Commentary: Why I voted in favor of the Museum House proposal

Donald Trump works his butt off in Ohio, Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania. Trump wins the electoral college vote and beats Hillary Clinton. Afterward, Clinton supporters claim that it is really the popular vote that is important and she wins.

That is what the SPON (Stop Polluting Our Newport) people wanted to happen at the council meeting last Tuesday, when the council approved the Museum House Project on a 6-1 vote. To explain, I will need to give a little background.

The zoning in Newport Beach is governed by a citizens' initiative that called itself "Greenlight." Their theory, back in 2000, was that all the development that was being approved was creating all this traffic; and we like our sleepy little seaside town the way it is (in the middle of a 3.1-million resident urban county).

They wanted "green lights" when they drove around town, or so the story goes. In effect this ballot-box planning limits each planning area of the city to a maximum of 100 Dwelling Units (DUs) or 40,000 square feet of nonresidential space every 10 years, unless you go to the voters for voter approval of your project. Basically, stopping all growth.

In fact, if you wanted to add on 200 square feet to your restaurant, because you were so successful, and there were no square feet left in your area, you would have to go to the voters for approval. It is a very complicated zoning law. It is unlikely that the restaurant would ever expand. That is not just "slow growth," that is rolling up the drawbridge and telling the world that I have got mine and you are not getting yours, which is how the rest of the county looks at us from Newport.

Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA) wants to sell its 2-acre parcel in Newport Center and relocate to a parcel given to OCMA by the Segerstroms over by the Performing Arts Center. OCMA is selling to a company called Related, which is proposing to build a residential building for 100 DUs.

It will be a high-end residential condo tower designed by renowned architect Robert Stern. The height is in line with the other towers of Fashion Island and below the predominant line of development, unlike the PIMCO tower or the Irvine Co. tower, which are boring buildings and exceed that line.

Related has spent over $1 million coming up with a design that complies with all the complicated rules of Greenlight, and it passed the Planning Commission, 7-0.

SPON, although I like to spell it SPAWN (Still Pouting And Whining in Newport), is entitled to its opinion, but they are not entitled to their own facts.

SPON says a general plan amendment is needed, therefore we are ruining Newport. In fact, Greenlight was designed to require a GPA and any residential project of any size requires a GPA.

SPON says the project exceeds the height limits and that 25 stories is too much. Museum House has the same limitations as the rest of the high rises, but residential can get more stories in the same height, and it is on a lower piece of ground, so it actually appears less.

SPON says the project increases traffic. How can you add 100 DUs and not increase traffic? When is enough enough? In fact, the project has about the same amount of traffic as the current rundown OCMA currently uses, and if OCMA was successful it would be less traffic than existing. Additionally, one resident opined that the traffic generated by this project is less than a single Starbucks.

Since SPON has shown its tendencies to distort, the City Council made sure that the resolution had all the supporting documents attached to it so that the petitions have to include all 1,500 pages or more. So even though we cannot stop a petitioner from misstating facts about the project, at least the facts will be there for a signor to review, should they decide to.

I recommend that you say no to SPAWN, if they approach you at a shopping center to sign their petition. Tell them you like the electoral college.

SCOTT PEOTTER is a Newport Beach councilman.

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