Volume 8, Issue 77  |  September 26, 2023SubscribeAdvertise

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Council OKs recreational use at OCTA transit facility, possible site of future pickleball courts


City Council last week enthusiastically approved adding recreational use, including possible future pickleball courts as one potential idea, to the property housing the local transportation station near Newport Center.

Councilmembers voted 6-0 (Mayor Noah Blom recused himself based on a real property interest) on April 25 in support of a resolution for an amendment to the Newport Village Planned Community Development Plan to allow recreational uses within “area 1,” which encompasses the property at 1550 Avocado Ave. The 2.43-acre site on the corner of Avocado Avenue and San Joaquin Hills Road is developed with the Orange County Transportation Authority transit facility and surface parking lot.

Currently, the two allowed uses for the area are limited to a transit facility, including bus shelter structures, restrooms and a public parking lot, and signage in accordance with the city code. The approved action proposes more flexibility with the site with the addition of allowing recreational use.

The current recreational opportunities in the city are very well used, noted Councilmember Robyn Grant, and pickleball is quickly growing in popularity with local residents and visitors of all ages and athletic abilities. It’s a “feel-good” idea for an under-utilized space, she added. 

“This is an exciting project. It is something that the community is very anxious to have, which is more recreation,” Grant said. It’s a great idea “in a city where we’re almost fully built-out, we don’t have a lot of open space. And we’re trying to accommodate these kinds of needs, especially the needs that really home in on the health and welfare of our community, not just the physical health, but mental health.”

This is just a great way to repurpose the area, she added. They can keep the beneficial use of transportation and access to the community, while also melding in this aspect of recreation and health.

“I applaud staff in being so creative and coming to us with this idea, it really is an ingenious way to utilize this property,” Grant said. 

Councilmember Lauren Kleiman also commended the staff and their work on the item. She also echoed Grant’s enthusiasm for the property’s recreational potential. 

“I think we’re all very excited to see some new energy brought to this area and really just offer another amenity to our community,” Kleiman said. “We can never have too many opportunities for people to get together and be communal.” 

The item was simply asking for the council’s permission to change the Newport Village Plan Community text, explained Community Development Director Seimone Jurjis. PC texts are essentially special zoning for specific areas, he noted. 

The idea is that the outer ring of the transit terminal (where the busses go) will remain the same, but the inner area (where the parking is) could be used for recreational purposes. 

“It’s underutilized area,” Jurjis said. “Even the transit authority knows that this is kind of an underutilized space.”

So staff proposed to change the code to allow some type of recreational amenity and the public works staff came with the idea of “maybe adding some pickleball courts there in the future,” Jurjis said. 

 “Again, you’re not approving a pickleball project,” Jurjis emphasized. 

The item only asked to change the PC text to allow for recreational amenities, any potential future project would return to council after staff worked through any requirements and studies.

Council OKs recreational use at OCTA transit conceptual plan

Click on photo for a larger image

Rendering courtesy of City of Newport Beach

A rendering of a conceptual site plan of a possible future project with pickleball courts at the OCTA transit facility

Jurjis shared a rendering of a conceptual site plan showing five pickleball courts, a shaded seating area, and trees and landscaping. It was meant only for visualization purposes and is not an actual project. 

They have had some initial discussions with both OCTA and the Irvine Company, explained City Manager Grace Leung. Following the council’s approval of the PC text change, city staff will continue to discuss the idea with both groups.

“They’re very supportive of continuing to pursue that idea,” she said. “I think it’s kind of an exciting way to have a mixed-use of an area that’s pretty underutilized and really meeting the demands that we’ve seen on the pickleball side, while also working together with our partner agencies.” 

There was no public comment on the item. Since council agreed to move forward with the proposed amendment, the specific text changes will be drafted and considered by both the Planning Commission and the City Council at future public hearings.


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

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