Council agenda includes fee revisions, pump station project appeal, community development grants

By SARA HALL

There are several notable items on the agenda next week for the Newport Beach City Council.

At the Tuesday (April 23) meeting, council will consider: Revising, adding, decreasing, or increasing certain fees in the finance, harbor, public works and utilities departments; an appeal of Planning Commission’s approval of a pump station and force mains replacement project; Community Development Block Grant 2024-25 annual action plan and several work contracts on the consent calendar.

During regular business, council will consider an ordinance and resolution revising, adding, or increasing certain fees within the finance, harbor and public works departments. The action, if approved, will also authorize the waiver of vehicle tow fees, adopt a credit card convenience fee and update the methodology for annual Consumer Price Index calculations.

The city performs an annual study of user fees and charges to ensure that they do not exceed the cost of providing services. The study focuses on specific departments on a rotating basis so each department is reviewed every three to five years. During fiscal year 2023-24, the city’s consultant, ClearSource Financial Consulting, was directed to analyze the finance, harbor, public works and utilities departments, following a cost recovery analysis.

ClearSource met with department staff to discuss the services provided, the annual volume for those services, and the staff resources and time estimates for delivering the related services, according to the staff report for next week’s item. The company then calculated the department staff’s fully burdened hourly rate, which includes both internal administrative as well as citywide overhead costs.

Staff presented the fee study updates on March 12 to the Finance Committee. They recommended the updates move forward as presented.

In the finance department, there are some notable decreases (due to improved systems and streamlined processes) in fees, including the business license initial application (in person), sidewalk vending permit application and sound amplification permit.

Due to an increase of staff involvement with code enforcement regulation, the initial and renewal proposed fees for short-term lodging permits are proposed to increase. Staff is proposing a phased in approach to full cost recovery over a two-year period to mitigate the impact of the increase in short-term lodging permit fees to the customer.

There are also two new fees proposed for this department: Business license initial application (online) fee of $6; and taxicab operator license fee (after the county program that previously regulated taxi operations dissolved in 2020) with a company permit fee of $1,660, a vehicle permit (per vehicle) fee of $1,399 and a driver permit fee of $1,660.

If approved, the finance department fees will have an overall fiscal impact of $171,000 in increased estimated revenues.

In the harbor department, there are a number of proposed new fees:

–A $377 towing fee for abandoned/impounded boats more than 14 feet but less than 25 feet.

–Rhine Wharf permit for $28.

–A $498 fee for variance applications for requests specific to the harbor (limited applicability to dock, pier permits and other structures over tidelands).

–Use of electrical cord and/or adapter while at Marina Park for $10.

–Purchase (non-return) of electrical cord or adapter for $75.

–Mooring size exchange fee of $302 for mooring permittees if the city reconfigures one or more mooring fields.

–Mooring license application fee of $26.

–Mooring license waitlist fee (one time or annual) of $34.

–$502 fee for group/exclusive use for Marina Park.

–A $200 fee for mooring assists after hours.

–Deposit/late cancellation fee of $31 for use of human lift at Marina Park.

–Deposit/late cancellation fee of $117 for use of human lift at the Balboa Marina public dock (requires more resources than deployment at Marina Park due to the transport required to the location).

The proposed fees in the harbor department would result in a revenue increase of approximately $20,000.

In the public works department, there are a few proposed fee changes.

An additional engineering field inspection fee will be applied with a street closure permit that requires a field inspection.

Recycling service fee of $6.39 per residential unit, per month. This fee would replace the two existing fees with one combined fee.

A construction and demolition fee would make changes to the presentation of the current fees, distinguishing between complete demolition deposit and construction demolition deposit for a series of valuation ranges as identified in the proposed schedule. According to the staff report, the construction and demolition deposits are intended to encourage compliance and are refundable if the applicant uses an approved franchise hauler and arranges for an inspection. Should the applicant fail to meet conditions required on the permit, the deposit would be subject to forfeiture. Having two distinguishing fees will aid in achieving waste diversion compliance with state regulations.

An increase of $66,000 in estimated revenues with the proposed fees is anticipated for the public works department.

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There are only two new fees proposed for the utilities department:

–A proposed fee that consolidates a base of $53 plus a pass-through of the actual cost of materials for a meter, box, lid, etc.

–A fee of $52 for remote activation of water and sewer services establishment (decrease because it requires less staff time than onsite activation).

The fee changes will result in an estimated decrease of $115,000 in revenues for the utilities department.

Although not scheduled for a comprehensive fee study, some city departments are requesting fee changes.

The information technology department is proposing an hourly rate for A/V technical support-related activities for both business hours and non-business hours at $144 and $173, respectively. This fee is intended to be charged in any instance in which an additional level of IT support is required, for example, on-site IT support associated with facility rentals.

The Newport Beach Police Department is proposing renaming the civil subpoena fee to civil subpoena (per day; per employee) and including language to clarify that actual cost will be charged in addition to $275 per day. This fee is utilized when any staff member is requested to appear in court for administrative hearings, civil trials, court actions, etc. Actual amounts paid would be calculated in accordance with California government codes.

The police department is also proposing a revised fee structure for towing and vehicle release/repossession fees:

–Eliminate the tow operator fee.

–Customer fee increased from $110 to $156.

–Vehicle release fee increase from $20 to $29.

The community development department is proposing minor revisions to descriptions and adding a footnote to the banner permit fee.

The vendor transaction fee for online payment processing is proposed to be renamed as the parking meter mobile application payment processing fee.

For all departments, a credit card convenience fee of 2.85% for online credit card payments is also proposed.

Click on photo for a larger image

Rendering courtesy of City of Newport Beach

A rendering of the proposed OCSD bay bridge pump station from East Coast Highway

Also on Tuesday’s agenda, up first during public hearings, council will consider an appeal of the Planning Commission’s approval of the Orange County Sanitation District’s bay bridge pump station and force mains replacement project at 250 East Coast Highway.

Staff is recommending council deny the appeal and uphold the commission’s decision.

The pump station was constructed in 1966. It consists of two single-story buildings, a perimeter wall with a vehicular access gate from East Coast Highway, and outdoor mechanical equipment that is not screened from public view. The force mains tunnel under the bay to the western side of the Bay Bridge into an existing vault that straddles the public right-of-way and private property. The station pumps wastewater flow generated by residents and businesses east of Newport Bay, including Balboa Island and Crystal Cove, and ultimately to a wastewater treatment facility located in Huntington Beach.

While the existing property is 4,879 square feet in area, OCSD is acquiring an additional 9,713 square feet of land from the adjacent property at 100 Bayside Drive, which is the site of the future Back Bay Landing mixed-use village. The acquisition, which is for the purpose of constructing a larger pump station facility, is a result of an eminent domain case wherein OCSD has secured an order of immediate possession expanding the property to a total area of 14,592 square feet.

Plans call for construction of a new pump station (total of approximately 7,500 square feet) that includes a new underground pump room (3,616 square feet), electrical room (1,175 square feet), odor control facility (1,781 square feet) and a generator room (672 square feet).

Commissioners voted 4-2 (commissioners Jonathan Langford and Lee Lowrey dissented, and Brady Barto recused himself) on January 18 approved a major site development review and coastal development permit to allow the demolition of an existing pump station and construction of a new, larger pump station and associated force mains.

At that time, two members of the public, representing the adjacent property owner Bayside Village Marina, LLC, spoke in opposition of the project and argued that it’s not consistent with the development plan for the Back Bay Landing planned community. Another speaker (from the nearby Bayside Village Mobile Home Park) expressed concerns regarding truck traffic to the site.

John Erskine, representing BVM, owners of the Bayside Village Marina and related recreational marine commercial uses at 300 East Coast Highway (ECH and Bayside), as well as the Bayside Village Marina Mobile Home Park, and developers of the Back Bay Landing project proposed for the adjacent property, filed an appeal of the decision on January 31.

A letter from Erskine lists several reasons for the appeal, including:

–The project will dominate the East Coast Highway frontage of the mixed-used waterfront village Back Bay Landing.

–The eminent domain process does not prevent City Council from assessing all the impacts of OCSD’s project, and rejecting it or selecting an alternative location.

–The expanded pump station is too massive, too tall and is an unnecessary industrial-type facility that can easily be located in a less conspicuous site elsewhere on the property.

–The proposed pump station expansion will triple its current size and is inconsistent with the city’s and the California Coastal Commission coastal land use plan, the Back Bay Landing planned community development plan, key provisions of the California Coastal Act and is not in compliance with the city’s General Plan scenic highway policies or architectural provisions.

–City staff and the applicant failed to adequately address or explain why an alternate site south of the bridge was not superior.

–The proposed pump station is neither “aesthetically pleasing as a stand-alone development,” appropriate for the central Newport Harbor coastal location, or “visually/architecturally compatible” with the Back Bay Landing planned community development plan.

–The project will be “massively disruptive” while under construction with truck trips.

–There has not been adequate evidence provided that the facility, which was refurbished in 2014 and mechanically upgraded, cannot continue to function safely for the balance of the decade.

In response to the appeal, city staff stated in the report that the findings previously made by the commission are valid, a thorough evaluation of the project has been conducted, including location, size and aesthetic design. Staff also asserts that the various state and city requirements have been met.

Also on the agenda during public hearings, council will consider the annual action plan for the 2024-25 Community Development Block Grant.

Newport Beach receives funds each year through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development program for CDBG, “to benefit those with low and moderate incomes, aid in the prevention of neighborhood deterioration and meet other urgent community development needs due to natural disasters or other emergencies.” To comply with program requirements, the city prepares a grant application, in the form of an annual action plan, outlining how funds will be used in the community. For FY 2024-25, the specific programs and funding proposed will allocate approximately $399,099 in grant funds and $305,774 in program income.

After publishing a notice of funding availability on January 13, the city received applications from six non-profit organizations for CDBG grants.

Based on available funding, amount requested, past performance, anticipated benefit to the residents and the city’s priorities, staff recommends funding the programs/projects: Meals on Wheels OC, Families Forward (housing program), Newport Beach city motel voucher program, Boys & Girls Club (focusing on career development), Fair Housing Foundation and the Trellis International (for senior home maintenance).

The action plan also includes $443,170 for San Miguel Park playground replacement and ADA upgrades.

Funds will also go toward CDBG program administration and administration of the 2025-2029 consolidated plan and analysis to impediments to fair housing preparation.

On the consent calendar, (items considered routine and usually voted in one motion without discussion unless a councilmember pulls the item), council will consider: A notice of completion of a contract for Newport Beach Mariners Library, Corona del Mar lifeguard substation and Ben Carlson lifeguard headquarters heating, ventilation, and air conditioning replacement project; award a $1.02 million contract to Armstrong Cal Builders, Inc., for the central library elevator modernization project and a maintenance services agreement with Ocean Blue Environmental Services, Inc., for storm drain system cleaning services.

At the start of the meeting, there will be a presentation recognizing Newport-Mesa Unified School District students and a proclamation recognizing The Literacy Project.

The council agenda is available online here. The meeting starts at 4 p.m. There is no study session or closed session.

The meeting can be watched live on the local NBTV channel (Spectrum 3 or Cox 852) or on the city’s website here.

Members of the public may speak in person in council chambers (there is not a remote or online option to participate).

Questions and comments can be submitted in writing for City Council consideration by sending them to the city clerk at cityclerk@newportbeachca.gov. To give the council adequate time to review comments, submit any written comments by 5 p.m. on April 22 (the day before the City Council meeting). Correspondence received by this deadline will be uploaded to the agenda packet by April 22 at 5:30 p.m. and can be viewed here.

Material received after the deadline and prior to 2 p.m. on April 23 (the day of the meeting) will be provided to the council in hard copy and will be available to the public at the meeting.

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Sara Hall covers City Hall and is a regular contributor to Stu News Newport.


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