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Letters to the Editor

Trust the voters to Elect Our Mayor

I respect the difficult decision it must take to run for City Council. Fundraising, knocking on doors, going to debate after debate and taking a beating sometimes on social media. So even when I disagree with the candidate, I respect the effort.

None of that effort exists, though, to become Mayor of Newport Beach. Once a person becomes a City Councilmember, they become one of only seven people eligible to become Mayor. 

Voters are trusted to choose City Councilmembers. We should be trusted to Elect Our Mayor. 

The initiative to do that is exactly right. Voters get to choose. Candidates would have to convince us, not just a few of their colleagues. 

Accountability, transparency and trust will all be improved if we can Elect Our Mayor.

Brandi Bagley

Corona del Mar 

Don’t like the idea of the Elect The Mayor proposal being possibly agendized by council

It was rumored that a sizable number of proponents were going to attend Tuesday’s, Oct. 12th City Council meeting to support Councilmember Will O’Neill’s Elect a Mayor plan. However, the supporters never materialized, leaving instead an audience primarily of opponents. It was not unusually large, but sufficient in size to chasten the council members for considering putting the mayoral plan on the discussion calendar for a future date. (O’Neill [reportedly] had abandoned the route of gathering signatures when he realized that doing so was a lengthy and expensive process.)

Not one person in the audience spoke in favor of electing a mayor. Instead, in measured and intelligent speeches, seven community leaders spoke against the proposal citing the fact that electing a mayor should be one vetted by the whole community not just the council before going on the ballot. This, said one speaker, would allow for more careful consideration of the proposal. 

The failure of the proposal to meet the term limits of the city charter, thus allowing the mayor to serve 16 uninterrupted years in leadership instead of eight years, sets an unbelievably long period of control by one person. This long period of leadership coupled with the expanded power that the new proposal would give the mayor in relationship to the council could easily lead to authoritarian rule. 

When it came time to vote, it appeared that Mr. O’Neill had already persuaded the council to support bringing the proposal up for discussion at a future date. My observations of the council members’ faces and gestures indicated to me that they were not overly enthusiastic about their votes or their role. In fact, not one council person commented or spoke to issues brought forth by the audience. 

Giving the council the benefit of the doubt, perhaps they thought that putting the plan on a future agenda would allow them to discuss the proposal at length. Unfortunately, this has not been a successful route in the past for opponents of an issue because public discussion will occur in only one meeting consisting of comments to the council. It excludes the public from any meaningful discussion regarding whether this major attempt to restructure our city government should even make it as far as the ballot.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

No shortcuts should be used in getting the ballot initiative Elect Our Mayor on the ballot

I am opposed to Councilman Will O’Neill’s initiative to Elect Our Mayor in Newport Beach but that’s only my opinion and some people feel differently. Perhaps our citizens should make sure they fully understand all the underlying facts involved in electing the mayor, but most importantly how Will O’Neill is trying to circumvent the system to get this item airlifted onto a future ballot in the next few weeks. 

Has anyone on the council asked for a thorough financial analysis of what impact this move will have on our city? Adding another layer of government, staffing this layer, adding in retirement costs and benefits all need to be analyzed with costs being projected out over several years. 

Also, this initiative would create a second class of councilmember with less ability to represent his/her constituents because of redistricting which creates a larger number of people to represent and diminishes the importance of neighborhoods, villages and businesses within each district.   

Newport Beach voters approved a term limit of eight years for councilpersons, including the mayor, for a very good reason. Councilman O’Neill’s initiative would allow a councilperson who has served his eight years to then run for mayor, where he could potentially also serve two terms, i.e., another eight years! The councilmembers have term limits, but the proposed elected mayor will serve without term limits.

Mr. O’Neill had 180 days from the date his amendment was certified to obtain 9,000 signatures to put this on the ballot for our citizens to vote on. Apparently, he’s finding that’s not such an easy task. 

I can confirm that it’s not, from my experience getting signatures for the Museum House initiative. It’s a very difficult labor-intensive task but a large group of residents prevailed, and all worked hard together to get it done. It was a community effort.

Mr. O’Neill has now decided to circumvent the system by trying to “persuade” a majority of our City Council to vote yes to put his initiative on the ballot, instead of him getting the necessary 9,000 signatures required. Is that legal? Yes. But does it reflect the will of the people? I don’t think so.   

Whether or not this proposed agenda item appears on the ballot will depend on four votes being received from our City Council. It is also rumored that Will O’Neil has ensured this “on the fence” councilmember that if he votes in favor of this proposed initiative being on a future agenda, he can be assured that his goals for the harbor will be met. 

Mr. O’Neill has a way of getting what he wants with little or no resistance from councilmembers, but please I am pleading with you our elected city councilmembers, to put this item on the ballot only after a thorough and complete public vetting of the reasons for and against this important change to our form of government. Do not let this item be thrown into your laps, our elected City Council in exchange for future favors. 

Why don’t we bring all of this to the community in the form of a series of Study Sessions, or just an old fashion Town Hall. Why not really listen to the community on this issue, rather than basing your decision on one person’s idea of what our form of government should be – without any debate on the issues that are of critical importance to how our city is governed. This decision should not be based on promises and favors. 

In my mind, this should not happen this way. Will O’Neill is trying to arrange things to facilitate long-term control of our city without the messy process of debates and give and take and consent of the people. Yes, democracy is messy but it’s better than the alternative (per Winston Churchill).

Please let’s do this for the people and by the people!

Lynn Swain

Big Canyon


Guest Letter

Will O’Neill 

City Council member, District 7

Newport Beach’s financial rebound

Guest Letter Will O'Neill

Courtesy City of NB

Will O’Neill

I will never forget our city’s March 12, 2020 Finance Committee meeting. The Minutes state that our Finance Director “reported COVID-19 has changed the budget strategy.” That turned out to be an understatement.

Our city’s Finance Committee and City Council took swift action. We had three months left in our 2019/20 fiscal year and reduced our general fund budget’s expectation from $231.4 million to $217.9 million. This revenue reduction needed expenditure reduction too, which we quickly adopted.

The pandemic hit right as we were ramping up our budget planning for our 2020/2021 fiscal year too. As “two weeks to flatten the curve” stretched longer, we drastically reduced our budget expectations. 

Fortunately, our budget relies heavily on property taxes. This fairly consistent revenue source does not yo-yo like other taxes thanks to the stability built into the system by Prop 13. Sales tax and the hotel bed tax (“TOT”) are the most reactive to system shocks. A city like Anaheim, for example, was always going to take a harder fiscal hit due to its reliance on tourism at Disneyland and the convention center. 

Despite approximately half our budget relying on the consistent revenue source, we still reduced our revenue expectations from $231.4 million to $199.6 million; a nearly 14 percent reduction.

Which meant that we needed to close the revenue and expenditure gap. Giving credit to our City Manager and Finance Director, the Finance Committee recommended that the City Council adopt a “tiered” short-term budget reduction strategy that required quarterly review to move up or down the tiers depending on city revenues.

We prioritized public safety and never defunded any portion of our police, fire, or lifeguard departments.

We had also accumulated surplus funds from fiscal years 2018/19 and 2019/20 of $24.1 million (typically used to pay for one-time neighborhood enhancements and pay down long-term liabilities) in addition to the $52.6 million reserve to ward against this kind of “black swan” event. Thanks to this accumulation, we needed to use only a small fraction of the reserve to balance our budget, which we re-filled before the 20/21 fiscal year was out.

Throughout the 20/21 fiscal year, we carefully monitored our tax and fee collection. As the economy lifted up, so too did our sales taxes and TOT. The stronger-than-expected revenues allowed us to put $15.9 million back into the city’s capital program and roll back some of the service cuts.

Yesterday (Oct. 14), the city’s Finance Committee met to discuss how we ended the 2020/21 fiscal year. The tone was markedly different than our meeting from nearly nineteen months ago.

Our expenditures remained well below the pre-COVID budget figures and solidly below our revised budget, resulting in savings of $7 million. With better-than-expected revenues, too, our budget surplus coming out of the unstable fiscal year 2020/21 is projected to be an eye-popping $31 million.

Now, a few caveats must be explained. First, this is really three years of accumulated budget surplus. Only $7 million of that is from this past year, while the remaining $24 million is from prior years’ surpluses that we held as a backstop to the pandemic economy. Second, we did not rely on any of this money to balance our 2021/22 budget. Third, this is one-time money. Which means that as a matter of policy we should not use this to add recurring costs to our city.

Instead, we can and should use this money to further pay down long-term liabilities (pension obligations and future facilities replacement costs) and fund our future investments in capital improvement projects and neighborhood enhancements. This approach will remain consistent with our City Council policies.

I thank everyone in our community whose resilience through this past year has placed us and our business community in better footing going forward. I thank our City Council and Finance Committee for their efforts to monitor and adopt proactive and reactive budgeting processes. And, I thank our City Manager and staff for their diligence throughout last year.

We are indeed a resilient city built on firm foundations of community bonds. #NewportStrong

Will O’Neill is the Chair of the Newport Beach Finance Committee, a current City Council Member, and was Mayor of Newport Beach in 2020.

Guest Letter

Patty Huang, M.D.

Chief of Staff

Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian

Patients are the heart of Hoag’s success

Guest Letter Patty Huang

Courtesy of Hoag Hospital

Patty Huang, Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian Chief of Staff 

When people think of outstanding world-class hospitals, most envision attributes such as excellent patient outcomes, cutting-edge technology, pioneering medical research, exceptional physicians and dedicated nurses. Renowned health care institutions such as the Cleveland Clinic, Cedars-Sinai, UCLA, or the Mayo Clinic come to mind as hospitals that demonstrate such attributes. 

In Orange County and the surrounding area, Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian proudly stands among these giants. In the most recent U.S. News & World Report hospital rankings, Hoag was named among only 11 elite hospitals in the entire nation who achieved top ratings in all evaluated 17 procedures and conditions and the #1 hospital in Orange County for the fifth straight year. We are honored that the excellence, innovation and compassion of our physicians, nurses and health care workers has been recognized nationally. 

If you were to ask the physicians at Hoag what propels our determined pursuit of excellence, we would point to the deep connection that we have with our patients and our community. Nearly 70 years ago, the hospital was founded by local community members and the Hoag Family to serve the health care needs of Orange County residents. That bond between hospital and community grows stronger and remains steadfast. 

We are proud to be able to provide world-class, comprehensive, personalized care to our patients in their own backyard. Even as Hoag continues its steady ascension in the ranks of America’s elite and most prestigious medical institutions, our patients still regard us, first and foremost, as a community-centered hospital, and as their hospital. Hoag’s patients have consistently expected us – indeed, pushed us – to constantly redefine “the best” when it comes to the care Hoag provides them. It is an expectation that we consistently meet and strive to exceed.

In 1952, when our founders gathered on a promontory in Newport Beach and dedicated a new hospital to serve the people in Orange County, they could not have imagined the new technologies and innovations that we now offer our patients. Robotic-assisted surgery, virtual reality for surgical planning and the use of genetic markers to deliver personalized cancer treatments, are all examples of cutting-edge health care being offered at Hoag. 

Our patients also play an active role in propelling us forward by their participation in clinical trials and their ongoing generous philanthropic support. What our founders would definitely recognize is the intellectual curiosity, the spirit of innovation and the drive to provide the best care possible. Their founding ideal remains our guiding principle: that our patients come first.     

This is why Hoag leads the nation in the seven chronic conditions used in the evaluation: 

–Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease  

–Diabetes  

–Heart attack  

–Heart failure

–Kidney failure  

–Pneumonia  

–Stroke  

It is also why Hoag has some of the highest volumes and greatest national expertise in the 10 medical procedures evaluated:  

–Abdominal aortic aneurysm repair  

–Aortic valve surgery  

–Back surgery (spinal fusion)  

–Colon cancer surgery  

–Heart bypass surgery  

–Hip fracture  

–Hip replacement  

–Knee replacement  

–Lung cancer surgery  

–Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR)  

Although health care now may look tremendously different compared to what it looked like when Hoag was first founded, some things will never change. Patients will get sick and in their time of need, they want doctors and nurses to care for them with expertise and compassion and they want a hospital that they trust. That is our touchstone and the north star that guides us in everything we do. Hoag’s culture of service and community emboldens our physicians and staff to do their best work, to innovate and to advocate for their patients. As proud as we are for the national accolades and recognitions that we receive, our greatest privilege is that our patients and community trust us to be their health care partners for life.

Patty Huang, M.D.

Chief of Staff

Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian


Letters to the Editor

Word from The White House can’t come soon enough

I’ve had a number of political highs in my life, but none have come close to when I represented four beach cities (San Clemente, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach and Huntington Beach) and the Orange County Supervisors in the “No on Offshore Oil Drilling” campaign in 1985. 

Back then, the Reagan administration had its sights set on drilling off the California coastline, so when 22 local Republican mayors publicly rebuked the idea here in Orange County, I knew our collective mission to protect the ocean and local beaches for future generations was secure. That is, until this past weekend’s oil spill affecting Huntington Beach, Newport and Laguna. It pains me beyond words to read about the ecological disaster that has killed wildlife and forced beaches to close. 

I was a junior at USC when the massive 1969 oil spill turned Santa Barbara beaches black with tar balls. Its impact was felt for decades. I know Rep. Michelle Steel has sent a letter to President Biden requesting a major disaster declaration for Orange County. As far as I am concerned, word from the White House can’t come soon enough.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

Leave the oil clean-up and wildlife care to the trained

The massive pipeline oil spill off the coast of Huntington Beach on Saturday rocked our community as we anticipated with trepidation the impact of over one hundred thousand gallons of crude spilling into coastal waters and the catastrophic effect on marine life and birds.

Most people I know had the same reaction – what can we do? 

City officials up and down the coast are mobilizing as they coordinate with concerned agencies. Some beaches are closed. Newport beaches are open with an advisory to stay out of the water to avoid contact with the oil. Newport harbor is closed to prevent oil from entering the harbor. Boats will be stopped at the entrance channel; however, vessels may continue to operate within the harbor.   

Especially important, Newport officials are requesting members of the public to allow trained spill response contractors to remediate the oil as untrained volunteers could hinder response efforts. They recommend anyone who encounters oiled wildlife to report it to the Oiled Wildlife Care Network 877.823.6926.

The City of Huntington Beach recommends contacting the Huntington Beach Wetlands at 714.374.5587 and Surfrider Foundation at www.cleanups.surfrider.org to inquire about how to support.

All good to know, and certainly more ways to come on how to assist with the environment and wildlife endangered by this devastating crisis.

Robyn Grant

Newport Beach

What’s the harm in letting voters decide if we should Elect our Mayor

I am an active and engaged voter here in Newport Beach. I care deeply about our city and the future of our city for our future generations. I am involved and make the effort to meet candidates, I read their materials, I read their opponents’ materials, and I make a decision based on what I have learned. And when I like a candidate, I help by walking around my neighborhood with materials and encouraging others in my community to learn about them also. 

Simply being an engaged voter is apparently a frightening concept for some people writing letters to the editor these days.

The Elect Our Mayor initiative is simple with a simple message. Yes, I want to choose who the mayor is. So do a lot of voters in Newport Beach. As a prominent city we should be electing a strong chief executive officer and spokesperson. We should have a candidate that is elected by the people setting the council agendas. Want to find out how many voters share the desire to elect our mayor? That’s easy! Let’s get it on the ballot.

But there are people who don’t want to find out. They are afraid of voters because, their thinking goes, voters can’t be trusted with choosing the mayor. We could choose the wrong one (well, wrong under their value system at least). It still should be a choice by the voters. 

For example, the new attack is on term limits. It’s easy to see that this initiative doesn’t change the city council term limits. The measure even makes sure that the term limits of the current city council members aren’t changed in its implementation language.

The main attack seems to worry that a person could run for city council, win, and then run for mayor eventually. Which sounds like an election campaign attack ad rather than a swipe at the proposed system.

If voters want someone with council experience as mayor, fine. If they don’t, fine. Either way, it’s a choice that should be given to voters. A choice we are denied right now because people have thought for too long that voters can’t be trusted to elect our mayor.

Plus, the proposed mayor system has what our current system doesn’t: lifetime term limits for the mayor. Isn’t it strange that the attacks don’t mention that aspect?

I think that now is the time to assert our voice as voters. Let’s see how many of our neighbors in our community want to Elect Our Mayor. What is to be afraid of in that? 

Anita Rovsek

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

Important for mayor to be a part of agenda setting

Throughout the past couple of years, it has become increasingly evident how much elections matter. At a local level, elections have affected our ability to be outside in nature, choose where we eat our food and send our children to school. While LAUSD is still inventing barriers to prevent children from returning to the classroom, students in Orange County can attend in person.

Though we hope the worst of the pandemic is behind us, we have seen that strong leadership is what builds a community and inspires its resilience. California is a different state than it was two years ago, and not for the better. It’s hard to see that when we look at our beautiful neighborhoods and ocean views. Still, when data shows that almost all demographics are leaving for other states, we are reminded that we need strong leadership at a local level to preserve the communities and lifestyle we love.

We elect our local leaders to reflect our voices and make decisions that support the vision of a community where we want to live. A school board and a council are entrusted with building a vision for the future that reflects the needs of its constituents. To that end, it is vital that city councils and school boards lead with vision. And that is why I support the Elect Our Mayor campaign. 

What you might not know – I certainly didn’t – is that the city council doesn’t set the agenda. It is set by the city manager. We elect our council members and school board members. We don’t elect our city managers and our superintendents. At the school board, the board president sets the agenda in concert with the superintendent and other school board trustees. This is one important aspect that the Elect Our Mayor campaign seeks to change.

Electing six council members from various districts around the city, with an at-large mayor whose job includes setting the agenda, ensures that a city-wide vision is carried out in every vote, at every meeting. Being a mayor in a city like Newport Beach will be more critical to maintaining its character in the years to come. A directly elected mayor will have four years to work with other council members to create and execute a thoughtful vision and look many years ahead.

As I have talked to folks around the city, the biggest question that I get is, “Why now?” The simple answer is stability and long-term relationships. Planning for the next 25 and 50 years cannot be accomplished with a mayor who only needs to work well with council members for one year.   

As housing density legislation coming from the state begins to impact our quality of life, it is to Newport Beach’s benefit to have a mayor who has served with and knows other mayors in Orange County over several years. The ability to pick up the phone and discuss how another city is navigating changing requirements and legislation impacts our quality of life.

So, if you haven’t taken time to frame the question, “Why does Newport Beach need a directly elected mayor?” now is a great time to do so. Is a rotating mayor, as is currently the case, better for our city’s long-term stability and character for our villages? Does the current system best represent all residents of the city? 

As someone who plans on living in this city with my children for years to come, I support an elected mayor to lead Newport Beach into the future.

Michelle Barto

Newport Beach

If the system isn’t broken, why try to fix it?

Although times have changed, they haven’t changed enough to warrant a change in our City Charter when it comes to our form of representative government. Why do you suppose our city fathers wrote a City Charter that divided our city into equitable districts that would have an elected individual charged with the responsibility of representing the constituents within each of their respective districts? And why did those city fathers not define a separate office of “mayor” as an elected position?   

Here’s where the problem lies: If the average Newport Beach citizen is asked, “Do you want to elect your mayor,” of course they are going to respond “yes.” Follow that question with another by asking, “Are you aware of the significant changes this initiative contains that will have a major impact on the way our city is governed?” 

So, if this initiative qualifies for the ballot and voters pass this initiative, do they really understand what they have done? What happens to our current “Council-Manager” form of government that has, by the way, worked so effectively for so many years? It would be replaced by a “Mayor-Manager” run city government, and by a mayor who would be given powers and authority that clearly lessen each council member’s ability to do an effective job of representing you – their constituents. 

I encourage you to do your homework on this one. Let’s not attempt to fix a wheel that has never been broken and does not need to be fixed. Newport is an extremely well-run city and has been for years. Let’s not allow individuals to use our city as a platform for political advancement and permanency. Let’s do get back to a citizen-run government. 

Jeff Herdman

Past Newport Beach City Councilman, 2016-2020

Newport Beach

Visibility and vision is what Elect Our Mayor brings

We’re all so fortunate to live in the beautiful and well-run city of Newport Beach. The Elect Our Mayor campaign has prompted many of us to consider how it can be even better. We now have the opportunity to elevate the process of choosing our mayor. Regardless of who any future elected mayor might be, I’ve come to the following conclusions: 

–The mayoral model delivers far more visible leadership of the city, which can be important in dealing with other agencies, or cities.

–A direct election gives substantial democratic legitimacy and makes a mayor more accountable…answering to the voters has a direct correlation to looking out for the good of the entire city as a whole.

–A strong leader is more likely to be effective in developing a forward-looking vision for the city…how can a vision be cast and implemented in a one-year term?

–Four-year terms provide stable leadership. There is value in continuity and stability in good times and in tough times.

–Elected officials who can be held accountable are the ones who should set the city council agenda, not unelected city managers, no matter how good any city manager might be.

Change can be uncomfortable and not entirely devoid of risk, however; the benefits far outweigh the risks for the Elect Our Mayor campaign. I want to elect our mayor. That’s why I’m supporting this endeavor and volunteering to personally secure signatures on the petition.

Ruth Sanchez Kobayashi

Newport Beach

Elect Our Mayor would circumvent intent of 1992 term limit vote

I am opposed to Councilmember Will O’Neill’s initiative to elect our mayor!

In 1992, we voters in Newport Beach approved a term limit of eight years for councilmembers, including the mayor. Councilmember O’Neill’s initiative would allow a councilmember who has served their eight years to then run for mayor, where they could potentially also serve two terms (i.e., another eight years!)

This is NOT the intent of the electorate! We voters are in favor of new councilmembers with their fresh approach and new ideas. Having one person serve for 16 years is just not good for our city. This initiative is a bad idea! It should be voted down if it ever goes to an election. 

Jeanne Fobes

Newport Beach

Mayoral change would create potential term that would be far too long

When I heard about Will O’Neill’s campaign to create an elected mayor position, I did some research to figure out what it would really mean for the citizens of Newport Beach. Of immediate concern was the fact that this idea was never brought before O’Neill’s city council colleagues or the public. 

What my research showed is that councilmember O’Neill has written a proposal that serves no one other than himself and is purely intended to create a future elected position for himself. And it would leave us residents with an all-powerful mayor who has the ability to overshadow the future of my district council representation and yours. 

Equally important is that the proposed initiative overrides the 1992 voter-approved term limits (currently two 4-year terms). It allows a councilmember to run for mayor but prevents a mayor from subsequently running for council. This would position councilmember O’Neill to spend 16 years in Newport Beach city government, 8 on the council and 8 as mayor. Term limits were instituted for a good reason: to prevent any one person from dominating city government for too long. And 16 years is way too long. 

Government should be by the people and for the people. Our current system will serve our city much better than his proposed change. 

Dorothy Kraus

Newport Beach

Opposed to initiative because of established term limits 

I am opposed to Councilmember Will O’Neill’s initiative to Elect Our Mayor in Newport Beach. Newport Beach voters approved a term limit of eight years for councilpersons, including the mayor, for a very good reason. Councilmember O’Neill’s initiative would allow a councilperson who has served his eight years to then run for mayor, where he could potentially also serve two terms, i.e., another eight years. This cannot happen. “Team Newport” has been trying to arrange things to facilitate long-term control without the messy consent of opposing voters. STOP THIS!

Geri Ferguson

Newport Beach

Elected mayor puts power in one person’s hands

I read and enjoyed Amy Senk’s article on the election of the mayor in (the) Tuesday, September 8 issue of Stu News. 

This is not the first time that I have contemplated the strengths and weaknesses of the government in Newport Beach and the changes that would make it more responsive to its citizens. Surely this proposal to put so much power in the hands of one person is the opposite direction to move with that goal in mind. 

The proposed idea being brought forth by just one person and as Amy Senk so amusingly and aptly puts it as “a solution looking for a problem” or as I might put it, “the Lone Ranger” approach, would greatly enhance the power of the mayor and reduce the number and power of the council members. 

And certainly we, the citizens and the rest of the council are not “country bumpkins” looking for the man/woman on the white horse to rescue us from anything. That none of the other members of council have spoken out on this issue might be construed as their lack of support or interest in electing the mayor. 

Those citizens who have attempted to get a council person’s ear, can testify to the almost impossible endeavor of getting three council people to bring forth an issue and then vote on it accordingly. Yet that is the number of council members who would have to support a position to put it on the agenda according to this new plan being introduced.   

And to expect the Mayor to favor an issue enough from one district to put it on the agenda is close to an “impossible dream.” As Amy Senk’s interviewees put it, the new proposal being suggested by councilmember Will O’Neill, which will allow for uninterrupted leadership for 16 years “smacks of authoritarianism” and one-man rule.

But I would not be so quick to jump to the conclusion that it would be a one man rule, because that one person who is elected will undoubtedly need backers
and influencers who will take even more power away from the citizens than they do now. But to citizens and even some fellow councilmembers, these people will remain faceless and nameless. We have been hearing about and dealing with these power brokers for as long as I can remember, and their influence will undoubtedly increase with an elected mayor who has political debts.

I am not by nature a gamblin’ woman, but in response to councilmember Will O’ Neill’s remark that he is not sure as to whether he would run, let me say, “I’ll take that bet.”

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

Speed in the harbor is creating dangerous situations

My first speeding ticket was in 1975 for going 8 miles per hour in a 5-mph zone. How I wish for those days again. 

Your last edition included a narrative by Harbormaster (Paul) Blank. Lots of paperwork was cited, but of note was this excerpt, “two people rented kayaks…and were then flipped off the kayaks from a passing wake.”

The Harbormaster’s job includes speed and boat safety. As a resident of the Bay Front since 1974, in the last three years I have never seen so many speeding boats and haphazard operations. The widespread vessel speed and wake turbulence has led to dangerous maneuvers by novice boaters, overcrowded rentals, life threatening situations like the ones cited, and a free-for-all attitude that discards courtesy and replaces it with carelessness.

The danger and property damage that results from a lackluster enforcement of the harbor’s simplest rule, NO WAKE, is diminishing in the harbor. 

Matt Clabaugh

Balboa Island

Someone needs to keep an eye on those petitions

People should be aware that California law is very strict on collecting signatures for a petition, but you may not know that until you read the circulator portion at the bottom of the petition.

I was at the recent Republican Women’s luncheon and the “Elect the Mayor” petition was being passed around the table unattended. I was driving to my friend’s house on Saturday and a table was set up outside a garage with an unattended petition. 

The person who will be turning in these petitions will be signing under penalty of perjury that they had personally witnessed the signed signatures. That is why you aren’t supposed to let a petition be out of your control. The penalty is up to a $5,000 fine and a year in jail. The law is pretty serious about this!

You may not know some of the details of this petition, but it creates an immensely powerful mayor for whom the 1992 voter approved term limits is exempted, allowing one person to serve 8 years on city council and another 8 years as mayor as well as specified powers granted only to the mayor. Many of us are very concerned about one person having that much power, especially since no one else besides Mr. (Will) O’Neill has had a hand in writing it. There are many problems with this initiative and if it becomes voter approved, only a second vote of the people at a future election can unwind it.

My fellow citizens, please do not be blind to the damaging impact an elected mayor will have on our city. Our charter requires that a City Council candidate live in the district for 30 days. There is no such requirement for a mayoral candidate. Anybody can come in with a ton of money and become mayor and ruin our beautiful city. Are you really ready to let one person rush this petition through with no community debate or discussion? 

It truly saddens me that people are not thinking about the long-term damage this can have on our well-run City. This petition is the potential takeover of our city by one man. 

Lynn Swain

Big Canyon

The time has come for an elected mayor

As an active member of the Newport Beach community, I feel that it is my civic duty to point out when change needs to happen. The current push for the amendment of our city charter to allow for the council member in the mayoral position to be elected, rather than being rotated from one zone to another without any consideration to the necessity of a unified leadership of our city, is something that needs to happen. 

At the time the charter was drafted, the goal was to provide equal consideration for all to the very different communities that make up our fair town. However as time has gone by, Newport Beach has become more unified than ever and the necessity for the rotation of the Mayoral position to shift from one district to another is more of a detriment than a benefit when it comes to times of crisis. 

I believe that if we fail to acknowledge the necessity for change from the ways of the past, it will do nothing but bridle progress for our town in the future.

Jordan D Wächter

Newport Beach


Letter to the Editor

Elected mayor should be discussed in larger venue before voting takes place

Since when does one person get to decide major policy changes for the whole city? That is what is occurring with the push to elect our mayor. Right now, the role of mayor is a one-year term and rotates among the current council. There have been no committees considering this. No discussions about the pros and cons of having an elected mayor have surfaced. Even the existing City Council isn’t a big fan of doing this, perhaps because it is driven by only one person without apparent consideration of any other viewpoints.    

Initiatives have a long life since they can only be changed by another election. Shouldn’t we at least discuss this in a larger venue before it comes up for a vote or are we just stuck with one man’s opinion of what the role of mayor should be?

Tom Baker

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

Initiative gives too much power to elected mayor

City Councilman Will O’Neill has announced that he is collecting signatures for a voter initiative to make the Mayor of Newport Beach an elected position. However, this initiative does much more than just establish an elected mayor. It establishes an elected mayor with immense power and that is just wrong.

Hidden in the initiative is Section 404(b), which states, “Except as provided in Section 405, the Mayor shall have the sole discretion to set City Council agendas and to change the order of business on the agenda.” Section 405 does allow adding items on the agenda if half of the remaining council members agree, but this is quite a high standard to meet and effectively excludes the rest of the council from readily bringing issues forward. Instead, the initiative will give the mayor near total control of what may be brought in front of the council. If an unpopular issue is to be discussed and a crowd is expected for an agenda item at 8 p.m., the mayor can arbitrarily move the item to an earlier hour and bypass all that pesky input.

Now imagine if the mayor is beholden to special interests. If those special interests do or don’t want something inconvenient to their purposes on the agenda, the mayor can make that happen. As an example, many of us feel that Team Newport’s campaign consultant Dave Ellis exerts that power over his successful candidates. Remember the Museum House condo approved by the City Council over the objections of literally thousands of residents? The developer told me that Mr. Ellis was a consultant on the project because “that is how it is done.”

If a majority of the City Council supported this initiative, they could vote to put it on the ballot, but this has not occurred. Mr. O’Neill’s efforts to gather signatures appears to be a solitary quest unsupported by his fellow council members. Maybe they feel, as I do, that we should not give that much power to one person. The residents of Newport Beach deserve to have their elected City Councilpersons have an equal say in the running of our city. Electing an abnormally powerful mayor is exactly the wrong thing to do and I sincerely hope that citizens think twice before signing this misguided initiative.

Susan Skinner

Newport Beach

Electing our mayor enhances accountability

The basic function of the Newport Beach City Council is setting public policy. The sole ability for the City Council to accomplish this basic function is through agendas set well in advance of a meeting pursuant to “The Brown Act.” In other words, the only way for a Council to actually accomplish its core responsibility is through the meeting agenda. 

But as it currently stands, the Council has delegated that authority to the City Manager. No matter how good a City Manager is (and ours is great), the City Manager is accountable only to the City Council and not directly to the people of the City of Newport Beach.

The Elect Our Mayor initiative would ensure that the power to hold public policy makers accountable rests in the hands of the people. 

As proposed, a directly elected mayor would be able to set the agenda and be directly accountable to both the people and the City Council too. Plus, City Council members themselves could place items on the agenda if three members voted to do so (similar to the current policy). 

If a mayor didn’t want to place an item on the agenda and three other Council Members couldn’t be found to want an item on the agenda, why in the world would that item be worthy of staff time and consideration?

This process is helpfully discussed on the www.ElectOurMayor.com website under the FAQ section. Which is why I was a puzzled when I read Susan Skinner’s comment that the agenda-setting function was “hidden” in the initiative language. It wasn’t even hidden from Will O’Neill’s original op-ed published in the Newport Beach Indy and Stu News Newport

But more to the point, Dr. Skinner’s main concern appears to be that a mayor could move items around on the agenda to avoid frustrated crowds. This may surprise Dr. Skinner, but the mayor currently has the “discretion to change the order of business” as part of our city’s agenda-setting policy. 

Though uncommonly used, the most common use of that discretion is not to avoid crowds, but instead is used to ensure that a crowd doesn’t need to sit through an entire agenda if their item is at the back of the calendar. 

I encourage residents to read more about the Elect Our Mayor petition at the website where concerns are helpfully answered. If you would like to sign up to volunteer or find out where petitions are available to sign, please visit our site for that too: www.electourmayor.com/get-involved.

Noah Blom 

Newport Beach City Council, District 5

Newport Beach

Elected mayor, just a bad idea

An elected mayor? This is just a bad idea, and it is not what is best for Newport Beach; rather, it is what’s best for a few power-hungry individuals. If we could be guaranteed that persons who would run for mayor were completely honest, transparent, had impeccable integrity, and would always be elected by a well-informed citizenry, then I’d be all for it. But what are the chances of that happening now and in the future? And why would the people of Newport Beach change our City Charter to support something that is riddled with so many potential problems?

Take for instance that section of this proposal that gives the elected mayor sole discretion on the agenda for each council meeting, and to change the order of business on the agenda at his/her discretion. And consider how difficult it would be for a particular council member to get an item on the agenda that has been asked for by his/her constituents with the requirement that half of the council must agree to agendize. This clearly shoots holes in the concept of “representation.” 

Eight years is just too long, as well. And when you add to this the ability to have complete control over each council meeting agenda…you are giving absolute power to the mayor. Look to neighboring cities to see how well that has worked out! It just isn’t necessary. There is nothing wrong with our current system. 

Although my tenure on council was cut short, and I was not able to experience the honor of being mayor, one of the attractive features of serving on council is the potential of being selected to serve as mayor. This is a current feature of our City Charter that serves to attract people to run for city council. 

The current proposal would eliminate that feature. Moreover, who would really want to experience the frustration of serving on a council where the City Charter provides the mayor with absolute authority and power, and places an individual council member in the position of not being able to represent the constituents of his or her district? 

Here are a few other reasons for not supporting this initiative:

–Do we really want carpetbaggers moving to our city, establishing the required residency, and then running for mayor? Individuals who have no longevity in or a history of service to our city?

–A mayoral bid is going to be expensive, and the influence of campaign donors would likely be concentrated behind a single person or group in the City. Ordinary citizen concerns could be less a consideration if the elected mayor has an allegiance to a donor or group making large donations in order to insure re-election, and to elections beyond that of Newport Beach Mayor. 

–Our City would have to go through redistricting (from 7 to 6), with each district having one council representative except for the district that the newly elected mayor lives in. Could this be a potential problem? Double representation?

If this idea of an elected mayor is such a good idea for Newport Beach, then why isn’t the current council not approving this as an item on the ballot for the next election and foregoing the signature gathering process? Why is it just the effort of only one current council member? Again, this is just a bad overall idea!

Jeff Herdman

Former City Council Member (2016-2020)

Newport Beach

More power checks needed for elected mayor

I am in total agreement with Susan Skinner, a lifelong and highly respected member of Newport Beach, who has an excellent understanding of everything that pertains to Newport Beach and to city government.

I was so surprised to learn that all of a sudden out of nowhere comes the idea from seemingly one single City Council member to make the mayoral position of Newport Beach an elected office. And although it has not been stated, nor do we know for certain, it is most likely that this new position is being created for the person who originated the petition. This seems like an extremely opportunistic move, especially since it does not seem to be supported by other council members.

If the petitioner or another council member, with the exception of one position, were to run, it would mean that he/she would serve for 16 uninterrupted years as a leader.

Also, many of the council members have already had the opportunity to serve as mayor. This is way too long of a period for one person to be in office, particularly if during the last eight years that person serves a stint as a mayor with incredible, nearly unchecked power over the council and the residents of Newport Beach.

The idea of an elected mayor in and of itself is not necessarily a bad idea
as long as there were more power checks on that position and no current council
member could run, meaning that one person could not serve 16 uninterrupted
years. There is no good reason to support at this time what could well be the pursuit of one person.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach


Guest Letter

Robert T. Braithwaite

President & CEO

Hoag

Philip A. Robinson, MD, FIDSA

Medical Director of Infection Prevention

Principal Investigator of Infectious Disease Research

Hoag

It’s time for your flu shot

Guest Letter Robert Braithwaite Guest Letter Robinson

Photos courtesy of Hoag Hospital

(L-R) Robert Braithwaite, Hoag president and CEO and Philip Robinson, MD, FIDSA

Dear Neighbors,

Can you get the flu shot at the same time as the COVID-19 shot or booster? Absolutely. And, if you have not yet received either vaccine, don’t hesitate. Get them now.

Every year, we encourage people over the age of six months to get vaccinated against the flu. This year, our endorsement of the flu vaccine comes with an additional caution: last year’s record-low number of cases is expected to leave us extra vulnerable to “compensatory” cases this year, meaning that we may see higher than normal numbers of flu infections this year.

There are a few reasons for this, chief among them is the fact that fear of exposure to COVID-19 led many people to skip their flu vaccine last year. This means that whatever immunity currently exists in the public likely comes from people who actually contracted the disease last year. 

The good news/bad news about last year’s cases is that they were so low. Mask-wearing, remote working, physical distancing, shuttered schools and other COVID-19 precautions all but eliminated the flu from our community. U.S. laboratories that process influenza tests saw a drop of positive tests from around 20 percent to 2.3 percent. 

This year, businesses and schools have reopened, and COVID-19 precautions have been relaxed increasing the chances of coming into contact with the flu virus. That fact, coupled with our waning immunity has left us with the makings of a potentially bad flu season

We’re already seeing evidence of this. The CDC reports that medical visits for influenza-like illnesses have been increasing in recent weeks for children and young adults. Another warning shot across the bow has been the rise of RSV cases. RSV causes a serious respiratory virus in children, and its rise suggests that the flu will be back in full force.

A British study found that the risk of death doubles when people develop both COVID-19 and the flu at the same time. And with the Delta variant proving itself ever more transmissible and virulent, the importance of the flu vaccine cannot be overstated. 

So, get your flu shot today. Like the COVID-19 vaccine, the flu shot protects you against the disease and helps keep you from spreading it to others.

Flu vaccines can be given at the same time as COVID-19 shots (or boosters). In fact, Moderna recently announced that it is working on a combined flu vaccine/COVID booster. Until that is available, however, your best bet is to get two shots (keep in mind, the CDC recommends you use different arms for each).

As your trusted health care partner, Hoag is protecting our community by offering flu vaccinations this fall season. Hoag Medical Group and Hoag Physician Partners primary care locations offer the flu shot for their patients. Please call your physician’s office to schedule an appointment. 

We recognize that many people are experiencing “disease fatigue.” But the truth is, we have the power to turn the page on this chapter in our history. We have excellent, effective vaccines against both the flu and COVID-19. Let’s use them. 

Sincerely,

Robert T. Braithwaite

President and Chief Executive Officer

Philip A. Robinson, MD, FIDSA

Medical Director of Infection Prevention

Principal Investigator of Infectious Disease Research


Letters to the Editor

I want to Elect Our Mayor

I grew up in a city with a strong mayor system, where the mayor basically served as the city’s chief executive and was responsible for proposing a budget, appointing department heads and signing legislation (from the council) into law. That always struck me as more appropriate for big cities.

But at least voters in my hometown got to choose their mayor. Here, we choose the council members who then choose amongst themselves who will be mayor. That system seems much better reserved for small towns.

Yes, Newport Beach absolutely has a small town feel inside our various villages. My family and I are thankful every day that we get to live in Newport Beach. The weather is amazing and the people are even better. In my time on the Ben Carlson Foundation board, I have seen some real acts of generosity from our community that regularly leave me appreciating the real fabric of our people.

Importantly, it’s a city that people are constantly improving. New coats of paint on homes hit by ocean spray, new fins on a surfboard (or just a new surfboard sometimes), or painted pickleball courts on neighborhood streets last year to bring neighbors together.

We don’t sit idle and we don’t just settle. We think, talk, and act. 

Which is why I was pretty excited when I heard about the Elect Our Mayor campaign. It would give voters the chance to vet the candidates for the most important leadership position in our city. 

The mayor would be a person whose vision has majority support and would have sufficient time to implement that vision. But the mayor would also need to ensure that the vision had buy-in from fellow council members because, in the proposed system, the mayor would still be only one vote of seven on the city council.

It is an improvement over the current minor league system in our major league city. 

My family will sign the petition to Elect Our Mayor and I hope you’ll join me too.

Jake Janz

Newport Beach

“Ceremonial” selection of mayor is just not right

Like many people in Newport Beach, I live here, own a business here, and volunteer here. I’ve served as the Vice Chair of the Newport Beach Arts Commission with some great public servants and regularly talk to our elected officials and keep a pulse on our city.

But I can’t vote for the mayor of this City. And neither can 87,000+ residents in our city. That’s not right.

We elect qualified residents to city council spots every two years. They go to debates, answer reporters’ questions, send out mailers, walk door-to-door and are incredibly accessible. We trust our voters to be informed and make the right decisions based on a ton of information they receive. I know plenty of people who take that vote very seriously.

But no matter how seriously they take their civic participation, Newport Beach residents don’t choose the mayor. I’ve heard the position referenced as a “ceremonial,” but we know differently – especially during trying times such as a pandemic. Mayors are symbols of our city’s vision and voters should have a direct say in that process rather than seeing annual changes based on tradition.

It’s time for a simple message and a simple change. It’s time to Elect Our Mayor.

Michelle Bendetti

Newport Beach

O’Neill’s call for an elected mayor doesn’t go far enough; add in council members voted only by district, too

In response to Councilman O’Neill’s proposal that future mayors be elected from a citywide vote beginning in 2024, I challenge the council to take this a step further and include in this proposed City Charter Amendment the concept of electing city council members by district rather than the current citywide election system. Let’s take this opportunity to perhaps encourage those potential candidates who currently consider the task of running for city council just too daunting. 

While Councilman O’Neill’s Charter Amendment proposes electing the mayor from a citywide vote, he has nothing in the amendment that changes how city council members are elected. The effect? It would cause city council candidates to either have to raise citywide money (as they do now) or be dependent on an individual or organization (a PAC) that has the ability to do that.

By converting the procedure for electing a mayor in our City to a voter-elected mayor, the mayor is setting him or herself up to be that person. An individual who wants to run for city council will be forced to join forces with the only person that has the ability to fund a citywide campaign. If all candidates are dependent on this system for getting elected, then the potential exists for the mayor to have the entire city council under his/her control. 

You see it all has to do with money. And who ever has it controls the outcome of an election. Let’s face it, and I speak from direct experience twice now, the challenge of organizing and conducting a campaign for election to the Newport Beach City Council currently involves raising close to $200,000, and if done with enthusiasm and dedication, can take up to a year of pretty much full-time work in the form of campaigning. 

So, let’s get back to a citizen-run city government, and encourage the current council to support a City Charter Amendment that will encourage all who may be considering a run for city council to do so. Having to raise less money will take the control of elections out of the hands of those that have the ability to fund such a campaign.

Funds can be raised in a smaller geographical area of the City, and on a grassroots basis. A candidate would have the ability to completely canvas the district they are running to represent, and if elected has the opportunity to develop a close working relationship with their constituents. Most importantly, the ability to function as an independent council member would be possible for no ties to a funding group or individual would exist. 

So, would you support grassroots district-elected city council members? If so, please contact your city council member and let them know. Join with those of us who would like to get back to a city government that is run by the citizens of our great City, and not monied special interest individuals and political action committees. 

Jeff Herdman, former City Councilman, 2016-2020 

Newport Beach

No more confusion about who we’re voting for, elected mayor does that

Last year was a civic awakening for a lot of people. They learned quickly what government could do for and against us. 

This included all different levels of government, from Washington, D.C., to Sacramento to our own City Hall. And more than just knowing that our city’s leadership was important, we went through an election cycle where people thought that they were electing the Mayor because the Mayor was on the ballot.

Only, that’s not what they were electing. They were re-electing a city council member to another term on the city council in the year where he was serving as a Mayor. 

Confused? So were a lot of people.

The system we have sets up voters for confusion. But there is a simple path. Elect city council members from the people who want to run for that specific position and elect the Mayor from people who run to be Mayor.

No more intermediaries. No more accusations of backroom deals. It’s well-educated voters choosing their vision.

It’s time for Newport Beach to Elect Our Mayor.

Justin & Susie McKibben 

Newport Beach

Asking for political incitement to be toned down 

I am writing to ask you to rethink your amplifying, rather than challenging, the damage being done to political discourse by emphasizing entertainment value rather than paying attention to the impact of decisions and actions. 

Specifically, today’s (9/7) “Fair Game” refers, first of all, to “the COVID fight.” If you reduce Supervisor Foley’s motivations to that, then you are perpetuating an “us vs. them” narrative, rather than building an “us, together vs. the virus” one. Supervisor Foley’s statement stands for itself and puts in stark relief the reality that the OCHCA is serving up our public health as a political pawn, to the detriment of our community’s wellness and understanding of trends we need to know about. 

Moreover, your statement about the upcoming election contest between Foley and Dixon: “Buckle up, it’s going to be a good one” loans validity to the stance that denying the public information that we are entitled to – in the midst of a public health crisis – is a legitimate political move. By focusing on the “drama” and its entertainment value – rather than doing the important, harder job of shining a light on the act of withholding the information and asking whether this is a positive move for the community – you are causing harm to the community that you clearly love. 

Please rethink this reactive “us vs. them” kind of fast, easy take and ask the harder questions. Only when we clearly see and think about what is being done in the name of Fox News-style heightened partisanship can we reject the easy, emotional “it’s going to be a good one” reaction and examine the real harm, as well as more productive and positive ways forward. 

Thank you for your consideration.

Nicole Nelson

Newport Beach

Keeping informed on coronavirus is good for all of us

Just as Stu News has faithfully reported coronavirus statistics for Orange County during the pandemic, county resources should be providing us accurate statistics of vaccination rates for the areas in which we live. Katrina Foley, County Supervisor, was evidently sharing those statistics at the Board of Supervisors’ meetings.

That information is important for public health and it is unfortunate to construe it as political. For instance, I and my neighbors were dismayed to see that the statistics in our zip code (92663) were lower than we expected. I think we deserve to know why this is the case so that we can try to improve them. Otherwise, why have any statistics at all?

In addition, I should think that our local leaders would have concern for the people in their constituencies as well as the city at large and at least encourage them to get vaccinated. They may not believe in mandates as I do but surely, they can use encouragement. (Life isn’t one big contest, is it?)

It was good to hear from one council member who assured me that she does do this and I know of another who surely does. Remember that clause in the Constitution about “promoting the general welfare?”

Getting back to the sharing of statistics, I can understand the reticence of the members of the Board of Supervisors for sharing COVID information. Everyone surely can remember the bad scene last year when anti-mask proponents were overtaking meetings with their shouting and demonstrating. Well, according to the LA Times yesterday, in a front-page story, the “anti-mask and anti-vaccine” protestors are at it again, this time adding themes of racism by singling out “officials of Asian heritage.” I feel so sorry for the Asian Supervisors who were being called communists and told to go back to Vietnam. So, for this reason, I can understand why they don’t want COVID information shared at meetings. It is unfortunate when one has to modify information for the lowest common denominator of behavior. 

That being said, it doesn’t matter who provides this information, as long as it is provided on a regular basis as Stu News did in the first period of the pandemic.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

I vote for a vote for a directly elected Mayor

I have been fortunate to see our City government up close as a parent advocate in our school district, as a Newport Beach Foundation Distinguished Citizen graduate, and as a current Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commissioner. 

This is an incredible City. We rely heavily on volunteers and altruism to make our community, villages, and neighborhoods better places for us all.

2020 was rough for everyone, but the silver linings were there. For example, I saw for the first time a citywide interest in public policy. A desire to improve our city led a lot of people to learn more about how our City Council works and interacts with our residents and regional governments.

One consistent surprise I heard from friends was: “why are we not allowed or able to directly elect our Mayor?”

That’s a fair question without a great answer. This is a city full of smart, dedicated people who should be trusted to choose their Mayor.

I agree fully with Will O’Neill’s comment that Newport Beach is a major league city with a minor league system for choosing its Mayor.

Let’s Elect Our Mayor.

Kate Malouf

Newport Beach 

Does neighboring City’s results say it’s wrong?

Me thinks Councilmember Will O’Neill wants to be the Larry Agran of Newport Beach. Check with Irvine and see how elected mayor has worked out for them.

Dennis Baker

Newport Beach

Thanks to the school district for doing the right thing

So glad someone had the balls and guts to stand up for our flag. Seems like there is more pandering to fringe factions at the expense of core values these days. Hail NMUSD!

Angela Cortright

Newport Beach

Take it from an insider, the City needs an elected Mayor

I have a unique perspective on why we need to support the Elect Our Mayor campaign. 

As a Newport Beach Harbor Commissioner, I know that we can pretty well chart the growing international appeal of our City by simply looking out on the water. I would have loved to have seen John Wayne atop The Wild Goose in the 1960s when Newport Beach was still a growing city with the recently shuttered buffalo ranch. Today, we see mega-yachts from around the world passing by residents and tourists on Duffy boats and SUPs.

While our city has maintained much of its charm through village atmospheres, there is no question that we are a modern city with complex issues.

In our Harbor alone, we interact with the California Coastal Commission, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Orange County Sheriffs, the California Air Resources Board and so many more governmental agencies.

This doesn’t even account for Caltrans on PCH, the FAA at the airport, Housing & Community Development for the state’s housing mandates, etc.

Oftentimes we need help from these agencies. Sometimes in the form of regulatory easing. Sometimes in funding support.

For example, we are indebted to former Mayor Duffy Duffield for his repeated efforts in Washington, D.C., seeking dredging money. He will be the first to tell you that the efforts were helped greatly by his relationships forged through years of work.

But frankly, it shouldn’t have been that hard to get the dredging money. Our city is a piggybank for Washington and Sacramento politicians. We remain a donor community in both politics and taxes. And because we have a rotating Mayor system, there is no longevity of relationships between our City’s leadership and governmental agencies that affect our daily lives.

A system that worked in the 60s is no longer appropriate in today’s world. With more and more cities moving to a directly elected mayor in Orange County, it’s time that we do the same. 

I’m supporting the Elect Our Mayor campaign and hope that you will too.

Gary Williams Jr. 

Newport Beach Harbor Commissioner

Newport Beach

What I like about Newport Beach?

Hold on to your hats, folks. For those who happen to read some of my letters, and heaven knows, they are many in number, you might be surprised at my topic for today – What I like about Newport Beach?

There may be those who think that I am a misanthrope, critical and unyielding. But that is only half the story. There is a side to me that is not political, and like most people, that is my happier, friendlier side.

Maybe I feel guilty sometimes for living in such a beautiful place, while many are fighting for survival. But admit it, I must: Newport Beach is a beautiful place to live. And I am so lucky that I do live here.

I love to walk around my neighborhood in the Heights and see the unique quality of each house, no two alike. I love the fact that I have great neighbors. Although I have lived here more than 40 years, I have never heard so much as one complaint or unkind word from a neighbor. We don’t all socialize together, but we are respectful of each other’s boundaries. 

I love that many people walk their dogs down my street because there is less traffic. And people are so much friendlier when they are outdoors, especially when they are walking a pet. (Otherwise, Newport Beach reminds me a bit of France, where it is an unspoken rule not to smile at strangers.) So, I can live with that; but maybe everyone should go out and get a dog, so we see more smiles.

The natural beauty of Newport Beach is enhanced by some of the architectural structures. When I am unhappy or lonely, like during the dark days of COVID, I head straight to Fashion Island, which is the equivalent of going to Disneyland when I was a child. I love to shop, if only window shop. They have built so many fountains, outdoor seating areas and beautiful vistas that Fashion Island is becoming a big tourist draw. 

Newport is also getting more and more good restaurants with the accent on quality dining. Competition is responsible for that, competition and Newport’s natural attributes like great weather, transcendent views and outdoor dining. 

We have several newspapers and e-papers that serve the area. And because I love to write, I appreciate the availability of those sources. I appreciate Tom Johnson and his literary family. I can visualize Tom shaking his head or rolling his eyes when he reads some of my letters. Perhaps a laugh or two might follow some of the things I have written over the last few years. But he prints exactly what people write and we are lucky to have that opportunity to express our thoughts. 

So, despite the difficult years of the pandemic, and the divisiveness that those years have brought, let’s take time to appreciate how lucky we are to be in such a spectacular place and let’s do everything we can to keep it that way.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach


Guest Letter

Will O’Neill

Elect Our Mayor

Guest Letter Will O'Neill

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of the City of Newport Beach

Former Mayor and current City Councilmember Will O’Neill

Are you aware that you don’t elect your Mayor?

Would you like to?

I have asked those two simple questions a lot lately. While I have received different responses to the first question, the answer to the second question has been a resounding and universal “yes.”

Which, of course, makes sense. Voters, not politicians, should choose who is Mayor of Newport Beach. 

As it currently stands, we elect our City Council members who then choose amongst themselves who will fill the role as Mayor for a year. While residents can voice their opinion, the Mayor is chosen by a simple majority of seven people in a city with more than 87,000 residents.

This current system is, at best, a minor league system for a major league city.

Changing our system to a directly elected Mayor requires amending our City Charter. To that end, I will be filing an intention to start a petition process today at City Hall. Once approved, petitions will be available for signatures.

If passed, voters would start directly electing our Mayor at the general election in 2024 for a four-year term with a two-term limit. The Mayor would have a vote on the City Council along with six City Council members (whose method of being elected is not changed). The Mayor would set the City Council agendas with an ability for Council members to add agenda items, too. Term limits for current City Council members would not be reset.

Putting this commonsense measure on the ballot in 2022 will require over 9,000 signatures. I will be rolling out endorsements in the coming weeks and asking friends, colleagues and our residents to pitch in because the end result is worth the effort.

We ought to have candidates for Mayor talking to all Newport Beach about their priorities to win office and be accountable to all of us. We deserve a strong, united voice in good times and in crisis.

So, would you like to directly elect our Mayor? If so, join the cause. 

Learn more and sign up at www.ElectOurMayor.com or email the campaign at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The following is the draft language of the Charter Amendment being filed today, September 3, 2021, by Newport Beach City Councilmember Will O’Neill.

Initiative proposed pursuant to Article 3 of Chapter 3 of Division 9 of the California Elections Code, to amend the Charter of the City of Newport Beach

SECTION 1.  CHARTER AMENDMENTS

The Charter of the City of Newport Beach is hereby amended as follows, with text to be inserted indicated in underline type, text to be deleted indicated in strikethrough type, and text in standard type represents the current Charter and is not amended by this initiative.

Section 400. Elective Officers.

The elective officers of the City shall consist of a City Council of six seven members and a Mayor. The term “City Council,” “legislative body,” or other similar terms as used in this Charter or any other provision of law shall be deemed to refer to the collective body composed of the Mayor and City Council members unless such other provision of this Charter or other provision of law expressly provides to the contrary or unless such interpretation would be clearly contrary to the intent and context of such other provision.

(a) Candidates for City Council shall be nominated from and by the electors of each of the six seven districts referred to in Article X of this Charter and one shall be elected from each of such districts by the voters of the City at large at the times and in the manner provided in this Charter. Ties in voting among candidates for City Council office shall be settled by the casting of lots.

Alternatively, and successively, two four four-year terms (Districts 2 and 5) shall be filled at one the general municipal election occurring in each even-numbered year that is evenly divisible by four and four three four-year terms (Districts 1, 3, 4, and 6) shall be filled at the next such general municipal election occurring in each even-numbered year that is not evenly divisible by four, consistent with the sequence of terms of Council members existing on the effective date of this amendment.

The term of office shall be four years. The term of each City Council member shall commence on the date of the City Council meeting, following his or her election, at which the council receives the certification of election results from the City Clerk.

(b) Candidates for Mayor shall be nominated from and by the electors of the City and elected by the voters of the City at-large at the times and in the manner provided in this Charter. Ties in voting among candidates for Mayor shall be settled by the casting of lots.

The office of Mayor shall be filled at the general municipal election occurring in each even-numbered year that is evenly divisible by four. 

The term of office shall be four years. The term of Mayor shall commence on the date of the City Council meeting, following his or her election, at which the Council receives the certification of election results from the City Clerk.

Section 401. Eligibility.

(a) No person shall be eligible to hold office as a member of the City Council unless he or she is, and shall have been for at least thirty (30) days immediately preceding his or her nomination or appointment, a registered elector of the district from which he or she is nominated or appointed, and for at least thirty (30) days immediately preceding his or her election or appointment, a registered elector of the City. No person shall be eligible to hold office as a member of the City Council for a term of office that immediately follows a term to which the person was elected Mayor.

Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 400, no person shall be or remain eligible to hold office as a member of the City Council for more than two (2) consecutive four (4) year terms. Members of the City Council who have served one or more terms prior to their current term shall be entitled to complete such term, but shall not be eligible for re-election except as provided below. Members of the City Council who are serving their first term as of the effective date of this amendment shall be eligible to hold office during a second four-year term when the current term expires.

This section is not intended to change the limit on consecutive terms for a member of the City Council enacted by voters in November 1992 prevent persons from serving more than two (2) consecutive terms, and shall not be construed to render ineligible any person who would not, by virtue of his or her election, serve more than two consecutive terms.

(b) No person shall be eligible to hold the office of Mayor unless he or she is, and shall have been for at least thirty (30) days immediately preceding his or her nomination or appointment, a registered elector of the City, and for at least thirty (30) days immediately preceding his or her election or appointment, a registered elector of the City.

Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 400, no person shall be or remain eligible to hold the office of Mayor for more than two (2) four (4) year terms. 

This section is intended to prevent persons from serving more than two (2) terms in the office of Mayor, and shall not be construed to render ineligible any person who may have served as a member of the City Council.

Section 403. Vacancies.

A vacancy in the City Council from whatever cause arising, shall be filled by appointment by the City Council of a qualified person from the district in which the vacancy has occurred, such appointee to hold office until the first Tuesday following the next general municipal election and until his or her successor qualifies. At the next general municipal election following any vacancy, a Councilmember shall be elected from the district in which the vacancy exists to serve for the remainder of the unexpired term.

A vacancy in the office of Mayor from whatever cause arising, shall be filled for the remainder of the unexpired term by a special election called by the City Council to be held not less than 88 days nor more than 103 days after the effective date of the vacancy, except the special election may be conducted within 180 days of the effective date of the vacancy in order to consolidate with the City’s general municipal election. An election shall not be ordered, and the office of Mayor shall remain vacant, if the term expires within the timeframe for holding a special election.

If a member of the City Council or the Mayor absents himself or herself from all regular meetings of the City Council for a period of sixty days consecutively from and after the last regular City Council meeting attended by such member, unless by permission of the City Council expressed in its official minutes, or is convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude, or ceases to be a qualified elector of his or her district, his or her office shall become vacant and shall be so declared by the City Council.

In the event the City Council shall fail to fill a vacancy by appointment within thirty days after such office shall have been so declared vacant, it shall forthwith cause an election to be held to fill such vacancy from the proper district. 

Section 404. The Mayor. Mayor Pro Tempore.

On the date of any meeting of the City Council at which time the Council receives the certification of the results of any general or special municipal election at which any member of Council is elected, the City Council shall, after swearing and qualifying any newly elected member, elect one of its members as its presiding officer, who shall have the title of Mayor. 

(a) The Mayor shall preside at meetings and be a voting member of the City Council, and shall have a voice and vote in all its proceedings.

(b) Except as provided in Section 405, the Mayor shall have sole discretion to set City Council agendas and to change the order of business on the agendas.

(c) The Mayor shall have the primary but not exclusive responsibility for interpreting the policies, programs and needs of the City government to the people, and, as occasion requires, the Mayor may inform the people of any change in policy or program. 

(d) The Mayor shall be the official head of the City for ceremonial purposes, and shall perform such other duties consistent with the office as may be prescribed by this Charter or as may be imposed by the City Council. The Mayor shall serve in such capacity at the pleasure of the City Council.

(e) The City Council shall at the same time the Mayor is elected also designate one of its members as Mayor Pro Tempore, who shall serve in such capacity at the pleasure of the City Council. The Mayor Pro Tempore shall perform the duties of the Mayor during the Mayor’s absence or disability.

Section 405. Powers Vested in the City Council.

All powers of the City shall be vested in the City Council except as otherwise provided in this Charter. With the concurrence of at least three members of the City Council at any public meeting, an item may be added to a future City Council agenda.

Section 410. Quorum. Proceedings.

A majority of the members of the City Council shall constitute a quorum to do business but a less number may adjourn from time to time. For purposes of quorum, the Mayor shall be counted as a member of the City Council. In the absence of all the members of the Council from any regular meeting or adjourned regular meeting, the City Clerk may declare the same adjourned to a stated day and hour. Notice of a meeting adjourned by less than a quorum or by the Clerk shall be given by the Clerk or may be waived by consent in the same manner as specified in this Charter for the giving or waiving of notice of special meetings of the City Council; but need not specify the matters to be acted upon. The City Council shall judge the qualifications of its members as set forth by the Charter. It shall judge all election returns. It may establish rules for the conduct of its proceedings and evict or prosecute any member or other person for disorderly conduct at any of its meetings.

Each member of the City Council and the Mayor shall have the power to administer oaths and affirmations in any investigation or proceeding pending before the City Council. The City Council shall have the power and authority to compel the attendance of witnesses, to examine them under oath and to compel the production of evidence before it. Subpoenas shall be issued in the name of the City and be attested by the City Clerk. Disobedience of such subpoenas, or the refusal to testify (upon other than constitutional grounds), shall constitute a misdemeanor, and shall be punishable in the same manner as violations of this Charter are punishable.

At the demand of any member, the City Clerk shall call the roll and shall cause the ayes and nays taken on an issue which is the subject of the demand to be entered in the minutes of the meeting.

Section 1004. Voters Signing Nomination Petitions.

The voters signing any petition for the nomination of any person to the office of Councilmember shall be residents and registered voters of the district from which such person is to be nominated.

The voters signing any petition for the nomination of any person to the office of Mayor shall be residents and registered voters of the City.

Section 1005. Districts.

The City is hereby divided into six seven districts, the names and respective boundaries of which shall be as established by ordinance. No ordinance changing and redefining the boundaries of any district shall be enacted within six months prior to any regular Councilmanic election.

Following the national census and each tenth year thereafter the City Council shall appoint a committee to study and report to the City Council on the advisability of redistricting the City. Upon receipt of any such committee report, and at any other time deemed necessary or desirable in order that the district boundaries be fair and logical, the City Council may by ordinance change and redefine the boundaries of any or all of the six seven districts herein established. The boundaries so defined shall be established in such manner that the districts shall, as nearly as practicable, constitute natural areas of contiguous and compact territory and provide fair representation on the City Council. Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 401, no redistricting shall disqualify any Councilmember from serving as Councilmember from the district from which he or her was nominated or appointed for the remainder of his or her term, if elected, or until the next general municipal election, if appointed. Any territory hereafter annexed to or consolidated with the City shall, at the time of such annexation or consolidation, be added by ordinance of the City Council to an adjacent district or districts.

SECTION 2. IMPLEMENTATION

A. The members of the City Council in office at the time these Charter provisions take effect shall continue in office until the expiration of their respective terms and until their successors are elected and qualified.

B. The City Council shall, no later than six (6) months prior to the next general municipal election held after the year in which these Charter provisions take effect, adopt an ordinance to establish the respective boundaries of the six (6) council districts.

C. The enactment of this measure shall not be interpreted or applied to reset or extend the limit on consecutive terms applicable to any person holding office as a member of the City Council at the time this measure is approved by voters.

D. If any section, subsection, sentence, clause or phrase of this ballot measure is, for any reason, held to be invalid or unconstitutional, such decision shall not affect the validity or constitutionality of the remaining portions of this ballot measure. The voters hereby declare that they would have passed this ballot measure, and each section, subsection, sentence, clause or phrase hereof, irrespective of the fact that any one or more sections, subsections, sentences, clauses or phrases be declared invalid or unconstitutional.


Guest Letter

Robert T. Braithwaite

President & CEO

Hoag

Philip A. Robinson, MD, FIDSA

Medical Director of Infection Prevention

Principal Investigator of Infectious Disease Research

Hoag

Community COVID-19 update

Guest Letter Robert Braithwaite Guest Letter Robinson

Photos courtesy of Hoag Hospital

(L-R) Robert Braithwaite, Hoag president and CEO and Philip Robinson, MD, FIDSA

Dear Neighbors,

We at Hoag were heartened by the news on Monday that the FDA has fully approved the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for people 16+. We hope this new designation will encourage more people in our community to protect themselves and their loved ones.

In addition to providing inoculations for unvaccinated individuals, Hoag is now also providing an additional dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine (i.e., a third dose) for immunocompromised people in our community. If you received your Pfizer vaccine at a non-Hoag location, you are welcome to schedule an appointment for your third dose with us. Please bring your COVID-19 vaccination card with you at the time of your appointment. 

Appointments can be scheduled at two convenient Hoag locations in Newport Beach and Irvine through www.hoag.org/covid-vaccine

At this time, Hoag is not providing the Moderna vaccine. If you received the Moderna vaccine, we encourage you to view these resources to receive an additional dose:

My Turn/California Department of Public Health 

Othena/Orange County Health Care Agency

Vaccine Finder

Explore Additional Orange County Distribution Sites

If you received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you will need to wait for the FDA and CDC to provide their recommendations for additional doses. This will likely happen soon.

Full FDA approval takes place when enough data demonstrate the safety and efficacy of the vaccines and when the FDA has had an opportunity to review and approve the whole vaccine manufacturing process and facilities.

We anticipate more vaccines will be granted full approval soon, and we’d like to remind everyone that all three available vaccines are safe and have proven highly effective at protecting against COVID-19. The vaccines have also been found to reduce the severity of illness in “breakthrough” cases.

We hope the FDA approval, and the availability of additional doses for immunocompromised people, will encourage people to take the actions needed to curb the spread of the Delta variant. Vaccines are free, effective and our best chance at protecting ourselves and our loved ones from a disease that has already claimed the lives of 628,000 people in the U.S. alone.

So, please don’t delay. More than 95 percent of people with COVID-19 who require hospitalization are unvaccinated individuals. We can wrest ourselves free from the clutches of COVID-19, but only if we work together. Please get vaccinated today.

Sincerely,

Robert T. Braithwaite

President & Chief Executive Officer

Philip A. Robinson, MD, FIDSA

Medical Director of Infection Prevention

Principal Investigator of Infectious Disease Research


Letters to the Editor

Bad news – SB 9 and SB 10 pass in Assembly, but there’s still reason for hope

The bad news first – SB 9 and SB 10 passed the Assembly last week. 

You may have heard about these two bills; they’ve been in the news a lot over the last few months. 

SB 9 will unwind single-family zoning throughout California. It allows a single R1 lot to be split into two lots; each lot is allowed to have a duplex on it and possibly an accessory dwelling unit. This translates to 4 or 6 rental units where there once was one. It’s frightening to think what our neighborhoods will look like in a few years. 

SB 10 allows any City Council to approve a 10-unit apartment building on an R1 lot. SB 10 also invalidates all citizens’ initiatives (think Greenlight). 

Neither SB 9 nor SB 10 require any of the units to be affordable, so they won’t contribute to our RHNA allocation. They will stress our infrastructure because there is consideration for water, police and fire, traffic, schools, open space and on and on. There are no public hearings required. A developer can get a ministerial approval. Wall Street and hedge funds will compete with families to buy single-family homes, driving up the cost of real estate, putting affordable housing further out of reach for young families, our local workforce and lower income community members. 

The state legislature has been trying to pass these bills in some form or another for several years now. They finally got enough Assembly members to drink the Kool-Aid this year and both bills are in the final stretch on their way to the governor for signatures. With a looming recall vote, the governor may decide to sign the bills as quickly as possible to ensure their passage, or he could postpone signing them in hopes that it will boost his chances of retaining his position. In either case, there’s a pretty good chance we will be seeing these become California law soon.

Developers are salivating over this. I get a letter every week from some investment group masquerading as a local real estate company with a family looking for a home “just like mine in our neighborhood.” I’m sure many of you have received similar correspondence. I don’t mean to be cynical but, come on, really? 

Basically, these bills strip cities of any local control over their zoning and land use. Sacramento has determined that they understand the unique nuances of every city in California, and they are convinced that they know what’s best for all of us. We should just take our medicine and be quiet. 

So that’s the bad news…the good news is that there is a California ballot initiative for an amendment to the California constitution which was submitted last week. It would return control of land use and zoning decisions back to cities. The plan is to have it on the November 2022 ballot. There is a lot of work ahead, but the process is underway. It’s an interesting initiative and you can read its current form online at www.CommunitiesForChoice.org.

The organization behind this initiative is Californians For Community Planning. Right now, what they need most is money (donations can be made at the same website). In a few months the signature gathering process will begin. You’ll be hearing more about that later. For now, take a look at the initiative and allow yourself a small sigh of relief. Maybe we can fix this mess!

Nancy Scarbrough

Newport Beach

Mad at council for returning to mask controversy

While many of us are trying to hold onto our sanity and health while battling the coronavirus, a reactionary conservative movement that many hoped was fading found a source of oxygen to re-ignite its flame, by turning the survival tactics of vaccinations and mask mandates into affronts against personal liberty. While it may seem an illogical idea to many of us, several of its leaders had no qualms about using schools, churches and small businesses as battlegrounds over which to fight their anti-science, anti-government battles.

Such was the case last Tuesday evening, August 24th, when the Newport Beach City Council, by a 6-1 vote, went against the decisions of the NMUSD, over which they have no authority, and the California Department of Public Health’s mandate for “all students to wear masks inside classrooms.” 

The Council was eager to push their opposition to following general practices and guidelines, using the voices of vociferous parents as proof of the validity of their political decision. Even though there was a considerably sized group who sent in letters and emails in support of following the same guidelines as the other compliant school districts in California, the Council used the clamor and emotion of the parents who spoke as proof of their position. 

In adopting their resolution, brought forth by Councilman Blom, “supporting local schools as they return to normal and parental choice in deciding whether children should be masked or vaccinated at school,” they relied upon outdated information (before vaccines were available).

It should be pointed out that the city has no jurisdiction over NMUSD, who had already made a decision regarding this issue, and that the school year opened successfully on August 23rd with no mask incidents, the current surge is predominantly among younger people, there is no vaccination for children under 12 and hospitalizations for young people are at an all-time high.

Several of these council members intend to run for higher office. I just hope that in the privacy of the voting booth or in their homes, the silent majority remembers the selfishly unwise and politically fueled decisions that have put lives at risk, and that they vote accordingly.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach


Letter to the Editor

To quote one of France’s best, “The purpose…is to keep civilization from destroying itself”

As a young college student in the UC Education Abroad Program in France, I was immersed in French literature. 

Many people do not realize the extent to which French literature has had an effect on world lit. Yet the French have won more Nobel prizes in that category than any other country. 

A very popular literary movement that had a particularly great influence on world literature during the era after World War II was existentialism. It seemed like in every class that I took we studied the icons of existentialism and the theater of the absurd. While I found some of the themes of such literature harsh, dark and sometimes depressing, I could not help but be swept away by the depth and profound, if not bizarre, nature of some of the works I studied.

Why do I bring this subject up now while we are in the midst of a pandemic which has been devastating and divisive to our society? Because of the works of one French author who can be turned to for inspiration during such harsh times – his name, Albert Camus. He is world-renowned for his masterpiece of the 20th century which had a profound influence on literature in general. Its title: The Stranger

But interestingly, he also wrote another novel which is very timely for the period that we are enduring now. This novel was called The Plague and was about a plague in a city in Algeria (a former French colony). 

Initially the people are indifferent to the health of each other because they think that their pain is unique. Eventually they evolve and adopt the most meaningful action within the context of Camus’ philosophy: “to choose to fight death and suffering.” 

Camus died in an auto accident in the 60s but not before he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957. One of his most inspiring quotes which describes the power of literature is, “The purpose of writing is to keep civilization from destroying itself.”

That quote came to mind as I was reading an op-ed by a pandemic doctor in a newspaper this weekend. Having worked daily since the pandemic broke out, he is exhausted and weary and no longer very sympathetic to the purposely unvaccinated patients who have turned the hospitals into havens of suffering and death. 

I found his quote, while perhaps not as profound as Camus in a literary sense, most profound in a realistic sense of what the doctors and patients are dealing with: “If you believe the pandemic is over and I can ride it out, without getting vaccinated, you could not be more wrong. This virus will find you.”

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach


Guest Letter

Edward Kim, M.D., M.B.A.

President & CEO

Physician-in-Chief, City of Hope Orange County

A promise made to OC is a promise being fulfilled – everyone deserves access to the best cancer treatments

Guest Letter Dr. Edward Kim

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of City of Hope

Edward Kim, M.D., M.B.A.

Two years ago, City of Hope made a promise to deliver world-class cancer care to Orange County. It was a big promise, focused on providing specialists and services that residents have not been able to access.

In welcoming Pacific Shores Medical Group this month, we are fulfilling that promise. By coming together with this outstanding community provider, we add three more clinical locations to our Orange County network – and now have two locations in Newport Beach. A promise made is a promise being realized.

Why is it so important to have new City of Hope locations throughout Orange County? One word: Access. In having these locations join City of Hope, there are now four OC access points for our scientifically driven, clinically excellent treatments, innovative clinical trials and programs that support those undergoing cancer care. Next year, we will open Lennar Foundation Cancer Center, our comprehensive cancer center in Irvine. If you or someone you love has had a cancer diagnosis, you know how critical it is to have nearby access to this expertise.

Not that long ago, people needed to drive as much as two hours to receive this level of care. Yet, 20 percent of the Orange County population diagnosed with cancer did it anyway. That’s how important it is to our patients who want and deserve the very best available treatment.

I came to City of Hope because I believed that we could make access to these types of services available to the 3.2 million people of Orange County. I’ve never believed that the treatments that evolve from breakthrough research should only be available to those who are able to travel to the academic research center. As City of Hope President and CEO Robert W. Stone said, “It’s incumbent upon all NCI-designated cancer centers to not just be disruptive with their research but also to disrupt the way those innovations get to patients.” That’s why changing care delivery is a “good disruption,” and I’m proud to be a part of it.

I’m also working on increasing access to clinical trials – which will be part of our work in Orange County. I want to ensure that our clinical trials are available to a wider representation of our population. For too long, we have excluded people based on non-relevant factors, including age, gender, ethnicity, access to services and their disease state. My goal is to make our clinical trial populations look more like our cancer patient populations – it’s what makes sense and will make our outcomes more effective.

Everyone with cancer deserves the best treatments, and they should not have to struggle to attain them. I believe this grand experiment we are creating in Orange County – to bring cancer care to where people live and work – will succeed because this is a place that embraces bold ideas. Orange County is the Silicon Valley of Southern California. It’s an inclusive epicenter for innovation and people with a transformational spirit – and that’s the ideal environment for eliminating cancer. And we will do all of this with the humanistic approach that City of Hope brings to its care. Here, there is a deep desire to help people – body, mind and soul. When we speak of access, we want more patients to experience this type of compassion.

Getting bigger is one thing, but growing deeper in the community and providing access to more people is far more important and exciting. This is the way cancer care needs to be delivered, and I’m thrilled that we are at the forefront at City of Hope Orange County.


Letter to the Editor

It’s easy when you agree, how about when you don’t?

Ms. Lorenz likes mandates on things she agrees with. Would she be agreeable to mandates on things she doesn’t? I think not. A lot of us prefer to not have a biased media and politicians with their own agenda make all our decisions for us. Freedom of choice is truly the American way.

Jerry Piersall

Costa Mesa


Letter to the Editor

Mandates, mandates, mandates

In response to (a previous) letter, I would like to say that yes, I am in favor of mandates. In the very beginning of the pandemic, as far back as the spring of 2020, I was pestering our City Council in Newport Beach to put mask mandates in place. 

It never ceases to amaze me that a noisy minority has been trying to steer our country toward a course of no mandates, one that has proven disastrous to many. In response, my first impulse is to say that a national mandate is the best way to respond to this seemingly insurmountable problem.

But while I think that a national mandate for vaccinations and masks is and always has been the best solution and that we may ultimately get there, it doesn’t seem to be happening at the pace that we would want. And in the meantime, many more innocent lives will be lost.

Those who are adamantly opposed to vaccinations and masks are not listening to science and common sense but moreover to some political leaders and other spokespeople, among which are conspiracy theorists, who protest against being inoculated. 

Because it is probably impossible both physically and politically at this point to pull off a blanket public mandate, I think that the mandates will need to be put in place layer-by-layer. And that has already started to happen. Recent polls show that two out of three people in the country support their state or local government to have mask mandates for public buildings (Washington Post).

The federal administration is starting out by requiring nursing homes that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid funding to mandate vaccinations for all staff members. And legal action is going to be taken through the Department of Defense against governors that attempt to prevent school districts in their states from enacting mask mandates.

Even closer to home is the courageous response of the Newport-Mesa School Board President this week, to a strong and noisy contingent of parents who showed up to protest mask mandates in local schools: “I know some people don’t agree with certain things, but I think we need to keep our eyes focused on what we want and that’s to keep schools open.”

Among private companies, more and more are requiring vaccination and mask mandates as well as tests. I walked by the Apple Store yesterday which limits the number of occupants in their buildings as well as requires masks. The most surprising group of all to require vaccinations to play is the NFL. So, things are beginning to happen if not at the pace that many would like. Unfortunately, the more time that passes, the more opportunity there is for the coronavirus to mutate and come up with a strain that will be impervious to the current vaccine. So, until mandates speed up, we are basically being held hostage by the coronavirus as well as the defiantly unvaccinated among us.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

Unvaccinated are a concern for all of us

I want to thank Lynn Lorenz for her August 10 letter entitled, “Mandates are the call needed now for the new COVID strain.” While she focused several of her comments about CHOC admissions and schools reopening, my perspective is a little broader. Here are my thoughts about vaccination mandates:

I wish I could stop worrying about the unvaccinated, but I can’t. When it is easier to persuade half the nation to see a proctologist than it is to convince them to get a COVID shot, something is terribly wrong in America. 

At first, I thought corporate incentives, like discounts at malls or half-price tickets to baseball games, would encourage millions of unvaccinated to roll up their sleeves. It worked for some but not that many. 

Next, I turned my attention to the most vocal of opponents – Republicans who still support Donald Trump. I believed the Number One GOP influencer could and should go public with a series of public service ads. If I’m not mistaken, the former president did one. 

To be certain, on any given day you can see more PSAs to save sick and hungry animals than you can commercials to convince the unvaccinated to get their shots. Which brings me to today. 

Unless we quickly inoculate tens of millions of reluctant Americans, the Delta variant is destined to mutate into another, more deadly virus. Those of us who have been vaccinated have done our part in the war against COVID. In my opinion, we simply can’t wait any longer for 100 million of our neighbors to eventually do theirs.

With this last thought in mind, it’s time to admit the obvious: We need a national directive requiring people to roll up their sleeves. If they do, we can win the fight against the virus. If they don’t, then here is what they should expect: First, they will be refused entry to their local grocery store; second, they cannot buy gasoline at their local gas station; and third, their bank no longer will cash their checks or cover their online purchases. In other words, the unvaccinated will be cut off from life’s necessities. 

In the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor, my parents and two older brothers did what every other patriotic family was expected to do. They turned out the lights during the night and rationed their groceries, all with a sense of pride knowing they were doing their part during WWII.

Literary license aside, today we are facing WWIII. If you ever suffer a heart attack or a broken leg, who would you call? Certainly not Mayor Brad Avery or Rep. Michelle Steel. Why anyone would take the word of a politician over a physician is beyond me, but isn’t this what’s happening now? 

I’m guessing letter writer Lynn Lorenz would agree we need an all-hands-on-deck response to the war against COVID. Americans have risen to the challenge before and must do it again now. I am tired of worrying about the unvaccinated.

Aren’t you?

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

Concerned stakeholders deserve a seat at the table to help craft Mariners’ Mile plan

(The following is a letter from Patrick Gormley addressed to the members of the Newport Beach City Council discussing the recent approval of 2510 W. Coast Highway.)

Those who live in Newport Beach share a common interest – to sustain and preserve the character and charm of our unique neighborhoods, villages and beachfront community. It follows that we clearly deserve to have a say about major development issues that will affect us all and impact our safety and quality of life. In this case, this means having input to a Mariners’ Mile “Village” design that is in harmony with our community’s character and core values without adversely impacting the surrounding area.

As our representatives, City Council should listen to the people who live here and want to preserve and enhance their quality of life, and not simply acquiesce to the financial interest of the developers. We need to formalize community consensus in the form of a clear vision consistent with the City’s General Plan to guide the responsible development of Newport Beach in general, and Mariners’ Mile corridor in this instance. Mariners’ Mile has been studied, evaluated, discussed and debated for decades – and still no official consensus has emerged.

However, there is agreement about the need for an overall strategy of responsible development to avoid the chaotic and piecemeal “Santa Monicazation” of our City. The Planning Commission wisely acknowledged the need for a Mariners’ Mile Master Plan on February 18, 2021, during the hearing for 2510 West Coast Highway. Also, during the April 27, 2021, City Council Review Session, Mayor Brad Avery stated, “We could do a better job from the very beginning of the planning process.” 

We agree.

The process of City-sponsored outreach workshops that resulted in the development of Lido Marina Village and Lido Village are good examples of what is possible when the City, developers and stakeholders work together. This proven model can be successfully duplicated for Mariners’ Mile. This idea was presented by community members during the last City Council meeting.

Developer Initiative and Continuing Concerns

On July 27, 2021, during the City Council Review Session, the developer was complimented by the City Council, the Planning Department and members of the Newport Beach community for the architectural redesign and orientation of 2510 W. Coast Highway to resemble Lido House and Lido Marina Village. The developer’s attorney said the changes were made in response to the Council and community comments made at the April 27, 2021, City Council Review Session.

The redesign of the project blends into the expected Mariners’ Mile village atmosphere, but many important concerns remain unanswered. However, despite the important remaining unresolved questions concerning high density, traffic and views, the Council approved the project as presented. 

The project is at cross purposes with Newport Beach’s quality of life by overriding scenic corridor, safety, noise, pollution, and Coastal Commission mandates and the Green Light Initiative. Many of us feel that this decision was wrong and sets a bad precedent for the future of Newport Beach.

Anyone with a passing knowledge of the area knows that there are valid significant concerns about increased traffic resulting from the addition of 36 residential dwelling units and a 5,096-square-foot office in a space bounded by high traffic and limited access to Pacific Coast Highway and the stunted and awkward Avon Street that was never designed for the type of traffic congestion and street parking problems that will inevitably follow from this development. The lion’s share of the resulting traffic will be shunted directly to the adjacent 100 percent family residential area. 

This development cries out for the need of a formal traffic study. To do otherwise is irresponsible and thus the City Council’s decision should be revisited.

The Path Forward 

The exchange of ideas and conversations during the July 27th City Council Session (excerpted below) shows a clear path forward. The public discussion between City Council members and the City Planning Department outlined ideas about the time and effort that would be required to develop a community consensus on a Master Plan for Mariners’ Mile.

Mayor Brad Avery asked James Campbell, Director, Community Development: “To enable us to look at the whole thing, the whole project now, the whole site, if you will of all the Moshayedis’ properties, what latitude do we have to go in to create a village with less density, less height and all the rest of it?”

James Campbell’s response: “What would have to happen there, we would have the community come together and develop a different vision for Mariners’ Mile and then start the process to update the General Plan and then the zoning that would follow. The City has always moved forward with projects consistent with the General Plan. We have never stopped the process of a project consistent with the General Plan. If the community wants to change the vision clearly (they need to use) the amendment process.”

Councilmember Joy Brenner asked James Campbell: “Can the City require the Mariners’ Mile Master Plan be in place before further development occurs there?”

James Campbell’s response: “I think it would involve developing that plan and approving that plan and then holding all development proposals at bay while that process goes forward. That would likely involve some sort of moratorium. I suppose the Council could consider that, but previous councils have not considered any type of moratorium when we’ve been doing significant master plan development.”

Joy Brenner: “How long will it take to get a master plan approved for Mariners’ Mile?”

James Campbell: “That is hard to say. I would likely envision needing at least a year to come up with something like that. Several years ago, the city did endeavor to put forward what we call the Revitalization Plan. Some preliminary work has been done. That project was tabled. It was not adopted by the City Council at that time. We can use that as a starting point for going forward.”

Councilmember Diane Dixon: “I am disappointed and sorry to hear that there has been only one community meeting in February. We as a community have a very informed and active community of interested parties whatever the issue. I think one meeting with the community is really not enough. Our residents deserve and demand more. The outcomes can still be a positive outcome for all concerned. I think it tarnishes this whole process, there was not enough community involvement and that disappoints me.”

These and similar exchanges indicate an emerging consensus of next steps that should be taken:

1. All property development proposals in this corridor should be considered in light of a logical strategy for development, including road safety, road widening and other infrastructure projects.

2. City Council should require a traffic and safety study of the area at Tustin Ave., Avon, Riverside, W. Coast Highway and the surrounding neighborhoods.

3. City Planning Department should immediately develop a comprehensive master plan for Mariners’ Mile “Village.” 

4. City Planning Department should form a Mariners’ Mile Steering Committee composed of stakeholders to responsibly plan the future of Mariners’ Mile as a Newport style “Village” – e.g., CalTrans, property owners, local merchants and residents.

5. Community Outreach Workshops should be offered for future development proposals along Mariners’ Mile. Each community outreach workshop should include the criteria used and underlying details showing compliance with governing laws and regulations in support of the City Staff’s findings and recommendations.

6. In cases of a single developer planning the development of multiple parcels in a single area (as in the present case), an analysis of the total land use and scope of all proposed development projects should be considered in total. This would show how the whole project fits together – identifying benefits and potential adverse impacts upon the community’s ecosystem, including quality of life, health, safety and cost of city services, especially police and fire.

Now is the time for the City Council, the Planning Department, the developer and community stakeholders to work together to assure the above steps are started immediately.

Patrick Gormley

Newport Beach

As numbers increase, masks appear to be the answer 

The big press had some somewhat definitive news for Los Angeles and Orange County yesterday (Aug. 12). The good news is that both Los Angeles and Orange County have similar vaccination rates, with Orange County’s being slightly higher (64.2 to 63.1 percent) and while they are not stellar, they are moving in the right direction.

Unfortunately, the other telling statistic is the test positivity rate, and that shows LA County’s going down impressively to 4.4 percent while Orange County’s is rising to 8.9 percent.

Although these statistics are for the neediest areas of the county, professionals anticipate that the positivity rate will rise in every ZIP code in Orange County. And usually, more positivity means more community spread. The Orange County deputy health officer said improvements are particularly needed in San Clemente, Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach and Newport Beach. Officials are also concerned about the trajectory of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Orange County, California’s third most populous county, where 90 percent of COVID-19 hospital patients are not vaccinated.

I have been complaining about Orange County’s, particularly the coastal cities’, resistance to mask wearing now for well over a year. Limited mask wearing as well as vaccination hesitancy are responsible for the comparatively disappointing test positivity rate for the county.

In Los Angeles, the lowered test positivity rate is the direct result of the Los Angeles County health officials’ requirement for masks in indoor public settings. Los Angeles is one of the few counties in Southern California to do this. If Orange County were to follow suit, the rate would go down here as well.
       Recently one of my cousins used the “Patrick Henry response” on one of my Facebook posts where I talked about the importance of mask wearing. The problem with his “give me liberty or give me death” response to donning masks, is that he might be taking some other innocent victims down with him.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach


Guest Letter

Robert T. Braithwaite

President & CEO

Hoag

Philip A. Robinson, MD, FIDSA

Medical Director of Infection Prevention

Principal Investigator of Infectious Disease Research

Hoag

The most important thing you can do is get vaccinated

Guest Letter Robert Braithwaite Guest Letter Robinson

Photos courtesy of Hoag Hospital

(L-R) Robert Braithwaite, Hoag president and CEO and Philip Robinson, MD, FIDSA

Dear Neighbors,

We have been asked over the past several days to comment on the rise in the COVID-19 Delta variant. We are writing to share valuable information and to hopefully set the record straight on some misinformation that is circulating online. First and foremost: If you are not yet vaccinated, please get vaccinated. Do not delay. 

At Hoag, more than 95 percent of people with COVID-19 who require hospitalization are unvaccinated individuals. This is partly why we are seeing relatively young and otherwise healthy people coming in very sick: people ages 18-24 are still the most vaccine hesitant group in the country.

We realize we are not as compelling to the average Gen Z reader as Olivia Rodrigo, but we speak from direct experience when we say that the dangerous misconceptions and misinformation driving vaccine hesitancy have grave implications on those who don’t get vaccinated – as well as for their families and communities. While most do recover fully from the virus, 10 percent experience illness so severe they require hospitalization.

Virtually every patient we have seen who did not get vaccinated and ended up in the hospital regrets their decision not to be vaccinated. Some of them have missed weddings, travel, time with loved ones and work.

We continue to encourage unvaccinated community members to get the vaccine as soon as possible to protect themselves and their loved ones. Yes, breakthrough cases are occurring, in which vaccinated individuals are developing COVID-19. However, in those cases, the vaccine has helped reduce the severity and duration of the illness. The vaccine works.

Appointments can be scheduled at two convenient Hoag locations in Newport Beach and Irvine through www.hoag.org/covid-vaccine. We also offer vaccines for travelers and staff at John Wayne Airport through our Fly Well Clinic. To view all available locations and appointments near you, you may visit Vaccine Finder

As we fight this latest surge, the lessons learned over the past 18 months guides our ability to keep our community safe. We are well prepared to provide high quality care to all of our patients, even as case counts rise. Working closely with our internal resources, and state and county health officials, we have surge plans in place and options available to us as this situation evolves.

For us, COVID-19 never “went away,” nor did our vigilance against it. Our capacity changes throughout the day, and our staff is working tirelessly to care for all our patients as we continue to confront the pandemic. Many of our physicians and clinical staff are stepping forward and working long hours to meet the needs of the community.

Due to the rise in COVID cases and for the protection of patients, visitors and staff, the California Department of Public Health has mandated that as of August 11, all visitors to acute care hospitals such as Hoag Hospital Newport Beach and Hoag Hospital Irvine will be required to show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or have a negative COVID-19 test taken within the last 72 hours. To learn more about the state mandate visit this page, and to learn more about Hoag’s visitor policy, please click here

We have asked – and received – the community’s incredible support over the past 18 months. You have been there for us during the stay-at-home orders, the masking mandates and the daily rollercoaster of this pandemic. Today, we are asking for your continued support by getting vaccinated if you have not already done so.

If more people were vaccinated, we could slow the spread and further mutation of the coronavirus. This is an important point as viruses rely on unvaccinated people to not only spread but to mutate. Getting vaccinated will protect the community’s most vulnerable populations, reduce the impact on our health care resources and keep our valued staff and their families well. This pandemic will likely not end without your help.

The most important thing you can do for yourself, your family and your community is to get vaccinated. Please don’t delay.

Sincerely,

Robert T. Braithwaite

President and Chief Executive Officer

Philip A. Robinson, MD, FIDSA

Medical Director of Infection Prevention

Principal Investigator of Infectious Disease Research


Letters to the Editor

Newport Beach residents should be extremely concerned about State Senate bills that will alter our neighborhoods

State legislators are attempting to address housing shortfalls by introducing bills that usurp local decision-making authority and that could be very detrimental to communities. 

Senate Bills SB 9 and SB 10 have passed the California State Senate and will be heard in the Assembly as early as next week. These bills will mean the end of single-family zoned neighborhoods throughout California. They permit developers and real estate investors to build (with ADUs) six units of market-rate housing (SB 9) or 14 units (SB 10), and no affordable housing is required. 

Taxpayers will bear the costs of increased demand on schools, parks, water, sewers, power grids and public safety personnel.

SB 9 is mandatory, so unless you act NOW, you will lose your right to object to the structure being built next door to you, after SB 9 is passed.

I urge you to read these state bills ASAP and if you don’t want them to pass, please contact your state assembly representative and your local council members NOW.

California Cities for Local Control, a grassroots organization, believes that bringing like-minded elected officials together around a common mission establishes a strong unified statement to our state legislators and all those involved in state bill making process. More information is available at the website www.localcontrolca.com

City Councilmember Joy Brenner is recommending two sites for more information, www.unitedneighbors.net and www.liveablecalifornia.org.

I personally don’t want other state representatives, that don’t live here, making decisions that tie the hands of our local city council members.

Beverley “BJ” Johnson

Corona del Mar

A thank you for protecting our streets

I want to thank the city and Newport Beach Police Department for their program to stop the street racing and loud cars with modified exhaust systems. Newport Coast Drive and San Joaquin Hills Road have become the racetrack of choice for these knuckleheads. They belong at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, not on our city streets.

Dave Ellis

Newport Coast

Mandates are the call needed now for new COVID strain

Children are increasingly getting infected by COVID, the highly infectious Delta strain. CHOC confirmed 219 positive coronavirus tests compared to 48 in June. 44 children with COVID were hospitalized during those two months.

Mandates will prevent this. Once again, the concern for whether to re-open schools will be a big issue because children under 12 cannot be vaccinated and the Delta strain is much more infectious than the strain last year. Mandates will prevent this.
      Evidence has shown that unvaccinated people are the most likely not to wear a mask and social distance. Mandates will prevent this. COVID-infected patients are taking up much hospital space and equipment that should be available to patients with other grave health issues. Important surgeries are being delayed.

Opening and closing businesses takes a huge toll on the economy. Mandates will prevent these practices from occurring.

The number of cases of coronavirus has been increasing rapidly since July because of the strength of the Delta strain. Mandates will prevent more deaths and protect the economy.

While indoor masking and quarantine and isolation of cases and close contacts are effective strategies for reducing transmission, the quickest way to slow the spread is to increase vaccination coverage. For children this is not immediately possible, meaning that masks and the other strategies must protect them. The majority of adults in Newport Beach have chosen vaccinations.

Vaccinations of adults is the mandate of choice and should eventually eliminate the need for masking in schools and elsewhere, but time is of the essence.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

Kudos to Scarbrough for calling it like it is

Thank you, Nancy Scarbrough, for your very easy to understand and comprehensive letter regarding housing in Newport Beach.

There are two kinds of leaders, one type gives us reasons why things can’t be done. The other type provides solutions and approaches issues with “how can we get this done.”

Unfortunately, the first applies to the actions of the current city council. No matter the issue, I as a voter and citizen of the city am not interested in why something can’t be done. I expect elected leaders at all levels of government to provide leadership by proposing solutions, not excuses.

Dennis Baker

Corona del Mar

Are we in search of a lost time?

As I was taking my daily walk on Santa Ana Ave. last Thursday, two cars went speeding by, obviously breaking the speed limit for neighborhood streets. Because I had wanted to address the City Council meeting last Tuesday evening about our speeding problems in the Heights, those speeding motorists, much like the famous Madeleine in Proust’s novel, elicited a stream of emotions and visual images in my memory related to that meeting. 

These visual images, while definitely not factual, are actually just a parody of what did take place in the form of questions and answers. Any resemblance to actual facts is purely coincidental.

1. The development in question is actually taking a smaller slice of the public’s view now that they have revised the plans.

Q: Aren’t there laws in Newport that prevent that, taking away public views? I think other cities prevent that and they put up story poles to keep that from happening. 

R: Well, we can’t do anything about that.

2. Q: Since it is mixed use, and mixed use usually means something other than office buildings, couldn’t we put some boutiques or something in there other than offices?

R: Well, we couldn’t do anything like that. 

3. The traffic problems in the Heights are going to increase because of the transformation of Mariners’ Mile. We can look back to our childhoods when you could run and play on West PCH.

Q: How about putting up some signage and dedicate some police officers to ticketing those who break the speeding limit, or ride large, motorized bikes on the sidewalk threatening the pedestrians?

R: Well, we couldn’t do anything like that. We are just going to have to live (or die) with it.

4. The Coastal Commission might have something to say about the development.       

Q: Maybe we could sit down with them and get some ideas about what could or couldn’t be done ahead of time?

R: Well, we couldn’t do anything like that. 

5. R: It’s the state’s fault.  Our hands are tied. That darn Sacramento. Go talk to them. We just can’t do anything about any of this. 

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach


Letter to the Editor

Board of Supervisors accused of Brown Act violations regarding Buck Johns’ property discussion

(The following letter was sent to Orange County Board of Supervisor Chairman Andrew Do and the other members of the Board of Supervisors. The letter is in reference to County property that abuts Buck Johns’ property in the Upper Back Bay.)

This letter is to call your attention to multiple Brown Act violations that occurred during the Orange County Board of Supervisors’ meeting on July 13, 2021.

It appears that during this meeting, the Board voted on action regarding pending litigation threatened by Mr. Buck Johns regarding parcel APN 439-051-14. Mr. Johns’ attorney had demanded that the illegal fence he had erected surrounding this public property be allowed to stay or he would initiate litigation. In a letter addressed to Mr. Johns on July 14, 2021, OC Chief Real Estate Officer Thomas Miller states that “county staff has had the opportunity to discuss the Subject Property with the Board of Supervisors and has received direction with regard to this matter.” Since this is a decision by the Board of Supervisors, one must conclude that this was discussed during the July 13, 2021, board meeting, although nothing is stated regarding this on the agenda.

Working on the assumption that this was discussed by the Board (since making a decision that is NOT discussed at a Board meeting is a major violation of the Brown Act), the only item on the agenda that might refer to this is item SCS6, “CONFERENCE WITH LEGAL COUNSEL - ANTICIPATED LITIGATION - SIGNIFICANT EXPOSURE TO LITIGATION pursuant to Government Code section 54956.9(d)(2). Number of Cases: One Case.” County Counsel may have mistakenly assumed that notice, which provides no indication of what anticipated litigation might be discussed, complied with the “safe harbor” provisions of Govt Code Sec. 54954.5(c). It does not.

Assuming that this was regarding the Buck Johns threat of litigation, the correct code would have been Govt Code section 54956.9(d)(2)(e)(5). As Govt Code Sec. 54954.5(c) explains, the safe harbor description in that case requires additional information, and as the California Court of Appeals has recently decided, it requires the letter threatening litigation to be included in the agenda packet posted for public review. 

Govt Code section 54956.9(e)(5) describes a subclass of anticipated litigation defined in pertinent part as:

“(5) A statement threatening litigation made by a person outside an open and public meeting on a specific matter within the responsibility of the legislative body so long as the official or employee of the local agency receiving knowledge of the threat makes a contemporaneous or other record of the statement prior to the meeting, which record shall be available for public inspection pursuant to Section 54957.5.” [emphasis added]

I also refer the county to Fowler v. City of Lafayette, 46 Cal. App. 5th 360, which includes an extensive discussion of closed sessions addressing threatened litigation. According to Fowler v. City of Lafayette: 

“On its face, section 54956.9, subdivision (e)(2) appears to apply to events that might themselves give rise to litigation, such as “an accident” or “disaster,” or a “transactional occurrence that might result in litigation.” But even assuming this language could be stretched to include a threat of litigation based on a pending application, we must bear in mind the well-established rule of statutory construction that “‘“[a] specific provision relating to a particular subject will govern in respect to that subject, as against a general provision, although the latter, standing alone, would be broad enough to include the subject to which the more particular provision relates.”’”(Miller v. Superior Court (1999) 21 Cal.4th 883, 895 [89 Cal.Rptr.2d 834, 986 P.2d 170]; accord, Elliott v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd. (2010) 182 Cal.App.4th 355, 365 [105 Cal.Rptr.3d 760].) Subdivision (e)(5) of section 54956.9 specifically addresses a public agency’s obligations when a person has threatened litigation outside a public meeting.”

In other words, the general provision cannot be used if a more specific code provision exists. Clearly, the correct code section is (e)(5), but this is not what was used for the closed session. Fowler v. City of Lafayette also goes on to address the need to make the record of the statement threatening litigation available for public inspection. The court found [emphasis added]: 

“Where litigation has been threatened outside a public meeting, it may be discussed in closed session under section 54956.9, subdivision (e)(5) only if a record of the threat is made before the meeting, which record must be made available for public inspection pursuant to section 54957.5. (§ 54956.9, subd. (e)(5).) The clear import of section 54957.5 is that agendas and other writings that the legislative body receives in connection with a meeting should be available to the public upon request. Mostly, these are documents relating to agenda items for the open session of the meeting (e.g., § 54957.5, subd. (b)(1)), but section 54956.9, subdivision (e)(5) requires the same for documented threats associated with an agenda item for the closed session as well. The only reasonable inference is that a record of a litigation threat to be discussed in closed session must be included in the agenda packet made available upon request before a meeting. (See Citizens for a Green San Mateo v. San Mateo County Community College Dist. (2014) 226 Cal.App.4th 1572, 1596 & fn. 5[173 Cal.Rptr.3d 47] [ § 54957.5 requires agenda packet to be made available to the public].)’

“We reiterate that the Brown Act is intended to “facilitate public participation in all phases of local government decision making” (Golightly v. Molina, supra. 229 Cal.App.4th at p. 1511), and that we must construe it liberally to accomplish its purpose (Olson. Supra. 33 Cal.App.5th at p. 525). Members of the public are entitled to rely on the agenda and packet made available upon request (see § 54957.5, subd. (a))”

The Board of Supervisors’ agenda packet for July 13, 2021, failed to provide the public with a copy of the letter threatening litigation that was be discussed in closed session, in violation of the Brown Act as construed by the California Court of Appeals in the Fowler decision, let alone disclose that a specific letter had even been received. The failure to provide proper notice in advance of a regularly scheduled meeting is a violation of Govt Code Sec. 54954.2.

The failure to provide any of the additional information required in this instance by Sec. 54954.5 prevents the County from claiming “substantial compliance” with the “safe harbor” noticing option. 

Additionally, the Board is required to report the results of any vote or decision, including who voted for and against the decision. This did not occur, another violation of the Brown Act, in this case Sec. 54953(c). 

Through these failures, the County deprived the public of its California Constitutional right (Article I, Sec. 3) to present views to the Board that may differ from those of the County Counsel with whom the Board was about to meet in private.

That seems particularly important in this case, since at a previous meeting the Board was presented with 1,321 signed paper petitions requesting Mr. Johns’ private fence be removed from public park land. The failure to properly agendize the Board’s discussion of the letter from Mr. Johns’ attorney denied those petitioners their opportunity to respond to the letter prior to the Board making a decision about it. 

It should be noted that a letter from one of us (Susan Skinner) regarding the threatened litigation was emailed to the Clerk of the Board, County Counsel and individual supervisors two days prior to the Board of Supervisors meeting. This letter should have been included in the comments regarding this item but was not. Had the item been noticed properly, the letter would have been specifically identified as being associated with that agenda item and thus included in the board packet. Since the letter contained a rebuttal to Mr. Johns’ legally ridiculous arguments, the outcome of the subsequent vote might have been different had this letter been included in the board deliberations.

Not only was the public denied their chance to comment, but the absence of a proper announcement deprived the press of an opportunity to properly cover an evolving story. Paragraph 11 of a July 23, 2021, article by Stu News reporter Sara Hall recounts this frustration:

“An added closed session item on the board’s Tuesday agenda noted a conference with legal counsel regarding anticipated or significant exposure to litigation, but the county representatives did not disclose any information on whether the matter could possibly be related to the Upper Newport Bay property. Stu News Newport could not confirm what the anticipated litigation was related to prior to publication.” 

Note that ten days after the closed session the press could not verify if the “direction” from the Board referred to in Mr. Miller’s July 14 letter was given at the July 13 closed session, let alone which Supervisors voted for or against giving him the direction he describes.

This is not the open government contemplated by the Brown Act and the California Constitution.

I therefore request that this action be considered void and this agenda item be reconsidered using the correct Govt Code subsections, that the letter threatening litigation be included in the agenda, that a safe harbor description of the item be included in the agenda and that a full report out of any vote taken occur at the end of the closed session. 

As provided by Govt Code section 54960.1, you have 30 days from the receipt of this demand to cure and correct the challenged action or inform me of your decision not to do so. 

I will add that this entire episode reeks of special privilege, which is another way of saying political corruption. I will be submitting a complaint about this issue to the Orange County Grand Jury and advise County Counsel to retain records regarding the potential sale to Mr. Johns and subsequent county actions. 

Susan Skinner MD

Newport Beach

Jim Mosher

Newport Beach

CC:  Leon Page, County Council


Letters to the Editor

Coalition to Protect Mariner’s Mile is pro-development, we just want the right projects

The Coalition to Protect Mariner’s Mile is “pro-development” and continues to support projects that are compatible with the abutting communities of Newport Heights, Bayshores, Cliff Haven and Lido Isle. We envision transforming Mariner’s Mile into a thriving economically productive destination where residents and visitors can work, play, dine and shop in a relaxing and friendly environment. 

The health, safety, welfare and livability of the community are the primary importance to the residents of Newport Beach. We envision a “walkable” family-friendly corridor that serves a purpose for everyone. We believe that we are better off if our decisions about our future revolve not around the car, but around the human being.

We will continue to promote slowing traffic, enhancing safety, widening sidewalks and bike lanes, while implementing a variety of changes that encourage pedestrian activity with the overall connectivity of future developments along Mariner’s Mile. 

The 2510 W. Pacific Coast Highway Project that was originally presented to the City Council would take advantage of the State’s density bonus laws, while forfeiting the foundation of the City’s 2006 General Plan and Newport’s current municipal codes. 

Both Mr. Bob Olson (Lido House) and Mr. Rick Caruso (Palisades Village), have been able to create a vision and deliver a quality product, and we believe development along Mariner’s Mile can follow suit.

Our guiding principle continues to be to Enhance Our Community’s Quality of Life and Do No Harm. The 2510 W. PCH Project, in its current state, unfortunately creates more harm than good. 

The City Council hearing for this project is currently scheduled for July 27 at the City Hall. We encourage ALL concerned residents to come and let your voices be heard.

Sue Leal

Newport Heights

Buck Johns’ demands could lead to OC Grand Jury actions

Thank you for Sara Hall’s comprehensive article about Buck Johns’ continuing quest to buy and control park land in the Back Bay.

Your readers might be interested to know that the narrative that the land was taken from Mr. Johns by eminent domain is completely fictional. The land in question was sold to the Irvine Company prior to Mr. Johns’ purchase of the adjacent property in 1977 and was subsequently donated to the county as a park in a so-called “irrevocable dedication” in 1990.

There is a fence encircling the property that completely closes out public use of the land and Mr. Johns is fighting hard to keep this illegal fence in place to maintain control of the land. The letter from his lawyer demanding this right is legally ridiculous but gave the county an opportunity to grant a politically influential Republican his wish. 

This is special privilege, otherwise known as political corruption, at its most flagrant. None of us would be given the opportunity to purchase 1/3 acre of bay view property for $13,000. No one without insider connections would be allowed to fence in county land for their private use.   

I will be submitting a complaint about this whole sordid episode to the OC Grand Jury in the hope that an ethical higher authority can right this wrong and I sincerely hope that county officials will be held responsible for their actions.

Susan Skinner MD

Newport Beach

City needs to work together to find common consensus on 2510 W. Coast Highway

The future of Mariner’s Mile will be determined within the framework of the interaction of the impossible State affordable housing requirements (between) the developers, City staff, Planning Commission, City Council, Caltrans, business and property owners, local merchants and residents. 

Our community is stronger together, especially when stakeholders, developers and the City work together to support each other based upon a common consensus, understanding and purpose.

Working separately and apart, the result will be high-density development along a high-speed crosstown freeway that nobody truly wants. Community stakeholders are asking the City to lay out all the Mariner’s Mile proposed infrastructure and pending development projects together so we can study and understand how everything ties together. 

As elected representatives, the City Council has the responsibility to independently assess the facts before significant investments are made by developers, the City and the Newport Beach community.

The City Council and City Attorney must push back on all development projects using Affordable Housing Laws that are inconsistent with both the City of Newport Beach’s zoning ordinance and general plan land use designation as specified in any element of the general plan as it existed on the date the specific application is deemed complete.

On April 30, 2021, I sent the enclosed email to the City Council in the hope the Council would act to facilitate a win-win environment and outcome where the City, developer and community stakeholders work together with the common purpose to enhance our community’s quality of life, safety, health and welfare. 

During this City Council hearing, the Coalition to Protect Mariner’s Mile asked the City Council to sponsor a community outreach workshop to build a community-wide consensus prior to any decision on 2510 West Coast Highway. The purpose of the workshop would be for the City to explain land use controls, staff’s findings and recommendations, and to answer questions from the public.

The presentation must include (1) the detail bases of the City’s determination and justification for the project’s Coastal Development Permit, and (2) the details of any finding that supports a recommendation to approve where the development project is inconsistent with both the City of Newport Beach’s zoning ordinance and general plan land use designation, as specified in any element of the general plan as it existed on the date the specific application is deemed complete.

An unusually large number of correspondence (was) sent to the City Council prior to the April 27th City Council review and the presentations by community stakeholders during the hearing were overwhelmingly against the proposed 2510 West Coast Highway Development Project’s high density, enormous, oversized structure for the lot, and the incompatibility of the design and configuration. At the meeting, other than the developer’s team, not a single comment was in favor of the proposed development.

Unfortunately, since April 27th not a single step has been taken to build a community consensus. While the developer has redesigned the outward appearance of the building, the essential character, size and high density of the project with its potential adverse impact upon the surrounding communities remain. 

To illustrate, community issues and concerns yet to be addressed:

–Scenic corridor views along Mariner’s Mile cannot be taken for granted. At the hearing the community asked for story poles to be erected for all to assess whether the project will forever block resident and tourist scenic coastal corridor views from parks and the Newport Bay. 

–An indispensable general plan goal is to enhance vitality for residents and visitors, yet traffic conflicts among vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians continue to plague traveling conditions along the Mariner’s Mile portion of Orange County’s Pacific Coast Highway according to a published transportation study. Serious life-threatening and life-ending accidents on West Coast Highway along Mariner’s Mile are increasing and effective traffic calming measures are required. 

–A traffic safety and circulation analysis of the impact of the project upon the surrounding communities of Newport Heights, Cliff Haven, Bayshores and Lido Island that includes safeguards for children traveling on bicycles to various activities such as schools, junior lifeguards and sea scouts.

2510 West Coast Highway sets a precedent for the design, character, size and density of future projects being proposed along Mariner’s Mile. Until material facts are disclosed to community stakeholders in a City Council-sponsored community outreach workshop that includes the criteria used and underlying details showing compliance with governing laws and regulations in support of the City staff’s findings and recommendations, the City Council cannot make an informed decision whether to approve or disapprove the project.

Patrick Gormley 

Newport Beach


Guest Letter

Robert T. Braithwaite

President & CEO

Hoag

Philip A. Robinson, MD, FIDSA

Medical Director of Infection Prevention

Principal Investigator of Infectious Disease Research

Hoag

Community needs to remain vigilant against new spread of COVID-19

Guest Letter Robert Braithwaite Guest Letter Robinson

Click on photos for larger images

Photos courtesy of Hoag Hospital

(L-R) Robert Braithwaite, Hoag president and CEO and Philip Robinson, MD, FIDSA

Dear Neighbors,

As we continue to enjoy the reopening of businesses and the reunions of friends and families, we want to remind you of the importance of remaining vigilant against the spread of COVID-19. If you have not yet received your COVID-19 vaccine, please do not wait any longer.

After a promising downward trend in cases, the highly transmissible Delta variant is clearly gaining a foothold in our community. The California Department of Public Health found that the variant accounted for 36 percent of COVID cases in June, up from less than 6 percent in May. 

Nationally, Delta is now the predominant strain of COVID-19, and hospital cases – both locally and statewide – are ticking back up again. This is not the trend we want to see, and it is up to all of us to prevent a resurgence. 

The most important thing you can do to protect yourself, your family and your community from this highly contagious strain of COVID-19 is to get vaccinated. Almost all the hospitalized cases that we are seeing at Hoag involve patients who did not receive the vaccine. This includes pregnant women, whose COVID illness complicated the course of their pregnancies and their deliveries, and otherwise healthy individuals who have had to cancel summer travel plans and long-awaited wedding celebrations due to an unexpected hospitalization. 

COVID-19 vaccines are readily available at pharmacies, urgent care clinics and doctors’ offices throughout the community. Appointments can be scheduled at two convenient Hoag locations in Newport Beach and Irvine, and no appointments are needed to be vaccinated at our community clinics at the Irvine Spectrum Center and the Hoag Fly Well Clinic at John Wayne Airport. Learn more by visiting https://hoag.org/covid-vaccine.

Being vaccinated not only protects you and those around you, but it also helps limit the virus’s reach in our community, which reduces the chances that new variants will emerge. Misconceptions seem to be as difficult to root out as the disease itself. To lay a few myths to rest, please know:

–Healthy young people can and do get severely ill from COVID-19 and would benefit from the vaccine. Everyone 12 years of age and older is eligible to be vaccinated.

–There is no evidence that any vaccines including COVID-19 cause infertility.

–The vaccine does not alter a person’s DNA or leave lasting traces of the virus’s DNA in a person’s body.

–The vaccine does not give you COVID-19.

Other ways you can help prevent a resurgence of COVID-19 and other viruses are to stay home and away from others if you are feeling sick and to continue to practice good hand hygiene. Resuming your regular medical check-ups, treating chronic conditions and staying on top of your other vaccines are important ways to maintain your overall health, and we want to remind you that Hoag is here for you.

Thank you for your continued support and trust in us. We believe that the worst is behind us, but we ask that you remain vigilant – and get vaccinated – to protect your health and the health of all those around you.

Sincerely,

Robert T. Braithwaite

President & Chief Executive Officer

Philip A. Robinson, MD, FIDSA

Medical Director of Infection Prevention

Principal Investigator of Infectious Disease Research


Letters to the Editor

County urged to deny “bullying actions” issued by Buck Johns’ attorney

The following is a letter sent to the Orange County Board of Supervisors and specifically naming Chairman Andrew Do, and copied to Stu News Newport. 

You received a July 8 letter from Mr. (Patrick) Munoz of the law firm Rutan and Tucker regarding the efforts of Mr. (Buck) Johns to maintain control of a parcel identified as APN 439-051-14 (letter attached). This letter is rife with factual errors, which I address below. I would like to point out that your constituents have spoken that they wish this property to be accessible park land.

Mr. Johns attempted to purchase this property for $13K despite the fact that an identical adjacent parcel is assessed by the county for $1.18 million. This proposed sale resulted in 1,321 petitions opposed to this purchase being submitted to the board, causing the county to rescind the sale. Now Mr. Johns is seeking to obtain exclusive use of public property by threatening a lawsuit against the county if they remove the fence that he has illegally put around the property.

Mr. Munoz’s letter claims that “until recently, Mr. Johns and the County believed that the subject property belonged to the Johns.” This is demonstrably false. Attachment 1 is the Trust Transfer Deed for Mr. Johns’ property, dated 8-13-07, which specifically calls out the parcel in question as NOT being owned by Mr. Johns. Attachment 2 is a 4-30-19 email from the Irvine Company that was a part of the appraisal commissioned by Mr. Johns and which thanks Mr. Johns for his information that the property was purchased from the previous owner and its subsequent history. Attachment 3 is a 7-17-17 Right of Entry Agreement signed by Mr. Johns and containing a map that clearly delineates the subject property as belonging to the county. Finally, the County Assessor’s office does not collect taxes on that parcel and so clearly knew that it was not in private hands.

Mr. Munoz’s letter states that the current fence on the property was present before Mr. Johns purchased it in 1977. This is partially correct. There was a fence on the property when it was purchased but when the Bayview Heights Drainage Project was completed, Mr. Johns arranged for the fence to be partially replaced, although he was well aware that the property was not his. Much of the fence that is currently enclosing the property is new.

Mr. Munoz states that “the County has made it crystal clear through its actions over the years that its only intended use for the Subject Property was for roadway purposes.” This is also demonstrably false since the Irvine Company made an “irrevocable dedication” of the land to be park land on 7-30-90 (attachment 4). The County’s own staff report (attachment 5) states: 

“This parcel was originally owned by The Irvine Company (TIC) and included in the County of Orange’s (County) Master Plan of Arterial Highways (MPAH) as part of an extension of University Drive between Irvine Boulevard [Avenue] and Jamboree Road. After the University Drive extension was no longer considered viable, the subject parcel, along with adjoining strips from University Drive to Jamboree Road, was offered by TIC as an Irrevocable Offer of Dedication (IOD) to the County, on July 24, 1989, with a restriction for passive recreation uses only. The County accepted the IOD on July 27, 1990, recorded as Document 90-395-556. In 1990 the extension of University Drive was also removed from the County’s MPAH.”

Mr. Munoz quotes the equitable easement doctrine, but it is not at all applicable in this situation. Mr. Munoz states that the Johns[es] deserve an equitable easement because they paid part of the cost of the sediment catchment basin, but this was done because water runoff was progressively eroding their actual property. The sediment basin is not even on the property under discussion, which completely vacates any premise for an equitable easement at all.

Mr. Munoz cites Hirshfield v Schwartz as the basis by which the county may grant an easement, stating that “in a proper case, the courts may exercise their equity powers to affirmatively fashion an interest in the owner’s land which will protect the encroacher’s use.” The quote is correct but incomplete. Hirshfield v Schwartz also notes that an “easement which effectively amounts to ownership could not be awarded…where the encroaching landowner was unable to meet the requirements for outright adverse possession.” The court goes on to discuss the test used to decide whether to enjoin a trespass caused by an encroachment. 

“Three factors must be present. First, the defendant must be innocent. That is, his or her encroachment must not be willful or negligent. Second, unless the rights of the public will be harmed, the court should grant the injunction if the plaintiff ‘will suffer irreparable injury…regardless of the injury to the defendant.’ Third, the hardship to the defendant from granting the injunction ‘must be greatly disproportionate to the hardship caused the plaintiff by the continuance of the encroachment and this fact must clearly appear in the evidence and must be proved by the defendant.’”

Mr. Johns does not meet ANY of these criteria and thus, based on established case law, an easement cannot be granted to Mr. Johns. The record shows that Mr. Johns knew that the old fence was not on his property when it was partially replaced and thus the replacement of the fence was clearly willful.  The harm to the public from the loss of access to public parkland precludes Mr. Johns from receiving an easement. The hardship to Mr. Johns from the removal of the fence is minimal. No court who follows precedent will grant Mr. Johns’ request, making Mr. Munoz’s demand moot and his arguments legally ridiculous.

As I previously stated, your constituents have spoken and wish to retain the park for their use. Please do not allow the bullying actions of Mr. Johns to deny them this request. I will also add that this entire episode reeks of special privilege and I would appreciate having the opportunity to discuss my concerns of political corruption with Mr. Kim and Mr. Page, who are cc’ed on this letter.

Thank you,

Susan Skinner MD

Newport Beach

Response to McCaffrey opposition messaging for Balboa Island undergrounding

Former City Councilmember and Balboa Island resident Jeff Herdman took exception with Duncan Forgey’s column concerning Balboa Island undergrounding that stated, “This is the third attempt by the City off Newport Beach to standardize Balboa Island on this issue.”  

He added, “I am really sick and tired of misinformation and outright inaccurate statements being made on this topic, and it contributes to the possible defeat of this project.”

One of the biggest opponents of undergrounding on the Island is Bob McCaffery. Herdman sent the following response to McCaffery’s opposition messaging that recently circulated on the Island.

The price per parcel for undergrounding in 2009 was rejected by voters due to the myriad of misinformation spread about the project by the opposition (McCaffrey). He fails to mention that passage failed by just two votes. 

The cost of the Balboa Island project is greater than recent AD projects (2015-2018) in the City simply because of the scope and size of the project.  Comparing the cost of the BI project to that of recent projects throughout the City is akin to comparing apples to oranges. The BI project would be the largest residential project to date completed by the City and Edison within the City of Newport Beach.     

City staff have ensured that property owners within the BI Assessment District are not being “gouged” by assuming responsibility for the civil engineering and construction phase of the project. With this phase of the project being completed by the City, a 40 percent savings to each property owner (a savings actually documented by SCE) will be realized. 

McCaffrey references Jamshed Dastur’s decades of experience and professional experience managing heavy/civil/marine construction projects as a reason for justifying that the cost of the project should be under $25,000 per parcel. It is interesting to note that Jamshed served on the Balboa Island Undergrounding Committee for several years and was one of the key individuals who encouraged the formation of the committee, as well as the initiative it took to keep the committee working when faced with so many defeats with SCE. He now opposes the project because of a quoted cost that is $4,000 more than what was quoted in 2009? That was 11 years ago.

In a conversation I had with City Engineer Mike Sinacori (who will, by the way, be in charge of this project), he frankly admitted to me that if the project fails to garner the necessary votes, it will make his life a whole lot easier. So, McCaffrey’s accusation that the process has been rigged by the City and the BIIA is absolutely ludicrous. This is not a surreptitious BIIA-sponsored initiative. The BI Underground Committee is completely independent of the BIIA and always has been. Not one single penny has been spent from the BIIA treasury in preparing for or forming the underground assessment district. The BIIA Board has voted to support this project under the auspices of an “improvement” which is what the Association has been all about since its formation in the early 1900s.  While membership in the BIIA does include renters, merchants, local businesses and non-residents, as McCaffrey states, none of these individuals have the opportunity to cast a vote on a ballot for undergrounding. In fact, membership in the BIIA has absolutely nothing to do with undergrounding. McCaffrey certainly implies that it does, and that non-property owners are being given the opportunity to vote. The City mailed a ballot to each property owner on record by the County Tax Collector as of 2020. No other individuals have or will be given the opportunity to vote. 

The City Council meeting where the ballot count will be announced will follow the normal meeting notification procedures. Meetings are held on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month excluding August when only one meeting is held. At this regularly scheduled meeting, the City Clerk, who is in complete control of the ballot counting procedure, will announce the results. The process for counting votes and announcing the results is defined and by law.  The counting process is completed by an independent engineering company who designates four individuals to complete the counting process. They are actually deputized by our City Clerk to complete this work. Their job is to count, and nothing else. They have no vested interest at all in whether or not the district approves or disapproves the formation of an assessment district. The engineering company does not stand to gain financially in any way. What McCaffrey states about the engineering company making $135,000 if they find the petition to be in order – a clear conflict of interest – is simply not true. And again, we are talking about balloting here, not petitioning. This is the type of information that McCaffrey spreads that is not true and does a great deal of harm to the entire process. Why would the City knowingly place themselves in a position of being in conflict with the engineering company they contract with to count the votes as McCaffrey states? It makes no sense.

–McCaffrey is correct when he states that the petition process has no set deadline, however, and by law, the City has set the date of July 27th as the deadline for turning in your ballot. There is a difference between the petition and ballot. The petition is used to determine whether or not a ballot should be issued to form as assessment district. That was accomplished; we are now in the balloting phase of the formation of an assessment district. McCaffrey would have you thinking that the petition process could go on forever, or until the 60 percent goal is reached. That goal was reached; thus the reason for distributing ballots.  And it is, by law, impossible for an assessment district to be formed for the purpose of undergrounding if the required percent of property owners affected have not voted in favor. McCaffrey states that “most Assessment Districts in the recent past have passed with far less than the 50 percent of the properties approving.” This simply is not true. It would be against the law to do so.    

As far as the “symbiotic” relationship that exists between the City and the BIIA…this good working relationship has been developed over a number of years (100+) to the benefit of all of us who enjoy the privilege of living on Balboa Island.  As far as the BIIA being the “official” organization that the City recognizes as the representative voice of the Island population, it has been so since the formation of the BIIA in the early 1900s (when the Island was first formed). It was as a result of Island representatives (the BIIA) working with City staff that infrastructure installation (roads, utilities, sidewalks, street lights, seawall, boardwalk) was accomplished over the early life of the Island. To diminish the role that the BIIA has played in representing Island property owners in the early years of the Island to the present is completely unjustified or warranted. The BIIA enjoys and appreciates a membership that often times reaches over a thousand families on an annual basis (not 400 as stated by McCaffrey). 

“Those in opposition to the formation of an assessment district are not given the opportunity to verify the signature on each ballot” because this is done by the duly deputized ballot counters under penalty of prosecution. The announcement of the ballot count results is done at a regularly scheduled and publicized meeting of the Newport Beach City Council. Nothing is done in secret as McCaffrey implies. The scenario that McCaffrey details in relation to ballot counting is once again intermingled with petition signing and does nothing but confuse the reader. Again, petition signing, and balloting are two completely different steps in this process. 

McCaffrey refers to the City as an “avid advocate for undergrounding. ”I refer you back to my conversation with City Engineer Mike Sinacori when he stated to me that he absolutely does not care if it passes or fails. That, in fact if it fails, it means much less work for he and his staff. The above statement is simply another untruth provided by McCaffrey. 

–Safety, reliability, aesthetics, resale value, financing – all of these factors have been very well evaluated and studied by the Underground Committee. One of the main drivers behind the underground project has indeed been safety. It was clear that some of our alleys would not allow for the passage of emergency vehicles with the replacement of existing poles for a new above ground overhead system. Our police and fire departments have verified this as a fact. As far as reliability is concerned, proof can be found right next door to us on the Little Island where power outages over the past twenty years on that Island versus the Big Island don’t even compare. And as far as water leakage is concerned, there has never been a power outage on the Little Island due to water leaking into the underground vaults. Aesthetics and resale value are an obvious benefit of this project. Who can honestly find fault with the removal of power poles, transformers and power lines, and the resultant rise in the value of your property? 

The signers of the Opposition Message – Robert McCaffrey, Jim Moloney, Jamshed Dastur, Brian Ouzounian, Michael Smith – are once again attempting to influence the vote on forming an underground assessment district through the intentional spread of misinformation, and in some instances, outright lies. Why would they do this you ask? Go directly to the source and ask one of them but be prepared for a response that will be twisted to accomplish their ends. 

If you have not yet turned in your ballot either by mail or dropping it off at City Hall, I have been advised to tell you that the closing date for the receipt of ballots is just around the corner. You are being asked to not mail your ballot at this late date; rather to hand deliver it to City Hall. 

Jeff Herdman, District 5 

Newport Beach City Councilman, 2016-2020

Balboa Island


Letter to the Editor

Water issues are before us again, shouldn’t we be focused on creating more recapturing programs?

The governor has asked us to cut water consumption by 15 percent. As a number of experts have pointed out, we are already saving. Since the “conclusion” of the last drought, most of us have continued to minimize our water usage, meaning there’s not a lot of room for cutbacks. 

At the same time, we face a state mandate to produce hundreds of thousands of new dwelling units. At the very least the residents of these new units will bathe and flush toilets, increasing the amount of water used, and yet there was not a word of this in the governor’s announcement. 

If there is this wonderful budget surplus, the state should be focused on creating more groundwater replenishment and other recapture programs to ensure an adequate water supply rather than creating more demands on a system that is once again in trouble. 

Nancy Gardner

Corona del Mar


Letters to the Editor

Novice boaters ruining the harbor

Please, City of NB, get on the job! In a continuing drift that started a few years ago when the city replaced the Sheriff’s Department, conditions on the bay are worsening. Amidst the boaters ignoring “no wake” zones there are fallen SUPers, numerous and dangerous violations of navigation rules, abrasive arguments between seasoned sailors and the newly entitled, and all too often the distinctive waft of weed coinciding with idiocy at the helm. 

Making matters worse are the Harbor Patrol boats racing through the bay to imagined emergencies. Yes, I’ve watched through binoculars as the speeding sirens make their strategic turns around corners and suddenly, huh, nothing to see here folks, move along. 

Property damage to docks and boats and shoreline from wake turbulence is at an all-time high. Just try to get Swift Slip to do a repair, they’re three months out if they even answer your call. 

Multiple calls and photos to the City of NB, Harbor Patrol, and/or lifeguards are met with indifference. The Sheriff rightly says it’s not their jurisdiction anymore. I’ve lived my life on the bay, and this is not a typical seasonal trend, it’s a gathering storm. 

Please, City of NB, bring back the bay.

Matt Clabaugh

Newport Beach

The “other side” of the undergrounding story that’s “not being told”

An archaic 1913 Municipal Act, meant as a vehicle for beneficial community development in the pre-World War One era has silently morphed into a stealth, “under the radar” strategy to levy tens of millions of dollars in property taxes without the normal rigid safeguards and procedures for voter approval. 

The City of Newport Beach has mastered the use of this Municipal Act specifically to underground utilities over the past 20+ years. The strategy is to divvy up each project as a small Assessment District affecting several hundred property owners at a time without attracting too much unwanted attention. To date, per the data available on the City’s website, it has been accomplished over 60 times. Due to its impact on a small number of properties at any one time, it gets scant attention from the public at large and protests by the scattered opposition are ignored by the City or drowned out in the cacophony of absurdities spouted on Nextdoor.

One such project, Assessment District 124, is scheduled for a so-called vote on July 27. Unlike the others, this is an unusually large $32,815,700 project affecting 966 properties on Balboa Island. The average cost (a property tax euphemistically called an assessment) amounts to a staggering $34,000 per parcel, if paid as a lump sum. However, if paid over 20 years the total payment could be as high as $54,000 depending on the bond interest rate in 2023 or 2024, a fact that is cleverly hidden in the fine print. 

Now to the upcoming so-called vote on July 27: the ballots, mailed out around June 10, are 100 percent by mail; the ballot roster, of questionable accuracy, is managed by a contractor hired by the City who may have follow-up contracts awarded, if AD124 is approved. The City does not seem to recognize a conflict of interest here. Four weeks after the mailing, by happenstance or by design, a significant number of voters have not yet received their ballots and may not even be aware of the huge tax assessment about to befall them. This has been a recurring pattern on past such ballots – as little as 70 percent voter participation in many cases – leading to passage with way less than 50 percent of affected property owners approving. 

Furthermore, the City has no methodology for checking signatures on the mail-in ballots, relying solely on the penalty of perjury. The vote, by design and I am told by statute, is a matter of public record subjecting participants to intimidation and peer pressure.

The City has provided several informational attachments along with the ballots. Missing in the attachments are the customary pleadings, for and against the initiative from each of the two camps, so that the voters can make an informed choice. No opposing view has been provided with the ballots. 

There have been no hearings or informational meetings held by the City on this huge four-years-long project. We have been told by the City that this obvious lack of transparency and ballot integrity is sanctioned by the archaic Municipal Act of 1913. But the City continues to present itself as an independent, honest arbiter in an unpleasant feud of its own making, between dueling neighbors.

It is high time for the City to step in and protect the residents. But will it do so? Highly unlikely given the creative approach (having property owners seemingly opt into higher taxes voluntarily) provides them with a convenient and healthy subsidy to what are in essence city and utility infrastructure projects.

Jamshed Dastur

Balboa Island


Letters to the Editor

The passing of UCLA’s Terry Donahue

As a proud USC graduate, it was beyond excruciating watching the Bruins beat the Trojans five times under Terry Donahue. Despite the cross-town rivalry, I have to say he really was a terrific coach. Here’s an 8-clap salute to UCLA’s former coach.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach 

With no Ham radio communication connection, is the City prepared to handle a major disaster?

Stu News Newport received the letter below from a member of the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service program, who wished to remain anonymous, while questioning the City’s decisions relating to potential disaster communication.

We forwarded those concerns on to the City and provide their response further below.

I am hoping you can let the public know that the Newport Beach Police Department canceled its Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) program in May 2021. The NB Fire Department canceled its CERT Comm emergency communicators program in 2017.

This leaves the City of NB with no official Ham radio communications within the city, or to surrounding cities for Mutual Aid in the case of a major disaster.

The City had spent a great deal of money on repeaters, as well as antennas on the NBPD HQ and antennas on the City Hall, which connect to the new and expensive Emergency Operations Center in the basement. 

The response we have gotten is that the City prefers to use a new internet-based emergency comms system, which will be useless if the internet goes down as it did on 9/11. We are not sure how much this new system cost, or why it was installed in the first place since Ham radio is the “gold standard” in emergencies.

Taxpayers paid for the repeaters, the antennas and the new EOC, and yet, we do not have use of any of it. Worse yet, the residents and visitors of Newport Beach are exposed to the danger of not being able to communicate with each other or with first responders since the repeaters were turned off! 

Can you please shed the light of public awareness on this bad decision, and help us to get these two groups restored so that residents and visitors can once again be safe? 

RACES member & concerned resident 

Newport Beach

Technological advances in communication systems no longer justify old system 

As COVID-19 restrictions were being lifted at the beginning of the year, which would allow the Newport Beach Police Department to invite back volunteers to our various programs, we did a needs assessment. On March 19, 2021, the Newport Beach Police Department officially ended their RACES (Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services) Program. Prior to sending out our formal notice, the lieutenant managing the program personally contacted and thanked each RACES member by telephone and invited them to volunteer in a different capacity.

Since the City of Newport Beach now utilizes a more technologically advanced communication systems, the RACES Program is no longer justified. Moreover, the RACES Program has required oversight consisting of training, equipment and drills for RACES members. This oversight requires time and resources from the city and its employees. Although we appreciate the commitment of our RACES members, the Police Department must allocate resources to support those volunteer programs that are most beneficial to our city and residents.

For background, the Police Department was responsible for managing the RACES Program for over 40 years. As you can imagine, a great deal of technological advances took place during this time. The city has built and enhanced a wide array of redundant emergency communication upgrades over the last decade, designed to back up one system should another fail. These advances have ensured the City of Newport Beach is prepared for any emergency operation, including natural or man-made events.

The following upgrades have been completed and are currently operational within our emergency communications systems:

–In 2019, the County of Orange re-banding of the 800 MHz radio system provides more local capabilities and a backup communication system within the county. 

–In 2016, the City of Newport Beach purchased a backup repeater system to be utilized if the Orange County 800 MHz system should fail. The backup repeater can operate independently of the county and provide communication coverage within the city.

–The Cal Fire Statewide Bendix King Radio Trunking System can be utilized if the County 800 MHZ system fails. All Fire Department apparatus’ have Bendix King radios.

–The Wireless Alert System (WEA) now provides quick communications to all community members and first responders via their mobile phones.

–The AlertOC Mass Notification System can recall City of Newport Beach employees and communicate directly to the public.

–Finally, backup generators have been installed at City of Newport Beach facilities to support the Voice Over Internet Protocol System (VoIP) for phones.

We have enjoyed a very positive relationship with the RACES Program and its volunteers. As mentioned previously, a member of police management communicated individually with each RACES member to inform them of this decision and to encourage them to participate in the County of Orange RACES Program should they wish to continue to volunteer in that capacity. Alternatively, members could join the Newport Beach Police Department’s Volunteers in Policing Program (VIP) if they wish to volunteer within the police department in a different capacity.

Since the dissolution of the RACES Program, there is a lot of misinformation being circulated in the community regarding our backup repeater being shut off. The backup repeater was created and purchased to assist Police, Fire and other city departments in the event the County 800MHz system goes down. We have backup radios that operate on this backup repeater’s frequencies that we can issue to our first responders and city personnel in an emergency. The backup repeater was never meant for HOAs and community members to have access. In fact, now it appears someone programmed some of the RACES and CERT members’ radios to use those frequencies without authorization.

This is a problem because public safety will be in competition with community members for essential radio traffic if we need to utilize the redundant system in an emergency. As a result, the city tower was turned off temporarily so that we can reprogram the backup repeater with new frequencies once issued by the FCC. As a reminder, the whole advantage behind citizen HAM radio operators’ efforts in an emergency is that that they maintain an independent system and are not reliant on public safety/government infrastructure for their communications. To put any community concerns at ease, it is standard protocol for our police officers to conduct “windshield surveys” or active patrols for damage to our critical infrastructure as well as safety checks of neighborhoods within the community in the unlikely event our 9-1-1 system ever goes down.

With that said, the City of Newport Beach has a robust and resilient infrastructure supporting our dispatch center and we encourage all community members to call or text 9-1-1 during an emergency or disaster to reach the Police and Fire Departments. By calling or texting 9-1-1, we can appropriately document, prioritize and dispatch appropriate Police and Fire personnel for the community in times of an emergency; this is a streamlined process that has been tried and tested during many emergencies over the years. 

Respectfully,

Deputy Chief Steve Rasmussen | Patrol and Traffic Divisions 

Newport Beach Police Department


Letter to the Editor

Will new consultant help find common ground to 2510 W. PCH Project?

Apparently, the property owner and applicant Mark Moshayedi has retained former councilman Ed Selich to represent Moshayedi as a “consultant” at an upcoming City Council meeting hearing scheduled on July 13, 2021, for the controversial 2510 W. PCH Project.

The 2510 Project allegedly will maintain its 35-foot proposed height, as well as its density, so it is not transparent as to what the applicant has proposed to City Staff.

What is clear…is that Deputy Director Jim Campbell stated at the previous Planning Commission meeting, “The applicant will address the community’s concerns about the design and height of the building and the use of the commercial space. We haven’t planned what the roll-out will be, because we don’t know when we are going to get the plans and the revised project description, but I think notice to the community would be warranted, so that the community has ample time to review the changes.” 

On behalf of the communities of Newport Heights, Bayshores, Cliff Haven and Lido Isle, we will be looking forward to working with the applicant, city staff and the proposed consultant before the 2510 W. PCH hearing at the July City Council meeting.

The residents have to make certain that the precedent-setting 2510 W. PCH Mixed-Use Project will incorporate those fundamental municipal codes, including the City’s General Plan, Local Coastal Plan and Caltrans’ policies, while encouraging and creating a harmonious and safe development that will be compatible and beneficial to the surrounding neighborhood. 

At this point in time, the 2510 Project does not meet any of these standards.

One can only hope that the City Council will direct city staff to insist on a comprehensive plan for Mariners’ Mile that would create a “vision” which would be an economic goldmine for both the applicant and the City. 

The question remains, will one of the authors of the 2006 GPU hold true to these founding principles, or will the lobbying and selfish indulgence continue? 

It’s been a long 15 years and it’s time for a change.

Peggy V. Palmer

Newport Beach


Guest Letter

Robert Braithwaite

Philip Robinson, MD, FIDSA

A Message from Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian

Guest Letter Robert Braithwaite Guest Letter Robinson

Photos courtesy of Hoag Hospital

(L-R) Robert Braithwaite, Hoag president and CEO and Philip Robinson, MD, FIDSA

Dear Neighbors,

More than one-third of Orange County adults are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, cases of the disease are declining throughout the state and Orange County is officially moving to the yellow tier which will allow for further economic recovery in our community. In light of all this positive news, we are excited to tell you about two developments at Hoag: 

1. As of Monday, Hoag has administered more than 28,500 COVID-19 vaccine doses, and thanks to an increased supply, appointments are readily available. 

2. Hoag continues to develop COVID-19 therapeutics and a next generation COVID-19 vaccine which may also become a universal booster. 

Appointments for the FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine can be scheduled at two convenient Hoag locations in Newport Beach and Irvine through https://hoag.org/covid-vaccine. We are now also offering vaccines for travelers and staff at John Wayne Airport through our Fly Well Clinic, as supplies allow. To view all available locations and appointments near you, you may visit Vaccine Finder

If you still have not received the vaccine, and you are between the ages of 18 and 55, you may be eligible to enroll in a clinical trial for a new COVID vaccine candidate which can be given in multiple ways – by injection, a capsule, or a liquid. This vaccine stimulates the immune system’s T cells in order to offer long-term immunity and may improve immunity against the viral variants. 

With authorized vaccines now readily available, why would someone be interested in a new vaccine trial? Those participating in clinical trials at Hoag say they are interested in doing something that could benefit themselves while also potentially benefiting all of humanity. If this sounds like the clarion call you’ve been waiting for, please contact our Clinical Research team at 949.764.4577 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The most important thing to take away from our message is this: please don’t delay in receiving your vaccine.

As we work diligently to reduce the community’s risk of COVID-19, we want to address some of the misinformation that persists about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. 

1. The vaccine is safe. Independent experts who have reviewed the data on nearly every continent have found the approved vaccines are safe and effective. Hundreds of millions of people have received it, and the data shows that it is far safer to get the vaccine than to risk developing COVID-19. 

2. The vaccine does not alter a person’s DNA. The vaccines use a tiny amount of genetic material to train a person’s own immune system to fight off the disease, and then the genetic material leaves the person’s body. No vaccine genetic material remains. 

3. The vaccine is our best chance to protect ourselves and our community, and COVID-19 is not going away. If anything, it will become a seasonal menace that we need to be prepared to fight. The most effective way to prevent serious illness from this virus is to get vaccinated, and with a more robust supply, it has never been easier to get one. 

As we ease into post-pandemic life, Hoag remains committed to the strictest guidelines and safety protocols in our facilities, and we are here for all your medical needs – including those that can be managed via telehealth. Regular check-ups, treatment of chronic conditions and care during medical emergencies are vital, and Hoag’s doors – and virtual windows – are open. 

Thank you for your continued support and trust as we navigate what we hope are the waning days of the pandemic together. We look forward to seeing all of our patients – vaccinated and safe – out in the community very soon. 

Sincerely,

Robert T. Braithwaite

President & Chief Executive Officer

Philip Robinson, MD, FIDSA

Medical Director of Infection Prevention

Principal Investigator of Infectious Disease Research


Letter to the Editor

Help OC reach COVID-19 herd immunity

Last week Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong, a deputy health officer for the Orange County Health Care Agency, reported the county may not reach herd immunity against COVID-19 by the Fourth of July. At the current rate people are getting vaccinated, I’m guessing this means OC won’t reach its goal until Labor Day. 

Would a full court press by home-grown businesses and the county Republican Party help? If so, what would an “all hands on deck” campaign look like? Consider these five options Newport:    

First, Ralphs, Gelson’s, Whole Foods, Mother’s Market, Stater Bros. and Trader Joe’s match Pavilions’ offer of 10 percent discounts on groceries with proof of vaccination. 

Second, OC’s fast food giants, In-N-Out, Carl’s Jr., Del Taco and Taco Bell, give away free burgers and tacos to customers who get their shots. 

Third, Vans, a local leader in the competitive footwear industry, creates a special “run to get vaccinated” commercial for current and prospective customers.

Fourth, the Angels join the Dodgers by offering 20 percent discounts on tickets. 

And last, Orange County’s Republican Party publicly urges its 500,000 faithful – upwards of 40 percent of whom say they are reluctant to get vaccinated – to roll up their sleeves. Imagine 200,000 GOP voters proudly walking around with Band-Aids on their shoulders between now and the 4th.

Around the country, the New York Yankees and the National Football League have joined Krispy Kreme, White Castle, McDonald’s, Budweiser, Nathan’s Hot Dogs, Target and many other businesses offering fans and customers incentives to get their COVID shots. 

Newport residents can play a vital role in helping Orange County achieve herd immunity before Labor Day.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach


Letter to the Editor

The people, and Supervisor Katrina Foley, have spoken

1,226 petitions and definitive action by new OC Supervisor Katrina Foley stopped the county from selling part of the Back Bay nature reserve to an influential Republican donor who wished to expand his estate. 

Our government should be by and for the people and never for sale to the highest bidder, yet the County of Orange was one vote away from selling dedicated park land to a private homeowner. 

Will anyone be surprised to learn that the recipient of the donor’s gifts, former Supervisor Michelle Steel, championed the sale of Back Bay park land? Or that the 1/3-acre parcel that would have been sold for $13,000 is actually worth about 1.1 million dollars? Neither the appraisal of the property nor the county’s internal review of the sale noted that, once sold, the property would no longer be a park and could be joined with the purchaser’s expansive estate with a subsequent increase in value.

Government works best when all citizens receive equal treatment. Any deal that would not be offered to any citizen should not be offered at all. Kudos to Supervisor Katrina Foley for bringing more transparency to our county government and recognizing a sweetheart deal when she saw it.

Susan Skinner

Newport Beach


Guest Letter

Thank you NMUSD teachers!

Let’s celebrate our teachers’ accomplishments including our students being back in class! As a NMUSD Trustee and current Board President, I would like to share thoughts from my perspective. This has been a challenging time for everyone – and I can assure you that our seven trustees have heard from a broad section of students, teachers, staff, parents and administrators on every topic relating to schools. 

Much of our Board’s responsibility over the past year has been working through guidelines and safety protocols handed down by the state with the ultimate goal to reopen our schools to in-person learning. Many people in our community, and even nationally, have watched news or read reports of the educational system gone awry by public school teachers’ unions expressing their demands of not returning to campus due to safety and other concerns. By listening to the rhetoric surrounding these stories, one can assume our local educational system is aligned with these national issues.

My reason for sharing these thoughts today is because we have witnessed a different story emerge in Newport-Mesa. Our teachers came back to campus in a hybrid model last fall when most schools in the state and across the U.S. remained on full-distance learning. 

Over the last few months as our COVID numbers have continued to move in the right direction and new guidelines have been shared by the state, we have been able to open up more on-campus activities. As of April 21st, all of our elementary school students returned to campus five full days a week and beginning April 26th all secondary schools came back in-person four full days per week (with one day remote learning). 

I share this information because it is an achievement that collectively everyone should take pride in. Personally, I have visited many of our schools over the past month and have observed the joy and excitement of teachers awaiting this return. Many teachers have expressed to us how thankful they are to have their students back in-person. While negotiations took place, our district and associations have worked together to welcome our students back on campus, which we all know is in their best interest, both for academic, social/emotional and mental health reasons. 

During this week of “Teacher Appreciation,” our entire Board wants to share our appreciation for every NMUSD teacher and staff member who has navigated the challenges of the past 14 months, always with commitment to their students. We appreciate each of them for their contributions and hope our entire community will share in our thanks to all of our teachers who have come through for the students this year. 

Karen Yelsey, President

Board of Education

Newport-Mesa Unified School District


Letters to the Editor

County urged not to sell “surplus” land for dramatically undervalued price

The OC Board of Supervisors will vote on whether or not to sell 0.32 “surplus” acres of the Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve abutting 2600 Mesa Drive to a private homeowner for only $13,000. SPON strongly opposes this and urges the Board of Supervisors to vote “No” on Item 46 on the Supervisors’ May 11 agenda. 

SPON further urges the Board of Supervisors to direct county staff to promptly remove the private fence encroaching into dedicated parkland. 

At the January 7 OC Parks Commission hearing, county staff said this parcel is “not needed” for park purposes. SPON disagrees. The parcel proposed for abandonment intrudes significantly into the open space buffer separating the main paved park trail from the estates on Mesa Drive. The fence impairs the public’s enjoyment, complicates conservation efforts and blocks the flow of wildlife. The fact that a private fence has been allowed to stand on this area dedicated to the public for 30 years, restricting access to only the private homeowner, is troubling; the idea that the county would even consider selling the public land it encloses is even more troubling. 

The homeowner-determined price of $13,000 is vastly undervalued. The county itself assesses the land value of the similar adjacent landlocked 0.36 acres at $1,186,852. If this homeowner through this sale were able to establish a “fair market” value of $13,000 for “his” nearly identical parcel, he would be adding roughly $1 million to the future resale value of his land for an annual property tax payment to the county of just $130. That does not seem right.

The preservation of the Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve and Nature Preserve for future generations was the result of a hard-fought battle over 30 years ago, which SPON ardently supported. The public properties won in that struggle should not be lightly lost to the public for all time.

Bruce Bartram, President 

SPON

Help stop the taking of parkland by “politically influential” homeowner

Please help me shine a bright light on the very odiferous deal being worked by the politically influential homeowner at 2600 Mesa Drive, who has convinced the OC Board of Supervisors (championed by Michelle Steel) to sell him 0.32 acres of dedicated Back Bay parkland adjacent to his house for a mere $13,000. In comparison, smaller lots nearby sell for well over a million dollars. When asked how the price was determined, the County Counsel noted that the homeowner had done an appraisal and the county had accepted it, effectively allowing the homeowner to set his own price.

Adding insult to injury, there is a new locked chain link fence around this property, keeping the public off of their own parkland. The homeowner is now asking the county to declare the park “abandoned” to sell it to him and the Board of Supervisors is one meeting away from doing so.

Fortunately, for those of us who use the Back Bay walking trail, the 1959 Park Abandonment Law states that if 200 registered voters in the county sign a petition objecting to the park abandonment, this action is prohibited without a vote of the people. 

Please join me in signing the petition to prevent this ridiculous sale and protect the Back Bay park. To sign the petition, contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Susan Skinner

Newport Beach

Common sense and common ground

(The accompanying letter was sent to the Newport Beach City Council)

Mariners’ Mile is at a crossroads: Will the City Council sustain the character, charm and Newport style development by assuring Mariners’ Mile becomes a “Village,” or will our community’s foundational core values be eroded by high-density development that is out of character and not in harmony with the surrounding villages on Newport Bay?

The Stu News article by Sara Hall is an excellent recap of the Tuesday, March 27, 2021 review by the City Council. The City Council’s fact-finding questions and statements indicate an understanding that our community is stronger together, especially when stakeholders, developers and the City work together to support each other based upon a common consensus and understanding. The correspondence sent to the City Council before Tuesday’s review and the presentations made at the meeting were overwhelmingly against the 2510 West Coast Highway Development Project’s proposed size, density, design and configuration. At the meeting, other than the developer’s team, not a single comment was in favor of the proposed development.

Community comments, the developer’s willingness for a continuance and Mayor Brad Avery’s understanding about community aspirations “…for a Mariners’ Mile that sort of meets the dream, if you will, and the dream isn’t perfect, but it is going to get built,” indicate common ground that can be built upon to facilitate the development of a Mariners’ Mile Village. 

Working separately and apart, the result will be high-density development along a high-speed crosstown freeway that nobody truly wants. Community stakeholders are asking the City Council for a Mariners’ Mile vision and the City to lay out all the Mariners’ Mile proposed and pending development projects together so we can study and understand how everything ties together. 

To facilitate this, the Collation to Protect Mariners’ Mile proposed that a Mariners’ Mile Steering Committee be created that is composed of stakeholders to shape the future of Mariners’ Mile as a Newport style “Village” (Caltrans, property owners, local merchants and residents).

Planning Commission: On February 18, 2021, during the hearing for 2510 West Coast Highway Development Project, the Planning Commission recognized the need for a Mariners’ Mile Master Plan. Also, during the City Council review, Mayor Brad Avery stated, “We could do a better job from the very beginning of the planning process.” 

As stakeholders, each of us care about Newport Beach and are involved in the decisions that impact our quality of life, safety, health and welfare. As I stated to the City Council on Tuesday, we desire a Newport style “Village” design in harmony with our community’s character, community norms and core values without adversely impacting the surrounding area. 

Working together, let’s imagine the possibilities to build a coastal city for people to enjoy now and in the future.

Patrick Gormley 

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

Mariner’s Mile vision is blurred

The City of Newport has examined Mariner’s Mile, the 1.3-mile stretch of scenic corridor for more than two decades. There have been numerous studies concerning Mariner’s Mile beginning with the 2000 Mariner’s Mile Strategic Vision and Design Framework, the 2006 General Plan Update and recently, the Mariner’s Mile Charrette Design 2014.

These documents have outlined the founding principles, as well as the vision for Mariner’s Mile. The ideologies within these studies have established that this area has tremendous potential as an interesting, aesthetically attractive, multifaceted village for locals and visitors alike. 

These studies have always included language to protect the “quality of life” for the residents by creating a thriving “walkable” and safe village without expanding Pacific Coast Highway. Mariner’s Mile could prove to be an “economically productive” destination for the City of Newport Beach.

The 2510 W. Coast Highway Project will be heard this Tuesday, April 27th (today) at Council Chambers at 6:30 p.m.

As a business owner and resident, I implore that the City Council follow our city’s governing documents and defend our “quality of life” this Tuesday, and not the state’s.

Kathy Shaw

Newport Beach

Do we want Newport to lose its charm?

There have been letters to the editor talking about the development proposals before the city council, but I wonder how many residents are paying attention. Part of the reason may be the “whack a mole” nature of the issues before council. It is sometimes hard to see how they tie together. 

The redevelopment of Mariner’s Mile is before council and is one more large city-changing development being considered without the structure of a general plan for the area. 

Then there is the state mandate to provide over 4,000 new residences, many of which are to be affordable. This is being addressed with an update of the housing section of our old city general plan which lacks a strong current vision or any design guidelines and a tendency to take the easy way out – like building on Banning Ranch. 

And so we have piecemeal development that residents in the neighborhoods oppose and the vast majority of residents know nothing about.

Pretty soon when we look around, we will wonder where the charm of Newport Beach went. We can’t call it progress. Progress can be innovative. We need to call it short-sighted neglect. A process of “whack a mole” instead of robust citizen-involved planning!

Linda Watkins

Newport Beach

A plan more acceptable to residents regarding Draft Housing Element

Tonight is a major milestone at our City Council Study Session starting at 4 p.m. For the first time the Council may give direction to the staff on how they proceed. We believe that if the City of Newport Beach submits the current Draft Housing Element, HCD will not allow us to revise the draft to a version that is based on an alternate formula. We think that the following proposal represents a plan that is more acceptable to the residents of Newport Beach and should be considered by the City Council before they submit the Draft Housing Element. 

We believe the Council members should receive more in-depth training on the rationale behind our plan and the plan that is currently included in the Draft Housing Element. The Council members should be exposed to the opinions and suggestions of experienced “Mixed Income Developers” and “Affordable Housing Developers” (they do not necessarily have the same focus or expertise), not just luxury apartment developers interested in rental housing with a minimum or no affordable component. 

The impact of housing in the numbers currently being proposed can only guess at the number of luxury apartments that will be required to meet the low-income RHNA allocations being put forward in our Draft Housing Element. The number has gone from 8,000 to 12,000, and we predict it will be even higher. The implications of this promise to the State are not clearly understood by the community and under the current conditions, it is not likely to be understood until these apartments are built, at which point the residents will be furious and it will be beyond the Council or staff’s ability to unwind the zoning in the General Plan for years to follow. 

The result of this decision will be this City Council’s legacy.

Our Option 3 plan backs into the RHNA obligations based on the Low and Very Low requirements:

–Based on the 4/2021 Draft Housing Element Appendix B, Table B-1, the total low and very low RHNA units required is 2,386 (1,456 very low + 930 low = 2,386). 

–The very low and low units already in the pipeline are 130 affordable units per the City.

–After subtracting the affordable projects that are in the “Pipeline,” the remaining RHNA obligation for low and very low is 2,256 (2,386 - 130 = 2,256). This is the balance of what we need to satisfy our RHNA low/very low obligation. 

The numbers for Option #3:

–Senior Affordable Apartments – 5 projects @ 90 units each, Total 450.

–Homeless Permanent Supportive Housing – 1 Project, Total 50.

–ADU’s – 400 Existing with Forgiveness, 600 New over 8 years, Total 1,000

Mixed Income Apartments.

–40 percent affordable (1,900 x 40 percent = 760), Total 760.

–60 percent market rate/moderate (1,900 x 60 percent = 1,140), Total 1,140.

–Total Mixed Income Apartments, Total, 1,900.

Total affordable – 2,390 units (consists of 130 already entitled + 500 senior/homeless + 1,000 ADU’s + 760 low/very low units in mixed income high density apartments = 2,390 low/very low). This plan provides 1,140 moderate and above moderate apartments. We don’t support the 20 percent buffer approach.

Nancy Scarbrough

Jean Watt

Charles Klobe

Newport Beach

Every day is Earth Day…and Ocean Day 

Back in 1970, when I was a senior at USC, I attended the first Earth Day. Half a century later, I’m still celebrating it. Here’s what Earth Day means to me: Each time I see the ocean I think about the call I received in early August 1985. That was the day I learned I was picked to direct the No on Offshore Oil Drilling campaign created by a consortium of four beach cities, including Newport and Laguna, and the Orange County Board of Supervisors.

My task was to make sure that when Interior Secretary Donald Hodel chaired a town hall meeting weeks later in Newport, he heard Orange County’s message loud and clear: It’s too risky to drill off the county coastline for numerous environmental and economic reasons. 

Our lineup of speakers included California’s Lt. Gov. Leo McCarthy and prominent local Republicans like Marian Bergeson of Newport and Harriett Wieder of Huntington Beach. To dramatize her opposition, Supervisor Wieder had a wheelbarrow packed with 14,000 of her constituents’ postcards unceremoniously dumped in front of the secretary. After that, 22 GOP mayors from throughout the county stepped up to the microphone and added their voices to the “No” campaign. Needless to say, I don’t think the meeting turned out the way Mr. Hodel thought it would.

I never got a chance to ask the secretary about the blowback he, and most people in the Reagan administration, failed to anticipate from Orange County local elected officials. All I know is thanks to Laguna’s Bob Gentry and several of his council colleagues in other nearby cities, their continued lobbying on Capitol Hill paid off. No president since Ronald Reagan has suggested drilling for oil off the county’s shoreline in the last 35 years.

Today, many environmentalists and political leaders are betting on reengineered cars, solar, wind and recycling as ways to protect the Earth for future generations. I don’t disagree; however, my focus continues to be on the health and welfare of the Pacific Ocean. Simply put, being part of a cause much larger than myself – one that turned thumbs down to offshore drilling – remains the single most important political campaign I ever will participate in, period. Full stop. 

If push ever comes to shove, I hope my children and yours will say “No” to offshore oil drilling along our beautiful coastline.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach 

General Plan needs to be sensitive to placement of housing units because of potential tsunami concerns

“Your first action is to be to start walking to higher ground. If everyone gets into their car, there is going to be a massive traffic jam, and people aren’t going to be able to get out in time,” said Steve Bohlen, acting state geologist of California and head of the California Geological Survey.

According to the scientists with the CGS, low-lying beach towns, including Newport Beach, are vulnerable to a catastrophic tsunami. Major quakes off the coast of Alaska or Catalina Island could send a monster wave over Newport Beach and perhaps there would be no time for a warning, so residents need to be prepared that when the shaking stops a new scare begins.

Align a near-shore event with the increasing risk of increasing sea level rise, our City will need to further evaluate the placement of residential housing along these low-lying coastal zones. In California’s coastal communities, millions of people and billions of dollars of infrastructure are threatened. 

The predicament that the City of Newport Beach should confront now is the need to recognize that these two potentially perilous events are more of a reality than not. We need to plan for our future, as our previous General Plan Update is 15 years old and does not fully take into account the probability of a tsunami and sea level rise.

So, as California mandates more than 4,800 low-income units for Newport Beach, we also need to make certain that these new residential developments are on higher ground and not in any of these designated low-lying areas (including Mariner’s Mile). To ignore these concerns would be catastrophic in the case of such an occurrence. 

So, the question emerges, in an emergency would we be able to evacuate those residents within an hour within these low-lying areas of Newport Beach?

Perhaps, we should begin walking towards higher ground now.

Peggy V. Palmer

Newport Beach


Letter to the Editor

City Council is encouraged to handle Mariner’s Mile development in its totality

(This letter was sent to the Newport Beach City Council)

Newport is a community of villages. Newport’s unique character and charm (Newport style designs) are on display in the villages surrounding the Newport Bay: Balboa Peninsula, Lido Marina Village, Mariner’s Mile, Balboa Island and the islands of Newport Harbor. 

It is impossible to overstate the profound change 2510 West Coast Highway and all proposed property development projects will have on Mariner’s Mile. The industrial box design and high density of 2510 West Coast Highway is out of character with Newport style development and not in harmony with Newport Bay marine design. The full scope of all the planned and proposed land use represents over one-third of Mariner’s Mile and will forever determine the future destiny of Mariner’s Mile. Without a clear vision guiding the transformation of the City and Mariner’s Mile, ongoing efforts will continue to be suboptimal and disappointing. The last thing Mariner’s Mile and the City of Newport Beach need is a crosstown freeway along scenic West Pacific Coast Highway.

Mariner’s Mile is at a Crossroads: Will the City Council sustain the character, charm and Newport style development by assuring Mariner’s Mile becomes a “village” or will our community’s foundational core values be eroded by high density development that is out of character and not in harmony with the surrounding villages on Newport Bay? 

Opportunity: What would it take for the city to promote marine oriented businesses and appropriate Newport style designs in order for Mariner’s Mile to become a friendly village and a gathering place which fosters the flow of pedestrians and bicyclists? This consideration should have priority over the suggested expansion of the highway that would increase the speed and flow of traffic. 

The attached letter dated April 21, 2021, to the City Council presents a vision, a course of action and a proven path forward for developing a Newport style Mariner’s Mile “village.” Lido Marina Village and Lido Village are excellent examples of what is possible when the city, developers and stakeholders work together. The process followed by the city in the development of Lido Marina Village where formal community outreach workshops presented the Lido Marina Village design guidelines to all stakeholders is what must be adhered to in developing Mariner’s Mile as a “village.” It is a City of Newport Beach proven process for development of a “village” (Best Practices) that has been successfully done before and can be achieved for Mariner’s Mile. It can be the framework for Mariner’s Mile to be developed into a “village” that enhances the character and charm of the surrounding villages on Newport Beach Bay. 

Strength of Community: The future of Mariner’s Mile will be determined within the framework of the interaction of the State’s impossible affordable housing requirements, the developers, city staff, Planning Commission, City Council, Caltrans, business and property owners, local merchants and residents. Our community is stronger together, especially when stakeholders, developers and the City work together to support each other based upon a common consensus, understanding and purpose. Working separately and apart, the result will be high density development along a high-speed crosstown freeway that nobody truly wants. Community stakeholders are asking the City to lay out all the Mariner’s Mile proposed and pending development projects together so we can study and understand how everything ties together. 

Planning Commission: On February 18, 2021, during the hearing for 2510 West Coast Highway, the Planning Commission recognized the need for a Mariner’s Mile Master Plan.   

Recommendations: 

–A decision on 2510 W. Coast Highway be postponed until the aggregate of all property development proposals including road safety, road widening and infrastructure projects along West Coast Highway are pulled together and evaluated before a single project is approved. 

–A Mariner’s Mile Steering Committee be created that is composed of stakeholders to shape the future of Mariner’s Mile as a Newport style “village” (Caltrans, property owners, local merchants and residents). 

–The City Council, Planning Commission and city staff assure that the proposed use of 2510 West Coast Highway and all Mariner’s Mile property development projects be Newport style “village” design in harmony with our community’s character, community norms and core values without adversely impacting the surrounding area. 

Patrick Gormley

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

Coming out of the pandemic, I’m reminded of the importance of friendship

I recently had a birthday celebration at my house for a dear friend and it reminded me, after a year of not being able to get together, of what an important role friendship plays in our life. Isolation from close friends was just one of the deprivations of the pandemic. Last week there was an article in one newspaper comparing a return to normality to that of coming out of a cave. 

Because we all had been vaccinated in February, my five retired teacher friends and I, for the very first time in over a year, got together without masks. It was a liberating experience seeing my friends’ full faces other than on Zoom. We spent five joyous hours together, talking and eating and sharing birthday toasts.

One of my thoughtful friends even bought us all matching aprons to symbolize the emotional comity we shared before and during COVID. During several years since retirement, we stayed in touch via a shared text thread, several times a week. We had emotionally supported each other during those years, particularly during the isolating period of quarantine.

We all continue to wear masks and socially isolate when we go out and get together with people out of our social and familial environments. And we plan to do so in the year ahead. But for that one afternoon, we were able to come out of our caves and enjoy each other’s company and mutually express our gratitude to the scientific miracle that made it possible.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

2510 W. Pacific Coast Highway Project comes to council on April 27, our voices need to be heard

The 2510 W. Pacific Coast Highway Project will be heard at the upcoming Tuesday, April 27 City Council meeting at 4 p.m. 

Why should Newport Beach residents be concerned about this project? This ill-conceived project will set a precedent with regard to the first mixed-use project along Mariner’s Mile. The project will incorporate a 35-foot high “monolithic structure” that will include low-income housing and an elaborate car dealership.

The applicant’s representatives took only two view simulations, one from John Wayne Park and one from Cliff Drive Park. (Ironically, the Cliff Drive Park is approximately a half-mile away from the 2510 W. PCH Project.)

The City’s General Plan states that this area on the inland side of Pacific Coast Highway, at the foot of the bluffs in the vicinity of Tustin Ave., Riverside Ave. and Avon St., presents a unique opportunity for the creation of an active pedestrian-oriented retail district.

The 2510 W. PCH Project has no retail or amenities and serves no purpose; however, it will generate unnecessary traffic in an already very tenuous area. These streets are “one-way” along Tustin, Oceanview and Avon Alley.

The General Plan states that the goal for development along Mariner’s Mile requires that projects are compatible with adjoining residential neighborhoods and open spaces, are well-designed and attractive, minimize traffic impacts and provide adequate parking.

The 2510 W. PCH Project disregards all of these elements and is inconsistent with the current General Plan, the City’s LCP and the California Coastal Commission policies.

The residents remain the largest revenue for the City of Newport Beach and our voices need to be heard loud and clear on April 27. 

This project does not benefit the surrounding communities of Bayshores, Lido Isle, Newport Heights and Cliff Haven; it will create more harm than good.

If the 2510 W. PCH Project should pass, it will forever be a “gross disfigurement” along our beautiful bay.

Peggy V. Palmer

Newport Beach


Letter to the Editor

Lifelong love of Marguerite Avenue palms has not been without challenges, but their future now appears bright

I have loved the Marguerite Avenue Date Palms since my parents and I moved there many years ago. At that point the palm fronds touched the hood of my father’s car when it was parked on the street.

In 60 years since, we often heard “the city is trying to get rid of the palm trees so they can widen the street.” Now that I am part of “the City,” I can attest to the fact that it’s not true. 

In fact, since it was discovered that our Canary Island Palms were infected with a (Fusarium) fungus over 30 years ago, the city has gone to extreme efforts to try and save them. Unfortunately, the fungus has no permanent cure, but the City’s extraordinary care definitely slowed it down. 

Letter to the Editor Marguerite palm

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Joy Brenner

A dying date palm along Marguerite Avenue

Due in part to the fungus and trees’ age, we are now seeing more of the trees die (see photo) than in past years, and in the process the palms unexpectantly drop fronds and large chunks of bark. We have hired special consultants, increased inspections, added nutrients, and kept up consistent pruning to slow down the deterioration and ensure public safety. Our City Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission is watching these efforts carefully because safety is our number one consideration. 

The good news is that the King Palms being planted in their place are not susceptible to this fungus and are doing beautifully. On that note, it is essential that we as residents do our part to ensure that the existing trees (both the King Palm replacements and the Date Palms) are watered regularly. With summer approaching, this simple task will be more important than ever. 

With the combined efforts of the City and residents, we will ensure a beautiful and lasting Avenue of Palms leading directly to Big Corona for the foreseeable future.

Joy Brenner, District 6s

Newport Beach City Council


Letters to the Editor

Memo to our next governor: Name a Water Czar

I applaud Newport’s Mayor Brad Avery for rallying his residents to be “water wise” and prudent. 

Because California’s hopes for a wet March did not materialize, we are on the cusp of another drought only a few years after a devastating 60-month dry spell that left water wells empty, and farmers idled. 

Which brings me to topic Number One in my book: No matter how the current recall effort turns out, my hope is the next governor will make naming a Water Czar a top priority.

What powers would a Water Czar have? He or she needs to be able to make decisions that transcend geographic boundaries, water district politics and partisan gridlock. Think of him or her like the director of the FBI or Homeland Security, only for water. Appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate, these crime and terrorist fighters operate at a unique level in Washington.

With the appropriate checks and balances in place, California’s Water Czar could be given similar powers in Sacramento. Yes, he or she would consider scientific, environmental, legal and political arguments before making decisions impacting the state. But once those decisions are made, the czar would rely on local leaders and agencies to quickly implement them. Not unlike the way governors, judges and police chiefs have to react after receiving news from the FBI or Homeland Security.

Fighting crime or terrorism is not the same as fighting Mother Nature. Still, we have a model in place that allows certain, key people to operate on a level unlike most everyone else. It is time California finds that person.

Mayor Avery knows water is key to our survival. The way I see it, a state Water Czar will play a critical role in being part of the solution to California’s water woes and not the problem.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

City asked to pause Housing Element process and seek more education

In two weeks, the Newport Beach City Council will be asked to submit a draft of the Housing Element to the State Housing and Community Development Department. The real due date is early in 2022. This submittal should be slowed down to give the Council time to get more education about what they are being asked to approve.

This undertaking began in 2019 when Diane Dixon was Mayor, and she formed a Housing Committee to begin the General Plan update. In 2020 Will O’Neill took over as Mayor and reformed the committee to focus on meeting the 4,845 RHNA housing mandate. Along with several residents, we have participated in every meeting to date. 

When this began in 2019 none of us had any education about this or the real ramifications of it. We were largely unaware of the impending State laws that would be signed and how they would affect all California cities. 

Since that time all of us have been learning. We have been seeking knowledge anywhere we could get it. Believing that other communities had the same desires and values as Newport Beach, we began to seek out other activist groups who may be looking for solutions to the same challenges we were facing. We found many groups grappling with the same challenges. We now have a greater understanding of the ramifications of the draft the Council is being asked to submit. 

We are deeply concerned about the direction the City is taking with the Housing Element of our General Plan. We are not sure that the full Council is aware of the ramifications of the path they are on. With COVID this has been a challenging learning curve for all of us. However, we think the residents are beginning to take notice and if we continue this trajectory the City is in store for a devastating outcome. 

Today we ask residents to ask the Council to pause this process and seek some education. We believe a study session should be held as soon as possible. There are affordable housing experts that can speak to us and give us some alternate ideas about how we can meet the state mandate without devastating our precious city. We believe there is a compromise that is challenging to implement but can be embraced by the residents. We don’t believe any of us could have known this before now. 

Nancy Scarbrough submitted a list of suggestions for study session topics to the City Council on Monday, April 12, 2021. We believe if the full council, along with the public, are made aware of other approaches then they can make a more informed decision about this critical component of our General Plan.

If you want your opinion heard, please call or attend the City Council meeting tonight or write to them at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Nancy Scarbrough

Jean Watt

Charles Klobe

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

Is Newport Beach prepared to make the changes needed to continue to optimally serve their citizens and businesses?

There is a great deal of conversation around the country about government and national, state and local reform, with lots of research and discussion around changes needed. COVID has brought to the foreground problems that have been pushed aside for years. I recently read a dialogue between government researchers and loved this quote from a longtime Deloitte government researcher talking about their research.

“A lot of the focus has been on looking around the corner. Where does government need to go? What shape does it need to be? Who does it need to work with? It’s really about making sure that government is keeping up with a lot of the changes in society and business and that government can continue to serve the needs of citizens and businesses in the most optimal way.”

While government needs to be cautious in making changes, the focus needs to be on keeping up with society and stopping the partisanship. Does Newport need to go far more digital, become a Smart City? Does it need to be working on sustainability, crisis management, lean less on state and county demands and more on influencing making state and county better managed? What are the plans for sea level rise, or do we wait to react when the peninsula and islands get inundated? Is Newport looking around the corner? Is our general plan update reimagining Newport the way it needs to?

Linda Watkins

Newport Beach 

Unfortunate death of cyclist raises further questions regarding future development near Newport Heights area

Traffic problems continue to plague us in Newport Beach, particularly in the Newport Heights area where drivers often exceed the speed limit by 10 to 20 miles per hour. They whiz by stop signs as if they weren’t there.

Last week we lost one of our own, Ernest Adams, who was riding his bike near Newport Harbor High in broad daylight on March 28th when he was struck by a suspected DUI driver. Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to his wife, Lynda Adams, and his family who have been active community members for decades. Neighbors would often see Lynda and Ernie enjoying the front yard  of their Newport Heights home.

You can walk down Riverside Drive to Pacific Coast Highway any day of the week and witness the often excessive speed of the passing cars. They reluctantly only slow down or stop for the crosswalk if you are an assertive pedestrian. Because there are few sidewalks in the area, which hosts two community schools, pedestrians often have to walk on the side of the street, making popular thoroughfares such as Tustin, Irvine, Cliff Drive and Riverside particularly dangerous for them, as well as cyclists. 

This already critical situation threatens to get a lot worse with the new developments being planned for Mariner’s Mile. Walking on streets without sidewalks, next to traffic driving at excessive speeds is already a daunting experience, and unsuitable for a residential community. It is definitely a problem that should be resolved before proposed redevelopment in that area receives the “green light” to proceed. 

Solutions for traffic problems now and in the future definitely need to be met with transparency.

Lynn Lorenz and Tom Baker

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

There’s been a lot to learn about ourselves over this year of the pandemic

The last year has been, with little doubt, the most traumatic one in a century due to the pandemic and divisive politics. But we are breathing a cautious sigh of relief since late December due to the COVID vaccine and are starting to look back philosophically on the lessons we have learned. 

Many of us found ourselves spending much of our time at home, searching for ways to stay in communication with others as well as meet our material needs. A well-known local columnist prepared a list of lessons that she personally learned this last year. 

Just as in Shakespearean tragedies, there are always several scenes of comic relief. It is in the same vein that I write about a few lessons I learned. 

Everyone got excited, at least at first, about being able to spend the day in their pajamas. That got old, as did jigsaw puzzles and baking, not to mention the extra pounds. 

Some learned to appreciate the positive side of using Zoom. I no longer had to drive 50 miles round trip to go to my monthly book club meetings and the members of the book club could no longer pass notes or carry on side conversations when the discussions got boring.

Oh, and no need to clean your house and bake desserts for all the members. In fact, not having to clean your house at all was a big advantage to the stay-at-home crowd.

I saw some old friends I would probably not have seen thanks to Zoom. And only having to worry about what you were wearing on the top half of your body was a plus.

Also, it was definitely rewarding to be able to talk to your doctor from your living room.

My all-time favorite thing was having packages arrive on my doorstep, at least five or six a week, and getting to guess the contents of each. It still makes me wonder how a company can make so much money delivering very little individual packages instead of consolidating. But hey, I’m not a billionaire, so I can’t challenge the logic.

Wearing face masks hides a “multitude of sins” including bad makeup, no makeup and yes, facial lines and wrinkles. Everybody also got to see how they looked with long hair. And some of the “home” cuts were interesting. 

I got to see myself in long straight hair. But long straight “graying” hair just isn’t as attractive as the long straight hair of my college days!

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

There’s never a good time to share a message of hate

The Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, a self-proclaimed white supremacist and antisemitic organization, distributed flyers in Newport Beach last weekend. 

Kudos to Mayor Brad Avery when he said, “My Council colleagues and I were disappointed to learn of the distribution of recruitment flyers by a hate group in a Newport Beach neighborhood. Unfortunately, this is a common tactic used by some hate groups today. We condemn the group’s ideology and assure our residents that the Newport Beach Police Department is actively investigating to determine the individual or group responsible for distributing these materials in our community.” 

This isn’t the first time the White Knights have raised their ugly heads in Orange County. Back in 2014, the organization distributed flyers in Orange. I had the following published in several Southern California newspapers.

The Ku Klux Klan’s method of recruiting new members may have changed with the times, but its message is rooted in 100 years of pure hatred. Here’s what a “rebooted” KKK is doing coast to coast:

It is leaving flyers on driveways tucked into plastic bags along with a membership application, the address for the KKK national office in North Carolina, a list of beliefs and three Jolly Rancher candies. I’m sorry, but neither their credo nor the candy make the Klan’s history any sweeter to swallow.

In Orange, residents received flyers last month in sealed plastic bags, according to KTLA News.

The message on the flyers was “Save our land, join the Klan” and included a phone number and the KKK’s website. The group claims it is focused on illegal immigration from Mexico. Not surprisingly, you will hear this voicemail message if you call the telephone number on the flyer: “Always remember: If it ain’t white, it ain’t right. White power.”

On a scale of 1 to 10 of things to worry about, like ISIS attacking America or the Ebola virus making its way to our shores, I’d say the Klan is a 1. It’s estimated that there are between 5,000 and 8,000 members nationwide, divided among dozens of divergent and warring groups. What unites them is their hatred of Blacks, Hispanics, Jews, gays, lesbians and Catholics. Who’s next, Barbie lovers?

Robert Jones, the “Imperial Klaliff” of something called the Loyal White Knights sect, recently said the KKK’s flyer campaign is part of its “national night ride” – a recruitment event that happens three times a year.

Jones said these drive-by, outreach efforts aren’t aimed at specific people and that residents who receive a bag on their driveway “shouldn’t be fearful unless they’re doing something that the Klan considers morally wrong.”

What does that mean? Is it morally wrong to drive a German car instead of a Chevy? Is it morally wrong to drink Kirin Beer from Japan instead of Coors from the Rockies? Is it morally wrong to believe in Buddha instead of Jesus? I’m guessing the KKK would say yes to all three. That not only is scary, it is un-American.

Today’s Klan may be embracing new ways of recruiting members, but the organization is fundamentally the same as it was a century ago. Despite the Jolly Ranchers, it’s no sweeter now than it ever has been.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach


Letter to the Editor

Is the tradeoff for affordable housing worth the cost of a loss of views?

The 2510 PCH Project was appealed by Mayor Brad Avery, thus, to further review the project and its cumulative impacts. The hearing will be held on (Tuesday) April 13 at City Council Chambers. The applicant has proposed a 35-unit apartment complex (three units will be considered low income), with an adjacent car showroom. 

There are concerns of those priceless public views from both John Wayne and Cliff Drive Parks that will be severely impacted forever. John Wayne Park is one of the very few parks where families and friends gather to watch the Christmas Boat Parade every year. These people generally travel from the Inland Empire to watch the parade at no charge. They might not be able to afford to dine at a restaurant on the bay nor afford to rent a Duffy to view the parade, but they most certainly can bring a blanket and a picnic basket to watch our glorious parade, which originated in 1908.

The project does not take into consideration environmental justice issues with regard to the equal protection and meaningful involvement of all people with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies, and the equitable distribution of environmental benefits. These sacred views from John Wayne Park and the enjoyment for residents and out of town guests will be eternally eradicated, as these parks are considered an environmental benefit for all people. 

So, who are these fortunate people that will be allowed to reside in these three low-income housing apartments? According to the Staff Report, the City provides the guidelines, and these guidelines provide priority treatment for City employees (those who qualify for low-income must make $44,850 per year for a one-person household). Will these low-income apartments set precedence for Newport’s stakeholders that could conceivably pay to house City employees? 

We must ask ourselves, will three low-income apartments, potentially inhabited by City employees, be a sound reason to obliterate public views for literally thousands of people, especially for those future generations to come? 

“Tomorrow hopes we have learned something from yesterday.” –John Wayne

Peggy V. Palmer 

Newport Beach


Letter to the Editor

Still need to keep the pedal to the metal fighting COVID

Don’t throw away your masks or plan a large indoor celebratory get together yet. Despite the fact that we are finally making good progress with the vaccination program, there are still signs that we are not entirely out of the woods. Dr. Shrugi Gohil, an infectious disease doctor at UCI Medical Center, advises that “the next four weeks to six weeks will tell.” 

Before elaborating on the need to be realistic about our recovery, we should pause to give reverence to the people who played a role in getting the COVID vaccines developed at breakneck speed. If you are religiously inclined, you might think of it as a miracle. When I was complaining recently about some minor side effects that questionably could be related to the vaccine, one of my doctors reminded me of what an unprecedented accomplishment the coronavirus vaccines were. 

It inspires optimism to see the number of people being vaccinated. Even some of my friends and relatives who were once very skeptical are getting the vaccines. Also, the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine is now available and will speed vaccinations up even more.

Two big challenges in the coming weeks will be to see what role the new variants will play, particularly the California and UK variety. And it will be important to observe how well our overworked hospital and care home staffs can continue to operate under such stressful and unprecedented physical conditions.

Another UCI epidemiologist and public health doctor says that he guarantees that there will be a third wave in Orange County, so people need to get vaccinated as rapidly as possible. And it is important to not get so optimistic that we stop using our masks and keeping social distances. We need to move ahead cautiously.

Although statistics are brighter on the horizon, there are still some sobering ones to consider. There have been close to 5,000 COVID deaths in Orange County, a figure which surpasses the annual death toll of cancer and heart disease.

Those skeptics who have not been able to buy into the serious nature of the life-threatening foe we are addressing, might be able to get some inspiration from one of history’s greatest minds, the physician and humanitarian Albert Schweitzer, who wrote in one of his books that “Ethics is nothing other than Reverence for Life.”

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

Are tonight’s Closed Session agenda items a cause for concern?

There are two items on the City Council Closed Session agenda tonight. They are two Real Property negotiations. It appears that resident Palmer Luckey wants to purchase or sell property adjacent to a property he owns on Lido Isle. It also appears that resident Bob Olson wants to purchase the land under his Lido House Hotel where the old City Hall once stood. 

One can surmise that these transactions are for personal gain. Both residents were prolific donors to various campaigns of current City Council members in the recent City Council and 2nd District Supervisor elections. At the least, the optics of this negotiation between these City Council members and these donors at this time is questionable. 

Residents who have sought election reform would argue it should be illegal for those Council members to vote on something brought forth by a recent donor.

Not long ago, residents of the City-owned property in Beacon Bay approached the City arguing that their land rent was too high. Instead of politicizing this request it was assigned to a citizen subcommittee or Ad Hoc of the City Finance Committee for evaluation. I suspect members of the City Finance Department also participated. This allowed the request to be evaluated outside of the political arena and the results were publicly reported at a subsequent Finance Committee meeting.

The resultant report allowed an informed City Council to publicly act on the request. I suggest that these two matters being discussed tonight be handled in the same manner. I do not take issue with these requests by these gentlemen. However, neither fellow is being philanthropic in their respective request and some level of expertise on the City’s behalf should be used to evaluate each request.

If you want your opinion heard, please call or attend the City Council meeting tonight or write to them at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Charles Klobe

Newport Beach

Political extremism in Newport and OC

I have lived near the beach for more than 50 years and have experienced the long arm of extremism many times. Back in 1971, when I was a student teacher at a Newport Beach elementary school, the principal told me he already had one Jew on staff and “couldn’t afford to have another one.”

Five years later, after I founded a nonprofit organization dedicated to encouraging high school students to vote when they turned 18, I was called a “n-lover” because I invited then-Congresswoman Yvonne Braithwaite Burke to join the group’s advisory board. 

But those insults were nothing compared to the death threats my wife and I received for publishing the Andy Warhol portrait of Jane Fonda in 1982. Back then, the actress and her husband, Tom Hayden, often were called traitors by OC elected officials and members of the powerful Newport-based Lincoln Club.

Even today, I am still on the receiving end of someone’s extreme political views. In a Facebook private message, an acquaintance of mine recently called me a “demonic, Satan liberal” because my views were so different from hers.

Whatever happened to the phrase, “Live and let live?” I guess that only applies to some who call Newport or Orange County home, not everyone.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach


Letters to the Editor

Excited about the Jr. Lifeguard building, but concerned about area’s homeless campsite

I was happy to read about the new Junior Lifeguard building in the recent Stu News. Many of us have benefited from our kids and grandkids participating in the program. I agree the building is much needed. 

I do have one concern. Has anyone taken a walk on or near the Balboa Pier lately? If not, maybe you should. It has become a homeless campsite with all the tents and lack of hygiene that come with it. If the City and the Foundation are going to make a big investment, the City should address this problem. Right?

Jerry Piersall

Costa Mesa

Finding common purpose out of the morass!

In a recent letter, I spoke about our Newport city council’s focus on whack a mole issues rather than tackling the more difficult issues and getting innovative about them. I should have explained the pattern of behavior I see. It isn’t unique to Newport, but I live here. 

The pattern is to not seriously address the wicked problems like sea level rise or homelessness or affordable housing, or transportation or better community health within the city to the point that the courts or state government step in and mandate changes. Then when the courts or state mandate change or citizens revolt, elected leaders complain, fight them in court, or resist in other ways. 

Newport recently was to begin a general plan update. A substantial update addressing the problems of the 21st century would truly require extensive community engagement and participation. It would also require leadership to be bold in explaining what issues the city faces. A lackluster effort to engage the community ensued until the state mandated a huge housing increase and the pandemic stopped any idea for any robust community involvement. Staff and hired consultants then came up with status quo draft plans for housing and transportation which included widening PCH through Mariner’s Mile and annexing Banning Ranch to build housing. Both ideas that citizens have been fighting for years. 

Leadership in the 21st century going forward will need to be bold, inclusive and innovative. Community and organizational success and solutions of wicked problems will take communication and involvement like we haven’t seen in years or maybe never. We need a common purpose of making the changes we need to survive and saving, even enhancing, our quality of life. The parroting of partisan themes needs to be gone and we need leaders in all areas – resident, elected and business – to collaborate and lead us out of this current morass. 

Linda Watkins

Newport Beach


Guest Letter

Robert T. Braithwaite

President & CEO

Hoag

Community COVID-19 vaccine clinics update

Dear Neighbors,

With so many things moving in the right direction, I am writing to update our Hoag community about what is happening regarding COVID-19 and vaccine distribution. 

I am pleased with the news that Orange County has transitioned out of the most restrictive purple tier and into the red tier on the state’s risk level status list. This allows more businesses to open and more people to resume daily life, while still exercising courteous caution via masks and added safety measures. 

Guest Letter Robert Braithwaite

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Hoag Hospital

President & CEO Robert T. Braithwaite, Hoag Hospital

Coupled with this, California’s vaccine eligibility list has recently expanded to include teachers, food service workers, childcare providers and emergency services workers. And as of today, individuals with high-risk medical conditions or disabilities who are ages 16 to 64 are also eligible.   

Recently, the CDC announced that people who are fully vaccinated may gather together in small groups indoors, without masks, and President Biden is directing all states to open vaccine availability to all adults no later than May 1. 

While this is all welcome and encouraging news, vaccine supplies currently remain very limited. At Hoag, we continue to be an approved COVID vaccine provider and are working closely with the Orange County Health Care Agency (OCHCA) on our vaccine supply. As an Orange County provider, we work directly with OCHCA on vaccine distribution; many other health care providers who serve multiple counties and states as well as retail pharmacy chains work with state and federal agencies directly for their supplies. 

I often wish I had a crystal ball so I could tell you with certainty when we will offer new vaccine appointments, but vaccine providers nationwide are grappling with managing the uncertainty of supply against the huge demand and needs in our communities. This rollout is a herculean effort, but we remain committed to supporting vaccinating as many people as our supply from OCHCA permits. 

The best vaccine is the one you can get first, so I implore eligible individuals to register for the OCHCA vaccine clinics via www.othena.com or by calling 714.834.2000 for assistance with registration and support. You can learn more about Hoag’s vaccine clinics by visiting our COVID vaccine page and find information and links for all of the available distribution points including retail pharmacies by visiting OCHCA’s Vaccine Distribution Channels page. 

As we progress towards a brighter spring and summer, it is important for you to tend to your personal health and well-being. Throughout this year-long pandemic, our doors have remained open. We continue to provide quality care while adhering to the strictest guidelines and safety policies. So, please don’t delay care. Regular check-ups are important, and treatment of chronic conditions and medical emergencies is vital. 

Thank you for your continued support and vigilance. We look forward to these important weeks and months ahead, as vaccine deployment expands and we are all able to reconnect with our friends, neighbors and loved ones in this season of renewal.


Letters to the Editor

Liked Duncan’s childhood memories, but don’t forget, I was there, too

Duncan Forgey did a nice article but left out Johnnie Crean. I ran with the O’Toole brothers, Chasin, and all the Point guys. We lived on Channel Road, next to the Allen sisters, 2-3 houses from the O’Tooles. And Andy Crean, my brother, was there, too. We lived on Channel Road from 1958-64, then moved to the Caribe Balboa, the high-rise in Balboa. 

It was magic. We played football on Little Beach on Channel Road by the Little Harbor Pier, next to the fenced beach that belonged to the Association. We played baseball in the street in the triangle at the center of the Peninsula, next to the park, went to the Wedge when it was roaring and climbed to the end of the jetty, and we walked to the Balboa Theater for movies and roamed the Fun Zone.   

Alice and Penny Paris were about, too.

It was so rural, because maybe one-third of the homes were summer homes, so all winter there were just a few of us kids, so we all got to know one another. 

The Wedge was risky, but Corona del Mar beach was great. Some of us crossed the channel in a small boat or on a board to surf.

At the end of Channel Road was the jungle, some bushes at end of houses just before the jetty alongside the water. We went there to smoke. Regular cigarettes.

Johnnie Crean

Kamuela, Hawaii

Still thinking good things about Governor Newsom

Certainly people can be critical of Governor Newsom because like most mortals he has made some mistakes. He has succumbed to political pressures and in an attempt to please everyone he has made and remade decisions. He has been flexible in certain areas and inflexible in others. But remember, it is not every day that one governs during an unprecedented national disaster.

Everything is relative when a leader faces such a dire situation and the natural response when making decisions is to learn from your mistakes. But those who have been overly critical of Governor Newsom from the beginning have allowed him no leeway and have failed to recognize how he masterfully issued the first national stay-at-home orders and was one of the most successful governors to procure emergency medical supplies and equipment. 

And again in his favor, California’s COVID death rate is lower than that of more than half the states, and California will emerge from the pandemic with a robust economy.

Several local politicians have criticized Newsom from the beginning simply because he is not a member of their political party. They railed against his decisions while offering absolutely no COVID response in return. We have elected and re-elected leaders who have openly defied any regulations put in place by the state and county to protect public health. 

And from the supervisors to the local councils, there has been absolutely no disaster leadership to date. You would think that they would be hiding their faces in shame instead of criticizing one who was not afraid to lead, one who constantly communicated with his constituency trying to observe the best practices to help us emerge from COVID.

Yes, he made some mistakes, but the question is, could anyone have done any better? Look at our local leaders, look at some of the states with no leadership. Having someone emerge triumphantly from a recall election with such attitudes and lack of true leadership scares me greatly.

The purpose of the recall, which became part of the California Constitution in 1911, was to help keep officials in Sacramento accountable and honest and to help unlock the grip of special interests groups. 

For the first 83 years in California, only three recall elections successfully reached the ballot. But in the subsequent 27 years it has happened seven times. It’s modern use has been frequently that by the minority party which is trying to make an end run around the normal election process. It is a costly, chaotic and unpredictable process which in Newsom’s case is being used mostly by conservatives and even some extremists whom you think would not want to waste money when a real election is just around the corner. 

And while balancing your options, remember this truism: Be careful of what you wish for.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach


Letter to the Editor

We must get our arms around the problems facing us to just simply survive

I have been appalled at how our local elected officials have behaved during this pandemic, fighting mask mandates and the state’s stumbling emergency plans, being part of the problem instead of part of the solution with partisanship. The pandemic was declared a national emergency and it certainly is one.

Declared emergencies give government emergency powers. Unfortunately, unlike an earthquake, hurricane or flood, it is a new and long-lasting emergency. One none of us have ever seen before and do not know how to manage very well or what will come. 

To quote five past mayors in Will O’Neill’s latest Twitter – “We are making decisions on shifting sand.” Perfect description for every one of us, citizens, scientists, elected officials! It is an emergency that has shown all of us the problems with our systems and the incompetence at every level of our society and government, city, county, state and federal. 

So why don’t we hunker down and fix our problems and faulty systems? What will the next pandemic bring, and we are being told there will be others? How can we better handle community health? With its long highly built up coastline, how affected by sea level change will Newport be? Where is the true citizen/government collaboration on innovations in city, county, state government? 

This is truly the time to come together and revision, and come to terms with the changes needed to survive and thrive. It is not the time to stay mired in partisanship and our whack a mole issues. 

Linda Watkins

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

Concerns with Superior Ave. bridge project

The following letter was sent to the chairman and commissioners of the Newport Beach Planning Commission concerning the Superior Avenue Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge, Parking Lot and Recreation Area Project.

Mr. Chairman and Commissioners,

Scenic corridor views along West Coast Highway cannot be taken for granted. I support preserving, protecting, and enhancing our coastal resources and coastal views. I am concerned about the significant visual impacts from project grading, construction of retaining walls and the pedestrian bridge. 

Transparency

The full scope of all foreseeable development project proposals for widening West Coast Highway must meet State, Coastal Commission, community and environmental requirements before approval. 

Why is the City choosing to separate this project from the West Coast Highway Widening Bridge project? Shouldn’t they be considered together? I think additional analysis is needed to demonstrate the need for the project and to assure it is the least damaging environmental alternative to our coastal resources. Would it be better for the Planning Commission and the City Council to step back, take a look from a big picture perspective and independently inquire beyond the surface into the details of the full scope of all West Coast Highway infrastructure projects before deciding? Without a detailed justification for widening West Coast Highway and a full understanding of how the PCH & Superior Bridges project ties into all proposals to widen West Coast Highway, a decision should not be made. 

The significant risk to scenic corridor views due to these projects must not be undervalued or dismissed. I am asking the City of Newport Beach to lay out all of these projects and their impact on the environment so the community stakeholders can study and understand how everything proposed ties together before any single project is approved.

Thank you,

Patrick Gormley

Setting the record straight regarding the CdM BID

I just want to clarify a couple of my comments that were reported in Amy Senk’s recent column about the CdM Business Improvement District (BID). I want to be clear that as one member of a seven-member city council, I am in no position to tell the BID what the council will or will not do. I told the board members that in past council meetings, where this topic was discussed publicly, it didn’t sound to me like a majority of the council was in favor of continuing the BID with the current 1989 structure. Also, the BID board has not in the past indicated an eagerness to change to the 1994 BID structure. Council sentiment seems to be that we want to have our businesses keep as much of their own revenue as possible. 

I also let BID board members know that the one-time COVID relief money they received last year, as far as I can tell, will not be on the table for this year. From what I’ve heard at council meetings, it seems unlikely that more funds will be appropriated for the BID. However, I have heard very complimentary remarks about the way in which the CdM BID utilized those funds in order to help businesses with COVID-related expenses. Also, I was not advocating for the remaining BID funds to be appropriated for the Christmas Walk if the board members choose to dissolve the BID. I reported that I sought the advice of our city attorney, who told me that any remaining funds could be donated to another charity, such as the CdM Chamber, for the Christmas Walk.

I was very surprised to hear the majority of the BID board members express sentiments that indicated their willingness to let the BID go. If they do vote to dissolve the BID at their next meeting, I want to publicly acknowledge the amazing work they have done in beautifying our CdM Business District. I think our benches, trash cans and medians all look very attractive and have created a beautiful cohesive environment, of which I am very proud. 

The past and current CdM BID board members should be very proud of their many accomplishments! 

Thank you ALL for your MANY years of service! 

Joy Brenner

Newport Beach City Council

District 6

Reiterating the importance of wearing masks

 I share Tom Johnson’s consternation expressed in Tuesday’s Stu News’ Fair Game section over the large number of people in Newport Beach who, despite a year of COVID prevention information, are still not wearing masks in public.

I never cease to be amazed in fact, by the number of people I see on a daily basis in Newport Beach who are unmasked. Often, I would have to admit that the feeling that I experience is not just amazement but disenchantment because the gesture appears to be such a selfish one. Those who are healthy or young must take into account that the mask we wear has a dual purpose – to protect us and others around us who may not have a similar health profile.

Even though we have been talking about the importance of masking to control the coronavirus for over a year, I see in certain places that the same number of people who don’t wear masks has not changed. Fortunately, the compulsory wearing of masks in most indoor areas has made one feel relatively safe to enter in and around those establishments.

It is the “in-between areas,” outdoor groups, outdoor eating areas, even indoor areas in larger buildings where the rules are seen as grey areas. As I walk around Newport Beach, I see that there are very few outdoor groups who observe the six-foot social distancing rule which is a relatively safe distance without a mask. When I occasionally see people who are masked outdoors other than in community areas, I assume that they must be from out of town.

Because I take daily walks in and around my neighborhood, I have taken to wearing masks because of the latest major surges. I rarely see another walker wearing a mask and during each walk, I never fail to see several people who look surprised or do a “double-take” to see that I am wearing one. An improvement that has been pretty much the rule since I started wearing a mask, is that most mask-less people are polite enough to go out of their way to avoid proximity to me.

All of these issues have been going through my mind for a year. But yesterday, trying to take “a deeper dive” into the issue, I ventured to think of more complex reasons other than selfishness that would explain why people refuse to wear a mask, particularly in Newport Beach. Here are some possible theories I came up with: 1. Vanity: In Newport, an upper-class city known for glamour, vanity may play a very large role. 2. Leadership: Many of our national and local leaders showed disdain for COVID rules, particularly masks, and as such, many served as negative rather than positive role models. 3. Information: I read every bit of information I can find on the coronavirus. I read a daily newspaper and also constantly read articles from professional sources online. Each day it seems that something new comes out. Occasionally we get information that challenges previous information, but usually never about the importance of masking against infection. I started thinking last night that since Dr. Fauci says we might be wearing masks until 2022, that I better buy some more masks, perhaps slightly decorative ones. I am not the only one considering this because for the first time on Facebook, every fifth post was about selling masks. Many people who reject masks might be getting second or third-hand information, or none at all. They are not reading newspapers, nor searching information online. Neither are they watching informational TV. They are rehashing the same old information with friends and acquaintances, leaving no room for new scientific information. 4. Conformity: Newport Beach, with its glamour attracts wealthy people, some newly wealthy and some newly arrived who do not feel particularly secure about their status, and to belong they feel the need to conform. If others are not wearing masks on a particular occasion, they do not want to stand out by wearing a mask and drawing attention to themselves. If you think conformity does not play a role in Newport Beach, just look at the cars people drive. 5. Asymptomatic infection: This is perhaps the biggest reason for avoiding masks, especially by teenagers and young adults. According to Dr. Fauci, 40 percent of those who have COVID have asymptomatic infection, feeling no symptoms. Young people who get milder cases anyway, can count on having either mild or no symptoms. As Tom pointed out, Irvine with three times the population of Newport Beach, has the same amount of deaths to COVID. In Newport, getting residents to buy into the concept of community health has been our biggest challenge.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach


Guest Letter

Makenna Stefano

Team Hope, Team Leader

Sophomore, Corona del Mar High School

Raising money for the fight against cancer, in honor of my hero sister, Taylor

Guest Letter Makenna Stefano

Click on photo for a larger image

Photos courtesy of the Stefano family

CdM sophomore Makenna Stefano

This year has certainly been one full of uncertainty. I am learning that life throws many challenges, but I am also discovering how important it is to have a positive attitude! I know there is no greater obstacle in life than when you or a loved one is forced to fight cancer. No person should have to hear the words, “you have cancer.” My dream is that one day, there will be a cure to this devastating disease.

It happened during 8th grade of my middle school year, February of 2019. My sister, Taylor (CdM Class of 2012), was diagnosed with stage 4B Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. This diagnosis turned our world upside down. I saw my once healthy sister endure six months of intense chemotherapy. She was forced to take a leave of absence at work. Every two weeks she would receive treatment at a clinic at UCLA in Los Angeles, only to come home and be so sick in bed that she would at times be unable to lift her head. 

I watched as she slowly lost her beautiful long blonde hair. I saw my sister sicker than I ever could have imagined. However, I never ever saw her lose her positive attitude or her will to get better. Taylor was my sister before, but now she is my hero. 

Guest Letter Taylor Simon

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Now-recovered sister Taylor Simon

Today, Taylor is cancer-free, healthy and stronger than ever. She was happily married this past summer. Taylor is now a strong supporter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) and is on the executive board for their Light the Night Campaign. She is committed to finding a light to the darkness of cancer.

My sister’s story is one of the main reasons why I accepted a nomination to be a candidate for the LLS 2021 Students of the Year Campaign. The seven-week leadership development program runs from January 31-March 21, 2021 this year. This program designed for high school students is focused on raising funds to find a cure for blood cancers and support patients. 

I have assembled a team of friends who have committed to helping me to achieve our goal of raising $50,000. Caroline Carvelli, Abby Grace, Aven Walz, Ashley Riba, Ella Bennett, Zach & Kate Kittleson and I are dedicated to leading this fight to find a cure for cancer. We know at this time our goal is ambitious. We also know that given the state of the medical community, especially with COVID-19, we must work harder to help support those currently battling cancer.

Guest Letter Team Hope 8 kids

Click on photo for a larger image

(L-R) Team Hope members Zach Kittleson, Kate Kittleson, Abby Grace, Aven Walz, Makenna Stefano, Ella Bennett, Caroline Carvelli and Ashley Riba

This program has already taught me so much about what it means and how it feels to give back and to help others. I think back to August when I was approached by my now mentor at LLS, Emily Bartlett. Emily asked if I would be willing to accept this nomination. I thought about it, talked with my mom and dad as well as my sister Taylor. They all encouraged me to stretch myself and take on this challenge. I felt a pull to go for it. I had an idea that it would involve a good amount of time and effort, but with COVID going on, and life basically shut down, why not? I got to work and approached a group of friends who I thought would be assets and supporters of my quest. Each person I asked said yes!

Our team has been meeting/Zooming weekly, planning our strategy. We created a team name with a team logo. We have sent out 100s of letters and emails to our friends and families. We have set up an Instagram account honoring our “Warrior Heroes” (www.instagram.com/lls.teamhope/). We will be promoting a “Paddle Out for Cancer” at Big Corona on Sunday, March 13. To raise money, we will be selling flowers for the paddle out. Even more exciting, we will also be selling opportunity drawing tickets for a brand-new paddle board. Stay tuned, CdM.

We are competing against 14 different teams from Orange County to the Inland Empire to even Hawaii. Our hope is to be the team to raise the most money for this cause. We have learned that there is a team set up from Newport Harbor, and we cannot let them beat us…since sports have been canceled maybe this is our way of doing a “Battle of The Bay.” We need your help CdM students, teachers and parents.

To give you a few fun facts about LLS. Did you know approximately every three minutes one person in the United States is diagnosed with a blood cancer? As the largest nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting cancer, LLS has invested nearly $1.3 billion in groundbreaking research. Not only do the funds raised go to fighting blood cancer, but more than 40 percent of the new drugs developed are currently being applied to several other forms of cancer including brain cancer, breast cancer, diabetes, kidney cancer, liver cancer and lung cancer. I know that the dedicated research and funds raised by LLS helped to ensure that my sister was able to survive her Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

We all have a story, and this is becoming mine. I believe that I have learned the most about life not when it is has been easy, but when I have been faced with the greatest challenges. When we figure out a way to overcome our obstacles, we realize what is possible. At the end of all of this, I HOPE that I have made a difference. I will continue to do my part in finding a cure to that relentless disease called cancer!

Every little bit helps. To donate, please visit my website: https://tinyurl.com/MakennaStefano. If you would prefer to write a check, please make it payable to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and write my name on the memo line. Feel free to reach out to one of my team members. All donations are 100 percent tax deductible. Our campaign ends March 20, 2021.

Let’s all do our part to fight for an end to this relentless disease we call cancer.

Makenna Stefano is a sophomore at Corona del Mar High School.


Letter to the Editor

No fan of Muldoon for Supervisor position, or any position as far as that goes

Newport Beach City Councilman Kevin Muldoon is running for OC Supervisor, but his actions in Newport Beach have been so egregious that he should never hold another elected office.

When he voted to allow an exception to Newport’s long-standing development plan and approve the high-rise Museum House tower, he also knew that residents would seek to qualify a referendum calling for a special election on the project. He very intentionally (seemed to) undermined our democratic right to challenge his vote by requiring that 3,700 unnecessary pages be added to each referendum petition, costing proponents $40,000 just to print the petitions. He fully expected this to stop the referendum in its tracks. The right to petition our government is a precious right, but (apparently) not to Mr. Muldoon. 

Ironically, Senator Moorlach later passed a law preventing future unethical city councils from repeating this travesty.

If you prefer a politician with a proven track record of ignoring democratic rights and throwing constituents under the bus, Mr. Muldoon just may be your guy.

Susan Skinner

Newport Beach


Letter to the Editor

District elections make for better representation

I did my research on district elections a little over a year ago and since that time, the idea of district elections in Newport Beach seems more relevant than ever. In the latest City Council election, we saw very few challengers to council seats (two to be exact) compared to surrounding cities which attracted significantly more.

We saw the indisputable role that outside money played in the election, leading to the loss of one incumbent and one challenger who in many opinions, were more in tune with community values than the winners. One need only examine the “Campaign Disclosure Statements” available through the City Clerk and online County Records, Forms 460 and 497, to see the money from developers and PACs taken in by the Team. These contributions from outside sources need to be mitigated to give more people the opportunity to run for office. To be truly competitive with these candidates, someone wanting to challenge an incumbent needs approximately $100,000, or if running against a Team member that drags other Team members along by their collective shirttails, perhaps even more.

The Planning Commission meeting that took place on February 18th which involved a development in the Mariner’s Mile area is another example of a disconnect between community aspirations and those of developers and commissioners. Contributions by the community in written and oral form are often discounted and not all are politely accepted, nor are residents’ written and oral questions frequently answered. City Council members who are sensitive to community concerns would in turn appoint Planning Commissioners of like mind.

Another reform that should take place in Newport Beach that would eliminate the cat and mouse games currently used by council members to appoint a new mayor and mayor pro tem would be to have residents directly elect the mayor, again giving residents more say in city government. 

What opportunities are available to city residents who want more input into city issues but cannot continue to afford the hefty price tags required for at-large elections? One solution that more than 100 of California’s cities (1/5th) currently have turned to is district elections. Once only common in larger cities like Los Angeles, San Diego and Long Beach, district voting has been gaining in popularity in middle and small-sized cities as well. Cities in Orange County such as Costa Mesa, Dana Point, Fullerton, Lake Forest, Placentia, Stanton and Buena Park now have district elections. It is expected that one-third of California cities will have switched to them in the near future. 

While some cities have changed from at-large to district elections because of lawsuits challenging at-large elections’ failure to represent all citizens and neighborhoods fairly, Newport Beach would benefit from district elections by empowering long-term residents to get better representation on the City Council. Generally speaking, the wealthy donors who back council members do not want the same thing for our cities that long-term residents do.

The most important change that district voting will make is to lower the main barrier to candidacy. Right now, it takes a candidate too much money to run for election. Also, a candidate in our at-large elections has to make themselves known in every single district. This is an exhausting effort that prohibits new candidates while incumbents, as witnessed in the last election, have much less work to do.

A candidate in a district election can go around door-to-door in a neighborhood and acquaint herself/himself with constituents. In our at-large elections, council members do represent districts but do not necessarily need to please voters in their district to get re-elected.

Our council’s intractability in addressing residents’ concerns and the council members’ failure to enact real election reform creates the desire to investigate district elections. They will require more accountability and bring about a more democratic government.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

Community desires a look at the eventual overall plan for Mariner’s Mile

Mariner’s Mile is an indispensable seaside center linking the Peninsula, Lido Island, Lido Marina Village, Mariner’s Mile, Balboa Island, and Corona del Mar villages and neighborhoods. Its significance and impact must not be undervalued. Scenic corridor views along Mariner’s Mile cannot be taken for granted. The full scope of all foreseeable development project proposals along Mariner’s Mile must meet Coastal Commission, community and environmental requirements before approval. Working together, let’s get it right – the City, the developers and the stakeholders.

The future of Mariner’s Mile will be determined within the framework of the interdependent actions of the developers, city staff, Planning Commission, City Council, Caltrans, business and property owners, local merchants and residents. Our community is stronger together, especially when stakeholders, developers and the City work together to support each other based upon a common consensus, understanding and purpose. Community stakeholders are asking the City to lay out all the Mariner’s Mile proposed and pending development projects together so we can study and understand how everything ties together.

The February 18 Planning Commission hearing should be postponed until the City’s Community Development Department holds a public outreach workshop meeting to inform and educate community stakeholders about 2510 W. Coast Hwy. (PA2019-249). This will allow stakeholders to provide their informed perspectives to the Planning Commission.

Will the City deliver transparency, good faith and public outreach?

Mariner’s Mile property owners, business owners and the abutting residential communities of Newport Heights/Cliff Haven, Bayshores and Lido Island desire to learn and be informed about the scope, design, benefits and impacts pertaining to this and all the foreseeable development projects along Mariner’s Mile. Community stakeholders have asked the City to explain land use controls, staff’s findings and answer stakeholders’ questions prior to the February 18th Planning Commission Hearing. The community is asking the City to lay out the project so we can study and understand how.

Respect, protect and preserve the residential, commercial and environmental qualities of our bayside town so everything proposed ties together. However, the City’s Community Development Department has denied residents’ request to outreach to community stakeholders in a public meeting to provide the details of their analysis and impending recommendation to the Planning Commission.

The February 2 community outreach Zoom meeting with the applicant team to discuss the proposed mixed-use development at 2510 W. Coast Hwy. (PA2019-249) was a positive step and provided the project’s scope and design. Yet too many stakeholders on the Zoom meeting were disappointed. They requested information pertaining to traffic and safety concerns regarding Avon and Tustin Avenues, and the property’s access when entering and leaving the premises on West Pacific Coast Highway. Also, insights into the nearby foreseeable development projects along Mariner’s Mile were not presented. This piecemeal approach to the rollout of the projects does not address substantial community concerns expressed during this Zoom meeting. Nor did the Zoom meeting present a vision for Mariner’s Mile.

In addition to 2510 W. Coast Hwy (PA2019-249), there are several proposed or pending nearby family-related development companies proposing projects. These include Newport Village and Back Bay Landing. The cumulative land use for all these developments represents over one-third of Mariner’s Mile and will forever determine the future destiny of this scenic corridor. Accordingly, all community stakeholders desire to learn and understand the full scope, size, significance, accumulated impacts and mitigation associated with all nearby foreseeable projects. This will also assure that the intent of the Greenlight Initiative and City’s General Plan vision, goals and objectives will be achieved and will hopefully prevent a long-lasting adverse impact.

Several unanswered questions that must be addressed for the 2510 W. Coast Hwy. (PA2019-249) project, as well as all nearby proposed and pending projects along Mariner’s Mile are below:

–How will the proposed and pending projects change the character and charm of Mariner’s Mile and Newport Beach?

–Are we at risk of losing our scenic corridor, the key element that connects Newport Beach’s iconic villages? Will it forever disallow the majority of residents and tourists to enjoy this scenic coastal location due to the desires of a few people who are invested in high-density development projects?

–What are the benefits and impacts on the Mariner’s Mile ecosystem, including quality of life, health, safety and traffic? What will be the cost to the residents in order to provide City services? How will police and fire be impacted?

–Are the variances and allowances given to the developer too high a consideration when comparing the full benefits and full impact of 2510 W. Coast Hwy (PA2019-249)? Is the 2510 W. Coast Hwy. (PA2019-249) project including three low-rent apartments too high a price to pay?

The Collation to Protect Mariner’s Mile (PMM) represents approximately 1,200 Newport Beach residents and stakeholders. We are involved with Mariner’s Mile and the protection of this 1.3-mile stretch along West Pacific Coast Highway. We envision transforming Mariner’s Mile into a thriving and sustainable coastal gateway destination in the City of Newport where residents and visitors can work, play, dine and shop in a relaxing and friendly environment. Our guiding principle is “Enhance Our Community’s Quality of Life and Do No Harm.”

PMM is pro-development and supports projects that are compatible with the abutting residential communities of Newport Heights/Cliff Haven, Bayshores and Lido Island. Lido Marina Village is an excellent example of what is possible.

James F Carlson, president 

Collation to Protect Mariner’s Mile

Newport Beach

Lost views and potential increases in police services a concern for Mariner’s Mile project(s)

The 2510 W. Coast Hwy. project is designed for 35 apartments (three of which will be designated for low-income at approximately $700.00 per month), at a height of 35 feet, which goes against the current height maximum allowed. According to the applicant, three low-income apartments will fabricate a reason to permanently obstruct public views from both John Wayne and Cliff Drive Parks. These public views will be lost forever, as well as have the potential to increase crime in Newport Heights.

On the City of Newport Beach website, they have what is referred to as a “heat map.” This map illustrates the “total calls” for service by the Newport Beach Police Department. The average call for service within a seven-day period is more than 1,000 calls. The “heat map” area is highly concentrated on the Peninsula and Mariner’s Mile along PCH. 

The City Staff report did not consider that apartments (and other high-density types) require more police services because they statistically have higher call volumes and crime rates, eventually increasing the need for more officers at the taxpayer’s expense. The applicant is “building out” more apartments than what is currently zoned for along Mariner’s Mile. In my opinion, the applicant and the City are clearly manipulating the system to allow for low-income units and obtaining a “density bonus,” while exceeding the current height limits. 

If the 2510 W. Coast Hwy. project is the precursor to the Newport Village Project, the residents of Newport Beach must take action, because Mariner’s Mile will soon turn into “Miami Mile” without the “walkability” factor or any amenities to service the actual project or the community. To further complicate this already disjointed project, no traffic study has ever been conducted, nor its impacts to the abutting communities. In fact, the proposed one-way entry and exit proposed for these apartments are via Avon Alley, making it extremely dangerous should an emergency occur there. In addition, Tustin and Ocean View streets are the only direct sources to get to that Avon Alley area, and they are virtually one-way streets as well. If a car is going down either street, another car going up the street has to pull over to give access to continue that vehicles’ drive down the street; and vice versa. Does that sound safe to you? In addition, any traffic coming out of the apartment complex will most likely make a right on Tustin Avenue to drive children to school, increasing the already high traffic on Tustin Avenue. 

In addition, the proposed limited parking in the apartment complex does NOT provide any guest parking. Thus, the only (free) guest parking available would be on Tustin or Ocean View, and all the closest parking is designated two-hour parking. Designated eight-hour parking on Tustin Avenue and Ocean View are already overrun with PCH restaurant employees.

The health, safety, welfare and livability of the community are of primary importance to the residents of Newport Beach. This focus offers the potential to have a powerful and positive impact. In addition, the City and residents of Newport Beach have stressed the importance of sustainability and “Living Within Our Resources.” 

The guiding principle must be to Enhance Our Community’s Quality of Life and Do No Harm. The 2510 W. Coast Hwy. project is detrimental to our surrounding neighbors and children of Bayshores, Lido Isle, Newport Heights and Cliff Haven.

The 2510 W. Coast Hwy. project hearing will be on February 18. Now is the time to let your voices be heard. Please protect our community!

Sue Leal 

Newport Beach (Tustin Avenue)

Concern that the Planning Commission has their mind made up on Mariner’s Mile

On January 21st, the Planning Commission was going to hear what is being referred to as the 2510 W. Coast Hwy. project, which consists of 35 apartments, (three low-income) and a luxury car showroom.

It was brought to our attention that City Staff was going to make a recommendation for approval without any public or community input. The applicant should have proceeded in good faith to explain his goals and objectives for the project. The City initially had issues posting this project on their website and Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, so essentially this gave the public (three work days) to review and process the plans for the project.

Our concerns are simple:

1. City Staff appears to be a proponent of “pushing” this project through to the Planning Commission.

2. The project desecrates the public views from several public parks.

3. The community had little or no time to adequately study the project.

4. The applicant offered no community outreach or study session – which potentially could allow the residents to learn more about the project.

5. Newport has been gifted with the responsibility of the Local Coastal Program; however, this project clearly violates the LCP.

Only after receiving more than 60 letters from residents, did the PC postpone the 2510 W. Coast Hwy. meeting and ask the applicant to provide an outreach to the community, which (was) held via Zoom on February 2, 2021.

My point being, is...IF this is how the applicant and City Staff covertly move ahead with plans for Mariner’s Mile/Newport Village, they are both proceeding in bad faith.

Certainly three low-income apartments should not supersede the precious views from our public parks which have been cherished by all since the 1900s and should be protected for generations to come.

Solution, the City Council should consider altering policies that allow an individual or individual(s) to appeal a project without cost to the appellant; otherwise, the residents can forego the City Council and appeal straight to the California Coastal Commission at no cost to the appellant(s). This will keep the City from continuing to receive a “black eye” from the CCC and hopefully allow the developer to create a project that the community can eventually support.

The residents fought the Mariner’s Mile Revitalization Plan.

The residents fought AutoNation.

The residents fought Banning Ranch.

The residents fought the Museum House.

The residents fought the 215 Riverside Project (currently tied up with the CCC).

The residents were victorious in fighting the above projects.

In closing, the City’s guiding light is identified by the intent of the certified Local Coastal Program, “To ensure that any development in the coastal zone preserves and enhances coastal resources; protects and enhances coastal views.” This project clearly is in violation of the City’s LCP.

The residents again are prepared to fight but would rather work with the applicant and City Staff to develop a responsible and compatible project along Mariner’s Mile; however, we have been informed that the Planning Commission has already made up their minds to approve this project at the upcoming hearing on February 18, 2021.

Peggy V. Palmer 

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

Request to postpone upcoming Mariner’s Mile hearing

The following letter was directed to the City of Newport Beach concerning a Planning Commission hearing planned for next Thursday, Feb. 18, concerning the proposed development at 2510 W. Coast Highway.

The Future of Mariner’s Mile will be determined within the framework of the interaction of the Developers, City Staff, Planning Commission, City Council, Caltrans, business and property owners, local merchants and residents. Our community is stronger together, especially when Stakeholders, Developers and the City work together and support each other based upon a common consensus, understanding and purpose. Community stakeholders are asking the City to lay out all the Mariner’s Mile proposed and pending development projects together so we can study and understand how everything ties together.

The February 18, 2021, Planning Commission Hearing should be postponed until the City’s Community Development Department holds a public outreach workshop to inform and educate community stakeholders about 2510 West Pacific Coast Highway.

On January 21, the City’s Planning Commission was going to hear what is being referred to as 2510 W. Coast Hwy. (PA2019-249) which consists of 35 apartments (three low-income) and a luxury car showroom. In response to an impressive community outcry because the City Staff was going to make a recommendation for approval without any public or community input, the Planning Commission postponed the hearing until February 18, 2021.

Transparency - Community Outreach

On February 2, the developer conducted a public workshop via Zoom to explain the project and to answer questions from the public. The February 2nd, 2021, community outreach Zoom meeting with the applicant team was a positive step and provided an understanding of the project’s scope and design. Yet too many stakeholders on the Zoom meeting were disappointed. They requested desired information about traffic and safety concerns on Avon and Tustin avenues, as well as the property’s access to the highway. Also community stakeholders inquired about the piecemeal rollout of nearby family-related development companies’ projects, and that the City is not addressing substantial community concerns pertaining to the cumulative impact of proposed and pending developments planned for Mariner’s Mile.

Considering the scope and significance of this proposed high-density project, a request was made to the City’s Community Development Department to host a public outreach workshop prior to the February 18th Planning Commission meeting. The purpose of the meeting would be to explain land use controls, staff’s findings and recommendations, and to answer questions from the public. The City denied the request for a public outreach meeting.

City of Newport Beach

Before significant investments are made by Developers and the Newport Beach community, the City’s inherent stewardship and responsibility is to build a community consensus among stakeholders and a clear vision to guide the transformation of Mariner’s Mile. An analysis of the total land use and scope of all the proposed development projects on Mariner’s Mile must be done as a prerequisite to the approval of any one piece of all proposed and pending development. The Mariner’s Mile Vision must enhance the waterfront and our community’s quality of life. West Pacific Coast Highway must remain as it is now, adding no new lanes and retaining street parking, in order to transform Mariner’s Mile into a friendly village that attracts pedestrians and bicyclists. The City, Developers, and Stakeholders can facilitate making such a vision a reality by working within the community. The Greenlight Initiative and the General Plan were the result of community consensus. The intent of both must be adhered to along Mariner’s Mile and applied to the combined scope and density of all proposed and future development projects before a single project is approved.

Patrick Gormley, former President 

Bayshores Community Association

Newport Beach

Looking closely, no problems…the union should let our kids go back to school

In response to our friend, Lynn Lorenz. We should note that Catholic schools and private schools are open with no major problems. I’m sure if this had come from the teachers’ union, it would have been in the form of full-page ads in the newspapers. This isn’t about the children. 

The following is a quote from CNBC on February 3rd:

“There is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen and that safe reopening does not suggest that teachers need to be vaccinated,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told reporters during a White House news briefing on COVID-19. “Vaccinations of teachers is not a prerequisite for safely reopening schools.”

She went on to say that using usual precautions like wearing masks, social distancing and washing hands should be used.

The union should let our kids go back to school.

Jerry Piersall

Costa Mesa


Letter to the Editor

Sending teachers back too soon seems questionable

Lacking definitive scientific evidence, there is disagreement among professionals as to whether teachers need to be vaccinated before going back to the classroom full time. Even the opinion of medical personnel can be only anecdotal at this stage, lacking the evidence of interaction between student and teacher in the classroom on a full-time basis.

A CNN site says that various teachers’ unions have compiled their statistics and give an estimate of 530 of their members that have died of the virus last year. But a more extensive effort to track educator deaths from COVID-19 can be found in the trade publication Education Week, which as of February 1st estimates that at least 707 educators, retired and active, and other school personnel have died. 

And that does not account for secondary infections that teachers and students might take home to their families. Again, it is impossible to control the variables in any of the studies on educators so far, whether the stats come from medical personnel or teacher journals.

From a personal standpoint, as a retired secondary teacher, I see no way that teachers and students can escape the threat of infection. Special arrangements can be made for older teachers, but if you are familiar with the way that schools are run, most of the safety measures are left up to the individual teachers, with little help from outside the classroom. 

Good air flow, proper distancing, small class size, proper use of masks and constant hand cleaning would be next to impossible to provide without redoing classroom structures, reducing class size (something that is often mentioned, but not usually provided) and other community help would be needed at a minimum. 

But if we were to rush into sending students back before they and their teachers are vaccinated and before classrooms and procedures are greatly established, it could be disastrous.

We can’t even get adults in the community to wear masks. Imagine trying to deal with secondary students, demanding them to wear masks. There will definitely be those who rebel, endangering everyone in a confined space. 

There is just not enough known so far about the behavior of the coronavirus, not to mention all the variants and new strains which keep popping up. The only thing that can be agreed upon is that the vaccination will significantly reduce the infection rate and intensity of COVID-19.

To send teachers and students back to school without vaccinating them would be to experiment with their lives as well as with the lives of those with whom they come in contact. With vaccinations available, there is absolutely no reason to do this!

What an edict to full reopening of schools implies is that “temporary trauma from distance learning is greater than illness and death of family members.” To paraphrase a writer on Facebook, children that have missed schooling in war-torn areas, have learned to adjust. “Children just want to be safe and loved.”

Right now, without first vaccinating, school districts cannot promise that to students or teachers.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

Only one side of Island issue is being shared

The Balboa Island Improvement Association (BIIA) is an organization of volunteers, financed by “dues-paying” members – property owners, renters, local merchants and business owners on Balboa Island as well as non-resident well-wishers. It is a non-profit, tax-exempt, apolitical association. It is not a homeowner’s association. We can all agree that the dedicated volunteers of BIIA do an outstanding job of enhancing the quality of life on Balboa Island all through the year and are greatly appreciated.

Unfortunately, the Board of Directors of BIIA and President Terry Janssen have taken the unwise and possibly unlawful decision (under its charter) to spearhead and lend active support to the establishment of an Underground Utility District on the Island. Several past and present BIIA Board members are heading up the team that is pushing this highly divisive proposal that will impose tens of thousands of dollars in assessments on reluctant property owners.

BIIA has been providing material support to this initiative through fliers being enclosed with issues of The Island Bridge as well as periodic bulletins via electronic communication to its members, through Constant Contact. The information being fed to property owners is largely one-sided and, in some cases, highly misleading.

This is an issue that has a significant monetary impact on property owners of Balboa Island, not on renters, not on merchants, not on business owners or well-wishers. A large segment of property owners have organized and support the “Underground Opposition Group” (UOG). We are “dues paying” members of BIIA as well. We requested President Terry Janssen to allow UOG to use BIIA’s channels of communication to pass on the opposing view to all its members. This is what routinely happens in a voter’s guide on city and state propositions, where both sides of an issue are presented to the voters.

President Terry Janssen has summarily rejected this request from UOG to present both sides of this issue to all its members, without any explanation. This reckless and autocratic decision was made without input from its membership and without due consideration of its effect on the “non-profit, tax-exempt” status of BIIA. Nevertheless, UOG will continue to disseminate through its own resources, rebuttals to misleading statements by those doing a “sales job” on imposing a huge “TAX” on the property owners of Balboa Island. Our goal is to make sure that both sides of this highly divisive issue are presented to the property owners to facilitate an informed outcome.

If you have any questions or need more information on this issue, please contact me.

Bob McCaffrey

Balboa Island

Moorlach seems to be most qualified for Supervisor role

Interestingly, Katrina Foley is the mayor of perhaps the worst managed city in the county. Were it not for tax revenue from South Coast Plaza, it would be horrible. How could anyone consider her for a promotion to supervisor? 

We need management experience. (John) Moorlach had the position and did a fine job. Why would we not capitalize on his experience?

Jeff Morgan 

Corona del Mar

Residents should have taken the win and moved on

Some people just don’t know when to quit when they are winning. Two recent letters from residents living in Big Canyon chastised Councilmembers Will O’Neill and Noah Blom for voting to allow the owner of a Shell station to add an automated car wash to his underbuilt and underutilized property in order to stay competitive and profitable. Instead of winning graciously and counting their lucky stars that five other council members chose to disregard a 6-1 Planning Commission vote and a City Planning staff recommendation to approve the project, these residents decided to attack O’Neill and Blom for following our Zoning Code.

Does the Council really want to position itself as the decider of winners and losers in the free market? What happened to the ideas of free enterprise, capitalism and property rights? How quickly these American values go out the window when a group of vociferous residents complain about a business owner trying to compete in a changing business environment. Their solution is to disregard our Zoning Code because they made a choice to buy a home overlooking a service station at the intersection of Jamboree and San Joaquin Hills, two of the busiest streets in Newport Beach.

As Councilman O’Neill stated at the meeting, good governance demands that we follow the Zoning Code as it is written, not throw it out on a whim. Councilman Blom concluded, and I agree, doing anything else is “bad business.”

Joe Garrett

Corona del Mar


Guest Letter

Robert T. Braithwaite

President & CEO

Hoag

Hoag is now vaccinating at multiple community clinics 

Dear Neighbors,

As you may know, the Orange County Health Care Agency (OCHCA) has approved COVID-19 vaccinations for people ages 65+. Hoag is one of a number of sites in the county offering vaccination appointments for eligible individuals. 

To date, Hoag has vaccinated more than 8,000 people including Hoag staff, medical staff, community health care workers, and patients and community members who are 65 and over. 

We look forward to vaccinating all of our patients as soon as possible. We have organized several community vaccine clinics with a small number of appointments to date, due to our limited vaccine supply. Appointment availability can be viewed at https://hoag.org/covid-vaccine. Please continue to check this site for available appointments. 

Guest Column Robert Braithwaite

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Hoag Hospital

Robert T. Braithwaite, president and CEO, Hoag Hospital

We anticipate receiving more vaccines from the county over the next several weeks which will allow us to schedule additional appointments and meet more of the demand. Once we receive ample supply, we will be able to quickly operate larger vaccine clinics to serve more of our patients and community members. We have dedicated a team of Hoag staff to support our patients through this journey, and we look forward to being able to vaccinate many more of you soon. 

If you are a Hoag Medical Group patient and have not already activated your Hoag Connect MyChart account, please take a moment to do so at www.HoagConnect.org/MyChart/signup. Those eligible to receive the vaccine will be able to schedule available appointments at Hoag directly through the website and MyChart app. If you need help with Hoag Connect MyChart, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

We urge you to also explore vaccination opportunities through the Orange County Health Care Agency at one of their Super POD (Point-of-Dispensing) clinics. The county is encouraging eligible residents to register for notifications about these vaccine appointments at www.othena.com/individuals.php. The sooner you can receive the vaccine, the better – so be sure to explore all options and take advantage of the first appointment you can get. 

Please continue wearing masks, staying home as much as possible, washing your hands frequently and practicing social distancing. We will get through this tough time together by exercising compassion and caution for our neighbors and loved ones.

We thank you for your continued support and partnership, and will update you as more information becomes available.


Letters to the Editor

Strategically placed ADUs are the answer to RHNA requirements

Newport Beach is planning for 2021, so while we are considering our General Plan Update, we should be concerned specifically about the Housing Element and our Regional Housing Needs Assessment, referred to as RHNA. Newport Beach needs to zone for approximately 4,800 housing units in this RHNA cycle which is an eight-year cycle. Half of these units need to be in the low or very low-income category. 

The state Housing & Community Development Department (HCD) has issued guidelines for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). The California legislature has passed laws that allow nearly every single family or multifamily residence in the city (including apartments) to build an ADU or convert a portion of their home to a Junior ADU. 

Once homeowners realize they can build or modify their existing residences to include one of these, we will undoubtedly have many of them in our city. We probably have many “granny units” now, that aren’t permitted, that can easily be permitted to become an ADU. It will be a source of income for the homeowner and provide low-income housing for our children and grandchildren, and workforce housing for those with limited incomes who work in our city. 

It may not be a popular trend with many Newport Beach residents, but there is literally nothing any of us can do to prevent it. Homeowner’s associations throughout the state will be unable to stop their homeowners from building ADUs. Cities are very limited in what constraints they can put on these units.

HCD has issued a handbook that outlines what is required for an ADU to qualify for inclusion in our RHNA allocation. It does not limit the number of ADUs that we can count in our housing element. 

Because the trend is accelerating rapidly in cities throughout the state and we can’t limit the number of ADUs that will be built in Newport Beach, I believe that we should maximize the number of ADUs that we include in our RHNA allocation. 

According to HCD, in 2019, California permitted 9,000 ADUs; in 2020 we permitted 15,000 ADUs. This is happening without publicity or outreach, so many people were not aware that this is an available choice for them. 

With 35,000 residential units in Newport Beach, if only 10 percent of them added an ADU over the next eight years, we would have 3,500 ADUs; at a rate of 5 percent, we would have 1,750 ADUs. Whether we are happy about it or not, we are going to see a steep increase in the number of ADUs in our city. 

Because this is the reality, we should capture all of the possible ADUs to fulfill our low and very low-income RHNA allocation. We can estimate high on ADUs and monitor the rate of permits. We can adjust in a future year, which will allow us time to research and more thoughtfully plan for the alternative…high-density housing units, if it is required. 

High-density developments can only provide a low percentage of low-income units. If we zone for these high-density developments now, as a part of our housing element, we will be unable to reverse this zoning easily. I have heard developers say that if you zone for high-density developments in Newport Beach, they will be built. And…developers have at least eight years for the economy to gain momentum to make this type of high-density development pencil out. Developers are making plans for this right now! 

I believe the residents of Newport Beach, when faced with the choice of zoning for tens of thousands of housing units or for 2,400 ADUs, would prefer to have 2,400 ADUs, scattered throughout the city. It is a more “place based” strategy for housing, which is what the state and HCD have said is their goal. 

Nancy Scarbrough

Newport Beach

48,000 new apartments is not the answer to meet the state mandate of 2,400 low-income units

I would like to talk about the General Plan update and specifically the circulation and housing elements. First, the General Plan update has been hijacked by COVID-19 and my observation is that the circulation element is largely being advanced by a consultant and staff. 

As our new Mayor, I challenge Mr. Brad Avery to refocus this effort with real citizen involvement. All we hear at the few Zoom meetings for the circulation element is how West Coast Highway must be widened through Mariner’s Mile. Adding traffic lanes, building pedestrian bridges and removing pedestrian crosswalks to speed up traffic are not the answers that residents or local businesses are seeking. 

Another death, surely due to excessive speed on West Coast Highway, occurred just last week.

The housing element has a council-appointed committee that is solely focused on finding landowners who are willing to rezone their property for high-density housing where 95 percent are market rate apartments and 5 percent are very low-income apartments. Last Tuesday’s approval of the 4400 Von Karmen project proves this argument. Without government subsidy landowners can only make this work at this 5 percent ratio.

Newport Beach residents do not want 48,000 new apartments to meet the state mandate of 2,400 low to very low-income units. Yet that is the strategy being advanced. The 2,400 figure is roughly half the state requirement for 4,834 total but we can probably meet the higher income 2,400 number without changing anything. This should be the biggest issue in Newport Beach.

Unfortunately, everyone is focused on staying alive and getting their kids back to school. I understand.

Under previous laws the state is forcing cities to allow Accessory Dwelling Units, or ADUs, and Junior Accessory Dwelling, or JADUs, on nearly every residential property in Newport Beach. The state laws that allow this have been in effect for only a few years. There is little permitted track record in Newport Beach, but they are taking off in many areas of the state. 

The former Coronado apartments at 880 Irvine Ave. between Sherington Place and 15th Street have 10 units permitted so far. And this is already a notoriously under-parked project.

I am not advocating for more ADUs, but I believe they are inevitable in many neighborhoods. According to the state Housing & Community Development Department ADU handbook dated September 2020, they are required to be considered to meet the Newport Beach RHNA allocation. Yet our city staff rejects the notion of using them to meet the bulk, if not all, of this mandate. 

Advantages of this approach include spreading the additional units all over the city, existing housing is already served by local services, residents and not outside developers will likely benefit from building these on their own property and getting credit towards our RHNA mandate for something that will happen anyway. And there won’t be 95 percent market rate apartments to support 5 percent affordable units. Staff continues to argue that this approach will not work but I cannot find any documentation from HCD supporting that argument. 

Mayor Avery and City Council, please direct staff to fully explore this approach. You may find some success following the current approach, but you will only comply by zoning for 48,000 new apartments in Newport Beach. That will get the residents’ attention. 

I urge you to write to the City Council and advocate this approach. This will be discussed at the February 9th City Council study Session.

Charles Klobe

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

Votes to approve car wash are running on empty

On behalf of the Canyon Mesa community in Big Canyon, we would like to express our gratitude to Mayor Avery, Councilpersons Muldoon and Duffy, Councilpersons Dixon and Brenner for the courageous stance they took at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, in listening to the people and voting No on the proposed General Plan Amendment to allow a car wash to be added to the already over-utilized Shell Station at 1600 Jamboree Road. 

Mr. O’Neill tried his best three different times to intimidate the other members of the Council, by saying there was no basis to deny the application and that it complied with all zoning ordinances and that the applicant’s sound study proved there would be no noise impact from the car wash. 

The project doesn’t comply with all city ordinances in that it cannot fit on the property without a reduction of 50 percent in the required setback, which would mean building it 15 feet closer to our properties, which didn’t seem to even register with Mr. O’Neill or our newly elected Councilman in District 5, Mr. Blom. 

While I understand Councilperson Blom represents both the residents and businesses in his District, he did not serve the residents of Big Canyon well on his first vote in his district. 

Contrary to what Mr. Blom indicated in his comments Tuesday night, this project does not comply with all the City ordinances. Perhaps over time he will better learn the rules? 

I trust that in the future Councilperson Blom will be able to review the needs of the residents in his District with a greater perspective. 

Gerald A. Giannini 

Treasurer, Director

Big Canyon Community Association

Treasurer, Director 

Canyon Mesa Community Association

Shell site is overbuilt and not deserving of variance

For the past five years the owner of the Shell gas station on Jamboree and San Joaquin has fought to build a car wash on an already overbuilt site. This owner of 14 gas stations has sought variance after variance to expand his gas bays and mini market on an already overdeveloped corner. Now he wants a car wash.

Tuesday night, the majority of the City Council sided with the adversely impacted residents of a neighborhood 500 feet away. Kudos and thanks to Duffield, Brenner, Dixon, Avery and Muldoon who clearly understand the impact on our community.

As for O’Neill…he might as well have been carrying Rosansky’s jacket. Three separate times he informed the council that there was no basis for denial. Really? 

The gas station owner was requiring a 50 percent reduction in the setback and a change to the General Plan!

And Mr. Blom, new to the Council, met with the homeowners and was very sympathetic to their plight and then voted FOR the variance. Nice going Blom, but not a good way to impress your new constituents. 

O’Neill and Blom forget they are in Newport Beach and not in the swamp of D.C. Thanks to the Fab 5 on the City Council, residents are still heard in Newport.

Assemblywoman Marilyn Brewer, ret.

Newport Beach

With patience, and some understanding, the Othena vaccination experience worked

We first heard about Othena several weeks ago. This was before we had heard (anything) about the app. We tried setting up accounts from separate iPads using Safari but were not able to. We then tried creating accounts on separate PCs by going to the Othena website using Microsoft Edge and were able to create accounts easily. However, we did not receive any confirmation email from this action.

A week or more later, I read about the Othena app on social media. We both downloaded the app to separate iPhones and iPads. Using a different email address for both of us, we created new accounts on the app. We each received confirmation emails to the second email addresses. 

More time went by with fruitless logins trying to set up an appointment without any luck. I was at a city meeting where Second District staff person Tim Whitacre spoke representing the County and he gave out a phone number to call for help. I called the number and got a person fairly quickly. The person said I would receive an email when my place in line was ready. They also suggested that I watch my junk email and if the app or online login asked to change the password that I do it. 

About 8:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 22, Charles, my partner, received an email to the first email address from Othena. It said he could log on and make an appointment. I was furious (ha, ha) with him for getting the email first. He logged in successfully from a PC and was given the choice of Disneyland or Soka University. He chose Disneyland at 10:30 a.m. the next day (Saturday, Jan. 23).

For the next 15 minutes his life was hell because I was fuming about being left out of the vaccination experience! Fifteen minutes later, at 8:45 p.m., I, too, received the same Othena email notification. I logged in and I was given the same venue choices and the first available time of 10:45 a.m., also for the next day. The household returned to normal.

Following that, our experience arriving, standing in the rain, and the procedure was great. By the time we left the waiting area, post vaccination, we both had email on our phones from Othena for a follow-up appointment for the second dose. 

If I were to guess I would say that the app took qualified folks in the order they signed up. 

I hope this helps give folks some hope. Othena seems to be a frustrating experience, but in our case, it worked out with a little patience, which is not easy to come by these days, at least for me. 

Nancy Scarbrough

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

More COVID vaccine info and update on Othena

The Othena setup is clearly the worst ever!

After previously sending an email to describe that the www.Othena.com site is now just putting people on a waitlist and will email them when their turn comes, I have just learned that is only half true.

They still email you when your turn comes (I have a friend who got such an email), but if you download the app to your phone or iPad, you can still search for appointments (something you can’t do on the computer). Go figure!

The odd thing was that when I opened the app the first time, it made me change my password. I just re-entered my old password and it accepted that.

The other frustrating thing about the Othena site is that my mother was told that she would get an email when it was time to schedule her second shot. This never showed up in her inbox or on the computer website, but when I went to the iPad app, she already had an appointment. Not sure how she would have known that if I had only used the computer?

UCI has opened up their vaccine appointments and they are booked through https://vaccine.ucihealth.org

When they have appointments available, there will be a link on that site to make an appointment. If they don’t have any vaccines, it just says that they will open up more appointments when doses are available. 

According to one source, you have to be a UCI patient, but I have another friend who just created a login and booked his mother, and it didn’t require any UCI specific information. It appears that they open appointments around 8 a.m. (or they did on Thursday). 

If you are a patient at UCI and have a patient portal, you may get a message of the days that the vaccines are available (my friend had this).

www.Vaccinateca.com is a site that tries to show who and where vaccines are being given across the state. It is clearly not up to date for OC since they only list the Othena site, but over time it may become more populated.

Pavilions will be giving the vaccine and you can sign up at www.pavilions.com/pharmacy/covid-19.html to get notified when they have it.

Hoag is starting up vaccines and on Nextdoor this was posted: “Hoag will be scheduling vaccination appointments through our patient portal, Hoag Connect MyChart.” 

Happy hunting to one and all!

Susan Skinner, M.D.

Newport Beach

Preserving and protecting our public parks

The unfolding of the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the worst global public health crisis in recent history, has caused unprecedented medical, social and economic upheaval across Orange County, as well as inflicted profound psychological pain on many individuals and families. The rapid spread of this highly contagious disease has resulted in a host of mental health consequences. The wide adoption of restrictive measures has inevitably resulted in psychological and financial costs that will have long-term psychological impacts.

The significance of Newport’s public parks has given both guests and residents promising means to enjoy the sunrises and sunsets, celebrate birthdays and anniversaries and has allowed for a healthy community environment, accessible to all citizens at no cost. 

During these times, parks and recreational settings have influenced public health by improving moods, reducing perceived stress and enhancing a sense of wellness, and are associated with the presence of enjoyable scenery. 

Park facilities and services offer various opportunities to fulfill individual, social, economic and environmental benefits. These parks have been able to facilitate community cohesion and have played a larger role with “social capital” by providing a meeting place where people can maintain their “social ties,” while maintaining “social distancing.”

On January 21, the Planning Commission, acting in the best interest of the public, postponed the 2510 PCH project; this project would have completely annihilated public views from several public parks in Newport Heights. 

While the General Plan and Local Coastal Program protect our parks, bluffs and sensitive coastal resources, we need to make sure our elected officials protect these resources for generations to come.

We need to reach out to our elected officials to express to City Staff that poor transparency is bad for the entire project, from stakeholders, to the developer and to the surrounding communities. When transparency is integrated into the development process, it will yield better results, thus, leading to a better project.

At this time, the City Council should make certain that policy should err on the side of preservation by protecting our public parks, which should be considered the fundamental fabric to our health and well-being. 

Peggy V. Palmer 

Newport Beach


Guest Letter

Casey Reitz

President 

Segerstrom Center for the Arts

An update on Segerstrom Center for the Arts

Dear friends,

I am very proud to announce that the Center has engaged in an exciting new dance project with our colleagues and friends at American Ballet Theatre. In February, ABT will arrive in Orange County to complete and unveil a program of new and classic works in Segerstrom Hall. ABT will perform works by three innovative choreographers, each with unique visions for the future of ballet: Jessica Lang, Lauren Lovette and Darrell Grand Moultrie. Ms. Lovette’s work is titled La Folia Variations and is performed to music by Francesco Geminiani. It is filled with poetry, wit, nuance and power. Ms. Lang’s piece is Let Me Sing Forevermore, with songs sung by Tony Bennett. It is a celebration of the Company and showcases the dancers’ charm and talent in ways we don’t always see. Mr. Moultrie is choreographing Indestructible Light. He has selected music by Duke Ellington, County Basie, Neal Hefti and Billy Strayhorn. He worked with the Company this fall in a quarantined bubble at PS 21 in Chatham, New York, creating a joyous symbol of the resilience of the arts despite what feels like impossible odds. It is a message that is timely and timeless. The program will end with a classic pas de deux, a tribute to the history and legacy of dance.

Guest Letter Casey Reitz

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Doug Gifford

Casey Reitz

As you can imagine, this is not a simple project, and it is requiring the combined resources and experience of both the Center and ABT to accomplish it during this period of quarantine. The choreographers, dancers and ABT artistic staff will create their own bubble, isolating themselves at the Avenue of the Arts Hotel across the street from the Center, venturing out only to our studios and Segerstrom Hall for rehearsals and performances. The hotel, our Hospitality Sponsor, will provide lodging and meals, helping to make this incredible undertaking concept possible. There will be strict, daily testing and extremely restricted access to the Center throughout their residency. This production will be made possible to be streamed in the comfort of your home. We will share behind-the-scenes updates with you so we can all participate in this remarkable project and its process from start to finish.

If we have confirmed one thing during this terrible time of COVID-19, it is the resilience and dedication of the arts and artists. There are countless stories of artists taking to the streets, drive-ins, the balconies of their apartments and live streaming and recording performances for their websites – all to share their music, voices and dancing with others in safe and respectful ways. Technology and science, broadcasting and web-based platforms have helped us to reach audiences who are isolated. I want to acknowledge, too, the Center’s Board, staff and colleagues across the country who engaged with engineers and industrial hygiene companies to assemble a comprehensive set of protocols and safety measures. We have met and, in many cases, exceeded public health advice. We are prepared to reopen our venues and public performance spaces as soon as we receive word.

Dance. It is central to our history as well, so it is fitting that it will be the first genre to be performed live in our halls. In addition to the Center’s internationally recognized dance series, we are proud of the opportunities offered by our American Ballet Theatre William J. Gillespie School and our Studio D: Arts School for All Abilities. We are grateful to the many generous donors who have funded these programs that have added such prestige to the Center and enriched the artform today and for future generations. Our gratitude is extended to the Avenue of the Arts Hotel for its tremendous assistance and help with this current collaboration with ABT. I also thank Bank of America, which has underwritten our IMAGINE THAT! program presented through the Center’s Community Engagement Department. Their gift made it possible for us to offer classes to many new students who might not have been able to participate.

And I thank all of you in our Center Family who are supporting us and offering your much-appreciated encouragement during this critical period. You believe as we do and as Ms. Lovette, Ms. Lang and Mr. Moultrie are expressing so beautifully – the arts are indestructible.

With all best wishes,

Casey Reitz


Guest Letter

Robert T. Braithwaite

President & CEO

Hoag

Hoag is dedicated to providing compassionate care as vaccines become more widely available in the days ahead

Dear Neighbors, 

I wanted to connect again and share the latest news regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Over the past four weeks, we have been vaccinating health care workers and medical staff – the dedicated teams who continue to provide compassionate care to all who seek it. There is great hope in this stage of the pandemic journey, and we will build on this hope as vaccines become more widely available. 

Guest Letter Robert Braithwaite

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Hoag Hospital

Robert T. Braithwaite

We welcome the expansion of county and state guidelines that have allowed Hoag to plan and prepare for dedicated vaccine clinics for patients 65 and older in the coming weeks. We are strictly following the prioritization and distribution guidelines set by the Orange County Health Care Agency (OCHCA). While we have not yet received vaccine supplies from the County to begin offering appointments to eligible patients, we are ready to move quickly when they arrive. 

In the meantime, we encourage you to find out if you are eligible to receive vaccinations through the County by registering on Othena. This is another avenue to pursue while we await vaccine inventory at Hoag. To learn more about eligibility, please read the Orange County Health Care Agency’s distribution guidelines.

Whether you have received a vaccine, or you are awaiting your turn, I ask that you please continue wearing masks, staying home, washing hands and practicing social distancing. We all need to commit to these measures for the greater good. 

As is the case across the country and in our own community, vaccine demand is high. There are many more individuals interested in receiving the vaccine than the vaccine supply currently permits. I will continue to provide additional updates as we learn more about vaccine availability and local resources. 

As always, I appreciate your patience and support as we navigate through these difficult days together. Thank you and stay safe.


Letters to the Editor

Ideas to change the world with COVID moving forward

Thoughts on moving forward in the time of COVID:

1) Test the population for immunity – many people have had it and don’t know. Why waste a vaccine on a person who does not need it? Why self-quarantine after exposure to a person who has COVID if you have immunity?

2) Test those given the vaccine to confirm immunity. 

3) Provide those with immunity with a proof of immunity verification.

4) Start allowing normal life for those who have immunity. I am tired of wearing a mask and eating outdoors, not having a social life or being able to enjoy leisure activities, not to mention the toll on our economy by keeping people home, out of work and not spending money in the world economy.

5) Companies should allow employees who can prove immunity to come back to work. Service workers who can prove immunity should be given a temporary pay raise subsidized by the U.S. Government. If we are paying people to not work, why not incentivize those who want to and who can safely work with the public? 

6) Colleges and K-12 should test for immunity and allow those students and teachers back in the classroom.

7) Open up leisure and vacation areas to people who can prove immunity. There are 94 million confirmed cases in the world, 35 million vaccinations administered worldwide – that is a lot of consumer spending that is untapped in the leisure and vacation market. What a way to spur the economy!

The U.S. Government health organizations, the media, etc. will not come out and say you cannot get reinfected, but there are only 33 known cases in the world of people who have been reinfected, out of 94 million confirmed cases. Need I say more? You can look at this data at the link here.

You can help people by donating blood, platelets and plasma with the Red Cross and as a bonus, the Red Cross will test your blood for COVID-19 and for immunity to COVID. It only costs your time for the blood donation and if you download the Red Cross application on your phone you will have verifiable proof of your immunity. You can schedule an appointment at www.redcrossblood.org/give.html/find-drive or call 1.800.RED CROSSat 1.800.733.2767.

Lauri Preedge

Newport Beach

COVID vaccines at UCI move smoothly, but it doesn’t erase politicians’ lack of concern

Sunday afternoon and my wife and I have just returned from UCI’s Bren Events Center, where we received the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19. It was a very well organized and orderly process. There was free parking in the nearby parking structure. As we exited our vehicle, I noticed a Muslim couple kneeling on their prayer rug next to their car – a solemn reminder that we all need to pray for the end of this plague. On the second level, lines had been set up and marked with appointment times every 10 minutes throughout the day. My guess is that there were perhaps 50 people in each line, suggesting that 2,000 to 3,000 people received vaccinations that day – a mixture of races and ages, some in wheelchairs. After verifying our appointment, checking our temperatures and affirming that we were voluntarily accepting the vaccination, we moved to one of many small tables where a medical technician quickly and painlessly administered the vaccine. 

From there, we went to an outdoor area for a 15-minute wait to ensure no allergic reaction. As far as we could tell, no one had any adverse effects. While waiting, we struck up a conversation with a student nurse named Shelby Lee. Shelby told me that all the student nurses (and there were dozens of them) were working as unpaid volunteers. They had received their own vaccinations about a week previously. All told, UCI had hundreds of staff working there to guide and otherwise assist all of the patients. Seeing the dedication of these young students donating their time on a weekend to help protect the elderly members of our community profoundly impressed me. 

It contrasted vividly with the sickness and death that has resulted from the neglect of our salaried political leaders, who prioritized their political beliefs and careers over the welfare of the constituents. There is no need to name the mayors, ex-mayors, county supervisors and others who sued the governor, fought against common sense restrictions, and refused to take any actions to encourage social distancing and wearing of masks in the community, all on the grounds that such actions would “infringe personal liberties.” These misguided policies have contributed to 3,000 cases of COVID-19 in Newport Beach, over 125 cases on the Peninsula alone, and nearly 40 deaths. 

This will be their legacy. We will remember them not for any good works they might have done in the city, but for the sickness and death they failed to address.

Craig B. Smith

Newport Beach

Concern for short notice on Mariner’s Mile project

 In my opinion, being a responsible developer also means being a good neighbor to the surrounding communities along the 1.3-mile scenic corridor known as Mariner’s Mile. This area is surrounded by the neighborhoods of Bayshores, Lido Isle, Newport Heights and Cliff Haven. Mariner’s Mile is the main street that connects all of these special villages.

To ensure transparency and to build relationships with community members, an open and honest dialogue needs to take place. Developers should start a conversation and strengthen community relations early in the process by integrating themselves into the neighborhood and seeking input from residents and community associations, community leaders and municipal government officials. Developers can leave a positive mark on the community. It involves connecting with local people, municipalities and neighboring businesses to add value to the area. 

The newly proposed 2510 PCH Development and its developer are proceeding in a haphazard manner with a disarray of apartments, car showroom, requesting height variances that will impact significant views from a public park, as well as giving less than a seven-day notification to the surrounding neighbors. 

It appears that City Staff has grossly been an enabler, as the 2510 PCH plans were not on the City’s website; eventually the project plans were obtained by a concerned citizen. The Planning Commission meeting notification was electronically emailed out Saturday at 6:30 a.m. on January 16 and with Monday being a holiday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., it means concerned citizens have less than 48 hours to repudiate this project, which will be heard this Thursday on January 21, at 6:30 p.m. 

Thirty-two apartments plus three low-income, for a total of 35 apartments, and one expensive car showroom whilst violating priceless public views, what could any responsible resident possibly wish for along this scenic corridor along Mariner’s Mile?

If this is a preview of how this particular developer and City Staff will covertly move forward with the upcoming Newport Village project, we as citizens must continue to be vigilant. These nonsensical projects will have the potential to alter our neighborhoods forever; it is obvious that we need to be very concerned about the process and further demand transparency from our elected officials. 

Peggy V. Palmer

Newport Beach 

What’s the rush? Let’s work together and get it right

Notwithstanding the pandemic, why are Public Notice requirements not being properly followed prior to the January 21 Planning Commission Public Hearing for 2510 PCH Project?

A Limited Public Notice was sent out on January 16. Monday, Jan. 18 is the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday, Wednesday, Jan. 20 is the Presidential Inauguration, Thursday is the Planning Commission hearing. The City Council and the Planning Commission must postpone the public hearing for 2510 PCH Project!

Mariner’s Mile is an indispensable seaside center linking the Peninsula, Lido Island, Lido Marina Village, Mariner’s Mile, Balboa Island and Corona del Mar villages and neighborhoods. Its significance and impact must not be undervalued. The full scope of the Newport Village Development Proposal, including the 2510 PCH Project, must meet community expectations and environmental requirements before approval. Working together, let’s get it right.

The full scope of the Newport Village Project’s land use represents about one-third of Mariner’s Mile and will forever determine the future destiny of Mariner’s Mile. The full size and significance of the Newport Village Development, including the 2510 PCH Project, demands a thorough evaluation and must follow the normal process with all the checks, balances and safeguards, and not be rushed through on a piecemeal basis.

Let’s slow down and do it right by allowing all stakeholders to provide their perspectives. This will assure that the City’s General Plan vision, goals and objectives will be achieved and will prevent a long-lasting adverse impact. What is now occurring is clearly unacceptable and inconsistent with the intent of the General Plan and the Newport Beach community’s expectations. Let’s work together to optimize the outcome and maximize the benefits.

Before such significant investments, the City’s stewardship must build a community consensus among stakeholders and a clear vision of what Mariner’s Mile can become to guide the transformation. For such a substantial and consequential development project, a wide and comprehensive public notice is the first step for developing a community consensus. The General Plan process is intended to facilitate and shape the future of Newport Beach and Mariner’s Mile. 

Patrick Gormley, Former President

Bayshores Community Association

Newport Beach

Candidate Foley brings an energy and list of accomplishments to her Supervisor run

In 2018, Orange County elected a group of leaders who brought a new positive people and goal-oriented philosophy to Congress and the California Assembly. 

Now those of us who live in District 2 are going to get the opportunity to elect a like-minded individual to the County Board of Supervisors. Katrina Foley, the first elected Mayor of Costa Mesa, is running for that position (that was vacated by Michelle Steel) against a field of three other candidates. 

Just as representatives Katie Porter, Gil Cisneros, Harley Rouda and Cottie Petrie-Norris brought fresh new ideas and enthusiasm to their newly elected positions in 2018 to counter the stale politics of “no new taxes” and Republican domination at all costs, Katrina is running to bring the same spirit to the Orange County Board of Supervisors.

The negative role that the Board of Supervisors played during the pandemic should speak to those of us who disliked that they initially did nothing to help people and businesses in the County prepare for the devastating loss of lives and businesses.

Similarly, in other city councils surrounding Costa Mesa, rarely was the loss of lives to the pandemic ever emphasized. Katrina Foley, in contrast, sought to help the community by requiring masks and attempting to enforce the mask rule, which was a difficult task, when the surrounding cities and the BOS refused to do the same. The Board needs someone of Katrina’s positive philosophy to make it pertinent again.

Katrina had an amazing list of achievements even before she became Mayor. As a mother and practicing attorney, Katrina took time out of her busy life to serve on the Newport-Mesa School Board where she advocated for college affordability and job training. She also served on the boards of several local nonprofits and commissions. In law school she established the school’s first women’s law resource center.

Katrina’s list of awards is lengthy also, including being in the top 100 most influential leaders in the Orange County Register, Daily Pilot and LA Style Magazine, to name a few.

Although Harley Rouda and Gil Cisneros lost their seats in the 2020 election, most likely Harley will be back to champion the same causes as Katrina – Housing and Homelessness, Education and Job Training and the Environment and the Future.

Each time we elect one of these outstanding, energetic, people-oriented candidates, the closer we come to enlightening and aiding people and small businesses in Orange County.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach


Letter to the Editor

Time to turn the corner and make our nation better

I appreciate your newsletter’s focus on local happenings, particularly the reports from City Hall and the notes on local history. I also respect your readers’ desire to keep the spotlight here at home, but in the light of the several letters published in Tuesday’s news I believe that someone who sees things differently needs to respond.

I know many people in Newport Beach are conservative Republicans who have supported Donald Trump, but there are a lot of us out here who have been alarmed by his actions and have tried to explain our point of view. It all started for me with the chants of “Lock her up” at his campaign rallies. This was not a criminal he was referring to, but a former First Lady, U.S. Senator and Secretary of State, someone who has never been indicted for a crime but has been demonized and reviled by Republicans for years. 

In addition to his delight in the adulation of his crowds, many of us have objected to his mishandling of the pandemic, his weakening of environmental standards, his cozying up to Putin (disputing our own intelligence services about Russia’s attempts to skew our elections), demonizing his enemies and the press, enacting sanctions against states that have opposed him – the list goes on and on. 

Trump takes everything personally and only is president to those who support him unconditionally. To claim that his election has always been disputed and that Democrats have tried to remove him from office since the beginning of his term is not true. Haven’t we had enough lies? See where they lead us? I hope there is no one left that thinks Trump really won the election. Courts in all contested states, even those with leaders that support Trump, have thrown out claims that the election was flawed. 

Joe Biden is the legitimate President-elect. Trump’s refusal to acknowledge that fact has and will lead to chaos in this country. You could say that those of us who have always been critical of him could see what was coming. 

Yes, Trump was impeached after he threatened the President of Ukraine that his country would lose U.S. support unless he dug up dirt on Joe Biden and his son. This is on tape, so we know it is true. We also know that Trump called Georgia authorities at least twice, urging them to find votes and declare him the winner. 

To claim that storming the Capitol and attempting to stop legislators from performing their legitimate duties is equivalent with Black Lives Matter protests is also a lie. Yes, there has been property damage, but nothing as dangerous and anti-American as threatening duly elected representatives in the seat of American government. These hooligans were carrying clubs and loaded weapons. What was their aim? President Trump asked them to win back the government for him. He promised to lead them up Pennsylvania Avenue, but that, too, was a lie.

Letters that make excuses for Trump and his radical supporters only serve to perpetuate the misinformation that led to Wednesday’s tragic events. Please, no more lies. Let’s turn the corner and do our best to make this nation a better place for all people. 

Barbara De Groot

Corona del Mar


Guest Letter

Robert T. Braithwaite

President & CEO

Hoag

Vaccine rollout approved for people aged 65+

Dear Neighbors, 

I am writing to let you know about an important update to the county’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout. 

The Orange County Health Care Agency (OCHCA) has now approved vaccinations for people aged 65+, which is an important milestone in the fight against COVID-19. 

Guest Column Robert Braithwaite

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Hoag Hospital

Robert T. Braithwaite

We are working quickly to establish dedicated locations to safely provide vaccines for our community, and to obtain the inventory needed to begin inviting eligible patients to schedule vaccine appointments. 

While we know some things such as vaccine inventory are out of our control, we are committed to keeping you informed and updated along the way as to when and how you and your family members can receive COVID-19 vaccinations from Hoag and other county resources. 

I encourage you to visit OCHCA’s Vaccine Distribution site for detailed information. 

In addition, you can visit Hoag’s COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for additional information and resources. 

The coming days and weeks will require patience from us all as we navigate this quickly evolving news. Through it all, we are here to serve as your partners and trusted resource. 

In the meantime, please continue wearing masks, staying home, washing hands and practicing social distancing. Your vigilant support helps lower cases in the community and allows us to better manage this devastating disease. 

We have been in this together from the beginning, and Hoag will be here with you until this chapter comes to an end.

Sincerely,

Robert T. Braithwaite

President and Chief Executive Officer


Letters to the Editor

The rhetoric needs to be toned down on both sides

What happened in Washington D.C. on Wednesday was abhorrent and needs to be condemned by everyone in the strongest possible terms, as does the key role that President Trump played in stirring up the rioters to march on the nation’s Congressional building. What he did was inexcusable. But if that is all we take away from what happened on Wednesday, then I think we are missing the context in which this riot took place and the lessons that we might take away from this scary event in our nation’s Capitol.

Since the day that President Trump took office, the opposing political party has tried every conceivable way to remove him; therefore, is it any wonder that millions and millions of his supporters felt there was major fraud in the Presidential election? Consider for a moment that lawyers for the Democratic Party filed over 380 lawsuits against states in the last 18 months to remove voting safeguards that were in place to ensure honest elections (voter ID, signature verifications, timely mailed ballots, ballot harvesting, ballots mailed to every name on the election rolls, etc.). Combined with the huge push for people to vote by mail, this helped to set the stage for legitimate questions about the honesty of the elections in key states, some of which were very closely contested. 

Undoubtedly the disturbing general trend in the past few years of not holding people accountable for their illegal actions factored into the Washington D.C. events. Sanctuary sites allow people in this country illegally to commit crimes and then not be held accountable through prosecution or deportation. For months this summer there were illegal riots in many cities where police were attacked, police cars and government buildings were set on fire, public property was confiscated by rioters, private property was damaged or burned and law-abiding people attacked and hurt. After a few arrests, the rioters were back on the streets the next day. All the while, the media portrayed this thug behavior as understandable because it was done in the name of a good cause – social justice. 

The rhetoric from elected members of Congress, state and local governments from both parties just added stress to a nation seeking answers but getting division instead. Undoubtedly President Trump lighted the match that set off Wednesday’s riot, but there are lots of us guilty of contributing to building the bonfire piece by piece. I believe one of the lessons to be learned from all of this is that demonizing anyone, or any political party or those party’s followers adds to the “us versus them” mentality that is so destructive in political discourse, as in personal relationships. The media has a huge role to play here. Politicians are forever telling us that “we need to have a national discourse” on certain issues, but that never takes place because they themselves are unwilling to listen to the other side and try to see issues in the way that opposing viewers do. Open-minded political discourse seems to be dead among our politicians and our media outlets.

In conclusion, a big lesson to be learned is that many, many people contributed to set the stage for the riot on Wednesday on both sides of the political spectrum and unless we tone down the rhetoric and seek to find some commonality with each other and the other political party, things will just get worse in this country and we will be doomed to repeat this tragic and inexcusable blight on our nation. To paraphrase from a beautiful song, “Let there be political peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”

Homer Bludau

Former City Manager

City of Newport Beach

There are reasons why we’ve gotten to this point

I have been a lifelong Republican, conservative, capitalist and law-and-order person and a proud third generation native of Orange County. More importantly, my patriotism and love for the USA runs deep and is unwavering!

That said, I voted for Donald Trump, not because of his personality, but because of what he stood for. I no longer support him as a person, which was difficult to do in the first place, and his recent rhetoric and actions have certainly been deplorable and despicable, to say the least and I’m sure that most, if not all of previous Trump supporters are in the same “camp” after what happened the other day. I personally think that he should take the “high road,” if that’s possible for the man, and resign, NOW!

I want to be clear, voting for Trump was NOT a vote for the person, it was a vote for what he and the majority of the Republican Party stand for. To name a few of these: capitalism, free enterprise, law and order, control of our borders, honest and true reporting by the press and online media, and free, transparent and honest control of the voting machine by the States, respect for a person’s property and their businesses.

Conversely, it is deplorable and inexcusable that the Democratic Party never saw fit to condemn the rioting and civil unrest that happened this past summer and that continues to go on in our cities today, among other un-American activities, until just a few days ago. I guess it suits them now. What’s more, the tearing down of monuments to our history, the BLM movement, which actually should be renamed the ALM movement, as in All Lives Matter, and don’t they, is equally concerning and unnecessary. Why do we rarely hear of the killings of non-blacks or the killings of blacks by blacks? Where has the respect for our police gone? And the list of these things goes on and on and on.

With the results of the election behind us, I’m afraid that our beloved Country is more at risk of collapsing than since the Civil War and hopefully, we won’t have another one of those. Hopefully, we can find a way to turn the coming tide of socialism, liberalism and the loss of our freedoms, as in the second amendment, away!

Hopefully, Trump will be gone soon and hopefully, we can begin to rebuild the ideals of the Republican Party based upon law and order, conservatism, freedom and love of Country, all of which are now at risk!

God Bless!

Charlie Foss

Newport Beach

Now is the time to reflect back on four years

You have a great site, and it provides relevant news to our community. Part of the nation’s problem is that the media gives credibility to anonymous sources. People leaking information, false information and opinions disguised as fact are little people that hide behind others and won’t stand up for their cause. Stew has no name, therefore no value.

Many citizens of Newport Beach are older veterans that served and saw action. After this Presidential election they get to see half the population voting for a Democrat march toward socialism. They are not deplorable.

Four years of constant attack on President Trump is not a theory. Four years of Democrat focus on their power rather than serving the American people is self-serving behavior. Exposing our corrupt leaders is not an attack on the institutions of democracy.

Stew is correct about one important thing. Now is the time for all of us to reflect on the last four years and continue to fight against socialism and the nameless cowards that promote it.

Doug Robinson

Newport Beach

The deck has been stacked against our President for four years

Dear Stew,

This will be a political mess if we don’t recognize that a Pigeon’s personality calls for Loyal, Honest and Friendly, but in the same overview of a Pigeon it also says that Pigeons need Direction, Guidance and Instruction, so here is your first lesson on instruction along with a few other comments. 

Stay out of politics and go back to eating seeds, fruits and plants like all your other political nuts. Your insight is short-necked and liberal. For months, movements have raised hell, protested at the cost of American lives, looted with no regard for business owners’ hard work, caused millions of hardships and insightful destruction of the American fabric and constitution. Trump may not be a politician, nor does he have a filter, but he has opened the eyes of America in a way that squarely places the use of power in the eyesight of the Republican watch. For four years we have endured lies, deceit and attempts by every means possible to eliminate his movement and him but as sad as the D.C. event is, and the loss of life unforgivable, so is every other event that has been supported as “ok” because you’re black, white or some other color. 

Use of every event as a means to gain power is in itself disgusting. Not placing America first is disgusting. Standing as a politician and insisting like Maxine Waters that we should get in their faces, yell at them at dinner, make them feel uncomfortable, be loud, abrupt and mean, seems to go without any resistance yet when it happens to them (politicians on the left), they shutter and run like animals, hide behind the guns most of them hate and behave cowardly like scared rats. Her comments along with other liberal movie and music moguls should be held responsible for the many deaths that occurred. 

If they would have allowed those peaceful protestors to speak and if they were prepared for the movement that they knew was approaching, none of this would have happened. So, where are the movements for the people who were shot at the capitol? Why is it politically we want to be right instead of all of us disgusted with the directions of our country? Why do we support and pay other countries to not hurt us and by doing this we destroy ourselves? Why is everything free to others but not our own “legal” citizens? Trump saved lives through his policies and strength. No one recognizes his accomplishments, that in the face of adversity and his stupid tweets he secured our borders and stopped radical terrorism physically, financial and economically. For the first time I can remember, conservatives are crying out. Because he woke up the sleeping giant. Stay on your perch Stew…Don’t step in your own poop.

As long as we allow our leadership to continue to separate our American freedoms, we will not have peace within. As long as we allow ourselves to accept that direction, we will be forever indebted to others. As long as we teach that everything is free, we will always lack industrial growth. What kind of country do you want to fly around Pigeon? Everyone gets a trophy? Everyone gets a car? Everyone gets a house? Keep America high on pot and some day they will wake up and the world will be a real sight to see the real Reality. Happy New Year. Let’s hope and pray for calm.

Tom Iovenitti

Newport Beach

This is what WE remember…

The last 4+ years, the Democrats have scorched the earth.

You have salted the fields and now you want to grow crops.

The problem is we have memories longer than a hamster.

We remember the protests the day of/after inauguration.

We remember the four years of personal attacks.

We remember “not our president” and the “Resistance…”

We remember being called racist and evil.

We remember Maxine Walters telling followers to harass Trump supporters in department stores and gas stations.

We remember the President’s press secretary being chased out of a restaurant.

We remember hundreds of Trump supporters being physically attacked.

We remember Trump supporters getting Doxed and fired from jobs.

We remember riots, and looting.

We remember a liberal “comedian” holding up the President’s severed head.

We remember a play in Central Park paid with public funding, showing the killing of President Trump.

We remember Robert de Niro yelling “F**k Trump” at the Tony’s and getting a standing ovation.

We remember Trump being accused of being a Russian spy and the media going with it.

We remember Nancy Pelosi tearing up the State of the Union Address.

We remember how totally in the tank the mainstream media was in opposition.

We remember the non-stop and live fact checking on our President and his supporters.

We remember non-stop, in-your-face lies and open cover-ups from the media.

We remember the partisan impeachment.

We remember the President and his staff being spied on.

We remember a Republican congressman shot on a ball field.

We remember every so-called comedy show turn into nothing but a Trump hate fest.

We remember 95 percent negative coverage in the news.

We remember the state governors asking for and getting everything they wanted to address COVID then blaming Trump.

We remember leftists threatening outside the homes of prominent Republicans.

We remember the attempted destruction of Brett Kavanaugh.

We remember people pounding on the Supreme Court doors.

We remember that we were called every name in the book for supporting President Trump.

We remember that many in Hollywood said they would leave after Trump was elected, but they stayed anyway.

Ron Yeo

Newport Beach

That narcissist Stew needs to “Man Up”

Your Friday article speaks of a “voice” dubbed Stew Pigeon who wants to share his/her thoughts about the chaos in America. It further states they can’t write what they want to say, and to openly sign their name would cause too much backlash, he/she are too “prominent” in the community!

Really? And you are buying this load of crap? Trump, at his heart may well be a narcissist, self-centered and conceited. Hmmm…most successful businessmen I know fit that description as well. You have to possess a certain amount of these qualities to achieve lofty goals.

Tell Stew he is not so great or so renowned in this community that he/she will encounter that kind of backlash. He/she sounds arrogant, narcissistic and self-serving. Why should his/her opinion count more than any other Newport Beach resident?

And he/she has the gall to call Trump a narcissist? Tell him/her to “Man up.”

The best advice I ever received was “stand for your principles and your principles will stand for you.” 

Maybe good ole Stew can learn something from that.

My sense is that you are being used by a local gutless wonder who wants a platform and forum to say what he/she lacks the courage to say publicly.

Again, I say tell Stew to…Man Up!

Sign me,

Ina Stew (Their anonymous request)


Letters to the Editor

Who deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom?

On Monday, Donald Trump announced he will be awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Republican lawmakers Devin Nunes and Jim Jordan. Also on Monday, Orange County learned about Phillip Ingram, a Hoag Hospital janitor who dreamed up a unique fundraising idea. His story was so inspiring, KNBC-TV in Los Angles aired a segment about him Tuesday evening. 

If you ask me, Mr. Ingram deserves the medal more than these two members of Congress. His motive to help others is selfless; being elected officials, their motives typically are, shall I say, far more self-serving.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

Editor’s note: The story on 38-year-old Ingram details a man who started from humble beginnings and who began collecting pennies from other people he came across in life. Those pennies totaled up to $1,400 which he then donated to the Boys & Girls Club.

His employer, Hoag Hospital, has now begun a payroll deduction plan for their 6,500 employees to further support Ingram’s efforts. The deductions begin at 50 cents and go up to $5.

2021 brings with it a feeling of hope

The “American Dream” was created by the hope and resiliency of hard-working people who persevered through the years with their blood, sweat and tears, determined to make a better life for themselves and their families.

We need to always remember not to lose our dream, as hope has no fear. It helps us to be strong when everything goes wrong. The year 2020 was tumultuous and devastating, to most everyone in the world, from our country to our community, most stricken with grief, strife and devastation. This new world is unknown to us and has created animosity, anxiety and unfamiliar sorrow amongst families and friends.

As we enter into the year 2021, perhaps hope is the gift of life and that we have a purpose to regenerate, reinvigorate as Americans; to always bear in mind the sacrifices and the lives that were lost protecting our freedom and that freedom is not free, nor will it ever be. 

This year should be a lesson to all of us, that life should not be taken for granted and that technology should not replace the human spirit and that good shall prevail. If we commit to memory where our ancestors came from and what they fought for in the beginning, we will comprehend and appreciate those small things that we may have overlooked in 2020.

It begins with each of us to be the best of what our country stands for and to educate and learn from our past. We need to recognize that each of us has an obligation to make our country and our community healthier. We must return to our core values and have a sense of trust, not in our government but in one another. 

Peggy V. Palmer

Newport Beach

Individual rights stop where another person’s rights begin 

After reading Tom Johnson’s Fair Game column about religious groups who are holding massive “maskless” rallies, in this case, specifically the ones of Sean Feucht’s who is coming to town at the end of the month, I felt motivated to write about this subject.

As an avid churchgoer in my youth and a believer in an omnipotent supreme power (and yes, I pray on a regular basis), I feel the necessity to disagree with those who would put others in harm’s way because of their purported personal religious beliefs. As a multicultural nation, we should not be allowing self-appointed religious groups to adopt practices that run counter to the established community health protocols currently in place for COVID or any other natural disaster. 

Thousands are dying, our nation is suffering economically, and we are arguing over the fact that we have to wear masks. It seems surreal. 

God gave us a brain to reason and to explore, not to stagnate and accept dogma from those who are anti-reason. The majority of people in America resent the mentality that questions the rational decisions of our health specialists and instead substitutes superstitious and selfish decisions that are causing innocent deaths and economic pain. And not only are some of the arguments that rebellious religious groups use anti-reason, but they may also be construed as anti-biblical as well.

I am not one to speak much about the Bible or any other religion in our non-sectarian culture, but if other people do, I like to be armed with factual information. In this case, the Bible has the following to say concerning what is construed as wise and foolish since these maskless groups are raising the issue. In the following verses you will find some biblical answers to the definition of wisdom: Proverbs 12:23, Proverbs 15:2 and Proverbs 15:7.

Not only are some people asserting what they believe are their religious rights over civil authority, at the expense of the majority, they are asserting what they believe are their basic first amendment rights as well. 

First of all, we do not have a pure democracy, we have a representative democracy. The only pure democracy that existed was in Greece, over 2,000 years ago. Because of the size of the U.S., we have a representative democracy or a republic. 

We have a plethora of personal rights, but our individual rights stop where another person’s rights begin. The classic example of this is the fact that you don’t have the right to yell fire in a crowded auditorium. But every day we are confronted with this concept of limited democracy when we drive, when we speak in front of an audience on our job, when we do not park in front of our neighbor’s driveway, when we do not park in a red zone, the list goes on and on. Some of these rights are explicit (such as seat belt use) and some are implied (parking in front of your neighbor’s walkway).

One of the roles of our government, both local and federal, is to ensure that no person be deprived of his/her freedom without just cause. Individuals who say they have a right to go “maskless” and not “social distance,” at the risk of infecting others with a deadly virus, are breaking not only a religious covenant but one with their fellow man. And they are making a mockery of religious freedom and democracy.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach


Guest Letter

Jodi P. Bole

Chair

Balboa Island Preservation Association

City designated “Special Trees,” are they really special?

The City of Newport Beach has designated just under 1,000 trees as Special Trees (out of 32,000 city trees). The national standard for determining what constitutes a Special Tree is typically by age, protective species, or trees that have historic significance, contribute to and give character to a location or to an entire neighborhood. To underscore the importance of Special Trees in Newport Beach, the previous City Urban Forestry staff created the G1 Tree Policy in 1996. Their goal was “all Special Trees shall be retained…” and that every possible mitigation and treatment effort should be considered before the removal of a Special Tree. 

With so much attention put into this policy by previous City staff, why has this policy not been followed in the last several years, and why is the City currently proposing to revise the G1 policy in ways that make our Special Trees more vulnerable to removal than ever before? 

Specifically, one of the most concerning revisions in the G1 Policy is that a Special Tree can be petitioned for removal by ANY person for ANY reason, and its removal could simply be personal preference with no proof of a condition-based reason to remove it. To add insult to injury, in almost every other City with protected trees, a permit applicant or petitioner pays to confirm there is a problem that warrants the tree to be removed; if removal is approved, the petitioner pays for the removal. But the proposed revision doesn’t require that the taxpayers of Newport Beach receive any evidence of a problem, yet they must pay for the removal of the tree to satisfy someone’s personal preference or agenda.        

In addition, the ability to remove a designated Special Tree without any concrete evidence of an issue undermines industry best practices by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), and puts both the community and Special Trees in a contentious and ongoing battle. After all, Special Trees were designated for a reason and they have earned the right to be protected. So, shouldn’t the process meet typical industry practices and the tree removal be as certain as possible?

Another concern in the proposed revisions is a new process flow chart that indicates, after the removal petition is Approved or Denied by the City, the City may provide “assessment” of the tree. To make a valid decision, shouldn’t assessments be conducted before considering the removal of a Special Tree? 

As in the case of Marine Ave. Special Trees, a proposed redevelopment of the area included the removal of all trees on Marine Ave., and it was rumored by a few of the redevelopment petitioners that the trees were diseased and dangerous and needed to be removed. Due to the angst of Balboa Island residents, proof of disease and risk was requested and conducted, and Marine Ave. trees were found not to be high risk. In fact, all assessment tests came back that the Special Trees were healthy and solid – even an odd growth found below some of the trees turned out to be beneficial fungus! And factor in that the scientific-based tests actually cost significantly less than removing all the mature trees and planting replacement trees, not to mention how closing the street for weeks on end would have impacted struggling merchants on Marine Ave. To think, the character and historical significance of Marine Ave., and our Special Trees, would have been lost forever if testing had not been conducted. 

The G1 Tree Policy clearly states that the community is a major stakeholder of the Special Trees, yet our community had very little involvement or input regarding the recently proposed policy revisions. The residents of Newport Beach have continually demonstrated they value their Special Trees and the benefits they provide. If the simple process for removal of a Special Tree is permitted, the City will undermine recent progress made and lose the trust of the community. The proposed revisions clearly threaten the value of our Special Trees and sanctions their unsupported removal. 

The Balboa Island Preservation Association’s mission statement is to protect Balboa Island’s historical uniqueness and to maintain the integrity and character of Marine Avenue, Balboa Island’s iconic “main street.” The Balboa Island Preservation Association is a community-led organization that aims to achieve their preservation mission for the enjoyment and benefit of Balboa Island residents, merchants, visitors and for future generations.


Guest Letter

Michelle Steel

Orange County Board of Supervisors

2nd District

It Has Been a Pleasure Serving on the Orange County Board of Supervisors

Michelle Steel will be retiring from her seat on the Orange County Board of Supervisors on January 3 to take office as the Representative for California’s 48th Congressional District. In her tenure representing the 2nd district at the Board of Supervisors, Chairwoman Steel has faced a number of challenges and implemented measures to better the lives of the people of the Orange County.

Guest Letter Michelle Steel

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of the Office of Michelle Steel

Michelle Steel, Member-elect of the U.S. House of Representatives, California’s 48th District

The following is a farewell statement from Chairwoman Steel:

It has been an honor to serve the people of the Second District for the last six years on the Orange County Board of Supervisors. In that time, I have had the privilege of serving as Chairwoman in 2017 and 2020. In my six years on the board, I have been faced with many challenges and have always looked to seek solutions for the people of Orange County.   

Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic was likely the biggest challenge I had to face during my time on the board, but my colleagues and I realized the severity of this crisis early and declared a state of emergency in February, before the state did. We quickly and effectively distributed CARES Act funding to cities so that small businesses could be assisted and worked closely with the Orange County Health Care Agency to make sure that Orange County’s healthcare system had everything it needed to face the health crisis. I am proud to know that in my last weeks as Chairwoman, the first COVID-19 vaccines were distributed to Orange County’s frontline healthcare workers.    

I have been dedicated to easing the burden for taxpayers, especially since we live in such a high tax state. One of my proudest moments was introducing a County charter amendment that would require a two thirds majority for any future special tax proposals.    

Modernization of our infrastructure was also a top priority of mine. In my first year on the board, I was happy that my colleagues joined me in expanding the permit process to allow ridesharing services like Uber, Lyft and Wingz to operate at John Wayne Airport, offering passengers more free market options.    

Ensuring that our senior citizens are always well taken care of was another major issue I wanted to focus on. Among other measures, I joined my colleagues in implementing the Senior Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Program, which provides transpiration to senior citizens for medical appointments and other health related trips.    

I also made it a priority to address the homelessness crisis in Orange County and voted for homeless assistance centers, such as the Yale Transitional Center in Santa Ana and the Cameron Lane Navigation Center in Huntington Beach.   

During my time on the board, I have also stood by law enforcement and opposing legislation that harms the safety of our communities. I led the county’s opposition to SB54, California’s “Sanctuary” law, and proposed a resolution to direct county counsel to take legal action against the state. During the anti-police riots in 2020, I introduced a law enforcement appreciation day and visited every police department in the second district to let them know that I stand with law enforcement, not violent looters.   

In the area of public health, I have always looked for ways to help the people of Orange County. One major accomplishment by the county that I was proud to be a part of was the Be Well OC mental services hub, which provides mental health support services to all Orange County residents.    

Veterans issues have also been a major priority of mine and I am proud to have been a part of expanding the Veteran’s Service Office, introduced the Disabled Veterans Business Enterprise and expanded the Veterans’ hiring preference policy, making Orange County the most veteran-friendly hiring county in California.    

I want to thank my colleagues, all the county departments, federal, state and local partners and of course, my hardworking staff, who, without them, I would not have been able to accomplish as much as I did. Thank you for these six wonderful years. I will miss the Board of Supervisors dearly, but my advocacy for the people of Orange County will continue to be my top priority as a Congresswoman. I wish you all a very Happy New Year. 

First elected to the Orange County Board of Supervisors in 2014, Michelle Steel represents the residents of the Second District, which includes Costa Mesa, Cypress, Huntington Beach, La Palma, Los Alamitos, Newport Beach, Seal Beach, Stanton, the unincorporated area of Rossmoor, and portions of Buena Park and Fountain Valley.


Letters to the Editor

When the sign says “No Dogs,” it means no dogs

I have lived in CDM for over 30+ years. On Sunday, it was the worst I have ever experienced on the trail. Seven groups on this narrow trail brought their dogs! They all act like they never saw the “NO DOG” sign, and two stated a (purported) lie that their dog was an emotional support dog, which if so, does not give them the right to walk their animal in a “Wildlife Protection Area.” Not to mention what a disservice to owners, many Veterans that do need an emotional support animal. 

Can you imagine if the public ignored the “NO SMOKING” sign?

The reason for no dogs is the stress level that it causes wildlife, and these selfless people think they can ignore the rules. Not to mention the lovely gifts that the dogs leave, but again, it’s not the animal owner’s backyard.

This year I had to call the police on a Pitbull owner who threatened to release the dog on me. Good reminder, it’s not the dog breed. It’s the owners! 

Diane Vogt

Corona del Mar

In the memory of my friend Ralphie, sign up for the Fire Medic Program

When I lived on the peninsula, my next-door neighbor was a vibrant young professional who loved to do two things, surf and go to church. Ralphie had an indelible smile and had a laugh that would make us giggle so hard that we would snort!

We referred to our little community on 28th Street as “the gang that couldn’t shoot straight.” We took care of each other, we watched out for each other and we considered each other as family.

As the winters slowly turned into summers, Ralphie stopped surfing and was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma (a type of cancer that forms in the bone marrow). We collectively took care of Ralphie and on several occasions we had to call the paramedics.

One sunny Saturday afternoon, I headed out for my walk, when I suddenly received a call from Ralphie. Picking up the phone, I could hear fear and panic in his voice. He cried, “Peggy hurry back home and take me to the hospital, I think that I have broken my arm.” 

I replied, “Ralphie, let me call the paramedics.” He begged, “Please no, I can’t afford it.” I did not understand at the time what he meant. Still, I was able to transport Ralphie in my car to Hoag where he underwent surgery to “pin” together his bones in his arm. 

As fall approached, we helped Ralphie return to Texas to be with his family, where he eventually succumbed to the disease.

Ironically, a paramedic moved into Ralphie’s little beach cottage. He informed me about the Fire Medic Program that is offered through the Newport Beach Fire Department. For a base fee of $60.00 per year, a membership will cover you and your family for unlimited paramedic services with no out-of-pocket expenses. There is also a Newport Beach Business Membership available too. 

I am appreciative that the Newport Beach Fire Department offers this service to its residents; I just wish I had known about it earlier for Ralphie. 

I encourage residents to learn more and to enroll in this program. Information on the Fire Medic Subscription Program can be found on the City’s website at www.newportbeachca.gov/government/departments/fire-department/emergency-medical-services-division/fire-medics-program or call 949.644.3383.

Peggy V. Palmer

Newport Beach


Guest Letter

Will O’Neill

Newport Beach City Councilmember

A Christmas message of “peace, hope and inclusiveness”

Saturday Night Live produced a segment this week that hilariously caricatured Christmas morning from a mom’s perspective. While her family bragged about gift after gift, the haggard mom tried to grin through her one gift – an on-sale robe – and an empty stocking put up for decorating purposes only.  Hopefully dads have seen this sketch and step up this year!

As any good comedian will tell us, every joke has some truth in it. And the truth of that sketch was to appreciate the gift of family more than the physical gifts under the tree or the attempted perfect Christmas morning.

Will O Neill

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of the City of Newport Beach

Newport Beach City Councilmember Will O’Neill

Not only is there a spiritual element to our connectiveness, research published recently shows that we literally crave social contact. As an article in Popular Science explained, “these cravings are driven by the same circuitry as addiction, the difference being that the latter is essentially a harmful biological and psychological attachment to a drug rather than a person.”

This biological circuitry may well help explain both the joys of being with family and the grief associated with losing a family member too. Any psychiatrist, hospital worker, or police officer can tell you that the highs are higher and the lows are lower during this holiday season.

And in a year like we have had, those lows really can bottom out. For some of us – including my family – we will have an empty spot around the tree this year. My dad has described losing someone close as having your back to the ocean. You can’t see the waves coming, and you may find a calm patch, but then a wave hits you. The Christmas holiday has the ability to bring on bigger waves.

For some – perhaps many – of you, this message will slip by because you’re in the midst of present opening and the second round of watching Ralphie nearly shoot his eye out.

For some, though, this message will resonate. And it is to you that I’ve written this message of peace, hope and inclusiveness. There may be a moment today where you feel alone. You aren’t. There may be a moment today where you feel like your pain is unique. Let me assure you clearly that you are unique, but your pain is not. People genuinely love you and are looking forward to celebrating a new year and beyond with you.

We are a connected people who crave social contact. From the O’Neill Family to you and yours, Merry Christmas!

Will O’Neill is a Newport Beach City Councilmember who served as mayor in 2020.


Letter to the Editor

Hospitals across the state tell the story

For all those deniers out there who think that the coronavirus is nothing but a bad flu, I suggest a certain field trip that might serve as a reality check. I suggest that you visit all the hospitals that you can in Southern California, the county as well as private hospitals, large as well as small, and see for yourself what is happening...shortages of space and medical personnel, patients waiting in ambulances for 8 hours in order to get a bed, hallways stacked with beds of people waiting to be seen by overworked doctors and nurses, many of whom are working outside their specialties, shortages of PPE, medical personnel who have to wear the same one-day mask for a week, nurses and doctors breaking down in tears as a result of watching their patients die, dying patients unable to see any loved ones at the end because of fear of contagion, people with cancer and painful conditions having their surgeries postponed because of the need of COVID beds, and even soon if not already, the terrible decision that doctors may have to make in prioritizing urgency...the sure loss of patients who could be saved if the hospitals were not in dire straits.

Don’t stop at the Orange County line, visit Los Angeles and San Bernardino also, or even Ventura County and the Bay Area. Everywhere you go, you will pretty much find the same circumstances; it is just a matter of time. 

Unfortunately, it seems that some people lack the ability to empathize, and some of those people only learn to do so when they or a loved one experience the harsh reality of a situation, even if the situation is not directly related.

It doesn’t seem to be a function of intelligence either. I have seen it in my own family coming from people who are normally kind and considerate. The reality of the pandemic just seems to be beyond some people’s comprehension level. 

The key to it all is empathy. If only we could develop a vaccine for that.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

Caution urged as COVID cases explode 

Newport Beach Councilmen Kevin Muldoon and Noah Blom led a protest against COVID restrictions as cases explode and overwhelm hospitals. I attended a virtual meeting this week discussing the planned protocols for allocating scarce medical resources, the most horrifying conversation of my medical career. If cases continue to climb, California will declare a state of medical emergency and hospitals will begin to triage who receives care. The more people blindly follow the likes of Mr. Muldoon and Mr. Blom, the more likely we will be to ration care. 

Choose wisely.

Susan Skinner, MD

Newport Beach

This is serious folks!

This is serious folks. The disease is real. Coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths are at an all-time high nationally and in California. If you have been lucky enough not to have caught the coronavirus up until now, this is the time to buckle down and redouble and triple your efforts to follow the health guidelines set down by the state and county health departments. 

Stay home unless you need to be out because you are an essential worker, need supplies or are exercising. Scrupulously wear a mask at all times in public and physically distance as much as you can. Wash your hands regularly. Only socialize with members of your own household and limit the size of your gatherings with other people. If you are exposed to someone with coronavirus or you have symptoms, get tested so you can avoid spreading it to others. If you are sick, isolate in your home. When you are eligible to receive the vaccine, get one.

And no, no one can force you to do these things. Do it to protect yourself and your family, friends, colleagues, co-workers, neighbors and those essential workers who are leaving their homes every day to keep our economy going by providing essential goods and services. We all can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Let’s not break down before we can all bask in that light.

Steven Rosansky, past mayor

City of Newport Beach

Whose rights should be protected first?

Recently, Superior Court Peter J. Wilson ordered a 50 percent reduction of the population in Orange County jails to protect incarcerated people from a COVID-19 outbreak. If the order stands, it could mean the release of more than 1,800 inmates. According to ACLU’s Daisy Ramirez, “This order recognizes that we must not forget the humanity of incarcerated people and they should not be put in mortal danger.”

Both Judge Wilson and the ACLU should consider that although prisoners do not have full constitutional rights, they are protected by the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and usual punishment and that testing “positive” should not lead to “panic” with a 98 percent survival rate. Perhaps both Wilson and Ramirez need to ask the question, “Is having flu-like symptoms more severe than the crime committed?” 

As Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes commented, “This order puts our community at substantial risk and does not take into account the impact on the victims of these crimes.”

American Civil Liberty Union President Susan Herman stated that the ACLU founders believed that everyone should have a right to liberty and justice. This should include the Saldana family who were innocently killed, while leaving their three children orphaned by the alleged murderer, Grace Coleman on December 9, 2020. Coleman’s first (alleged) offense was in August in Laguna Beach for a DUI that was still pending investigation by the Orange County District Attorney’s office at the time of her second offense.

Will the December 31st “New Year’s Eve” release of (possibly) Coleman, along with 1,799 potentially dangerous criminals, be made because we must protect those rights who have taken the rights of another person? 

Or shall the rights of convicted murderers, rapists and felons be restricted if they are outweighed by the interests of society?

We should collectively support our Sheriff, police and first responders, but most of all support the call for common sense.

Peggy V. Palmer

Newport Beach 

Tom Cruise had it right in yelling for masks

I have always spurned the advice and influence of Hollywood on cultural norms. But one actor in Hollywood, famously known for his independent behavior, seems to have found the perfect solution for communicating with COVID rules’ scofflaws. Tom Cruise recently had a “full-blown meltdown about crew members who were caught violating social distancing protocols” on the set of one of his movies. I have never been a fan of Tom Cruise or action movies, but after learning of his reaction, I am a “believer” if only in the context of this one outburst.

Efforts to get some people to follow these rules by repeating the same mantra over and over have so far not been effective. Our leaders, especially several of the local ones, are not only not trying to enforce these rules, but are instead flaunting their resistance to them to gain political capital. 

Tom Cruise got his workers to follow the rules by shouting at them. So because we are at a critical point in the pandemic, with each day’s contagion and mortality rates continuing to break barriers, shouldn’t we do as Tom Cruise did and yell at those who are not following the rules – if not physically then metaphorically?

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach


Guest Letter

Robert T. Braithwaite

President & CEO

Hoag

COVID-19 vaccine update

Dear Neighbors, 

Like many people around the country, I breathed a sigh of relief on Thursday when FDA advisors approved recommending emergency authorization for the first COVID-19 vaccine. Federal authorization could come within days, giving us the most powerful weapon yet against a pandemic that has already claimed the lives of 293,000 Americans. 

I know that there are many rumors circulating about the vaccine. I am writing to share my insights as the president and CEO of Orange County’s most trusted hospital – the hospital that successfully cared for the state’s first known patient with COVID-19. 

Guest Column Robert Braithwaite

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Hoag Hospital

Robert T. Braithwaite, President & CEO, Hoag Hospital

The vaccine is proven to be safe and effective. And it is our best chance at stopping the spread of disease, saving lives, and “getting back to normal.” I urge everyone to continue wearing their masks, washing their hands, and practicing social distancing until we can triumph over COVID-19. And I ask for everyone’s patience and trust as Hoag begins distributing the vaccine, which will likely start next week. 

The Orange County Health Care Agency is expected to receive and distribute 25,350 doses of the Pfizer vaccine (this) week. Hospitals will be asked to prioritize high-risk health care workers as part of the county’s phased rollout plan. Separately, long-term care facilities will work directly with national retail pharmacies to coordinate distribution of the vaccine to their residents. 

The phased rollout is well-defined and available here to review. While high-risk health care workers will be the first to receive the vaccine, that does not mean that all doctors and hospital staff will have priority access to the immunization. For instance, I, like my other non-clinical colleagues at Hoag, do not fall into Phase 1 and will not be receiving the vaccine right away. 

While we are experiencing a surge of COVID-19 cases in the state, we currently have capacity at both Hoag campuses, in Newport Beach and in Irvine. So, please, if you need urgent or emergency medical attention, do not delay seeking care. Our hospitals and urgent cares are safe, well-staffed, and committed to providing you compassionate and high-quality care. 

Please note that if a loved one is currently hospitalized at Hoag, our limited visitor policy is still in effect, but they are in caring and compassionate hands. Our gift shops have been temporarily closed for many months due to the limited visitor traffic, but we are making good use of the space for routine COVID-19 screenings for clinical staff. We will begin using other unused hospital spaces to prepare for staff vaccinations next week. This is a time for being flexible and adapting to change, and our health care facilities are no different. 

Again, our collective battle against COVID-19 is not over, and each of us needs to continue to do our part to stop the spread of the virus – stay at home as much as possible, wear a mask when out, and refrain from social gatherings. But the expected authorization of the vaccine is the news we have all been waiting for, and I feel grateful to be able to reach out to you with this update. 

This has been a challenging time for all of us, and I am proud and humbled to represent the Hoag family of medical and support staff professionals whose excellence and tirelessness continues to keep Orange County safe.

Wishing you a safe and healthy holiday season. 

Sincerely,

Robert T. Braithwaite

President and Chief Executive Officer


Guest Letter

Casey Reitz

President 

Segerstrom Center for the Arts

Thank you for your support of the arts

Dear Friends,

As we celebrate several of our most treasured holidays – Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa – I know that it is nearly impossible to avoid thinking about what we are missing this year. We’re all disappointed that our Nutcrackers, Messiahs, Holiday Pops, pageants and cherished cultural traditions have been put on hold.

Guest Letter Casey Reitz

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Doug Gifford

Courtesy of Segerstrom Center for the Arts

Casey Reitz, president, Segerstrom Center for the Arts

This month, we had our first glimpse, albeit brief, at the light at the end of this tunnel when we were able to open the Argyros Plaza for live performances and events. Comedian Louie Anderson, Movie Nights, yoga classes and our annual Holidays Around the World were big successes. It was such a joy to see people elated to be here, to hear laughter and applause. Today, we know that we are prepared to welcome you back and keep you safe once we’re given the word.

So, even though live performances are back on hold, the arts remain ever present. There are new and innovative live stream and virtual performances to enjoy. We can become more mindful and discover new colors, forms, textures, sounds and fragrances. We don’t need to wait for holidays or special occasions, our world is manifested to us through a breathtaking display of the arts.

All of us in the Center family – you, our patrons and donors, our artists and crews, our students, volunteers and staff – we share a passion for the arts, and it is one of our greatest pleasures to be (the) custodians. The Center takes this responsibility very seriously; we also know that the health, vitality and future of the arts depend on each of us. We all know the advantages that come with experiencing and participating in the arts starting at the earliest age. This is one reason the Center devotes significant resources to our education programs, community events, our ABT Gillespie School and Studio D: Arts School for All. Your generosity enables us to provide these programs to more than 300,000 young people and families each year.

As we look around this year at all the creative manifestations that the holidays inspire, I hope that you’ll join me in being especially mindful of the impact the arts make in our lives moment by moment. They are truly wonder-full.

And as you do, please remember how grateful we are for your support of the Center and the arts. We thrive because of you.

With deepest regards, 

Casey Reitz 

President


Letters to the Editor

When will “team” include all?

Politics in Newport Beach has become so tiresome. As expected, the members of “Team Newport” closed ranks Tuesday night to keep their members who are running for higher office in high-profile seats. 

A (purported) backroom deal got Kevin Muldoon selected as mayor pro tem. Joy Brenner had the courage to stand up to the team and nominate herself but was brushed off.

In addition to having a young family and a full-time job, Muldoon is running for the Orange County board of supervisors. He’ll be campaigning for that seat seven days a week through the special election in March. If he wins, he’ll leave the council. If he loses, he’ll start campaigning for 2022. Either way, he won’t be able to offer the steady leadership and presence our city needs in what’s going to be a challenging year.

Muldoon also served as mayor pro tem in 2016 then mayor in 2017, despite just having moved to Newport a few years prior. 

By contrast, Joy Brenner is a full-time council member, and made clear Tuesday night that she’d devote all her time to the city as mayor pro tem. She’s been serving Newport in various capacities for decades. But on the council, she’s never even been allowed to chair a major committee. 

Brenner deserved to be mayor pro tem next year. And her district deserved to have its representative in that seat. It’s been too long. 

These kinds of shenanigans discourage residents from participating in civic life. Why write emails and speak at council meetings when we know everything’s negotiated behind closed doors? And why run for council if we know we’ll be kept on the backbench forever if we’re not a Team Newport player? 

Maybe Joy Brenner should stop showing up to council meetings altogether. There’s only so much disrespect a person can take. Her colleagues would probably be relieved not to have to listen to any more talk about the importance of upholding traditions and putting the interests of the city over council members’ political careers. 

Jennifer McDonald

Newport Beach

The impact of 285,000 COVID deaths

If you are having trouble assessing the impact of 285,000 COVID-19 deaths, then picture this:

It is the equivalent of wiping out the population of Newport and Huntington Beach residents combined or virtually everyone who lives in Irvine.

Another way of wrapping your arms around 285,000 fatalities is this:

If each death was represented by a piece of paper, the tower would stand more than 95 ft. in the air. That is 5 ft. taller than this year’s Christmas Tree at Fashion Island. 

One last perspective to think about:

From December 1941 until August 1945, 407,316 U.S. troops lost their lives during World War II. 487 of them were from Orange County. Today, we have exceeded more than 1,600 COVID-related deaths in OC in less than a year.   

While on the campaign trail, Donald Trump repeatedly told his supporters, “All I hear now is…‘COVID, COVID, COVID.’ By the way, on November 4, you won’t hear about it anymore.”

I didn’t believe the president then, and certainly don’t believe him now. 

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach


Letter to the Editor

Kobayashi & friends want Mayor O’Neill for another year

2020 has been a year like no other, as Newport Beach residents and business owners have endured isolation, loss of income, COVID illness and deaths, and an uncertain future. Throughout this year, so many have come to find Mayor O’Neill as a steady hand and inspirational voice of encouragement. 

2021 will continue to be a year of great challenge and uncertainty that requires stability and continuity in our leadership. While it is an unprecedented approach, during unprecedented challenges, the community is asking the City Council to vote to have Mayor O’Neill remain in his position for 2021. Newport Beach has become reliant on Mayor O’Neill to...

–Rally our citizens to shop and eat at local establishments.

–Support our City departments to provide a high level of service.

–Coordinate with Hoag Hospital to reach the community and provide medical expertise, guidance and assurance.

–Navigate stormy waters and support our first responders during a pandemic and civil unrest.

–Work with our City departments and our small business owners to help them survive the state mandated restrictions.

–Faithfully communicate to residents via social media to keep his much-needed leadership out in front each and every day.

–Encourage the community to keep going when the future looks bleak and unpredictable.

–Bring mental health to the forefront.

–Calm the fears of our citizenry.

–Provide leadership that instills confidence throughout the community.

We respect each and every member of our City Council. We do not make this request lightly, but we feel that it is critical to provide continuity and predictability to our community as we expect 2021 to be a challenging year, still reeling from a pandemic, but hopeful for a recovery.

Ruth Sanchez Kobayashi & Friends

Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

The times they are a-changin’ and so are our needs

The Newport Village Project, along Mariner’s Mile, is projected to be in the final review stages with its environmental impact report (EIR) in the spring of 2021. However, we must realize that each significant shift in human events has generated a restructuring of the way we live. Newport Village should rethink the designs, buildings and the surrounding landscape since the project was initially submitted to the City of Newport Beach prior to COVID-19.

The Newport Village project should embrace the visual and artistic sensibility of the natural topography of both the bay and the bluffs. Newport Village should incorporate safety systems and consider climate changes that influence the way we plan and design along our waterfronts.

A forward-thinking concept clearly should be influenced and embraced by the local community, who would benefit from a smaller, more intimate project that would be tied to the local residents. As billionaire Rick Caruso stated when designing the Pacific Palisades project, he spent “hours listening to hundreds of residents’ concern and desires.” Caruso, along with local Newport Beach developers acknowledge a need for projects to benefit the local residents, while also being compatible to the surrounding communities. 

With the onslaught of COVID, this is about the support of “localism” and this project will be dependent on the community’s support to create a destination within the heart of our town along Mariner’s Mile – a village that is “walkable” and “connected” to the residents. Today’s pandemic, affecting every country on earth, will undoubtedly change the way we design and construct our built world moving forward.

Southern California has seen a significant decline in vehicle traffic, transit use and air travel since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study by Southern California Associations of Governments (SCAG), with regard to the impact on planes, trains and automobiles in the region. Vehicle miles traveled fell by nearly 80 percent in April from January 2020, with the sharpest declines in Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties. Social distancing practices have led to decreased transportation and our overstressed road systems are being used less frequently. 

Additional factors need to be reconsidered and redesigned within the Newport Village Project, such as the proposed parking structure on the bay side of Mariner’s Mile that would eclipse the iconic Ladd & Kelsey, “Stuft Shirt” Building. 

Newport Village should take advantage of California’s Assembly Bill 2263, a bill that designates and qualifies historical buildings, while reducing the required parking spaces. Newport Village should reevaluate the transportation models of driverless cars and additional modes of transportation that could potentially connect each “village” in Newport Beach. 

Our parks, waterways and trails have found heightened appreciation among families who are now living, working and learning under one roof. Perhaps these changes are temporary, however, Newport Village has an opportunity to create a wonderful accessible redefined project to bring people together, while also allowing for separation. 

Example, street widths could be reduced, and sidewalks and bike lanes expanded. This would benefit pedestrians and increase economic activity through neighboring businesses along this scenic corridor.

Events of the past are what shape our future; this was not the first pandemic and it will not be the last. The need to design for the future is more important than ever before, as we begin to search for positive inspiration with the balance of protecting and preserving the charm along Mariner’s Mile.

In these uncertain times, it will be the locals that will more often than not be the economic base for Newport Village. 

Peggy V. Palmer

The Coalition to Protect Mariner’s Mile 

Newport Beach

In these times of COVID, might a woman be best to lead our city?

Here is a novel idea for Newport Beach that international research has shown to be not novel at all. This research was done on the first surge of COVID-19 last fall and was published in October showing that countries with female leaders performed better on two significant counts: a lower number of positive COVID-19 cases and a lower number of COVID-19 related deaths. 

One of the reasons offered as proof is that leaders of countries with lower rates of COVID-19 acted more decisively and quickly. 

In a compelling article from Forbes magazine released on October 11, 2020, it is argued that “women politicians seem to figure out very early on that there was an issue for lives, and irrespective of what was happening to the economy, it was essential to shut down quickly and decisively.” 

The argument for women leaders faring better during the COVID-19 pandemic has been supported by considerable research and is documented by many sources online. Simply Google: Women Leaders and COVID-19.

Okay, so let’s talk about a city rather than a country. Many of the issues that apply to countries are shared by cities. 

One source reviewed talked about an important quality in dealing with the pandemic that is generally more prevalent in females than males: the ability to empathize. This quality would lead women to be more concerned about sickness and death and act more quickly to avoid it. 

We might also turn to more local areas to test this hypothesis. There are three cities close to Newport which have female mayors: Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach and Irvine.

Katrina Foley in Costa Mesa has been quite aggressive in mandating facial masks and is even trying to enforce the law with fines. 

Irvine just elected a new mayor, Farrah Khan Shea, who is already talking about trying to stabilize the economy through the pandemic. She has developed an economic recovery plan that includes a COVID-19 task force, a business task force and a resident advisory task force. 

With equal zeal, the mayor of Huntington Beach, Lyn Semeta, spoke out recently against the characterization of her city as a “one size fits all,” saying that the diversity in her town only makes it stronger.

What does this have to do with Newport Beach? Very soon Will O’Neill will finish his term as mayor and a new mayor will take over. Because we are at the worst stage of the pandemic to date, it would be a good opportunity to turn the reins over to a female.

Because Diane Dixon has already served twice, it would naturally fall on the shoulders of Joy Brenner. And what a good mayor she would be with her excellent communication skills, her outgoing and attractive personality and her obvious empathy for other people.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

One’s reputation is worth fighting for

It is 2020, and we as women still face gender inequalities in our daily lives. While progress continues to be made, gender discrimination still remains widespread and underreported. Sometimes gestures are overt, but often times what we experience is very subtle. Does the subtlety make it any less disconcerting? No, of course not. But it does make proving it much more difficult.

I was recently involved in a lawsuit where I was the plaintiff. The basis of the claim was gender discrimination. The owners of a prominent health club in Newport Beach, where I had been a member for 15 years decided they didn’t like the fact that I became close to a member of the club who was male. 

Within months of us becoming friends, the owners of the club began spreading rumors about me and my relationship with this member that were not true. They attacked my character and morals, my reputation and integrity. They defamed me and continuously harassed me. They blamed me for the relationship I had with the member and discriminated against me because I was the woman in the relationship. 

They never harassed him. They never spread rumors about him. But the owners of the club treated me differently than they treated him for participating in the same relationship and eventually terminated my membership. 

I filed the lawsuit because of the unequal treatment, and because I wanted to preserve my character and reputation. The case went to trial. 

Prior to deliberation, the judge insisted on the use of a special jury verdict form. This form complicated jury deliberation with the way questions were asked. Each question had to be answered in the affirmative to proceed to the next question. 

The jury did find the owner and club guilty of discrimination, but they felt they needed more proof to say that my gender played a “substantial” role in the discrimination. This was the piece in the system that let me down.

The outcome was not what I expected, especially with how the trial went. There is nothing I would change with regards to how my attorneys presented the case, my direct examination and cross examination, or even the witnesses and their testimonies. I only wish the outcome had been different. A jury is composed of people who are not experts in the law or its application. We don’t know the inherent biases of the jury and never will. 

But when a few members of the jury were questioned after the verdict, they stated they felt I had suffered from emotional distress and they wanted to award damages but once they answered “no” to one of the questions, they were not allowed to proceed. So, in a sense, I won and lost the case at the same time.

You see, just because the jury could not conclude that gender discrimination was a substantial motivating factor in their treatment of me does not mean I did not endure it. Discrimination is often subtle. And in my case, there was no evidence of direct discriminatory statements or conduct toward me. The differential treatment was not overt.

Gender discrimination occurs more frequently than we think and we, as women, must stand up and speak up, even when the end result is not what we wish. I do not regret having fought. I stood up for myself to preserve my character and morals, my reputation and integrity with the truth, and in the end that is what matters most. I had the courage and the strength to battle to the end. I fought hard and with purpose and for all of those things, I will stand proud. And knowing the result, I would not hesitate to stand up for myself again, because my character and my reputation are principles worth fighting for.

Manju Lal, MBA, MPH

Newport Beach

Manju Lal is the local author of “Single, Self-sufficient, and Successful,” a book targeted to inspire women between the ages of 20 and 40 to follow their dreams.


Guest Letter

Robert T. Braithwaite

When the vaccine becomes available, Hoag will be ready

Dear Neighbor,

With news developing daily about COVID-19 vaccines, I am eager to share Hoag’s involvement in the continued research and planned distribution of these vaccines. 

Hoag will be an approved provider of COVID-19 vaccines, two of which appear to be nearing Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) in the coming weeks and a few others close behind. Our teams have been planning and preparing for how to support both our health care workers and the community as vaccines become available – and let me assure you, we are ready. 

Since March, Hoag has conducted more than 20 COVID-19 clinical trials to expand patient access to cutting-edge therapies and innovative treatment options. Some of these trials markedly improved outcomes, including decreased mortality and decreased length of stay for hospitalized COVID-19 patients. In October, Hoag became the first in the nation to offer a phase 1 trial for a novel COVID-19 vaccine candidate being developed here in Southern California. 

Hoag was chosen to take part in these clinical trials because of our commitment to excellence and to the communities we serve. We are honored to be a trusted partner in the health and wellness of not only our patients, but for the greater good as we work together to fight this disease.

I can assure you that Hoag has the means in place to distribute all FDA-EUA vaccines and play a role in – what we hope – will be the final chapter of this pandemic. Our ability to store a vaccine at ultra-cold temperatures allows us to participate in the rollout of any EUA vaccines, including those which must be stored in freezers that keep them at a required minus 94 degrees F. Our pharmacy and clinical teams have extensive experience handling and administering vaccines and therapies for infectious diseases. We will follow all protocols established by the drug makers and the FDA. 

We understand that frontline health care workers, first responders and people with medical conditions that put them at significantly higher risk will be among the first to be offered a vaccine; however, we do not yet know how public health authorities will prioritize vaccination for the general population. These decisions will be made by California Department of Public Health and the Orange County Health Care Agency. We will follow their directives and communicate with you throughout this journey as we learn more about the vaccine approvals and distribution plan. 

In the meantime, rest assured that we are ready to care for you should you need it. Please do not delay care if you are experiencing potentially life-threatening medical conditions, such as strokes and heart attacks. Our entire staff is committed to keeping you safe and providing compassionate and high-quality care. 

And as a reminder, if you haven’t yet received your flu shot, please reach out to your physician or our care providers to learn more. This vaccine protection is especially critical this year because influenza challenges the immune system, leaving a person more vulnerable to other illnesses, including COVID-19. 

We thank you for the support and gratitude you have shown our staff throughout this pandemic, and we look forward to turning the page on this chapter together. 

From the Hoag family to yours, we wish you a happy and healthy holiday season. 

Sincerely,

Robert T. Braithwaite

President and Chief Executive Officer


Letter to the Editor

Saddened by two campaign shortfalls

To hear once again of all Jeff Herdman’s accomplishments as he served his community on Balboa Island specifically, and Newport Beach in general, saddens me that he will no longer be on City Council. He had a very long list of achievements in the four years that he served us in Newport and for all the right reasons – because he loves the city which has been his home for many years and wanted to give back. And he is one of the rare few who was not serving simply to promote his own career. 

I was disappointed as well that we did not elect Nancy Scarbrough as she is the same type of person, one who wants to be on Council to make Newport Beach a better place to live. Her list of interests in her neighborhood and the city in general is evidenced by her constant involvement, unparalleled by others, in various meetings and committees. She promises to be back to give us a second chance to gain her spirit and dedication on Newport Beach City Council.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach


Letter to the Editor

Reader offers thanks

Thank you, Tom, Lana, Shaena, Michael, Sean and Amy, and everyone at Stu News Newport.

I’d just like to thank all of you who publish, contribute and report at Stu News Newport for providing our community with smart, mindful and balanced reporting. You never fail to afford us with news that’s relevant to all of our citizens in a respectful and objective way. In doing so, you’ve made us all more aware and observant.

I hope you and your families have a wonderful Thanksgiving and just know that your efforts are appreciated and counted on as we move through both trying times and good. You are a breath of fresh air.

Thank you.

Carol Tomlinson

Newport Beach


Guest Letter

Happy and safe holidays from your friends at Hoag

Dear Neighbor, 

The holidays are, above all else, about the relationships we hold most dear. Speaking on behalf of the Hoag family, I wanted to let you know how much we treasure our relationship with this community – and how deeply we value each display of mutual responsibility we see. 

From the record number of people who have rushed out to get their flu shots, to the community members who are wearing masks and adhering to social distancing guidelines, each gesture is an act of love, appreciation and respect. And for that we are grateful. 

This year, the holidays will create unique challenges, and we are here to help. The resources and information found on this page will help you enjoy the holidays safely. 

Among the suggestions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and our nationally recognized medical team, is the recommendation that everyone who can to please get a flu shot. This is important because influenza challenges the immune system, leaving a person vulnerable to other illnesses, including COVID-19. While vaccines aren’t 100 percent effective, they greatly reduce a person’s risk of getting sick and lower the severity of illness if someone does fall ill. 

To ensure that our community has access to the influenza vaccine, Hoag this year doubled our order of vaccinations. We offer the flu vaccine through our medical offices, Hoag Urgent Care facilities, and are even offering free flu shots at John Wayne Airport at our new Fly Well Clinic, the first of its kind in Orange County. If you haven’t yet received your flu shot, please reach out to your physician or our care providers to learn more. 

I am proud to share that Hoag is actively working with top researchers on a promising COVID-19 vaccine research study, which is showing great promise at the early stages, and additional vaccines are moving towards FDA approval and expected to be available for distribution soon. But we all have access to available, safe vaccine for the flu now. 

Continued focus on handwashing, social distancing and mask wearing will also help to reduce the risk of both the flu and COVID-19. Working together, we can lessen the impact and support a healthier Orange County. 

While this holiday season will not look like those in years past, it can still be grounded in togetherness. We are together in our hopes and prayers for good health, and together in our creative pursuits of low-risk holiday activities. Together, we will make this holiday season meaningful and safe. 

From the Hoag family to yours, we wish you a happy, healthy holiday season.

Sincerely,

Robert T. Braithwaite

President and Chief Executive Officer

Hoag


Letters to the Editor

“Bionic” Jim agrees, HOI is the Best of the Best

Some years ago I was an early patient of Hoag Orthopedic Institute, at their new hospital on Sand Canyon, in Irvine. My hip was replaced by the best “hip man” in the country (in my opinion), Robert Gorab.

A year later Bob replaced my other hip. The experience in both cases, at HOI, was fantastic. One night in the hospital, up walking just hours after the surgery, and a very fast recovery in both cases. 

Last year my knee was replaced by one of Dr. Gorab’s partners, Steve Barnett. Steve was so skilled that I actually had the replacement in the morning and went home that night! 

Finally, earlier this year, I had a pretty serious surgery, in which both a Laminectomy was done to relieve stenosis of the spine and at the same time, three discs in my lower back were fused. A tough one. Fourteen days in the hospital learning how to walk again. This surgery was performed at HOI by the incredible Dr. Jon White, a back specialist. 

So now I set off every alarm the TSA can imagine. But this team of surgeons at HOI are indeed the Best of the Best and I will be forever grateful for their efforts and their support.

Jim Donnell

Newport Beach

Why are we closing down everything when only a few are the problem?

Sacramento is shutting down counties. They should be shutting down cities and not the counties. Look at the cases in the OC, 278 of the 379 new cases are in five cities. By my count 39 relatively safe cities are being shut down because of these five. 

I commute between my homes in Riverside County and Orange County. I could give you the same type of statistics for Riverside County. A relative few cities and farming areas account for a Purple designation for Riverside County. People’s lives and businesses are being ruined over general statistics. 

Let’s not harm the citizens and businesses of non-hot spots anymore! I have not personally checked this, but I was informed that the state of New York and the city of New York did the same analysis and opened areas of NYC by Zip Code. We should do the same.

Stewart Thomson

Newport Beach

Governor and other legislators should do better

Sorry, but I won’t be modeling my behavior this Thanksgiving after Governor Hypocrite and the legislators who traveled to Hawaii on a likely-paid-for political junket. 

Apparently while I am limited to three households, to the outside (except for visits to inside frequently sanitized restrooms), to eating from single server disposable dishes, to no more than two hours, and to collecting the names and addresses of those attending, it’s OK for Mr. Newsom to eat, drink, and be merry with a dozen pals at Yountville’s French Laundry; and it’s fine for boondoggling politicos to eat, drink, and be merry at a Maui resort while lobbying with the Independent Voter Project.

Do as I say, not as I do – that’s the message from the privileged and powerful. 

Role models they ain’t, hypocrites they are.

Shame on you, Mr. Newsom and shame on those electeds in the midst of a pandemic surge.

Paul Watkins

Newport Beach


Guest Letter

Thank you, time to get to work

It is an honor of a lifetime to have been elected as the “incoming” NMUSD Trustee for Area 3. A community is as strong as its engaged stakeholders and Area 3, with an astonishing 90 percent voter turnout rate, has resoundingly proven to be a community that is engaged and that prides itself in civic involvement. 

My campaign was inspired and guided by an African proverb that goes as follows, “If you want to go fast – go alone; if you want to go far – go together.” This is why for months, I met with parents, teachers, elected officials, candidates, coaches, leaders of bargaining units, district officials, community activists, homeowners association leaders, mental health professionals and Board trustees. I reconnected with former PTA colleagues and met new and upcoming leaders in the education industry. 

After listening to all of the stakeholders and hearing the needs of our schools, of our neighborhoods and of our district staff, I was energized at the possibilities of working together to provide our two cities the best education possible for our kids. 

I am extremely thankful to my family, my friends, my supporters and volunteers who helped me along the way. Their encouragement and energy provided me with the confidence and the stamina to carry my campaign across the finish line. 

As a trustee, I pledge to work tirelessly and to advocate for Newport Mesa’s students, teachers, staff and families. The campaign season was just the start and now the real work begins!

Carol Crane, Trustee-elect School Board Area 3

Newport-Mesa Unified School District


Guest Letter

Grateful for the support of many

My Friends,

The election is over and the results are in. We came very close – within about one percentage point – but in the end, incumbent Cottie Petrie-Norris prevailed. Rather than focusing on the loss, I will choose to focus on the great many things for which we can be proud.

This was a tough, competitive race that gained national attention. Despite being outnumbered, outraised and outspent, our campaign was always run with integrity and honor. We found ourselves facing unprecedented challenges in the wake of COVID-19, but always persisted and did our best to overcome all obstacles. Over the course of the last eighteen months, I have made so many new acquaintances and deepened bonds with the citizens of California’s 74th Assembly District. I have learned so much about you, your communities, your businesses, your values – and it has enriched my life forever.

It is my sincere hope that this District gets the representative it deserves –  one who will keep the values of the constituents at top of mind. I fought hard to be that representative and was eager to stand up to the supermajority in Sacramento. Please know that I will always be proud to be your advocate.

To all of my supporters, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I extend my deepest appreciation to everyone who has lent their time, treasure and support to my campaign. I am grateful for your trust and confidence. Please remember that nothing in politics is permanent – and we will one day reclaim this seat!

Thank you once again for your support, your faith in me, your encouragement and your hard work. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I may be of any assistance. 

Sincerely,

Diane Brooks Dixon, Council member District 1

City of Newport Beach

949.287.9211

www.dixonfornewport.com

www.dianedixonassembly2020.com


Guest Letters

On Tuesday, Nov. 10, incumbent Harley Rouda acknowledged defeat in his efforts for a second term in the U.S. Congressional race for the 48th District against challenger Michelle Steel. Rouda was defeated by Steel in a very close race where Steel won by some 8,012 votes of the 392,844 total cast.

Steel’s thank you to her supporters and Rouda’s concession letter are below.

Steel thanks voters, acknowledges acceptance of minority candidates

To the voters of Orange County, thank you for entrusting me to be your representative in Congress. In this election, you weren’t simply voting for a person, but also for the idea that the American Dream is alive and well in Orange County. This vote showed that minorities who may look or speak differently than most not only have a place in this Republican Party but can be elected to the United States Congress.

After watching my mother fight an unfair tax bill, I realized that an overbearing government bureaucracy is an impediment to the success of small business owners, first generations, and all taxpayers who simply want a shot at the American Dream. 

Taxpayers need an advocate, someone who works on their behalf, and my promise to Orange County families, my number one priority is to fight for lower taxes, help our small businesses and their workers, and defeat the Coronavirus. 

Our government is once again divided, but I stand ready to work with both parties to do what’s best for the American people including getting our economy moving again. 

I thank my husband Shawn, our daughters Cheyenne and Siobhan, for their unwavering support. 

To the hundreds of volunteers, supporters, and my devoted campaign team who spent countless hours on this effort, I know there is no way this could have happened without your hard work.

I want to acknowledge Congressman Rouda for running a spirited campaign, and I thank him for his service.

Thank you to all of Orange County for putting your faith in me, I will not let you down.

Michelle Steel, Second District

Supervisor, County of Orange

Rouda proud of service, hints at possible return in 2022

When I ran for Congress in 2018, it was the first time I’d ever run for political office. But after creating thousands of jobs in a lifetime in business, I couldn’t stand by any longer as our political system tore itself apart. Thanks to the incredible energy brought by our thousands of grassroots volunteers, I was proud to be the first Democrat ever to represent California’s 48th Congressional District. Serving the people here has been the honor of my life, but the truth is, it’s never been about political parties for me.

There’s a reason I was the most productive new Member of Congress:

–Returning over $2 million to Orange County seniors, veterans, and working families

–Securing over $1 billion to support our small businesses during the pandemic

–Passing a law to stop taxpayer dollars from going to China, and a bill to cut taxes on Orange County residents by five billion dollars

–Working to create a bipartisan deficit commission to finally tackle our nation’s out of control spending

–Stopping off-shore drilling and working to remove radioactive waste from San Onofre

–Passing more bills in two years than my predecessor did in thirty

It’s because we worked with Republicans instead of demonizing them and refused to give in to partisan politics. 

I thought that was the right thing to do. I still feel that way. I will always feel that way. Country comes first.

We did not win this election. And while it isn’t the outcome we had hoped for, it’s never been more important for our leaders to hear the voice of the people, and to accept their judgement. I do.

But I also believe there’s something bigger at stake here than this one election.

There is a toxicity to American politics threatening the very democracy that sets us apart from the rest of the world. That has to change.

Politics that tears America apart and turns us against each other is unsustainable. We saw it firsthand in this election. My opponent made allegations about me that were complete fabrications – some totally made up, others wild distortions, and still others torn from the darkest corners of the Internet. Either we change the way we do politics, or it will forever change us and this country we call home.

We are not Republicans. We are not Democrats. We are not enemies. We are Americans. All of us. Even when we disagree. And we ought to have a political system that is built on facts, rewards honesty, and strengthens the bonds that tie us to each other, rather than ripping them to shreds.

While one campaign ends today, another is just beginning. I look forward to having voters compare my opponent’s two years in Congress with my accomplishments on November 8, 2022. 

There is surely more work to do. Let’s do it together.

Harley Rouda

U.S. Representative, 48th District


Guest Letter

Thank you for your support, looking forward to working with all of you

As the final votes are tabulated, I would like to take the opportunity to address the Newport-Mesa Unified School District community. First off, to those who voted for me, thank you! The trust you placed in me means a great deal and I will work very hard serving our students, parents and the community on your behalf. To those who did not vote for me, I look forward to earning your trust and support in the future. I promise to serve every resident, with a focus on listening, communicating and ensuring transparency.

For all those who personally supported me in this endeavor, I am eternally grateful. It is not easy putting yourself out in the open, running for office. Your backing helped get me through many tough days. You gave financial contributions, hours of time distributing literature and lent front yard real estate by placing a campaign sign in your lawn. I will never forget your friendship.

To my former opponents Amy Peters, Xeno Muller and Alexis Zavouris; I am appreciative of your dedication to Newport-Mesa. A clean race was run by everyone and I am committed to working with you as we work to improve our schools. Each of you has insight into our district and it would be foolish to overlook the talents you possess. I hope to engage with each of you moving forward. 

Lastly, to my husband, Erik Weigand. I love you. Your insight into campaign management 101 made the difference in this race. You stood by my side as we walked over 6,000 houses, provided advice when I needed guidance and picked me up when I was having a bad day. I couldn’t have done this without you.

It’s been an honor running for school board, but now the real work begins. I look forward to serving Newport-Mesa in this important role and will strive to deliver results that benefit our wonderful community.       

Krista Weigand, NMUSD District 6 

Newport Beach


Letter to the Editor

Thank you, OASIS

A note of thanks to the staff and volunteers at the Oasis Center for their incredible kindness during the COVID-19 time period. As a young (92 yrs.!) Sr. Citizen I have been the recipient of cheerful phone calls checking on my well-being, a lovely plant and most recently...a Halloween “Drive-by” complete with costumes and candy! We have so little control over what is going on in our world today, but these folks are making a difference by bringing life, positive energy and joy into people’s lives. I’m so grateful.

Christine Stamper

Newport Beach


Guest Letters

Blom acknowledges victory and thanks the community

I am honored to be joining the Newport Beach City Council. The privilege and responsibility is not a task I take lightly. I thank the voters for their support and encouragement as we work to keep our city the jewel that it is.

I appreciate the work and knowledge that Council member Jeff Herdman has given to the city over these last four years. I look forward to putting the tumultuous nature of the election behind us for the strength and unity of our great city. We are a stronger Newport together.

To my wife and son, thank you for your strength and resilience throughout this contentious election. Politics, I have learned, is a full contact sport where even family and business are thrown into the arena. The support of my family and friends has been the guiding light during this process. Thank you for the love, dedication and work that has defined our campaign. Positivity and hard work have been the backbone of our home and our restaurants; we will look to lead the city with the same approach. Thank you to all of our staff and patrons, for keeping heads high and smiles bright. We build our future together.

We are in a time of external pressure and uncertainty as a city, from the pandemic and homelessness to state housing and forced regulatory agencies, and the list goes on. We must face these challenges with creativity and intelligence if we are to maintain the character and charm of our villages. Our strength will be in tackling our issues together.

My table is always open. I have and will always be open to meeting with anyone. Great discourse creates great ideas. I welcome both criticism and comment, advice and anecdote, as great knowledge comes from reflecting on our own lives and striving to be better. 

I love this city and will never stop working to keep Newport great. Thank you again for your support and love.

Noah Blom, Council-elect, District 5

Newport Beach

Our community cares about kids

As I have walked the District 6 sidewalks in my campaign for Newport-Mesa Unified School Board, I learned first-hand talking to my friends and neighbors. They are concerned for the 300 students in our district currently experiencing homelessness. They are worried our education system is not preparing our youth for 21st century careers. They see a need for a return to skills-based learning and Career Technical Education pathways that lead to fulfilling jobs. They know the isolation of the nationwide shutdown has impacted the emotional and physical health of our kids. 

Local charities like Project Hope Alliance and others continue to lift up the housing unstable with WiFi hotspots and access to technology to support distance learning. Mental health providers are working non-stop with full caseloads. High school and club coaches are fighting for the return of youth sports. Everyday acts of kindness from our neighbors remind us how much we have in common and how much love we have for each other.

Thank you to everyone who supported my campaign for NMUSD School Board Trustee Area 6. I am truly grateful and touched by your overwhelming dedication to my vision for a brighter future for our students.

I will continue to fight for our kids and know you will too. Our collective future depends on our commitment to each other and the children that depend on us. Please join me in challenging the NMUSD mistakes of the past to make education relevant for our kids and give them hope for the future.

Sincerely, 

Amy Peters

NMUSD Parent, Business Owner, Community Member

Letters to the Editor

Your vote for Nancy is for “your city”

Welcome to election day. Well, I know you could have been voting by mail for some time! If you have not voted, I want to urge you to vote for Nancy Scarbrough for Newport Beach City Council. As you may have seen from her many endorsers, she is the real deal. All her support is from local voters. If you want to help take back control of your city, then Nancy deserves your vote.

I want to reflect on some observations I have made this election cycle. The first day to pull nomination papers was July 15th. Nancy returned her papers, and they were certified complete on July 28th. On July 26th someone who listed their name as anonymous turned in a freedom of information act request to the City Clerk asking for all correspondence and text messages between Nancy Scarbrough and the City Council, the Planning Commission, and the Community Development Department going back to 2018. 

Seeing this a month later, I too requested the same information. The amount of correspondence was voluminous. Nancy’s communication with the city over the last few years has been significant reflecting her involvement. The package was so large it had to be posted to a dropbox-like location for download. Whomever requested this must have hoped there would be some bombshell in there that could discredit Nancy. Apparently not.