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Fair Game


SPON stalwart Jean Watt succumbs at 96

TJ headshot AugJean Watt passed away Sunday (April 16) at the age of 96. If anyone ever came close to deserving the official title of Matriarch of Newport Beach it was probably Jean Watt.

Jean was a longtime leader in the Orange County environmental community and, in particular, focused on environmental impacts on Newport Beach.

Her life was full. Her service to this community was unsurpassed in many ways. In 1974, Jean joined another local resident, Claudia Hirsch, to start an organization called SPON (Stop Polluting Our Newport, in its first iteration), which became one of the most formidable political factions in the city’s history while it defended environmental concerns and over development. In 1988, she capitalized on her involvement by being elected to the Newport Beach City Council.

Her other involvement included becoming founder and president of the Friends of Harbors, Beaches and Parks, the fund development chairman for a developing Environmental Nature Center and a board member for Air Fare, a group fighting to control the impacts of John Wayne Airport on the surrounding community.

Her fights to protect Newport Beach continued with the development of Line in the Sand, to continuing on with SPON in its next iteration of Still Protecting Our Newport. In fact, in recent times, Jean was instrumental in connecting SPON with Eagle Four Partners (owners of VEA Newport Beach, the Balboa Bay Resort and the soon to open Pendry Hotel), to form a partnership some would have considered virtually impossible to consummate, in order to create the Newport Beach Housing Trust, while also supporting the development of the new Ritz-Carlton Residences tower. She also helped form the Orange County River Park and helped get the Wetlands Recovery Project up and running.

Fair Game current Jean Watt

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of SPON

Jean Watt

When major developments were presented, Jean led efforts in a number of cases to publicly fight against them. Perhaps one of the most challenging was the battle to defeat the Museum House development in the Fashion Island area.

She also effectively used her clout to defeat political measures that she felt negatively impacted the future of Newport Beach, including the Greenlight Initiative and to fight against the Elect Our Mayor measure.

Jean was named Newport Beach Citizen of the Year in 2013.

Friends of Harbors, Beaches and Parks organization issued a release announcing Jean’s passing and said, “We are pretty sure even the rising tide of the seas can’t wash away the monumental footprints Jean has left behind.”

Fair Game young Jean Watt

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Courtesy of Friends of Harbors, Beaches and Parks

A young Jean Watt

There are no immediate plans for any service or celebration, but instead discussions on something perhaps in June or July.

She leaves behind four children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

• • •

This Saturday, April 22, is an Earth Day Diversion Event offering paper shredding, e-waste collection and compost distribution from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. at the city’s Newport Beach Municipal Operations Yard at 592 Superior Ave.

Residents are able to bring up to 10 boxes for shredding and collect up to five 30 lb. bags of compost.

• • •

The 60th Annual Scholarship Awards Dinner is set for 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 26 at the Lido House hotel, recognizing the top scholars from Newport Harbor High School, Corona del Mar High School and Sage Hill School.

The students will be honored for their scholastic achievements and their community involvement. The Teacher of the Year from each school will also be honored.

Pete Weitzner, a contributing editor for the Orange County Business Journal and a professor at Chapman University, will be the guest speaker.

Tickets are available at

• • •

The Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) tour comes to town this weekend with the SoCal Open/Newport Beach Shootout this Friday, April 21-Sunday, April 23, at The Tennis and Pickleball Club at Newport Beach

Three categories of players will be included: the professionals, the amateurs and the senior professionals.

Some of the top pro pickleball players are expected to be action.

The schedule is as follows:

Friday, April 21

8 a.m. – Men’s and Women’s Senior Pro Doubles

8 a.m. – Amateur Women’s Doubles

10 a.m. – Mixed Pro Doubles

Saturday, April 22

8 a.m. – Men’s Senior Pro Doubles

8 a.m. – Amateur Men’s Doubles

10 a.m. – Men’s and Women’s Pro Doubles

Sunday, April 23

8 a.m. – Amateur Mixed Doubles

10 a.m. – Men’s and Women’s Pro Championships

To register to play in the tournament as an amateur go here; to purchase tickets go here.

The Tennis and Pickleball Club at Newport Beach is located just east of Newport Beach Country Club at 11 Clubhouse Drive.

• • •

Remember back in 2021 when the oil spill occurred offshore sending oil/tar balls up onto our beaches and causing tourism havoc? Well, the owner of that oil rig, Amplify Energy, says that they’ve been cleared of the regulatory requirements to resume operations.

Opponents continue seeking tougher rules for those offshore operations.

• • •

Hoag Hospital is planning their 2023 Choose Nursing Choose Hoag Luncheon on Thursday, May 18 from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at the Balboa Bay Resort.

The event recognizes and honors the nurses that make Hoag such a special place and add to their great care.

For tickets and more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or call 949.764.6357.

• • •

The Corona del Mar Residents Association will hold their monthly meeting this Thursday, April 20 at the OASIS Senior Center, Room 2.

Mayor Noah Blom will be on hand to provide an update on the State of the City and information on projects the city is currently working on. Additionally, Mayor Pro Tem Will O’Neill and Councilmember Lauren Kleiman will represent their districts with updates.

To RSVP, go to

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