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Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor:

It seems the planning commission is playing favorites

 If the planning commission meeting on May 23rd was to be an opportunity for residents of Newport Heights and Cliffhaven to express their views on the construction of a large house on one of their tony streets, one which offers generous views, an open forum it was not. It was not open in the sense that the large group of impassioned neighbors, who attended to speak about what they thought was the unfairness of granting several height variances for a new home, did not seem to have any influence on the commissioners’ decision; it was instead merely a forum of futile expression for those upset about the proposed project. (There were quite a few supporters there who stood up for the people who intend to build the house, but it was unclear as to how many were from the neighborhood or Newport Beach.)

It was clear at the end that the commissioners had seemingly made up their minds before reaching the dais.

Despite the oral and written pleas of residents, some of whom would be directly affected by the granting of the variances, the commission voted, with only two abstentions, to allow the variances. A few of the commissioners expressed the belief that with all the dissension, the vote to allow the variances should be delayed to try to bring the two sides together to create harmony, giving hope to those who had shown up to the meeting. But as with city council meetings, planning commission meetings and coastal commission meetings, usually these limited discussions end up as mere ”teasers,” giving the opponents false hope, even if that was not their intention. 

 If anyone else had a strong influence on the decisions of the commissioners, it was likely a former council person reaching out from the past who submitted his views in writing.

As a follow up, I would like to add that while shopping today, I ran into two acquaintances to whom I related this story. Both of them were unpleasantly surprised because they had applied for variances in the past and had been turned down. How many more residents who have been denied variances are out there and how will they feel about what transpired last Thursday? 

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

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