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Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

Should Newport Beach City Council support the successful acquisition of Banning Ranch?

This week the Costa Mesa City Council passed a resolution to endorse the purchase of Banning Ranch to remain as open space. They cite 17 solid reasons that Costa Mesa should support the acquisition of Banning Ranch for open space. Among the reasons for their resolution, which can be found here (Text of Resolution), they reference the need to provide open park space for residents of their city and neighboring cities, the importance of maintaining the largest undeveloped private piece of land on the California coast between Ventura and the Mexico border, and the need to protect federal and state listed species and rare plants and animals. They further recognize that by restoring and reintroducing tidal flow to the degraded salt marshes within Banning Ranch this would address and mitigate anticipated sea-level rise along the coast. 

The Trust for Public Lands (TPL) has worked tirelessly for four years to negotiate the purchase of Banning Ranch with the property owner and to raise funds for the purchase. Environmental groups such as Still Protecting Our Newport (SPON) and Orange Coast River Park have supported the Banning Ranch Conservancy’s decades long efforts to save Banning Ranch from development of its wetlands, coastal bluffs and coastal open space for the enjoyment of the residents of Orange County and throughout California.   

TPL has raised $83 million toward the purchase price of $97 million. The momentum for this was initiated by a $50 million gift from Newport Beach residents Frank and Joann Randall. 

Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris was able to secure an additional $8 million from the state.

TPL and the Banning Ranch Conservancy are so close that it appears to be possible that this goal could be achieved by the deadline of June 2022. TPL has applied for grants that would cover a large portion of the $14 million delta. The approval of those grants will hopefully be revealed in the coming months. 

Costa Mesa is the first city in Orange County to approve a resolution supporting Banning Ranch which would help secure the additional grants needed to complete the purchase.   

My question is, why hasn’t Newport Beach done the same? 

Banning Ranch is within our “Sphere of Influence”; our General Plan Vision Statement affirms that “We preserve our open space resources. We maintain access to and visibility of our beaches, parks, preserves, harbor and estuaries.”

All Newport Beach residents would benefit from an open space park for recreation and relaxation. 

Shouldn’t we encourage our City Council to be the second city in Orange County to pass a Resolution in support of the acquisition and preservation of Banning Ranch as open space for the enjoyment of our residents and all of Orange County?   

We really owe this to the next generation; our children and grandchildren deserve to have open recreational space. And what a great way to support our coastal residents! 

Nancy Scarbrough

Newport Beach

There’s no Joy in boys town

There was a letter in this morning’s paper that so inspired me that, with “a little help from my friends,” to quote a Beatles’ song, I want to put an assortment of thoughts on the table regarding mayors and city government in Newport Beach. 

First of all, the author of the letter, Lenard Davis, told the story of how the first woman to be elected mayor in Orange County came about in 1954, in Newport Beach before Newport Beach was a charter city. And guess what? She was elected mayor on “a platform to get rid of the corruption in City Hall.” 

Do you see where this is going?

Lenard Davis was, in turn, responding to a letter written by Janet Clarke who was “bemoaning the ol’ boys’ network” which passed over Joy Brenner recently for both mayor and mayor pro tempore. We know that many residents thought that the choice was extremely unfair and that the talents of Joy are far superior to the newly elected mayor pro-tempore, not to mention her greater experience in office.

Well, those who support Joy, who are many, and those who are opposed to electing a mayor, who are many as well, may be able to turn a loss into a gain (if necessary) by talking Joy into running for mayor. Hopefully, the idea of electing a mayor will not come to fruition and that Joy will get her rightful opportunity to serve as mayor and mayor pro tempore when she gets re-elected to Council.

Many of us believe that Joy was not selected for the two positions of leadership because of her failure “to play ball.” Most of the good ol’ boys, however, will be termed out by then and we hope that voters elect councilmembers who serve the community rather than themselves.

Getting back to electing a mayor, there are so many reasons not to and they have been well expressed. The most obvious reason is that as far as anyone knows, despite Will O’Neill seemingly expressing at one time or another that his proposal was “carefully vetted,” no one seems to know the particulars. So, at this point, unless told otherwise, we can only assume that Will is the author. Shouldn’t that be something that we need to know for certain before voting on the proposal to elect a mayor?

The measure that has been placed on the June ballot by the Council in a 4-3 vote is exactly what Will posted on Stu News on September 3rd. This measure is a major change to the Charter, amending eight different sections, deleting roughly 123 existing words and adding roughly 647 new ones! You could compare those major changes to the mere four words in just one section that could change the city to “district” voting but that would have meant that the elected mayor would have to share too much power with the Council.

Pretty presumptuous isn’t it for a man who “rode into town” just a little over eight years ago!

For further information about the charter proposal to elect a mayor, you can refer to https://noelectedmayor.com/.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

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