.

Irvine Avenue seems almost done – the landscaping is in and the road’s repaved.

Give it a nice slow drive and hear how quiet the new pavement is – ooo, nice. 

We’ve redone landscaping at the “Mixmaster” area near the Newport Pier (where Balboa mixes with Newport Boulevard). It’s colorful and California-friendly. Looks a lot better than the dead grass of last year. 

Ocean and Poppy in CDM is still impacted by major road repairs there – the sidewalk and trees are being replaced, and next will be the new road surface. This has more weeks to go.

Since the rain ended, crews have made a lot more progress in Big Canyon Nature Park (off of Jamboree between Park Newport and Eastbluff). This is an environmental restoration project that also helps remediate naturally occurring selenium in that small watershed. The grading causes it to look fairly stark right now, but that’s because we haven’t started replanting things yet. 

The Park Avenue Bridge (between Balboa Island and Little Island) is coming along, and that long project is also nearing completion in a handful of weeks. 

We are in Week Seven or so of the FAA’s implementation of NextGen in our community. NextGen made more precise flight paths from JWA (and nearly 2 dozen other airports in Southern California). April 27th is another important day for NextGen locally, when the other 50 percent of JWA’s flights may be placed on the NextGen paths. Generally, these track the historic patterns of flights from JWA. Please know that we will follow this closely to ensure that the community’s overall goals are met. However, the FAA always has the final determination on where flights go. If you ever want to talk NextGen with me, I’m happy to do so – just call.    

We were notified that the Marina Park project will be honored with a national public works award for 2017. That’s a pretty big deal for us. An even bigger deal is the nice everyday use that the park gets from the Peninsula and other neighbors who have long deserved a great park there. Congratulations to our City Public Works team, the designer (Rabben/Herman), the contractor (KPRS), the construction manager (Griffin Holdings) and to every one of our community members (like the Protect our Parks members as well as former Harbor Commissioners) who spent years (yes, years) working on a compromise plan that the community could embrace.

As always, thanks for reading. Please forward this Guide to family, friends and members of your HOA if you represent one. I always like hearing from you, too, so please don’t hesitate to ask a question or offer a comment. 


Dave Kiff

City Manager

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Guest Column

Jeff Herdman

City financial report is “impressive”

Jeff Herdman

Newport Beach City Councilman Jeff Herdman

The City of Newport Beach recently received its financial ratings report from Fitch Ratings. I was so impressed with the report that I wanted to share some of its findings with you. Below I have taken statements from the report to demonstrate the flavor of the financial condition of our City:

AAA Rating

This rating reflects notable financial flexibility and low liability levels.

Consistent tax base performance enhances the city’s strong revenue growth prospects, and a well-controlled expenditure framework.

Conservative financial management will enable the city to maintain financial stability and solid reserves in a potential economic downturn.

The extensive use of pay-as-you-go capital financing and planned pension overfunding to eliminate the outstanding liability support the City’s low debt condition.

The City reliably maintains reserves which generates a low potential decline of the City’s revenues in an economic downturn, and maintains ample fiscal tools to address any future financial stress.

Well-managed long-term liabilities in relation to pension payments to address their city’s unfunded liability. The report provides the following evidence for the above findings:

The local economy benefits from the City’s mature, wealthy tax base and strong employment.

Home values are among the highest in the country.

Unemployment is exceptionally low.

The City benefits from diverse revenue sources.

The City’s mature tax base, stable demographics, high personal incomes, and focus on economic development have contributed to strong historical general fund growth.

The unfunded pension liability constitutes just under one-third of the long-term liability. The City has taken recent action to mitigate the effect of escalating pension costs and eliminate their unfunded pension liability within 20 years, thus placing a low burden on the City in terms of long-term liability.

Conservative budgeting and sound financial policies have resulted in a trend of general fund operating surpluses and strong reserve levels.

As always, I remain at your service. Please continue to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have at 949.922.3594 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Letters to the Editor:

Former council candidate comes out against Peotter

When I began my campaign for city council last year, I believed, and still do, that to govern our community, one has to understand our community.

Scott Peotter’s response to the recall notification, clearly shows that he does not grasp that concept. Simply does not get it.

Mr. Peotter’s right to express his opinions is absolute. However, as an elected official, he does not have the right to force those views onto the people he governs. Mr. Peotter is not entitled to impose his rigid ideology on a community that, quite frankly, has other opinions and ideas about city government and what its role should be. His job is to understand what the community wants and needs, and then work to achieve those goals and desires.

This is the disconnect that exists between Mr. Peotter and the community. This is why Mr. Peotter should be recalled. Simply put, his views are not the views of the people in his district or in the City of Newport Beach.

The people of this city did not want Museum House, yet Mr. Peotter supported the draconian obligation that the petitioners include in their referendum the entire EIR and related documents. When over 16,000 signatures were turned in, Mr. Peotter disparaged the petition gatherers and voted not to accept the will of the people. He sought to subject the taxpayers of our city to an expensive special election. As an alleged champion of free speech and taxpayer’s rights, these actions appear contrary to his expressed views.

Mr. Peotter’s trespasses against the people, and the soul of this city, are extensive and well documented. They range from blind, unquestioning support for all private development to a palatable disdain for civic culture. They run the gamut from a refusal to fund libraries to reducing public safety under the guise of fiscal responsibility. Mr. Peotter needs to go, not because of what he believes, but because of what he seeks to impose upon a city that is better than he believes it to be.

In the last election, the message we put forth was the proposition that to govern Newport Beach, you have to understand Newport Beach. And while the messenger putting forth that proposition may have been a flawed candidate, the message resonated. That message continues to resonate. That is why a recall petition is being circulated. That is why Mr. Peotter will be recalled.

Phil Greer

Newport Beach

• • •

Another vote against Peotter

Scott Peotter likes to say that the recall is about intolerant residents attacking his freedom of speech. No Scott, it is not. Let’s be clear, this recall is about your complete failure to follow the law and to respect both your oath of office and the residents who elected you.

In June 2015, Peotter went to the Costa Mesa Tea Party and disclosed confidential information and made statements that could have exposed the city to legal liability. His speech was posted on YouTube and when it was discovered he tried, reminiscent of Watergate, to cut 17 minutes out of the video. The council made him read an apology to the public on August 13, 2015. Why can’t he follow the law, and what was he even doing in Costa Mesa?

In 2014, he was caught by the City Clerk taking contributions in excess of the legal contribution limit from the owners of Woody’s Wharf, then in litigation with the city. He failed to report the return of the contribution and then defiantly, held a fundraiser at Woody’s. Here again he failed to report the cost of the fundraiser as required by state law. He later accepted, and reported another excess contribution by Council Member Duffield. Again, he was defiant and did not return the money until he was caught by a resident. “I can break the law until I get caught” is not the standard we expect, Scott.

On more than seven occasions, he used the city seal, contrary to the municipal code, in e-mails to raise campaign funds, endorse partisan candidates, insult his colleagues and engage in national issues. Twice the council reprimanded him and they even changed the law to restrict his abuse. Yet as recently as last week, Scott was still using an image of the seal, as if he had found a loophole, on his offensive e-mails. What kind of elected official repeatedly skates this close to the edge of ethics violations on purpose?

All three candidates in the recent council election condemned the racist Farsi language signs, which failed to identify the party that paid for them as required by law. Only Scott Peotter went to the newspaper to defend their use.  Who does that?

Finally, Scott alone went to the newspapers to defend the decision to require 3,700 unnecessary pages in the Museum House petition. This was done for one reason only, to frustrate the constitutional right of the people to petition their government. You took an oath to defend the constitution Scott. You violated that oath.

Intolerant residents? You’re right Scott, we are intolerant of your law breaking, insults and attacks on our constitutional rights.

Lori Morris

West Newport/Balboa

• • •

Glenn awaits Dixon apology

Here are the flawed conclusions by (city) staff about why I “owe the city money”.  Note that I requested none of these in physical form, and many of them I specifically requested in electronic form, which is free (and they were delivered as such).

If the city wants to print things without my permission or request, then that is about as reasonable as a gardener mowing your lawn without permission and then sending you a bill.

It seems there are a lot of staff problems that can be dealt with here, and perhaps more importantly, it highlights that Councilmembers attempting to use documents to publicly shame activists for the city should probably independently verify the accuracy of those documents before engaging in such intentional malice.

Thanks so much for your time, and I am glad this is now resolved from a financial end.

I look forward to a formal and public apology from Councilwoman Diane Dixon on her error.  

I also hope that the city sets a policy up to stop wasting paper – if, in fact, these pages were ever even printed at all.

Mike Glenn

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor:

Long time community activist organizes campaign to oppose Councilman Scott Peotter recall

I became involved in city politics over a decade ago to stop the over-concentration of drug and alcohol rehab homes in West Newport and expose the corrupt politicians profiting from them, while our community suffered the impacts. 

The deeper I dug, the more corruption I found at City Hall. 

They hid documents, obfuscated the truth, and allowed our community to become ground-zero for some of the worst drug rehab over-concentration that California has ever seen.  

I discovered a former mayor and city councilman were involved.  It was disgusting. 

In 2014 a group of councilmembers was elected bringing transparency and sunlight to government.  

Councilman Scott Peotter is a leader in cleaning the mess up and protecting residents. 

Scott and I often disagree on issues and he isn’t always politically correct, but he always fights for us. 

Newport Beach city councilman Scott Peotter is shaking up our bloated and corrupt Newport Beach city government. 

He was elected in 2014 on a platform of reduced spending, cutting regulations, and reining in our massive $500 million pension debt and Taj Mahal bond payments. 

Scott is not afraid to speak his mind – calling out the excesses and corruption of the past decade. 

His political opponents have targeted him for a recall because they want to return to the days of overspending on pet projects like the Taj Mahal, Marina Park, proposed west side community center on Costa Mesa’s border, and give preferential treatment of those “politically connected” at the expense of the ordinary community member. 

Let’s keep Free Speech Alive in Newport – Stop the Scott Peotter recall.

Robert Rush, Chairman

Save Free Speech in Newport Beach

Let’s Recall Scott Peotter

Scott Peotter is an embarrassment to our community and a failure as our city councilman. He tries to say he is being recalled because of his faith, or that he is politically incorrect and outspoken. None of that is true. He is being recalled because of his support for high rise development, his efforts to deny the constitutional rights of residents to petition their government, his utter failure to follow our laws and his insults to his colleagues and the public.

He strongly supports high-density, high-rise development and even endorsed raising the height limits for developers on Lido. He fought hard to block the Museum House referendum by requiring the ten-pound petition and voted twice to approve the project.

Peotter has insulted his colleagues, compared a councilmember to notorious killers, and insulted residents who opposed his high-rise development plans. He violated the Brown Act by disclosing confidential closed session deliberations and broke campaign contribution regulations and political reporting laws. He misused the city seal and has been rebuked twice by the council. He is the subject of an FPPC investigation for election law violations.

He proposed speculating in the stock market with city tax dollars, voted for fee cuts and large settlements for his contributors and voted against the city sexual harassment prevention policies. Claiming to be a “fiscal conservative,” Peotter uses his council position to collect compensation from four public agencies. 

As for keeping his promises, pension debt is $70 million higher and accelerating faster since he took office. The operating budget is up $22 million, capital spending is down because Marina Park was completed, not because of Peotter. His plan to reduce bonded debt would have increased debt service by $20 million. He was successful in putting an embezzler on the finance committee.

Our city cannot afford the extremist policies of a councilman who disrespects our laws and who mocks and insults residents who disagree with him. Sign the petition to recall Scott Peotter. 

For more information visit

Lynn Swain

Committee to Recall Scott Peotter

Guest Column

Scott Peotter

I will always stand up for Free Speech

Scott Peotter

Newport Beach City Councilman Scott Peotter

In his early writings Benjamin Franklin warns, “Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.” 

Recall Because of Being Politically Incorrect

An intolerant group in Newport Beach has initiated a recall against me tonight because I speak my mind. Their list of “grievances” against me read as though the real reason that they want to recall me is because I am politically incorrect!

I have strong beliefs in limited government, reduced taxation, regulatory reform, property rights, and yes; I am an unapologetic Christian.

I politely and forcefully speak my mind but I don’t subscribe to political correctness.

The City Needs Differing Opinions

Over the past decade, Newport has lacked robust debate. Unanimous city council votes have led to saddling Newport taxpayers with over $550 million in unfunded pension debt and the cost of our excessive city hall, a $150 million monument to political excess.

Our children will be paying for those decisions for decades.

Promises Kept

I was elected in 2014 with a clear mandate to stop the city’s excessive spending. Frankly, their criticisms are based on my doing what I promised during the campaign. I know, what a concept that a politician actually makes good on their promises. My opponents are still bitter.

My political opponents want to stifle my free speech and return to the days over-spending and sweetheart deals for insiders.

Recall Special Election Will Cost City $500,000

This recall is based on policy differences, that is what elections are for. If successful, this recall election would be heard sometime between November and February of next year. I am up for election in November next year. I look forward to running on my record. 

The recallers will not intimidate me, I will fight this recall to protect everyone’s right to respectfully speak freely, whether you agree with me or not. In my opinion, that’s the foundation of democracy.

Guest Column

Paul Blank

Notice of recall served to Councilman Scott Peotter 

Paul Blank

Corona del Mar resident Paul Blank 

Editor’s note: Tuesday night, Paul Blank, a longtime Corona del Mar resident, served Newport Beach City Councilman Scott Peotter with written notice of the intent to recall him. The following is Blank’s address to the Council.

Good evening.

I am Paul Blank, a 30-year resident of Corona del Mar. You may have heard me speak earlier this evening during the study session as I am also the current Chairman of the Harbor Commission.

When leaders don’t listen to their constituents or treat them fairly and with respect those constituents can easily turn into activists.

Tonight, I have become an activist.

The residents of Corona del Mar are not being properly represented by their councilman.

A man who moved to the city eight months before the election specifically to run for this seat;

A man who does not own property in Newport Beach;

A man who has consistently opposed parks, libraries, fire stations and the people that use them;

A man who has been disrespectful while conducting public business, insulted his colleagues, called his constituents liars and disparaged dedicated staff;

A man who has insulted leaders and staff in other agencies while representing Newport Beach;

A man currently under investigation by the FPPC for various allegations of campaign finance violations;

A man who tried to undermine the constitutional right of residents to petition their government by requiring 3,700 unnecessary pages in the Museum House petition;

A man who stands in stark conflict with the community on the issue of high rise development.

The activist in me is now working to replace this man as our representative at the earliest possible opportunity. This is not about his right to free speech, it is about the standards of conduct we expect of our elected officials.

On behalf of the registered voters of District 6, my neighbors and friends throughout Newport Beach, and the 30 signers of this notice, we hereby formally serve this Notice of Recall on Councilman Scott Peotter.

Letter to the Editor:

Former foe comes out against Peotter

I am not participating in this recall with a sense of joy. I’m participating from a sense of duty. I ache for my city. Councilmembers serve at the pleasure of the voters. 

(Scott) Peotter has called some of the most respected members of our community liars, pouters and whiners. This is patently disrespectful and inconsistent with the qualities that make a good leader and public representative. His disrespect for the people he serves does not stop there. The list of his indiscretions and questionable actions is long, well documented and will be splayed out in the weeks to come. The sum of Peotter’s record renders him untrustworthy and unsuitable for office.

Michael Lee Toerge

Corona del Mar

Letters to the Editor:

Time for Councilman Peotter to Go

Like many of my neighbors, I have been appalled by the changes in our city council during the past two years. Rather than focusing on the quality of life, parks and open space for our kids, replacement of aging facilities and sound fiscal management, we see council members injecting themselves into national issues, using tax resources to reward their contributors and injecting a coarseness in our public discussion that never existed before.

No one more embodies these changes than Councilmember Scott Peotter. He has insulted his colleagues, insulted leading residents who disagree with him, and has blatantly disregarded our laws regarding campaign contribution limits, disclosure of closed session information, campaign reporting and the use of the city seal.

He has been the leader and instigator in making our city government more partisan. For example, he changed the rules so that his political allies could serve on the city finance committee. This led to the appointment of his political friend and convicted felony embezzler Jack Wu to the committee.

Normally, I would be willing to wait until the next election to address Peotter’s record. But the costs are simply too high to wait. This year he is proposing several items that would have long term financial consequences to our city. For example, selling the old City Hall property would eliminate a long term Tidelands revenue source that would fund public improvements for generations, much like the long time lease for the Balboa Bay Resort. Peotter wants to cut our libraries, fire stations and community centers. This will cause these projects to cost much more in the future. Two more budget cycles and two more rounds of commissioner appointments are too much for me.

What really put me over the top however was how Peotter reacted to the Museum House project. Not only did he vote for this project twice, but he conspired to place in the petition more than 3,700 unnecessary pages to try to frustrate the people’s right to petition the government. Even after 14,000 signatures were submitted he refused to rescind the project and engaged in a round of insults and name calling against the citizens leading this effort. We should demand more from our councilmembers.

Recalling Scott Peotter now will help restore civility, focus the council on city issues and allow us to move our city forward in a spirit of community. Visit

Georgia Foell

Newport Beach

• • •

A recent settlement by the city (taxpayers) paying over $202,000 to resident Kent Moore’s lawyer is appalling. 

His case involved seeking public documents regarding alleged misdeeds during a trip sponsored by the Newport Beach Sister City Association and minor children in 2010 to Antibes, France.

Moore was frustrated at every turn. At one point the city claimed they couldn’t find the records due to migration to the Taj Mahal from the old city hall site. 

The “dog-ate-my-homework” excuse didn’t satisfy Moore.

He got fed up and rightfully hired a lawyer. The city played cat-and-mouse forcing Moore’s lawyer to file a lawsuit. The city should have produced the documents years ago instead of letting the meter run.

I credit the current council with stopping the clock and cutting our losses. 

Taxpayers should demand our $347,000 per year city manager Dave Kiff and $321,000 per year city attorney Aaron Harp pay the $202,000 settlement.

Bob McCaffrey

Volunteer Chairman, Residents for Reform

Balboa Island

Letters to the Editor:

More, not less, fire investment requested by this resident

This letter is in response to Mark Adams letter.

This reply is concerning your apprehension regarding firemen and the need for a new fire station in Newport Beach. Many of us take the city of Newport as a fun, flashy lifestyle with a spectacular year round climate. 

What many might not realize in their day-to-day activities is that our “beautiful” city is located above a major earthquake fault line, also surrounded by lots of ocean and bay water. If such a disaster was to occur, we will need ALL THE HELP FROM THE FIRE DEPARTMENT that we can get. 

So, that being said, I am in favor of one, two or even three new fire stations. If we can spend multi millions on an extravagant civic center, then we can cough up some money for a new fire station and the personnel that goes along with it. 

Sherry Fox

Newport Beach

Two lanes, not three, through Mariner’s Mile

We already fought this battle in the early 1970’s, when similar forces were also at work for private economic gain. We won that battle with good reason: to tone down the racetrack and to keep Newport a civilized seaside town. (Marshall Duffield’s father supported this control.)

More lanes, and narrower ones at that, being proposed (for Mariner’s Mile) invariably mean faster, more dangerous driving conditions. Already, between Dover and Avocado, there are three lanes in each direction and it is clear that the extra lane there is no solution to a traffic jam.

Any city in the world has traffic in its city limits from 5-6 in the evening — it’s hardly justification to completely uproot everything and everybody and pave over more land!

The last thing the Newport Beach City Council needs to spend money on (private land acquisition for example) is the widening of PCH, when money could be put to much better use in paying down the debt for the absurdly way-overspent City Hall, not to mention the City’s pension responsibility. 

Every beach city between San Clemente and Sunset Beach has two lanes, not three, in each direction.

Newport should be supporting small businesses, not ripping them out by widening the PCH.

Just leave it alone Mr. (David) Webb. You surely have more important things to do. Get it? The residents don’t want what you are pushing. Better to focus on helping to make Mariner’s Mile — REALLY for mariners.

That’s what citizens of this great City want, not a racetrack or a series of car sales lots. I speak as a 50-year resident of Newport Beach.

David A. Grant

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor:

Reader irked at former Mayor Curry and plenty else in our City

I’m not certain why Tom Johnson thinks we residents want to hear from Mr. Curry but we don’t. His excessive spending on the Taj Mahal city hall, his petty battles with councilman Scott Peotter have grown tedious. Curry was a spendthrift mayor and continues to try to impose his grandiose spending habits on our beach town.

I don’t agree with much of what Mr. Peotter presents nowadays.

But when I see full fire trucks parked in front of supermarkets...yes, I know all of the arguments about training, needing a full complement of men together yada yada yada...but still we are wasting resources on lunches...those guys have cars and do not work five day weeks, can have groceries delivered...I can see the financial arguments for delaying firehouse construction. 

Add to that the unfunded pension liabilities in our town and one can see the reasons for the current city council to be fiscally prudent.

That would be a first for our beloved Newport Beach.

Mark Adams

Newport Beach

Letter from:

Steve Rosansky

Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce turns 110

Steve Rosanky

Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Steve Rosansky

Yesterday, Sunday, March 12, the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce celebrated the 110th anniversary of its founding in 1907 as the first business membership organized in the fledgling City of Newport Beach. At the time, the City was incorporated just one year earlier. The founding members were 16 local businessmen, who called themselves the “Harbor Boosters,” – each contributed five dollars for the initial expenses of the Chamber.

In the early years, the Chamber was a driver in the creation of Newport Harbor and its surrounding industry. In 1927, the Newport Chamber and the Balboa Chamber merged into one chamber called the Newport Harbor Chamber of Commerce. After several subsequent name changes, the organization is now known as the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce.

Although 110 years old, the Chamber has remained a vibrant and ever-evolving group of businesses dedicated to its mission of promoting economic opportunity through business and community leadership and to enhance the social and civic environment of Newport Beach. Today, the Chamber has grown from the original 16 to 650 diverse business organizations representing thousands of employees and the whole spectrum of the Newport business community.

The Chamber fulfills its mission through events and programming directly related to its four core competencies: Connection, Education, Community and Advocacy. The Chamber hosts a number of monthly events including the popular WAKE UP! Newport series at the Main Library, featuring prominent speakers in an approachable environment. Our Chamber mixers are legendary and occur at the hottest restaurants and venues all over Newport Beach. We also educate our members at monthly business luncheons designed to give business people the tools they need to succeed in today’s challenging environment.

Perhaps the thing the Chamber is best known for is the high quality Civic events that we host every year. Preeminent is the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade and Ring of Lights celebrating its 109th year, which annually attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to the City to see this on-the-water spectacular, not to mention a $6 million+ impact on city revenues. In addition, events like the Police Appreciation Breakfast (this month on March 29th), the Scholarship and Athletic Awards Dinners, Fire & Lifeguard Appreciation Dinner, Corona del Mar Sandcastle Contest, Newport Beach Economic Forecast and the Citizen of the Year Gala have been connecting the business community with Newport Beach residents and Newport Beach Civil Service Employees for decades.

Not to rest on our laurels, the Chamber in the last year has beefed up its offering to include a young professionals group known as Navigate-Modern Professionals; a women’s focused group called In.Spire – Women in Business and networking and referral groups we call the Referral Roundtables.

In summary, the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce is the go-to organization in town dedicated solely to the continued success of the Newport Beach business community.

For more information on all of our programs and events, as well as membership, you can visit us at

Steve Rosansky is President & CEO of the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce

Letter from:

Gary Sherwin

Tourism Matters: Newport Beach “Springs” Forward

Gary Sherwin

Visit Newport Beach President & CEO Gary Sherwin

This winter is one for the record books. No, not for tourism in Newport Beach which had more rainy days than it has in probably six years. Tourism and rain usually aren’t a great combination unless you are marketing a rainforest. But the upside is that our medians around town are finally green, and the hillsides rival that of Ireland with their emerald sheen.

Aside from the weather, our industry is facing some challenges heading into the rest of the year. The much publicized “travel ban” from Washington has already caused a slowdown in international arrivals according to the U.S. Travel Association, and as national economic policy is clarified and a proposed tax plan is presented and approved, the economy is a bit uncertain although most people have seen their retirement plans soar thanks to a vibrant Wall Street. It seems many people, including meeting planners, are taking a bit of a wait-and-see approach before making meeting and vacation plans. Here at Newport Beach and Company, we are watching developments closely and adjusting our plans where appropriate.

Here in town, we bid farewell to the Fairmont Newport Beach (and its excellent General Manager Karl Kruger) as it temporarily becomes the Duke Hotel and eventually the Renaissance Newport Beach after an upgrade and renovation. Our newest gem, the Lido House Hotel, is rising from the ground on the peninsula with an expected opening in March 2018. Local resident and developer Bob Olsen has put his heart and soul into this project and when finished, it will solidly reflect our unique and special Newport Beach culture. Both properties will be very welcome additions to our community.

Spring is almost here, and it is about time to get out and enjoy our wonderful community again. And if you see one of our visitors out there, please thank them for choosing our wonderful community to relax in.

 Gary Sherwin is President & CEO of Newport Beach & Co.

Letter to the Editor

As a native of Newport Beach, I now live near the northern end of Jamboree in Orange.

The Balboa Peninsula Point, the Wedge, Newport (El) Grammar School, Horace Ensign and Newport Elementary are the framework of my life.

Back to the days of the Independent Daily Pilot to recent years and repeated requests to the now Pilot owners, the LA Times, I found no avenue for receipt of news from and about Newport Beach. (I found the inability for the paper to be mailed to me, ludicrous in that I subscribe to printed newspapers as far reaching as Montecito, CA to East Hampton, NY).

I have known Duncan Forgey since 1st grade. He introduced me to your ‘newspaper’ and I am so happy that he did! I have enjoyed his writings, especially as our histories are so meshed.

City business and news across the board has reignited my NB connections and I give my NB friends a break from my inquiries about what’s happening at ‘home’.

 Thank you for your online publication! Looking forward to keeping in touch.

Chris (Spencer Gentosi) Hooker

Letter from:

Gary Sherwin

Tourism Matters: A Special Tribute

Visit Newport Beach City President & CEO Gary Sherwin

Usually in this space, we talk about the phenomenal assets Newport Beach has including its beaches, harbor, excellent hotels and its aspirational brand, all of which make us a very successful destination. 

Today, I wanted to talk about another critical asset, people, and two of whom we lost on the same day. Former Newport Beach Mayor and Newport Beach & Company Vice Chairman Denny O’Neil and Werner Escher, the Executive Director of Domestic and International Markets for South Coast Plaza, two icons of our community, passed away Jan 6. 

There has been considerable media coverage of both their passing that are richly deserved. Both were instrumental in making our community considerably more economically vibrant. 

After serving two terms on the Newport Beach City Council as well as a stint as Mayor, Denny was appointed to our Executive Committee by the City Council in 2011. Denny admittedly didn’t know much about tourism when he joined the board, but that wasn’t the point. He was bringing the perspective of the city and that of a former city attorney. 

Denny relished his role and set to work learning about our industry, how it worked, the markets we pursue to bring visitation to the city and got to know our staff on a first name level. He was completely dedicated to his work on our board and his respect among our hospitality community soared. 

When we had legal issues such as contracts or lease agreements, Denny brought his legal mind to our benefit, volunteering to handle all of those on a pro bono basis. He championed our development into a broader marketing agency for the City by encouraging agreements to expand marketing of the Christmas Boat Parade and restaurant marketing with the Newport Beach Restaurant Association. 

More importantly, he was a sage counsel, as he was to so many city officials and business leaders keeping us all on the straight and narrow, and respecting the division between public and private partnerships. Denny leaves a hole in my heart and this organization that will not be easily filled. 

I have lost a good friend. 

Werner Escher, although working in neighboring Costa Mesa, was a long-time Newport Beach resident who was a national tourism figure. When he joined South Coast Plaza more than 40 years ago, it was a mall in a lima bean field. It had a handful of stores but it had big aspirations. Werner was literally the pioneer of retail tourism; the concept that people would actually get on a plane from a faraway place and come to shop. When he began this effort, he was mocked. Really, who would come all the way from Japan or China to go shop in his mall?

Of course, Werner was right, they did come and boy did they spend. Asian visitors now account for more than 20 percent of South Coast Plaza’s business. There was always a rivalry with Fashion Island, but Werner admitted he shopped there a lot.

Now retail centers across the country follow Werner’s lead and market themselves globally, but none do it with the flourish of Werner.

The man had a quick wit and an elegant goofiness that endeared him to all his colleagues throughout the country. You could always count on Werner to be a partner with you on projects and to help all of us tell the OC story to a wider global audience. It seemed like he was always everywhere and at every meeting. No one worked it like Werner.

Although he was a promoter of Costa Mesa, he was also proud to live in our city where he raised his family with his wife Diane, who would often roll her eyes as Werner told another corny joke at a social function.

Werner was indeed a character but he was also a visionary who was whip smart and developed a loyal following around the world.

Denny was a true statesman and Werner a true ambassador. Both of their contributions to our city, as well as their loss, will be felt in Newport Beach for a long time.

Gary Sherwin is President & CEO of Newport Beach & Co.

Letter from:

Gary Sherwin

Tourism Matters: Taking a look at the year ahead

Visit Newport Beach City President & CEO Gary Sherwin

In 2016, we established a mantra in our office: do big things, do them smart and be emotionally impactful.

In a quick look back at our activities in promoting Newport Beach last year, I can confidently say that we scored a “hat trick” in delivering on our objectives. It was a record year based on a number of business metrics – including hotel occupancies and room night bookings through Visit Newport Beach – but perhaps one of the more exciting, emotionally impactful efforts will be broadcast on national television in a couple weeks.

Now, before I share that exciting news, let me cover some more recent accomplishments of interest to our tourism community.

Last month we officially launched our new marketing campaign, fresh with creative visuals which speak to the breezy-yet-aspirational attitude of our destination. We are rolling it out across all of our public-facing marketing channels and you’ll be immediately drawn into its theme of encouraging our visitors to take their own unique tastes, interests and passions to the next level. We welcome all to “Journey Well Beyond.” Get a preview of our new campaign here.

In one of our more impactful events, we joined forces with the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce and the Commodores Club to deliver the 108th edition of the annual Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade. In marketing the colorful event, we released a series of creative materials celebrating the human, heartfelt aspect of the parade – the emotional connection visitors and locals have with the sparkling event each year. All local news channels covered the opening event and through interviews with our chamber leadership, the positive financial benefits of the parade to our community were reported.

In every list of the key reasons people travel and the expectations they have when exploring a destination, memorable dining opportunities remains among the top three. This makes our January “Newport Beach Restaurant Week” so important to our community. 

As Orange County’s longest standing restaurant week, Newport Beach Restaurant Week, from Monday, January 16 through Sunday, January 29 returns for 14 delicious days of exciting culinary offerings that spotlight the best of dining in scenic Newport Beach. Participating restaurants will offer special, two- or three-course, prix fixe menus priced between $10 and $25 for lunch, and $20 to $50 for dinner. We are proud to work with the Newport Beach Restaurant Association to present this event –bon appetite!

Finally, I’ve saved one impactful event for the end - buried the lede, as they say in media terms. But it’s a rose-filled doozey!

On January 9, ABC will air an episode of its wildly popular “The Bachelor” reality show. The reason we’re so excited is that the key “first date” of the show was taped right here in Newport Beach! We worked carefully with the show’s producers to create a spectacularly romantic date that showcases the best of our destination, and evokes dream-like aspirations of coming to Newport Beach for the ultimate dating experience. Tune in Monday Jan 9 to watch as Newport Beach accepts a rose and becomes a costar that evening!

Here’s to a wonderfully successful 2017 – we certainly are off to a great start!

Gary Sherwin is President & CEO of Newport Beach & Co.

Letter from:

Keith Curry

Council voter suppression to cost taxpayers millions

Newport Beach City Councilman and former Mayor Keith Curry

In just a few days, Newport Beach residents gathered 13,730 signatures to require a public vote on the Museum Tower project. More people signed the petition than voted for councilmembers Peotter (11,920) or Muldoon (11,768). It is also clear to observers of this process that if needed, twice this number of signatures could have been obtained.

This accomplishment is all the more remarkable in light of the unprecedented deceitful media campaign, including paid thugs to intimidate petition circulators and signers. Councilman Peotter launched a series of weird, personal attacks on petition supporters like citizens of the year Jean Watt and Nancy Skinner. The city council attempted to suppress the people’s right to petition by requiring thousands of unnecessary pages such as the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and random staff report exhibits to be included in the petitions. This made them weigh more than ten pounds each and cost thousands to print. It didn’t work.

Now project supporters are alleging that the petitions are deficient because some maps are in black and white instead of color and the EIR was not printed in large enough type. Really? For the city council to reject the petitions for these reasons would require a breathtaking display of arrogance and contempt for the city’s residents.

The council’s tampering in the petition process is now backfiring as the council must print and mail ten pound ballot pamphlets (twenty pounds if you accept the arguments of project sponsors), to 57,020 registered voters. An election that would have cost less than $200,000 will now cost in the millions. This waste of millions of taxpayer dollars is directly and personally the responsibility of those four remaining councilmembers who required all the extra pages to frustrate the petition process. The new council can avoid these costs by rescinding the approvals for the project.

Not to be forgotten is the role of Team Newport puppet master Bob McCaffrey and Residents for Reform who filed a bogus Fair Political Practices Commission complaint to try to shut down project opponents. It was quickly dismissed. Those who may have supported McCaffrey and Residents for Reform on issues of dock fees or public spending may be surprised to see that this group is really just a shill for the high rise development clients of Dave Ellis. It always has been.

Ironically, the project has many positive attributes and could have competed well on its merits. Museum supporters should be asking some hard questions of their political consultants. 

Keith Curry is a former mayor of Newport Beach.

Letters to the Editor:

Reader disappointed in developer tactics, city hall and police for Museum House debacle

Absolutely, let’s bring it to a vote. Your comments on the Museum House developer’s tactics are sadly right on.  

Some of us, and particularly those women who were harassed day after day by the Museum House goons at Eastbluff Center are understandably frustrated. Our respect for city government and the Newport Beach Police Department in particular has taken a big and likely long lasting hit. City Manager (Dave) Kiff sent a memo out asking anyone with a harassment complaint connected with signature gathering to call him. They did and the effect was zip. Minutes after the police left, it was harassment time all over again.  

Another gatherer at Gelson’s was surrounded by nearly a dozen jerks preventing her from reaching citizens interested in signing her petition. The police officer who showed up for a few minutes did nothing as if he were under orders to make an appearance and then look the other way.  

No Kiff, no follow-up and certainly no police protection. Mr. Kiff needs to take the Chief out to the woodshed.

Michael C Smith

Newport Beach

Library Foundation Director expresses gratitude to the community for support

I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to Library Foundation members and supporters, program attendees and our email subscribers – the Newport Beach Public Library system is truly extraordinary because of you. Whether you brought a child to storytime, checked out a book or sponsored a lecture, it is your participation at any level that makes the library such a vibrant and beloved community center.

During the last year, the Library Foundation provided $220,000 in funding and $295,000 in programming for the Newport Beach Public Library. We receive NO government funding and minimal corporate sponsorship. Our support is primarily from people like you – individuals who understand the immeasurable value of a great public library. To see where your dollars went specifically, click here.

At this time, I ask that you help us keep up this strong momentum of support for the Newport Beach Public Library with a contribution of any amount.  We are a membership-driven, not-for-profit organization so every gift we receive is greatly appreciated and very important. 

Some of our membership premiums are shown here. Library Foundation members also get $5 discounts on tickets to our popular programs like The Witte Lectures. You deserve it for creating such a first-rate library in our community!

Thank you so much if you have already given. I wish all of you the very best of the season.  

In gratitude,

Tracy Keys
Executive Director

Letter to the Editor:

When exercising our right to vote invokes threats of violence, something is deeply wrong

I don’t know if this letter should be a “Letter to the Editor” or the front-page top news story of the day, none the less, the word needs to get out to the residents of Newport Beach – Be very wary of several thugs around town who are trying to stop you from signing a local petition! I have lived in Newport Beach for more 18 years and I have never, ever experienced anything like what I experienced on Tuesday night. While walking into the Ralph’s at East Bluff shopping center, I stopped by a table to review a local petition. While trying to engage in a conversation with the two people at the table about the petition, three young men in the background intervened, were talking over my conversation, insulting me, were making assertive remarks and overtures. This was a very uncomfortable situation, so I confronted them on their bullying and thug tactics. At that moment, I became very afraid of the encounter and I feared the situation could escalate into a violent encounter.

Immediately afterwards I called the Newport Beach Police Department to report the incident, but the police said they cannot do anything as these tactics are not illegal.  Make no mistake while these tactics may not be illegal they are tantamount to obstructing my right to exercise my democratic right to vote – and that is morally wrong. I urge the citizens of Newport Beach to be on guard for these people, but most importantly do not let them intimidate you if you chose to sign the petition.

After the encounter, I learned these people have been employing these bullying tactics city wide for several days. It was even reported these young men are harassing our senior citizens, women and children and there was even one violent punching encounter reported. It’s shocking and shameful that proponents of one side of an initiative have hired numerous outside people to interfere and try to stop our right to exercise our right to vote in our City – we are better than that in Newport Beach.

But the most important question I had to ask was, what it is really that these people are seeking to accomplish that they go to such extremes? What is their hidden agenda?  As I understand it, the Museum House is a watershed issue for the residents of Newport Beach. Aside from the new museum funding that may result from the City’s first major high-rise residential building, the residents of Newport Beach need to wake up to the fact that we are at a fundamental crossroad as to the vison of what we want Newport Beach to be. Will we retain our more historical, residential, recreational character and way of life, or do we take the first and likely the precedent setting step to a community with more high rise buildings, greater density and traffic? And while the City Council and the Planning Commission have decided in favor of the high rise (…no doubt since they want the additional revenue for the City), and while the supporters of the new museum (most of whom are not even residents of Newport Beach) want us to harbor the building, the residents of Newport Beach have not yet had an opportunity to weigh in whether or not an almost 300-foot high rise is acceptable to us.

All this petition is proposing is that the residents of Newport Beach be allowed to exercise our right to weigh in, to decide the community vision and direction of our City that we want for many years to come.

With the bullying tactics of the Museum House supporters, I can only assume that the developers, the countywide supporters of the new museum and Museum House believe the residents of Newport Beach will vote the high rise down and will vote to retain our unique world-class character. Since the highrise supporters fear a vote, they have proven they will spend any amount of money and use any tactics necessary to stop the vote.

It’s a very sad day for the residents of Newport Beach not because of the thinly vailed threats of the thugs with their anything goes tactics, but that the supporters of the Museum House are trying to suppress the residents’ of Newport Beach fundamental right to vote.

Robert Mortenson

Newport Beach resident

A strong California economy

For years I have followed Senator John Moorlach as a member of the OC Board of Supervisors and now as state senator. I applaud him for his concerns about wasteful spending but it seems he doesn’t get that as a senator he’s also responsible for all the things needed to have a strong economy and healthy communities.

Moorlach recently opposed a bill addressing global climate change signed by Gov. Brown. Climate change is real, the CO2 emissions that contribute to climate change are harmful to our health. Trivializing or ignoring the problem won’t make it go away.  Not addressing the problem only makes it more difficult to deal with later. This summer was the hottest worldwide ever, last year was the 2nd hottest summer.  

Californians are already feeling the effects of climate change, from rising sea levels along the coastal communities to drought-stricken farming communities. It’s long past time that we address the problems and plan for our future.  We need to capture the rare rainfall we receive and if necessary, build desalination plants to supplement our water needs. Why isn’t John Moorlach able to see what we need and plan accordingly?

Moorlach wants only to address is pensions. Fair enough, but why does Moorlach attack the pensions of police, firefighters, and teachers when he’s taking an $84,000 pension from OC taxpayers? The LA Times said Moorlach blamed the pension problems on policies when Moorlach “knew better.”  The problem was caused by an economic crisis slowdown. 

The threat to our economy and our future isn’t pensions; the threat is not having clean air and available water. Without them our quality of life suffers, businesses are driven away, and our economy struggles.

I urge you to support Ari Grayson for state senate. Ari has the vision California needs to thrive.

Pat Grossman, MD

Newport Beach, CA

Letter to the editor:

Concerned about Johnson’s city hall thoughts 

(Tom) Johnson’s comments regarding city council are concerning for a few reasons, but I agree with him on at least one.

His statement that Peotter is a proponent of same sex marriage is backwards. Completely false.

His contention that Curry, Petros et al leaving the council is a bad thing is also not mainstream thinking.

Curry’s support of the city hall Taj Mahal cost him an election, the support of the average NPB citizens.

The current council has done nothing to stop unbridled development in the city, hasn’t fixed the crime and housing problems on the peninsula, has approved a hotel debacle on the old city hall site without a strong, planned traffic solution.

As for Muldoon, he may not be the strongest mayoral candidate but Dixon had no experience either.

Is that a good thing? Is new blood and ideas what the city seeks? 

Time will tell. 

Mark Adams

Newport Beach

Invictus not the only yacht blocking the view

The yacht Stimulus on the 200 block of South Bayfront, Balboa Island needs to relocate.  

While the huge yacht is a fine vessel, it is several times larger than any other boat on the Island. It hangs grossly over its dock on all three sides, encroaching on the slip next door. It sits immovable on the sand for hours on either side of low tide every day, and at medium and higher tides its bridge exceeds Balboa Island building height restrictions. It dominates views for several blocks of residents up and down the bay front. It causes navigation problems, particularly during the Beer Can and other regattas, and the only time it has left its tenuous side tie is when it was stolen and run ashore up in Long Beach.

I believe numerous other residents on this side of the Island have registered complaints about this boat with the Harbor Department – when I first talked with the Sherriff’s office 3 years ago they were well aware of the situation, citing dozens of similar calls about this boat. They cited the harbor rule (I think not written but adopted in practice) that the boat is okay as long as it does not protrude into the Bay more than its beam. In this case, its beam is 21’, and according to the Sherriff’s office they’ve measured it many times and it is less than that. I agree, I’ve measured it many times and it’s usually 20’ 11”.

I have rarely seen anyone staying in the house (which by the way violated building codes when it was built by a prior owner), but I believe the owner of both boat and home is a Los Angeles resident who rarely visits. I don’t remember ever having seen the boat leave except when it was stolen. Rarely are there people at the house, I›ve knocked many times to talk with them, but no one is home.

I respect property rights, and he appears to be within his rights. In this small community where we all make accommodations because we live so close to each other, this is inconsiderate and inappropriate, but apparently not illegal.

I wonder if the absentee owner has any idea of the ill will that festers on his Stimulus?

Matt Clabaugh

Balboa Island

South Laguna feeling the crush of summer visitors…Help!

In his interview with Tom Johnson, and in other venues (including in his testimony to the Coastal Commission on Sept 7, 2016), Mr. Mohler has repeatedly asserted that “One wintering owl visits the site for three to four weeks nearly every January.” But this is simply not true. For example, here’s a photo of a Burrowing Owl that I took on Banning Ranch – looking in from the north – on March 15, 2016.

Mr. Mohler’s biologists have not surveyed for owls every year, nor have they surveyed at various times of the year. The latest surveys, in January 2014, covered only 29.75 acres of the 400-acre property.

Banning Ranch includes approximately 122 acres of suitable habitat for the Burrowing Owl, so the 2014 survey covered only a quarter of the suitable habitat. By searching for owls on only a fraction of the property, surveying mainly in January, and by ignoring much of the information gathered over the years (some of it by his own consultants), Mr. Mohler has created a false narrative that he finds pleasing, but that others can easily see through.


Click on photo for a larger image

Dudek [an environmental and engineering consulting firm] biologists conducted focused owl surveys on 29.75 acres during three weeks in January 2014, and detected one or two owls on the southeastern mesa; they missed another Burrowing Owl that local resident Cindy Black recorded and photographed eleven times during that same month.

According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, it has stated that the surveys and analysis provided by Mr. Mohler’s team are inadequate to allow CDFW biologists to evaluate the status of the owl on Banning Ranch, its habitat requirements there, or how implementation of the project would be likely to affect the owls.

Mr. Mohler told you that his “low point” in attempting to build his project at Banning Ranch has been “dealing with a Coastal Commission process that is heavily weighted against Project Applicants.” During eight years of reviewing the biological information that Mr. Mohler and his team have submitted to the Coastal Commission and other agencies, I have encountered a consistent pattern of misinformation, downplaying both the sensitive resources present and the potential adverse effects of the proposed project. His demonstrably false statement about the Burrowing Owl, set forth in your publication, is typical. Readers may wish to consider whether the process might have gone more smoothly, and been more productive, had Mr. Mohler and his team established a basic level of trustworthiness in their dealings with both the agencies and the public.

Robb Hamilton

President, Hamilton Biological, Inc.

Consultant to the Banning Ranch Conservancy