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Commentary: Joint effort is leading to Balboa Peninsula solutions

This week, for the first time in a long time, Newport Beach moved to address some of the problems associated with the concentration of alcohol-serving establishments on the Balboa Peninsula.

And for perhaps the first time ever, the city did it without ordinances or regulations or permit requirements or some other imposition of government authority.

Instead, the city basically served as a facilitator, getting everyone involved in a room to talk, listen and problem-solve.

The result is a voluntary code of best practices that I hope eventually all of the establishments will sign on to. It will be honed, implemented and monitored by regular meetings of the business owners as well as police and community representatives.

A second prong will be a plan to get more police "boots on the ground" during peak hours, so officers can respond more quickly to problems as they arise and also be a visible deterrent to bad behavior. This may require further City Council action, which I believe will be forthcoming.

This plan has the support of business owners, residents and the police. The City Council will formally consider it at its next meeting, and based on comments at this week's study session, I believe it will be supported.

Under the plan, the business owners will take several steps, including training employees, equipping security personnel with radio headsets and monitoring interior public areas and the outside premises with video cameras.

I, and my fellow council members, want to thank everyone involved in the process so far for lending viewpoints and advice on this complicated issue.

Thank you, residents, for your time and determination to begin a constructive conversation.

Thank you, business owners, for your cooperative spirit and efforts, and for taking the problems seriously and coming up with a sensible and voluntary code of conduct for alcohol-related businesses in the area.

Thank you, police and city staff, for providing the crime data and other information that helped everyone understand the problems and identify potentially viable solutions.

I think the community has created a plan that could very well lessen the nighttime incidents that are concerning to the residents and police. I would like to see it given a chance to work.

This process has been an example of what can be done when people, instead of leaping into conflict, come together, express their views and concerns, listen respectfully and carefully to others, and try to work out a solution that's fair and acceptable to all. In short, when we all listen up and wise up, instead of lawyering up.

Building a strong and vibrant community takes everyone's effort and commitment. We want to work together because it is the right thing to do. It is how communities succeed in providing safe neighborhoods for residents and a vibrant business environment for merchants.

I am committed to continuing the open dialogue as we move forward, making the peninsula a more hospitable place for residents, business owners and visitors.

DIANE DIXON is mayor pro tem of Newport Beach.

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