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Newport Beach considers adding police on Balboa Peninsula

Should there be more police on Balboa Peninsula? Newport Beach is considering it

Police presence on the Balboa Peninsula would increase during busy times and seasons under a proposal that the Newport Beach City Council is expected to discuss Tuesday.

The plan represents the latest attempt to control rowdy behavior on the peninsula. Mayor Pro Tem Diane Dixon didn't get very far when, several months ago, she proposed creating an overlay district for the area that would place increased regulations on bars and restaurants that are open late.

The Balboa Peninsula is a hot spot for beachside nightlife, drawing young people from all over Orange County. One hundred restaurants, bars, lounges and nightclubs on the peninsula serve alcohol, and 26 are open past 11 p.m., according to the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

Peninsula residents have long complained about noise, property crime, public urination and other problems caused by waves of people, often intoxicated, walking around late at night.

During a study session on the issue last month, City Council members agreed that the problems need to be remedied, though they moved away from supporting increased regulations.

Taking direction from the council, city staffers drafted a list of recommendations in an attempt to address crime and other nuisances.

One recommendation is to add three police officers and a sergeant to provide more law enforcement attention to the peninsula during peak periods such as weekend nights and summertime.

Police department statistics indicate that the peninsula was the busiest area for police calls in 2014, with the majority of the activity on Saturdays between 10 and 11 p.m.

The cost of annual salaries and benefits for the new officers would be about $565,000, according to a staff report. The city also would be responsible for $7,700 in uniform and equipment costs, as needed.

"Increased police services on Balboa Peninsula are an important component in addressing the identified public safety and quality-of-life concerns," the report states.

Staffers recommended the option if the council determines that "budget resources are available."

The council also is expected to discuss the idea of holding quarterly meetings that would bring together Dixon — who represents the peninsula on the council — residents, police, city staffers and representatives of peninsula restaurants and bars to address concerns.

Tuesday's council meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 100 Civic Center Drive.

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