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City Manager’s Updates

From the desk of Grace Leung

Grace Leung

Courtesy of City of Newport Beach

Newport Beach City Manager Grace Leung

Community Members: 

I’d like to recognize the great work from our local fire agencies to bring the brush fire under control that broke out Thursday, Feb. 10 in Laguna Beach near the Emerald Bay area. The Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) was the lead agency responding to the fire, assisted by the Newport Beach Fire Department, which dispatched five engines, along with other teams from nearby cities and agencies who battled the 150-acre blaze. 

Thankfully there was no loss of life or property damage from the Emerald Fire, but it did serve as a reminder of the fire dangers present in our region after another relatively dry winter. While this week’s unseasonably hot weather and Santa Ana winds were factors in the quick spread of the fire, the underlying dry brush conditions remain. As OCFA Chief Brian Fennessy said to the news media on Thursday, “We no longer have a fire season, we have a fire year.”

I encourage all our residents, and especially those in fire-prone areas of the city, to review the Ready Newport Beach emergency preparedness guide published by the Newport Beach Fire Department. The guide includes information on how to prepare for a variety of natural and man-made disasters, including the three main steps to prepare for a wildfire: creating a family evacuation plan, assembling an emergency supply kit and completing a family communication plan. The guide also offers tips on how to create a fire-resistant buffer around your home by using less-flammable construction materials and fire-safe landscaping techniques. 

To receive emergency alert notifications in the event of a fire or other disaster, sign up for the Alert OC notification system and Newport Beach’s Nixle alerts, where you can customize the type of alerts you would like to receive, including voicemail, text or email. 

And for those who would like hands-on training to help yourself, your family, and your neighbors in the event of a crisis or disaster, I invite you to sign up for the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program offered in the spring by the Newport Beach Fire Department. 

Rollout of Expanded Recycling Program Continues 

The distribution of new, green-lid carts for recycling organic materials (yard waste, food waste and other biodegradable items) is underway through the end of March. Pickup of organic recycling will begin the week after the organics carts are delivered on the same day as trash and standard recycling are collected.

For information on the state-mandated organics recycling program, utilize the following resources: 

Click here for a short video on how to separate and recycle organic waste. 

–Visit www.newportbeachca.gov/recycle to find out when the organics recycling carts will arrive in your neighborhood (use the search function at the top of the page). 

–Read through our Frequently Asked Questions document for answers to common questions and concerns. 

–Collection days have changed for about 14,000 households. To find out your trash and recycling pickup day, go to www.newportbeachca.gov/findmycollectionday.

–Street sweeping days have also been adjusted in the neighborhoods with collection day changes. These neighborhoods include portions of the Balboa Peninsula (21st Street to G Street) and Corona del Mar (north of Coast Highway), Irvine Terrance, the Port Streets and the north tip of Newport Heights. These changes will avoid conflicts, address parking conditions and maintain street sweeping effectiveness. For maps and information, visit www.newportbeachca.gov/2022sweeping or call the city’s Utilities Department at 949.644.3011. 

Council Planning Session Outlines Goals, Priorities 

On January 29, the City Council conducted its annual planning session to outline city goals and priorities for the coming fiscal year. This is an important workshop, held every year in January, which kicks off preparation of the new fiscal year budget and sets spending priorities for new programs and facilities, neighborhood improvements and more. The planning session covered the current fiscal year budget, projections for the 2022-2023 fiscal year, expenditures, infrastructure and capital improvements such as the planned Library Lecture Hall and Jr. Lifeguard Headquarters. The planning session can be viewed at this link

Fortunately, there are several positive financial trends in Newport Beach, including higher-than-expected revenues in property tax, sales tax and hotel tax, which have generated a surplus that we will use to pay down debt, expand our efforts to address homelessness, and fund additional infrastructure maintenance and improvement projects. I had the pleasure of giving a summary of the planning session to Speak Up Newport on February 9, and you can watch a video of that presentation at this link

Residents Encouraged to Apply for Aviation, General Plan Committees 

Aviation Committee. The city is seeking community representatives from Council District 1 to fill an unscheduled vacancy on the Aviation Committee. If you are a resident of District 1 and are interested in applying, visit www.newportbeachca.gov/vacancy for more information. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled. 

General Plan Update Steering Committee. The city is seeking community representatives for three open seats on the reestablished General Plan Update Steering Committee. If you are interested in applying, visit www.newportbeachca.gov/vacancy for more information. The deadline to apply is 12 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 16. 

COVID-19 Cases in Newport Beach 

As of February 10, the total cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in Newport Beach was 8,706, an increase of 105 cases since February 3. The total number of cases in Orange County as of February 10 was 530,036, an increase of 8,605 cases since February 3. The number of recovered COVID-19 patients countywide as of February 10 was 461,222. These figures are provided to Orange County by the California Department of Public Health. 

Homelessness Update 

–City Net, Newport Beach’s contract social services agency, assisted a couple with their move into permanent supportive housing in Costa Mesa. The couple lived in their vehicle for a year in Newport Beach before they enrolled into City Net’s services. City Net provided a new mattress and other household items for their new home. The couple now has access to on-site, supportive senior care services. 

–City Net toured a senior apartment building with a woman who was awarded an Emergency Housing Voucher. Emergency Housing Vouchers are funded by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and allow people to pay affordable rent based on their fixed incomes. Nine people experiencing homelessness in Newport Beach have been awarded vouchers. The voucher program is administered by the Orange County Housing Authority. City Net is assisting Newport Beach clients with completing the necessary paperwork, obtaining bank statements, touring potential rental apartments and more. 

–Seventeen people who had been experiencing homelessness in Newport Beach are now sheltered in the Costa Mesa Bridge Shelter. 

–City Net enrolled a person into their services and completed a Vulnerability Index Assessment and a Housing Assessment. City Net utilizes the Vulnerability Index Assessment to screen clients on a number of factors to determine proper placement in the county’s Continuum of Care system. Assessment factors include age, health issues and length of time being unsheltered. 

–City Net transported a client to the DMV to obtain a new photo ID.

To donate to those experiencing homelessness in Newport Beach, visit our Good Giving Program web page.

Volunteers Needed for Homeless Point in Time Count 

Sign up to help shape homeless services in Orange County for the next several years as part of the Point in Time Count, February 22 through February 24. Point in Time is a biennial count of people experiencing homelessness on a given night. The count provides vital information that helps the county better understand homelessness in the community and guides the way the county and its partners respond to homelessness in Orange County. 

Volunteer opportunities are available leading up to the event and during the Point in Time Count event. Sign up at www.everyonecountsoc.org/.

Testing and Vaccination Resources 

Self-collection, at-home COVID-19 Test Kits are available at no cost to people who work or live in Orange County and can be ordered online at https://ochealthinfo.com/covidtest. In addition, free tests are now available from the federal government through www.COVIDtests.gov or by calling 800.232.0233. You can order up to four rapid tests to be sent to your home address, which will be mailed at no cost through the U.S. Postal Service within seven-12 days. 

Vaccines continue to be widely available throughout Orange County for walk-in, same day and future appointments. Individuals who are not yet vaccinated or boosted against COVID-19 or are eligible for a third dose (due to immunocompromise conditions) are encouraged to visit a local pharmacy or healthcare provider, or go online to www.Vaccines.gov, https://MyTurn.ca.gov, or https://Othena.com, to schedule a vaccination appointment. For more information on COVID-19 information and resources, including case counts, vaccination and testing in Orange County, visit https://ochealthinfo.com/covid

City Bridge Maintenance 

A city contractor will be conducting routine maintenance on Newport Beach bridges starting this week. Bridges at Jamboree Road, 38th Street, Lido Island, Balboa Island, Bonita Canyon, and Bison Avenue and the Goldenrod Footbridge will be targeted for repairs over the next two months. Work primarily consists of sealing and repairing concrete. Most of the work will be occurring under the bridges and in the sidewalk areas but brief traffic interruptions may be required.

Beginning February 14, the contractor will be working under the Balboa Island Bridge to seal and repair concrete. No vehicle traffic interruptions will be needed for this portion of the work, but boaters are urged to use extra caution when navigating under the bridge. 

Sports Field Renovations 

The city’s Public Works Department performs athletic field renovation work twice a year, in the summer and winter, to keep fields looking new and performing well prior to the busy youth sports recreation season. This work includes dethatching, aeration, leveling, organic fertilization, seeding and topdressing and sod work for selected fields. Recently, two major athletic field renovations were completed at Irvine Terrace Park and Bonita Creek Park. The renovations involved cutting and removal of the damaged turf, grading and installation of sod, and seeding and topdressing the balance of the fields. Crews installed 40,000 square feet of sod at Irvine Terrace and 10,000 square feet of sod at Bonita Creek. On average, the city renovates 26 fields (1.8 million square feet) bi-annually. The city appreciates the patience of our residents as we create and maintain world-class athletic fields. 

Editor’s Note: Stu News received City Manager’s Updates on Friday, Feb. 11 and is subject to editing so the information is current.