Guest Column

Grace Leung

An insider’s look at what’s going on in and around City Hall

Grace Leung

Newport Beach City Manager Grace Leung   

Our next City Council meeting is (tonight) Tuesday, August 13. The following are items that may be of interest. As always, this is not a summary of the entire agenda, which can be viewed here.

The afternoon begins with the annual meeting of the Newport Beach Public Facilities Corporation at 4 p.m. This nonprofit corporation is required by the Federal IRS code in order to issue Certificates of Participation (COPs), so the City’s corporation was created in 1992 when COPs were issued for the construction of the Central Library and now also includes the COPs issued for the Civic Center Project. The Corporation consists of the Mayor and City Council members who will review the annual financial statements at this meeting.

Study Session will follow and includes two items for discussion. First is the review of the 2019 Water Rate Study. As you may recall earlier this year, the Utilities and Finance Departments kicked off a Water Rate Study, which does a deep dive into the water system financials. The City’s water system operates as an enterprise fund and all of the revenues and expenses are separately tracked, similar to a business enterprise. The cost of buying and pumping water have gone up, along with maintenance and operational costs. Also, to maintain our water system infrastructure, the City Council approved a new Water System Master Plan and the Capital Improvement program that will implement the Master Plan is in need of additional funding. It’s important to remember that water is a 24/7 service to the community and vitally important to public health and the environment. It’s been five years since the rates were increased and a rate increase is now necessary. The Finance Committee has reviewed the information and recommends that City Council consider the rate study and proposed rate adjustments. The proposed rate adjustments equate to an increase of about $3.28 per month for the average household for the first year. Following input from the community and the City Council at this study session, staff will formally present the study and proposed changes to the water rates at the September 10, 2019 Council Meeting. 

The second item for discussion is the Maintenance of Trees on Marine Avenue. As requested by City Council, City staff will discuss the current and past tree maintenance practices for the City street trees along Marine Avenue on Balboa Island. The City hired an independent arborist to conduct a tree risk assessment for the 42 Marine Avenue trees and the City’s staff arborist also conducted his own assessment and reviewed it with the hired arborist’s findings. Through these risk assessments, the City’s arborist is recommending the removal of 10 high-risk trees in this fiscal year, replacing the removed trees with 10 new eucalyptus trees. We will also be planting new eucalyptus trees in the five vacant tree wells. Staff will review the assessment report and the recommendations to maintain a healthy tree landscape while ensuring the safety of Marine Avenue for the residents, visitors and businesses.

The Regular Session begins at 7 p.m. and the following are items of note: On the consent calendar is the replacement of the Outdoor Warning System, which is used to notify community members of approaching tsunamis or other types of natural disasters. During a full power testing of the current system, we discovered the system is not fully operational, requiring parts that are difficult to obtain. Staff researched other vendors and is recommending purchase of an LRAD Corporation System, who is located on the west coast. A key improvement over the existing system is voice command capabilities. LRAD equipment is also utilized by neighboring coastal cities, providing the platform for joint activation in the future.   

For public hearing is the Call for Review of the Mesa Drive Townhomes Project, called up by Mayor Dixon. This project is an 8-unit condominium development located at 1501 Mesa Drive and 20462 Santa Ana Avenue. The project site borders the City of Costa Mesa and unincorporated Orange County (Santa Ana Country Club). 

Also for public hearing is consideration of planning and land use entitlements for Vivante Senior Housing, located at 850 and 856 San Clemente Drive, the Orange County Museum of Art site. The project will demolish the existing buildings and construct a 6-story senior housing (90 residential units) and memory care facility (27 beds). For Council consideration is a General Plan Amendment, Planned Community Development Plan amendment, development agreement, major site development review, conditional use permit, lot merger and addendum to the Environmental Impact Report.   

A contract for Park and Beach Public Restroom Janitorial Services is presented for Council consideration. The City switched from City staff provided cleaning and janitorial services for its 30 standalone park and beach restroom facilities to a contracted service provider in 2011. Since that time, we have had challenges in our contractor meeting service levels and have also experienced increased usage of these facilities over a longer period of time (extended summer seasons). We have changed contractors and increased services to address these challenges. In February 2019, following direction from City Council, we enhanced services levels, which significantly reduced complaints. We then prepared and issued an RFP for a higher level of janitorial services based on our experience and the increasing demands on the facilities. The recommended vendor is the current provider, Ed Building Maintenance. 

There is one City Council meeting in August so the next Council meeting will be September 10, 2019. As a reminder, public comment is welcome at the City Council meeting. The public can comment on any item on the agenda. If you cannot attend the meeting and/or want to communicate with the City Council directly on an item, the following email address gets to all of them: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Week in Review is also provided this week. It is posted on the City’s website; the latest edition can be found here

 Thank you for reading. Feedback is appreciated so please don’t hesitate to ask a question or offer a comment. 

Grace K. Leung

City Manager

City of Newport Beach

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.