Council considers beach vendor code enforcement program, Cal Cities membership, marketing ad hoc committee

By SARA HALL

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

During regular business and on the consent calendar at the Tuesday (March 12) meeting, council will consider: Code enforcement program associated with the use of public property for commercial purposes; Newport Beach’s membership in the League of California Cities; creating a destination marketing services ad hoc committee and an early look at the Capital Improvement Program for the upcoming fiscal year 2024-25.

During the only public hearing on the agenda, council will consider a code enforcement program associated with the use of public property for commercial purposes.

According to the staff report, the code enforcement enhancements are needed to enforce unpermitted vending on any public property not meeting the definition of a sidewalk or pathway. These areas include, but are not limited to: Alleys, beaches, piers, squares, streets, street ends and parking lots.

Staff is proposing council amend city code to include authority to impound equipment and items used in violation of current code and adopt an impound fee to allow cost recovery of impoundment and storage of items.

Current code prohibits the use of any public right-of-way or parkway or other public property for the purpose of storing or displaying any equipment, goods, materials or merchandise, or any other commercial purpose. According to the staff report, the proposed ordinance that will amend the code will allow authorized city employees to impound equipment, goods, materials, merchandise and property for a minimum of 30 days if said equipment was involved in the unauthorized use of public property for commercial purposes. City officials may also impound these items if it reasonably appears a person abandoned these items on public property. The ordinance outlines procedures for employees to follow, including issuing receipts which will contain information on the date and time of impoundment, a description of the seized items, and instructions on how to reclaim the impounded items and the process for appealing the impoundment. City employees will also be authorized to immediately dispose of impounded goods or materials that are perishable or cannot be safely stored. After 30 days, an individual can provide the proper proof of ownership and reclaim their items. If not claimed within 60 days, the items will be deemed abandoned and forfeited to the city.

Individuals will be allowed to request an administrative hearing to appeal the impoundment of equipment and items (except those disposed of due to safety concerns or perishability).

Staff is suggesting a $319 impound fee to recover the city’s cost for impounding, storing and disposing of impounded items.

If approved, the action will also convert a part-time code enforcement officer position to full-time and add a part-time public works maintenance aide position to the enforcement program.

The proposal also includes a request to purchase an all-terrain vehicle and trailer. The ATV will be able to navigate the beach sand and the trailer will be used for transporting impounded items to the city’s storage facility.

Staff initially presented an overview of the proposed plan at the council’s February 3 planning session.

At that time, staff noted that addressing enforcement related to beach vending is staff and labor intensive. Illegal vending on the beach has increased since the COVID-19 pandemic and the city has received complaints from both the public and lifeguards.

Code enforcement officers have to navigate miles of beachfront on foot, which can be challenging, and hard to properly identify vendors. They also need dedicated resources in the summer, staff explained at the time.

At the February 3 meeting, there was a consensus on the council supporting a potential program.

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Photo by Sara Hall

City Council is weighing whether or not to continue membership in the League of California Cities

During current business next week, council will consider Newport Beach’s membership in the League of California Cities.

During a study session on February 27, council discussed the topic and unanimously agreed to place the issue on an agenda for a regular council meeting to officially decide how to move forward.

At the study session, councilmembers expressed concerns about Cal Cities’ stance on some key issues, primarily the group’s support of Proposition 1 (which would allow by-right approval of sober living group homes), opposition to the Taxpayer Protection Act, and their support of ACA 13. Cal Cities’ opinion on all three of these issues are the opposite of the position the city has taken or that a majority of councilmembers have expressed.

The association has 476 members, including Newport Beach for many years.

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Annual dues are based on population and are currently $24,800 for the city. City Manager Grace Leung confirmed at the study session that Newport Beach recently received its invoice from Cal Cities, which would need approval (if they want to continue) from the council.

Responding to a request about the benefits of membership in Cal Cities, Leung noted that the other key tenets (in addition to advocacy) of the League of Cities is to provide education and collaboration across the state with the various cities. Most of the cities in California are part of the organization, she noted, which provides a strong foundation for both of these key pillars.

During the discussion in February, Mayor Will O’Neill asked the local Cal Cities’ representatives in attendance to convey their concerns to the executive team and return with a response. He wanted to hear a compelling reason to stay, O’Neill said at the time.

In a letter from Cal Cities Executive Director and CEO Carolyn Coleman, she confirmed that they heard the council’s feedback.

Coleman explained that the league’s policy committees’ recommendations are reviewed and subject to approval by the Cal Cities board of directors on a simple majority vote. In the case of ballot measures, it takes a threshold of two-thirds approval before the board may take a position on a statewide ballot measure.

Several cities had similar concerns about Prop. 1 when it was discussed by the committees and the board.

“That’s why Cal Cities is sponsoring legislation this session to address issues caused by a lack of oversight of and regulation over sober living facilities,” Coleman wrote.

Of the bills that the organization is sponsoring and co-sponsoring, one is authored by Assemblymember Diane Dixon, former Newport Beach councilmember and mayor, and establishes distancing requirements between licensed facilities.

Cal Cities also continues to be an advocate on issues in the Legislature that align with Newport Beach’s priorities, Coleman added, including: Urging the state to do more to combat retail theft and the fentanyl crisis, provide oversight over sober living facilities and reform the regional housing needs allocation (RHNA) process.

“In summary, Cal Cities continues to be a strong voice for Newport Beach and all California cities on many key policy issues the council has taken positions on through the city’s legislative platform,” she wrote.

Cal Cities also advocates in the courts for Newport Beach and cities statewide, Coleman added, noting a few example cases.

On Tuesday’s consent calendar (items considered routine and usually voted in one motion without discussion unless a councilmember pulls the item), council will consider creating a destination marketing services ad hoc committee.

The group of three councilmembers would be tasked with reviewing and negotiating the terms and conditions, including but not limited to, the details of the scope of work, for the City of Newport Beach’s destination marketing services agreement.

After the negotiations have concluded, the committee will report its findings and recommendations to the full council.

The item comes after council unanimously voted via straw poll on February 27 in support of forming an ad hoc committee to negotiate the terms of the Visit Newport Beach contract for destination marketing services.

Earlier in the meeting, during the study session, staff will present an early look at the Capital Improvement Program for the upcoming fiscal year 2024-25.

The council agenda is available online here. The study session starts at 4 p.m., followed by the closed session, and the regular meeting at 5 p.m.

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 March 11 (the day before the City Council meeting). Correspondence received by this deadline will be uploaded to the agenda packet by March 11 at 5:30 p.m. and can be viewed here.

Material received after the deadline and prior to 2 p.m. on March 12 (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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