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Letters to the Editor

Just say “NO”

The NB Harbor Commission is proposing a drastic 600% increase to the mooring fee, essentially a property tax. Don’t we all know that drastic changes come with drastic unanticipated consequences?

Right now, Newport Harbor is in charge of its live aboard permits. I wonder how that will change when the city raises its fees 600%. The increase is based upon an appraisal which equates a lot on Lido Island with a mooring.

The elephant in the room is that there is no adjustment made for the ability to live on Lido Island and the restriction to live on the boat. Certainly that will change with this drastic increase.

Is the City Council prepared for the State of California to usurp the city’s control of many hundreds of potential housing units? Say “no” to the mooring rate increase, and keep our harbor our harbor.

Matt Clabaugh

Balboa Island

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Letters to the Editor

Reader believes candidate endorsements by City Council are questionable

As a Newport Beach resident, I am puzzled that six out of seven City Councilmembers have publicly endorsed support for Congressional District 47 candidate Scott Baugh. The endorsement page banner on Baugh’s campaign website reads, “Mayors and City Council majorities in Huntington Beach and Newport Beach endorse Scott Baugh for Congress” – blending both NB and HB Councilmember names followed by supportive commentary.

As we know, our councilmembers are elected to represent Newport Beach residents and local interests. Endorsing their own political preferences or personal interests in Congressional races prompted an email from me to councilmembers and our City Attorney Aaron Harp.

Our City Attorney responded that “political endorsements are made in an individual’s personal capacity, which is the individual’s right under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”

But does he know that “the Newport Beach City Councilmembers are very aware of the Council Policy and are careful to make endorsements that comply with the policy?”

Mayor Will O’Neill responded to me directly, “Clearly our individual City Councilmembers have every ability to endorse candidates as we see fit, which has happened in every election cycle.”

In fact, there is Council policy clearly stated in the NB Council manual – “Any City Councilmember who wishes to make a statement or opinion regarding a matter the City Council has not taken an official position on shall ensure that said statement or opinion cannot be construed by the public as being an official position or policy of the City of Newport Beach. The City Council finds this policy furthers an important public purpose by ensuring the public does not confuse personal opinions expressed by City Councilmembers with official expressions of City policy.”

Thank you Brad Avery for choosing not to endorse a candidate for the 47th District. In agreement with our City Attorney, I am a believer in free speech. But collective or individual endorsement of a Congressional candidate by NB Council should not be interpreted to represent the official position of the City of Newport Beach or its constituents. I am assuming that this was the original intent of the above stated Council member policy.

Kathe Morgan

Newport Beach

(Stu News believes that the policy of endorsement would only matter if in fact the “endorsed,” in this case Scott Baugh, had business before the City Council. Seeing none at this time, we don’t see an issue.)

No excuse to Dave Min’s driving under the influence

I lost my brother and sister-in-law to a drunk driver. David Min has the audacity to ask for forgiveness and wants us to vote for him. I say NO!

Know your facts before you vote!

Elaine Merz

Newport Beach

Disagreed with Min’s opportunity to share regret

I am a local Stu News reader. I think giving Dave Min a forum a few days before an election is out of bounds. It constitutes more than a full page of free political ad space. I am profoundly disappointed in your decision.

Louise Wade

Newport Beach

Dave Min has my vote

Dave Min has my vote. No other candidate, from either party, running for the 47th CD seat can match his mastery and handling of the key issues: Saving democracy, addressing climate change, preserving women’s reproductive rights and advocating for gun regulations. He has the character and guts to publicly own his mistake and move beyond it. I trust that.

Tom Osbourne

Love what Scott Brashier’s camera and eye bring to the pages of Stu News

I have subscribed to both Stu News Laguna and Newport.
Scott Brashier’s photos are wonderful! He’s so creative and
photographs amazing things because he has the gift to really SEE what’s in the world.

My thanks to Scott for so much pleasure.

Judy Walker

Newport Beach

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Letters to the Editor

Thoughts on Baugh versus Ukropina

I was deeply disappointed to discover that, apart from Brad Avery, our entire City Council endorsed Scott Baugh over Max Ukropina. (www.maxforoc.com)

Max, a Newport Beach native and USC graduate, is a promising candidate with integrity. He’s shown genuine commitment to issues like border security, unlike Scott.

It was even more disheartening to see Fred Whitaker backing Scott again, despite his track record of dishonesty and political maneuvering. (https://dccc.org/watch-new-dccc-ad-highlights-scott-baughs-record-campaign-corruption-fraud/)

As Einstein famously said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

It’s time for a change.

Lynn Swain

Big Canyon

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Letters to the Editor

Past mayor sees the potential Ambassador Haley brings to nation’s top job, following her recent visit

As a child, I was inspired by John F. Kennedy. As a young adult, I was privileged to know and to work in the administration of President Ronald Reagan. Recently, we welcomed Ambassador Nikki Haley to Orange County, and I saw once again the potential of an inspirational leader who appeals to the best of America, not our worst impulses.

Haley was a successful governor who created jobs, reduced crime and controlled spending. At the UN, she stood up against America’s adversaries and was clear-headed in her defense of freedom and democracy. Haley will fix the mess at the border, stop the importation of fentanyl and keep America safe. She represents a new generation of American leaders and is exactly the type of president we need to bring our nation together.

The world is on fire because our adversaries see one candidate, driven by his ego and tied to the defendants’ table for the campaign, and the other past his intellectual prime and not up for the challenges facing our nation. We can do better. America deserves better.

Let’s pass the torch to a new generation. Nikki Haley would make a great president.

Keith Curry,

Former Mayor, City of Newport Beach

Newport Beach

How two national races connected to Newport Beach differ – idea exchanges versus personal attacks

There is a quote attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt that goes like this: “Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.” Taken into consideration, this could give one an idea of how to campaign and how to vote constructively in the upcoming primary election. By constructively, I mean in a manner that would result in bringing us closer to the democratic ideals upon which our institutions were founded.

Interestingly, Newport Beach is right in the center of action in this upcoming primary. The person who currently represents us in Congress is running for an even more exclusive position in the United States Senate. In doing so, Katie Porter is giving up her seat in the 47th Congressional district, one which could be the deciding factor as to who takes over the House of Representatives in the election in November.

Although there are several contenders for the Senate seat, the anticipated winner will likely be Adam Schiff, Barbara Lee, Steve Garvey, or Katie Porter. So far in the race it appears that there is mostly an exchange of ideas among candidates, particularly from Katie Porter and Adam Schiff. The latter is strategizing over how to win the seat and eliminate Katie Porter who was formerly second in the race, so that he can run against Steve Garvey.

The race is not devoid of personal attacks by the other candidates, but they do not dominate the contest at this point as they do in the Congressional race for the 47th.

Newport Beach is certainly not playing a passive role in the primary election for the 47th district. This is due to the fact that City Council, with the exception of Brad Avery, is endorsing the Republican candidate, Scott Baugh. It is this race which is the most volatile. The three main candidates will be jockeying to come into first or second place in the top-two primary system.

So far this race has been more “people” oriented than “idea” oriented and the acrimony has been discouraging. What started out as an exchange of ideas quickly became an exchange of character attacks. There has been an attempt to be positive by focusing on endorsements and ideas but the negative attacks at this point unfortunately seem to dominate.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

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Letters to the Editor

Past mayor sees the potential Ambassador Haley brings to nation’s top job, following her recent visit

As a child, I was inspired by John F. Kennedy. As a young adult, I was privileged to know and to work in the administration of President Ronald Reagan. Recently, we welcomed Ambassador Nikki Haley to Orange County, and I saw once again the potential of an inspirational leader who appeals to the best of America, not our worst impulses.

Haley was a successful governor who created jobs, reduced crime and controlled spending. At the UN, she stood up against America’s adversaries and was clear-headed in her defense of freedom and democracy. Haley will fix the mess at the border, stop the importation of fentanyl and keep America safe. She represents a new generation of American leaders and is exactly the type of president we need to bring our nation together.

The world is on fire because our adversaries see one candidate, driven by his ego and tied to the defendants’ table for the campaign, and the other past his intellectual prime and not up for the challenges facing our nation. We can do better. America deserves better.

Let’s pass the torch to a new generation. Nikki Haley would make a great president.

Keith Curry,

Former Mayor, City of Newport Beach

Newport Beach

How two national races connected to Newport Beach differ – idea exchanges versus personal attacks

There is a quote attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt that goes like this: “Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.” Taken into consideration, this could give one an idea of how to campaign and how to vote constructively in the upcoming primary election. By constructively, I mean in a manner that would result in bringing us closer to the democratic ideals upon which our institutions were founded.

Interestingly, Newport Beach is right in the center of action in this upcoming primary. The person who currently represents us in Congress is running for an even more exclusive position in the United States Senate. In doing so, Katie Porter is giving up her seat in the 47th Congressional district, one which could be the deciding factor as to who takes over the House of Representatives in the election in November.

Although there are several contenders for the Senate seat, the anticipated winner will likely be Adam Schiff, Barbara Lee, Steve Garvey, or Katie Porter. So far in the race it appears that there is mostly an exchange of ideas among candidates, particularly from Katie Porter and Adam Schiff. The latter is strategizing over how to win the seat and eliminate Katie Porter who was formerly second in the race, so that he can run against Steve Garvey.

The race is not devoid of personal attacks by the other candidates, but they do not dominate the contest at this point as they do in the Congressional race for the 47th.

Newport Beach is certainly not playing a passive role in the primary election for the 47th district. This is due to the fact that City Council, with the exception of Brad Avery, is endorsing the Republican candidate, Scott Baugh. It is this race which is the most volatile. The three main candidates will be jockeying to come into first or second place in the top-two primary system.

So far this race has been more “people” oriented than “idea” oriented and the acrimony has been discouraging. What started out as an exchange of ideas quickly became an exchange of character attacks. There has been an attempt to be positive by focusing on endorsements and ideas but the negative attacks at this point unfortunately seem to dominate.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

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Letters to the Editor

Are local attacks a sign of the pending election season?

Those of us who want to think of Newport Beach as a special place to live often get disillusioned around election time when vicious attacks on opponents often come out displayed on fliers and signs which can only be described as disquieting. Evidently there were some unseemly signs in view (this week) in Westcliff that were so bad my neighbor wouldn’t even tell me what they said. And we are not ones to mince words.

I notice the same disturbing attacks on election fliers for the 47th Congressional District which encompasses Newport and surrounding beach cities.

Are we regressing in our humanity? Or do some of us think of this as an innocent game we are playing to see who can be the most offensive? We have everything going for us – wealth, natural beauty, privilege, freedom; so why are some people among us determined to cast a dark shadow over our city?

I, for one, care what others think of Newport Beach.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Valentine’s Day funny business not funny

Visiting Newport Beach and happened to read your thoughts on Valentine’s Day. Is there nothing left that is sacred in this world?

Today is a day that celebrates love and keeps the card, jewelry, flower, candy companies and restaurants in business.

If you’re really not alone, and this mean-spirited article was simply a gratuitous way to get your yuks at someone else’s expense, I hope that special someone in your life can forgive your gross insensitivity or you’ll lose more than just your advertisers.

Jane Casey

Palm Beach, Fla.

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Letters to the Editor

Mooring rate increase threatens us all

If you own a house on Lido, Bay, Harbor, Linda or Balboa Island, your enjoyment of the bay is about to change for the worse. In fact, all of Newport should oppose the drastic mooring fee increases proposed by the Harbor Commission.

The issue is a bit complicated, but to sum up, if the arbitrary 600% increase in mooring tax is approved, Sacramento gets involved. Increased taxes for dock owners will be a given, but worse than the huge tax increases, we’ll have politicians from Sacramento jumping into our local politics. You think Newsom won’t smack his lips at beating up a conservative community over housing permit violations?

Every mooring in Newport will become a live aboard, inviting exactly what the commission is trying to avoid with this shallow proposal.

Save Newport; oppose the dock tax increase.

Matt Clabaugh

Balboa Island

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Letters to the Editor

Sad that Newport Beach is being promoted as a tourist destination

I’m so sad that Newport is catering to tourists at the expense of full-time residents. We promote a family-oriented community. A drone show would be fun to watch, but don’t promote more tourists to come to Newport. Families are being priced out of the area as well due to the number of rentals to tourists. It’s becoming less of a family area.

Sorry!

Mary Do

Newport Beach

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Letters to the Editor

Woman struck in crosswalk is a reminder that peninsula needs more police presence

I am so sorry a woman in a crosswalk was hit near 20th Street, but I am not surprised. As a resident on the peninsula, I know how dangerous the boulevard is.

Millions of dollars were spent painting the crosswalks on Balboa Boulevard. Millions! And yet anyone attempting to cross the street in one takes their lives in their hands.

Despite a lot of foot traffic for restaurants, a hotel, a school, two churches, a park, markets, a library, residences, and the beach and bay, cars regularly speed down the boulevard ignoring those crosswalks and the posted speed limits. And these are not tourists who are hunting for parking spots at five miles per hour or learning to parallel park once they find one. These are commuters trying to get on and off the peninsula.

This is a perfect time to consider all the roadway’s faults since a new fire station and library project touted as a community destination is in the planning stage.

The palm trees in the center divider and parked cars along the curbs obscure pedestrians at the entrances to the crosswalks.

Stop lights and stop signs are not strategically placed to slow traffic down and protect pedestrians. For example, going towards the Point, there is a traffic light at 15th Street and then not another one until the village. Going from that 15th Street light in the opposite direction, there is not another required stop until you round a sharp curve beyond McFadden Square. Isn’t that near 20th Street where the woman was hit?

The police need to be a daily presence in this area and not those big cruisers. We need motorcycle police. They really do a fantastic job, and there is a noticeable reduction in speed when they are here. Hire more motors and build a substation for one or two of them on the peninsula. Buying and maintaining a motorcycle is a lot cheaper than buying and maintaining those big SUVs, so that would be a wise investment.

Kathy Frazer

Newport Beach

Peninsula resident concerned with removal of last eucalyptus tree in planned library/fire design

I am writing you as a 46-year resident fortunate enough to call Balboa Peninsula home. For many years I took for granted that Balboa is a unique location to live.

In the last few years there have been many changes, some positive but more and more frequently we are seeing changes from our City Council that were ones we didn’t feel were improving our way of life.

The newest one is the rebuilding of our local library and the fire station next to it. Those of us who live close to these buildings share one of the very few, small green grass areas and eucalyptus trees left.

Last year, the city removed two of those trees, but left our remaining magnificent tree standing as it has for around 100 years.

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

Remaining tree in question on the peninsula

Just recently, the city held a meeting with two different designs for the proposed buildings chaired by the Board of Library Trustees. Very few of our neighbors were informed about the meeting so our representation was minimal leaving the question, “Why aren’t the Balboa Peninsula residents being notified?”

To our dismay NEITHER design included our “tree.”

The city said that our last remaining tree only had a short life span of seven years. Those of us who attended last January’s meeting (2023) have what the city handed out regarding the reasons for the removal of one of the trees, although when they removed that tree they also removed the second one. In that report, our last remaining tree was never identified as having a short life span, but instead only recommended for continued maintenance.

The reason I am writing you is for help for peninsula residents that want more locals informed of these plans. We are not objecting to the new buildings, although many people have concerns with the proposed plans, but what we want is to ask them: “IS THIS WHAT YOU WANT?”

Are we going to not even be asked or heard about what directly affects us in our own backyards? Is having bigger, larger buildings, fewer trees and more cement the way we want the peninsula to become?

The other issue that is an important one is our Great Blue Herons use this last remaining tree for their nests. Once this group of fledglings arrive, the city intends to remove our tree. Again, the question I feel needs asking is – “What do people who live here WANT?”

I appreciate you taking the time to listen to my story, and hope that those who read your news will please think about this project and decide to speak up for what they want where we live to become.

Michele Silver

Balboa Peninsula

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In Loving Memory

Helen “Jerri” Dwan

June 22, 1931 – December 20, 2023

Courtesy of the Dwan Family

Helen “Jerri” Dwan

Born in Pittsfield, Maine to James and Sophia Giftos, Helen “Jerri” Dwan passed away peacefully in Newport Beach at the age of 92.

A graduate of Pittsfield High School and Bryant College, Jerri attended George Washington University. She was employed in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Defense for International Security Affairs in Washington, D.C., and it was there that fate intertwined her path with Col. John E. Dwan II (“Jack”). Their love story blossomed shortly thereafter while they were both members of the United States Delegation to the Geneva Conference and attended as members of the U.S. Defense Department’s delegation to the Paris Conference.

Jerri loved to travel and toured Europe on her own after the Paris Conference. Upon returning to Washington D.C., she and Jack were married in 1955, a marriage that endured for 46 years until Jack’s passing in 2001.

Shortly after their marriage, Jerri moved to Tokyo to be close to Jack during his assignment in Korea. Future moves took them to Honolulu, where son Brad was born; Carlisle, Pa., where daughter Kimberly was born and eventually back to Washington D.C., where Jerri became an avid tennis player by day and a graceful hostess by night, entertaining various domestic and foreign dignitaries in her home in support of Jack’s Army career.

In 1969, Jerri and family moved to Corona del Mar. She quickly immersed herself in the community’s tapestry. She was a devoted mother supporting her children in all of their school activities. She quickly climbed the tennis ladder at the Balboa Bay Club Racquet Club, supported the family’s sailing adventures at the Newport Harbor Yacht Club and developed a passion for the arts.

Jerri’s passion for the arts shone brightly through her involvement as a founding member of the Newport Harbor Art Museum’s Sales and Rental Gallery, her longstanding membership in the Decorative Arts Society and her work as a volunteer with Angels of the Arts. Never one to sit still, when her children went to college, Jerri obtained her interior design license and founded Dwan Designs, a hobby that quickly turned into a successful business.

Her family appreciated her love of nature and how she tended with such care to her rose garden. Her home was always filled with freshly cut roses which reflected her own elegance and beauty.

Jerri will be deeply missed by her son, Brad (Leslie); her daughter, Kimberly (Bob); her sister, Kathy (Dave); her grandchildren, Connor (Liz); Tori (Zach); and Tanner, as well as her great-grandchildren: Liam, Jack, Drew, Carter and Russell. She is preceded in death by her loving husband, Jack, and her sister, Athena Garivaltis.

In honor of Jerri’s request, the celebration of her life will be a private ceremony with only close family members present.

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Letters to the Editor

New Year’s Day float makes me proud

Congratulations to Gary (Sherwin) and his staff. I’m so proud to come from three generations in our town of Newport.

John Vallely

Newport Beach

Like the Christmas friendliness…wish we could enjoy it year-round

Christmas spirit seemed in full force this year. There were beautiful lights and humorous displays in most neighborhoods, and it seemed like people were so eager to get started, that not long after Thanksgiving the first decorations started appearing. And it would not surprise me to learn that there is some healthy competition over who can put up the most lights in the most original ways.

More than a week after Christmas there are still incredibly beautiful reindeer, decorated outdoor trees and bushes, multiple colors outlining entire houses, huge Santas and many original shapes outlined in color. And I cannot help but think that some of those people were trying to bring pleasure to their neighborhood with their outstanding displays. I, for one, would like to thank them for the joy it brings me. People seemed friendlier than usual too, certainly a gesture that would lift everyone’s spirits year-round.

I am one of those people who can never find where I have parked my car, whether it is in a parking lot at South Coast Plaza or a much smaller lot like Westcliff Plaza. I try to appear nonchalant as I walk up and down each row of cars looking for mine. I could be great distances from my car and still think that I was getting “warm.”

Well, at Westcliff Plaza a few weeks before Christmas, one by one, two kind smiling ladies asked me if I needed some help finding my car. I knew I should never buy a white car, as at least 30% of the cars these days are white. It is probably because of my age that these ladies were so solicitous, but my point is that that has never happened to me before, especially two unrelated ladies about 10 minutes apart. (More than once, I have had to ask Security to help me find my car in various parking lots from Orange to L.A. County and beyond.)

It would be nice to see people be helpful and friendly to each other year-round. I always try to greet someone I pass while on one of my exercise walks around the neighborhood. Because there are so many dogs and dog walkers in neighborhoods in our city, it is always uplifting to me when a stranger smiles or nods when we pass each other on a sidewalk or as is the case in Newport Heights, on the street. Let’s face it folks: In Newport Beach it is not dangerous in broad daylight to acknowledge someone you might almost literally run into during one of your walks.

Drivers seem a little less aggressive during the holidays. It always amazes me how fast cars drive in neighborhoods where kids are present. I think the light displays at night slowed people down but what would it take during the day? Couldn’t we keep this holiday spirit alive year-round?

We certainly have things to be proud of as Newport Beach residents.

Our famous Boat Parade attracts visitors from other counties who come to celebrate in our city and this year, I was surprised to see that we had a beautiful award-winning float which happened also to be the longest float in the Rose Parade.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Kudos to Gary Sherwin and team

I think we should all give kudos to Gary Sherwin and his team at Visit Newport Beach for making us very proud of the award-winning spectacular float he sent for us to the 2024 Rose Parade.

Debbie Allen Moore

Newport Beach

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Letters to the Editor

The Council got it right approving Lecture Hall project in November, we now need to do it again

Former Mayor Blom and Councilmember Kleiman have negotiated an agreement on behalf of the council with the Newport Beach Public Library Foundation to construct the Witte Lecture Hall. While I personally believe it contains some unfair conditions on the Library Foundation, I nonetheless support proceeding with the agreement negotiated by Councilmembers Blom and Kleiman and move forward in acknowledgement of the work they have devoted to this matter.

Bob McCaffrey has undertaken a social media campaign in opposition to this project. McCaffrey has consistently opposed public infrastructure investments over the years and is a person who has, in my opinion, contributed nothing to the betterment of our community.

But as every member of the city council and most members of the community who follow this issue are aware, McCaffrey’s social posts are completely false and misleading. The city is not being asked to fund a $23 million facility, it is being asked to match private donations for half of this amount to build a $23 million facility at half its cost to the public. By turning down the project the council would not be saving $23 million, they would be forfeiting $11.7 million in private donations. This would be an unconscionable failure of fiduciary duty to the taxpayers.

There are reasons why someone could be for or against this project, but affordability is not one of them.

The city has more than sufficient cash reserves to fund this project. Furthermore, the city has for decades now generated a healthy budget surplus at the end of each year. City projections are for significant annual increases in property taxes, sales taxes and hotel taxes as our new and refurbished hotels hit full stride in the market.

Given recent changes in the interest rate environment, it is very likely that should the council not wish to pay cash for its portion of the project, it could be financed in the 3.5% range over 10 years which would result in a debt service payment of approximately $1.2-$1.5 million annually. This would have no meaningful impact on the city budget or operations given the levels of city revenues.

Perhaps more troubling, the city has a long history of public/private partnerships. OASIS, the Jr. Guards facility, our new animal shelter and the library itself have been underwritten by private parties over the years to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. It is precisely this level of philanthropic involvement by our residents that has allowed us to enjoy the high quality of facilities that have characterized our community. By turning your back on the $11.7 million raised over several years by the Library Foundation, the council would be demonstrating bad faith that will cripple these efforts in the future. Simply put, the city will no longer be trusted to keep up its end of the deal.

There has also been some continuing discussion of making this a dual-purpose facility as a performing arts theater. While I am confident multiple uses can be accommodated in the lecture hall, this idea is not practicable at this time and to delay the project to pursue it is a red herring that would just result in higher costs due to extensive delays and scope creep.

The council got it right when it approved this project in November and I encourage the council to continue moving this important project forward.

Keith Curry, Former Mayor

Member, City Finance Committee

City of Newport Beach

Taking part in public/private partnership is a win/win for the community

I write in strong support of the proposed Witte Library Lecture Hall on the Agenda (tonight) Tuesday evening.

I served as the City Council representative on the Library Lecture Hall Design Committee from its inception in 2019 until I resigned my council position December 1, 2022 upon election to the State Assembly.

For more than 30 years as an executive in private industry responsible for philanthropic investments in our communities, as well as a member of the Newport Beach City Council, I have been a fierce advocate of public/private partnerships. These partnerships are fiscally smart and allow for community members to have “skin in the game” for public infrastructure projects that benefit the community at large. Among the projects recently funded under public/private partnerships have been The OASIS Senior Center, the Jr. Lifeguards facility and the new Animal Shelter.

The Witte Library Lecture Hall is a bargain for the city. A project estimated to cost $23 million will be funded 50% by the community and library donors and 50% by the City of Newport Beach.

As a former Chair of the Finance Committee, I am well versed in the available funds for this project and I am confident that the city’s 50% share can be fully funded without sacrificing any other projects or city operations.

For example, the City Facility Financing Plan (FFP) provides a model for assuring capital project funding without reducing operations of the city. Non-tax revenues from development fees are available through the FFP for projects like this one that enhance community amenities. These funds are reserved specifically for this type of capital project.

In addition, the city has substantial cash reserves of nearly $400 million. Finally, if the council chooses to do so, it can finance its $11.7 million portion of the project at an interest rate of approximately 3.5%.

In terms of return on investment, there is no other pending project where the city’s funds are leveraged for a 100% dollar-for-dollar match with private funds. In my opinion, it would indeed be a poor policy choice, and poor financial stewardship, to allow the $11.7 million from private donors to be lost.

It would also be an unfortunate choice if the city, with the ability to provide an outstanding community and educational resource at half its actual cost, should fail to take advantage of this unique opportunity. The Witte Lecture Hall will be a facility that will serve future generations of Newport Beach residents, and you can be justly proud of providing the leadership to make this project a reality.

I strongly and respectfully urge your support of the Witte Lecture Hall. Thank you for your consideration.

Diane Brooks Dixon

California’s 72nd Assembly District

City of Newport Beach, Mayor 2016 and 2019

Strongly oppose approval of Lecture Hall

(The following letter was directed to the Newport Beach City Council and cc’d to “Stu News Newport.”)

I strongly OPPOSE your approval of the construction of the proposed new Newport Beach Library Lecture Hall.

The primary reasons for opposition are as follows:

1. The original budget for this project was $8-9 million and the current estimate has grown to 300% of the original estimates or in excess of $24 MILLION ($24,000,000)!

2. Common sense and experience with a construction project of this size and nature indicates that it is extremely probable that the costs will increase during construction.

3. A recent publication (https://bnnbreaking.com/world/us/newport-beach-city-council-to-decide-on-23-5-million-library-lecture-hall/) comments that the “Anticipated Benefits of the New Facility:

With annual participation in library programming witnessing a significant increase, the community’s need for the new facility is palpable.” [Emphasis added.]

Question: How is “palpable” measured given the availability of literally 1,000s of seats in the City’s existing facilities including, but not limited to, the current main library meeting room, City Community room at City Hall, OASIS, Marina Park and any number of other City community centers located throughout the city plus the availability of other facilities available for rent such as the 6 Regal Edwards Cinemas withing walking distance of City Hall.

“The proposed lecture hall, with a seating capacity for up to 299 people, promises to enhance the attendees’ experience with improved sight lines and state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment.”

Comment: I have attended many meetings and lectures at multiple City facilities and have never had a problem with “site lines” and/or “a/v.”

If such problems exist at current facilities, they can be resolved for a lot less than $24 million.

1. Other City projects have higher need and benefits to the residents of Newport including street repairs, expansion of fire and police services.

2. The world is in an increasing position of uncertainty and the fiscal and fiduciary prudent action for City Council will be to provide for City reserve funds in the event of a future revenue decline.

Please VOTE NO on the proposed Library Lecture Hall.

Tom Callister

Corona del Mar

Now’s the time…let’s get this done

The future construction of Witte Hall goes before the Newport Beach City Council on Tuesday and as time has passed the cost has risen. We shouldn’t delay the construction any longer. It will be the completion of our beautiful Civic Center and will be a source of pride for the city’s citizens.

There is a fundamental misunderstanding concerning Witte Hall. Bill Witte and Keiko Sakamoto very generously gave a substantial commitment of $4 million toward the building of the hall and were given naming rights. It’s because of their gift – and not because of one of the Foundation’s many programs, the Witte Lecture Series, that it is called Witte Hall.

They gave their donation in support of a community hall that will service many performances given by the Newport Beach Public Library Foundation AND by various other groups who wish to make use of the hall’s facilities. That is key – the hall isn’t being built to service one of the Foundation’s lecture series, nor only Foundation programs, but will be used by civic and arts organizations as well as private businesses in Newport Beach.

The people of Newport Beach deserve a gathering place where they may share group experiences in business, the arts and sciences.

Lisa Edwards

Newport Beach

Naysayer can’t see long-term implications of Lecture Hall

Seldom right, but never in doubt. Yes, that’s an apt description of Mr. McCaffrey’s repeated rants concerning the cost of capital improvement projects in Newport Beach including the investment in our current Civic Center. This time his screed concerns the proposed world-class cultural Lecture Hall addition.

BTW, I am with the vast majority of residents who are super proud of our iconic Civic Center. Functional, beautiful, a fitting tribute to our shining city by the sea.

The Lecture Hall will be the crown jewel of the Civic Center complex. It will complete the campus.

Ronnie and I just returned from a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel to Australia/New Zealand. The trip included a visit to the Sydney Opera House.

We learned during our visit that the Opera House was well over its original budget.

But the Opera House visit absolutely “made” our trip – and I’m guessing that it is the highlight for many “Down Under” travelers.

It would be beyond inappropriate to compare the Opera House to our forthcoming Lecture Hall, but when reading Mr. McCaffrey’s penny-pinching tomes, please be reminded that the city will be receiving a donation of 50% of the cost of a world-class facility with no land cost.

If you are rightfully proud of the current Civic Center, you will be rightfully proud of the Lecture Hall – now and for decades and generations to come.

I described our trip as a once-in-a-lifetime travel opportunity; please support the Lecture Hall project as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to enrich the cultural, educational and informational fabric of Newport Beach.

Paul Watkins

Newport Beach

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Letters to the Editor

New Year’s Day float makes me proud

Congratulations to Gary (Sherwin) and his staff. I’m so proud to come from three generations in our town of Newport.

John Vallely

Newport Beach

Like the Christmas friendliness…wish we could enjoy it year-round

Christmas spirit seemed in full force this year. There were beautiful lights and humorous displays in most neighborhoods, and it seemed like people were so eager to get started, that not long after Thanksgiving the first decorations started appearing. And it would not surprise me to learn that there is some healthy competition over who can put up the most lights in the most original ways.

More than a week after Christmas there are still incredibly beautiful reindeer, decorated outdoor trees and bushes, multiple colors outlining entire houses, huge Santas and many original shapes outlined in color. And I cannot help but think that some of those people were trying to bring pleasure to their neighborhood with their outstanding displays. I, for one, would like to thank them for the joy it brings me. People seemed friendlier than usual too, certainly a gesture that would lift everyone’s spirits year-round.

I am one of those people who can never find where I have parked my car, whether it is in a parking lot at South Coast Plaza or a much smaller lot like Westcliff Plaza. I try to appear nonchalant as I walk up and down each row of cars looking for mine. I could be great distances from my car and still think that I was getting “warm.”

Well, at Westcliff Plaza a few weeks before Christmas, one by one, two kind smiling ladies asked me if I needed some help finding my car. I knew I should never buy a white car, as at least 30% of the cars these days are white. It is probably because of my age that these ladies were so solicitous, but my point is that that has never happened to me before, especially two unrelated ladies about 10 minutes apart. (More than once, I have had to ask Security to help me find my car in various parking lots from Orange to L.A. County and beyond.)

It would be nice to see people be helpful and friendly to each other year-round. I always try to greet someone I pass while on one of my exercise walks around the neighborhood. Because there are so many dogs and dog walkers in neighborhoods in our city, it is always uplifting to me when a stranger smiles or nods when we pass each other on a sidewalk or as is the case in Newport Heights, on the street. Let’s face it folks: In Newport Beach it is not dangerous in broad daylight to acknowledge someone you might almost literally run into during one of your walks.

Drivers seem a little less aggressive during the holidays. It always amazes me how fast cars drive in neighborhoods where kids are present. I think the light displays at night slowed people down but what would it take during the day? Couldn’t we keep this holiday spirit alive year-round?

We certainly have things to be proud of as Newport Beach residents.

Our famous Boat Parade attracts visitors from other counties who come to celebrate in our city and this year, I was surprised to see that we had a beautiful award-winning float which happened also to be the longest float in the Rose Parade.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Kudos to Gary Sherwin and team

I think we should all give kudos to Gary Sherwin and his team at Visit Newport Beach for making us very proud of the award-winning spectacular float he sent for us to the 2024 Rose Parade.

Debbie Allen Moore

Newport Beach

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