Light council agenda includes study session on city’s inclusion in statewide association, Lower Castaways Park committee, Balboa Yacht Basin marina design services


Newport Beach City Council has a light agenda tonight.

Although nothing is listed for discussion during regular business at tonight’s meeting (Tuesday, Feb. 27), there are a few interesting items during the study session and on the consent calendar, including: Review of the city’s membership in the League of California Cities; establishing a Lower Castaways Park Ad Hoc Committee; a professional agreement for Balboa Yacht Basin Marina design consulting services; Cultural Arts Grants for fiscal year 2023-24 and the fiscal year 2023-24 second quarter financial report.

During the study session, council will review the city’s membership in the League of California Cities.

At the January 23 council meeting, during matters which councilmembers have asked to be placed on a future agenda, Mayor Will O’Neill requested a study session to discuss whether the benefits of membership in the Cal Cities outweighs the “downside of Cal Cities’ consistent policy positions that contradict resolutions and priorities articulated by this City Council.” A straw vote of 7-0 brought the item back for a full discussion.

The association has 476 members, including Newport Beach for many years. Its primary activities include advocacy and education. Annual dues are based on population and are currently $24,800 for the city.

During the regular meeting tonight, O’Neill has another item he’s asking the council to consider placing on a future agenda: Consider forming an ad hoc committee to negotiate the terms of the Visit Newport Beach contract for destination marketing services.

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Courtesy of City of Newport Beach

City Council will consider forming an ad hoc committee to look into the potential use of Lower Castaways Park

Later in the meeting, on the consent calendar (items considered routine and usually voted in one motion without discussion unless a councilmember pulls the item), council will consider establishing the Lower Castaways Park Ad Hoc Committee. Mayor Pro Tem Joe Stapleton, and councilmembers Robyn Grant and Noah Blom are identified in the staff report to serve on the committee.

At the council’s February 3 planning session, Stapleton mentioned making better use of the property. O’Neill suggested an ad hoc committee and noted that the group can work on what the vision is for the space.

According to the staff report, Lower Castaways Park is not identified in any plan for new improvements and/or recreational opportunities at this time.

If the item is approved tonight, the committee would work with staff and make a recommendation to the entire council regarding use or redevelopment plans for the park.

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Also on the consent calendar, council will consider a professional services agreement with Anchor QEA, LLC, for Balboa Yacht Basin Marina design consulting services.

According to the staff report, the 40-year-old marina has exceeded its useful life and requires replacement. The city’s harbor and beaches master plan calls for replacement of the 172-slip marina, located at 829 Harbor Island Drive, in 2026.

If approved, the Irvine-based Anchor QEA will design the marina, prepare the necessary construction documents and provide engineering support during the construction project.

The BYB marina has maintained an occupancy rate of 95-100% over the past 20 years, according to staff. It’s been favored by the public for decades because it’s well maintained, secluded and the slip rates are reasonably priced, staff explains in the report.

The current configuration is comprised of five headwalks with separate gangways leading to each headwalk. Staff notes that this is the most efficient design for this protected cove, and the redesign efforts will maintain this configuration.

The slip sizes currently range from 31 to 75 feet with the average slips in the 30-to-40-foot range. The redesigned slips will be sized to accommodate modern vessels, which tend to be wider than the vessels of 40 years ago. The slip mix (the range of slip sizes throughout the marina) will generally remain the same, yet with similar slip sizes consolidated for maximum layout efficiency.

The public vessel sewage pumpout station currently located at the BYB will be incorporated into the new design.

Staff issued a request for proposals for the design work in September and received submissions from five firms. After a review team ranked the proposals, Anchor QEA scored the highest.

Also on the consent calendar, council will consider the Cultural Arts Grants for fiscal year 2023-24. The city’s budget includes $30,000 to fund specific cultural or artistic programs as approved by the council.

The Arts Commission has the responsibility to review all programs and requests from arts groups and make recommendations to council. Commissioners reviewed grant funding proposals from seven local arts organizations and recommends funding for six organizations, totaling $25,000.

In determining grant support, the commission first considers local arts groups located within the City of Newport Beach and offering programs to residents. Next, commissioners consider groups located in Orange County and California that offer programs to locals.

Commissioners evaluated the organizations based on service to the public, artistic/programmatic excellence and managerial/fiscal competence. According to the staff report, they paid particular attention to the financial prudence of the applicants. After careful deliberation, commissioners ultimately decided to recommend: $4,000 to Backhausdance; $3,000 to the Balboa Island Improvement Association; $4,500 to the Baroque Music Festival, CdM; $5,000 to Pacific Chorale; $3,500 to Pacific Symphony and $5,000 to South Coast Repertory.

Also on the council’s consent calendar is the FY 2023-24 financial report for the second quarter.

The finance department prepares quarterly reports to review the status of revenues and expenditures for the city’s general fund and to monitor budgetary trends in other city funds.

The FY 2023-24 second quarter financial report reflects a $7.7 million general fund operating surplus based on analysis of the city’s financial activity from July through December 2023.

The council agenda is available online here. The study session starts at 4 p.m., followed by the closed session, and the regular meeting at 5 p.m.

The meeting can be watched live on the local NBTV channel (Spectrum 3 or Cox 852) or on the city’s website here.

Members of the public may speak in person in council chambers (there is not a remote or online option to participate).

Questions and comments can be submitted in writing for City Council consideration by sending them to the city clerk at To give the council adequate time to review comments, written comments were submitted by 5 p.m. on February 26 (the day before the City Council meeting). Correspondence received by this deadline were uploaded to the agenda packet by February 26 at 5:30 p.m. and can be viewed here.

Material received after the deadline and prior to 2 p.m. on today (the day of the meeting) will be provided to the council in hard copy and will be available to the public at the meeting.


Sara Hall covers City Hall and is a regular contributor to Stu News Newport.