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