Newport council to consider land purchase for new firehouse

Newport Beach is poised to spend $4 million on land to provide a new home for the Lido-area fire station.

The City Council will decide Tuesday whether to approve the purchase of a 17,693-square-foot — or 0.4-acre — parcel at 2807 Newport Blvd. to build a firehouse to replace an aging, undersized facility at 475 32nd St.

The 32nd Street fire station was built in 1953 and sits on 11,612 square feet with limited onsite parking for fire personnel. Its garage cannot fit the ladder truck, fire engine and two ambulances assigned to the station all at one time, and it lacks pull-through access for the large ladder truck, requiring firefighters to stand in the street to pause traffic so the truck can back in, according to a city staff report.

A McDonald’s restaurant most recently stood at the potential replacement site. Its owners, MNG Newport Beach, bought it last summer with plans to develop a shopping center, but had not yet started building when city staff approached them earlier this year with an offer to buy, the staff report said.

The purchase price is $4 million, plus $10,000 in closing costs.

If the council approves the purchase, the city can begin an 18-month design and entitlement process, followed by 14 months of construction, making the station ready around mid-2020.

Sewer rate hearing

The council could also take a major step toward the city’s first wastewater rate increase in more than 10 years.

City utilities staff is proposing a hike that would add about $2.35 a month to the typical household bill starting next year. Rates would continue to increase incrementally through 2022.

Sewer rates have not been adjusted since 2006. A structural deficit has grown in that time, requiring a $3.5-million transfer from the general fund to the wastewater fund last year.

The council will hold a public hearing on the matter at the meeting, where ratepayers can discuss the issue. City residents were notified of the proposed increase in late July.

If the council approves the hike Tuesday, it would be finalized with a second vote later this month.

Most residential wastewater customers currently pay a fixed charge of $4.50 per month and a use charge of 35 cents per hundred cubic feet of water used (a hundred cubic feet, or HCF, equals 748 gallons).

The proposed rate structure raises most residential fixed fees to $6.46 per month as of Jan. 1, with the per-HCF rate increasing to 38 cents. It continues to raise rates over the next four years, peaking in 2022 at $8.55 in fixed charges and 54 cents per HCF.

For the typical residential customer with an average wastewater use of about 12 HCF, the new rate structure would increase the total monthly bill next year from $8.63 to $10.99.

Tuesday’s meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. with a study session, followed by the regular session at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 100 Civic Center Drive.

hillary.davis@latimes.com

Twitter: @Daily_PilotHD

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