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