Since its long-ago days as a rollicking place with canneries, fishing fleets and waterfront saloons, Balboa has earned a lasting reputation for its nightlife.
But now, amid complaints about loud partying, city officials are considering tightening alcohol regulations in the heart of the Balboa Peninsula.
The Newport Beach City Council this week directed staff to explore tighter rules for alcohol sales at restaurants and bars open past 11 p.m.
For years — if not decades — young people have been drawn to Balboa by the peninsula's beachside nightlife. On a typical weekend, the streets are packed with people walking from one tavern to the next.
However, complaints from residents about noise, crime and other problems motivated the city to step in.
During the last two years, the city has developed plans to upgrade the area, including adding trees to medians along Balboa Boulevard, making street improvements and building a commercial marina.
"This area does have a concentration of problems," said resident Denys Oberman. "There needs to be a concerted effort to communicate and enforce in areas where problems impacting public safety have manifested themselves."
New restaurants and bars are required to get a use permit and operator license from the city and obey regulations affecting hours of operation, noise, security and alcoholic beverage service. But many of Balboa's late-hour establishments were approved long before the city implemented that requirement, and they are not required to conform to all of the regulations.
The zoning amendment could affect commercial and mixed-use districts from 47th Street to Balboa Village, depending on what the council decides.
Mayor Pro Tem Diane Dixon, who represents the Balboa Peninsula, said any new regulations will not be designed to punish establishments that sell alcohol but rather to help residents and business owners coexist.
The amendment will be reviewed by the City Council at a future study session. It can then be approved by the city's Planning Commission without a council vote.