Los Angeles Times

Mailbag: Make your voice heard on General Plan amendments

You be the judge. Newport Beach voters have a chance to decide: car wash or another hotel? Height limits or no height limits?

This issue is raised in the planned July 8 City Council vote on a new General Plan amendment that will allow more-intense development and traffic in major commercial areas of the city. Along with increases in Newport Center and the airport area are what can be called "free riders." One free rider can be described as follows:

•Council-authorized planning for a general plan land use amendment;

•The amendment calls for increased development in several areas, predominantly Newport Center and the airport;

•When a general plan amendment is proposed, property owners can jump on the bandwagon and get their project included, sort of like a free rider;

•This time one of the riders is the property in Newport Center currently operating as a carwash — which, by the way, serves a large eastern swath of Newport Beach as well as Corona del Mar;

•The proposal is to change the car wash into a 125 room hotel;

•One problem is that the description of a hotel with 125 rooms also includes "ancillary" facilities, which can be restaurants, spas, meeting rooms, ballrooms, you name it — so we don't know how big it will really be;

•Another problem is that the amendment calls for an undefined increase in height where there is a two-story height limit that protects views of the ocean and Catalina.

We aren't told anywhere in the amendment how high it will be. Six stories? Eight stories? Go to the area where Muldoon's is and look across the carwash to get a perspective on the view issue.

Most voters are busy with their lives and have to rely on the city's planners and elected officials to do the right thing. But can they? You be the judge.

This rider will be hidden in the ballot language in November unless the council denies the amendment July 8. Go to the Stop Polluting Our Newport (SPON) website, www.SPON-newportbeach.org, or the city's website, for more information. Let the council know what you think. Car wash or hotel? Height limits or no height limits?

Jean Watt

Newport Beach


Save the Neighborhood Center

Is the Neighborhood Community Center fully used? During a recent City Council meeting, Mayor Jim Righeimer proposed to convert the Neighborhood Community Center to a new central library, partly because the NCC was lightly used! In a May 28 Daily Pilot commentary, he reported that this (conversion from the NCC) is currently being planned.

Is the NCC actually seldom used?

The "Neighborhood Community Center Group Rental Information 2013" full-year usage report shows the NCC Large Room was used 340 days! The many small meeting rooms were used 379 times, for a total of 719 days of rental usage of the facility in 2013. Forty-two different users of the NCC were listed in the report, in which the Newport-Mesa Unified School District was listed only once.

The latter, with its several campuses, used the large room 141 times. I note that the main room may be separately used day and evening, but the frequently required set-up and later close down/clean-up times may limit much of any potential twice-daily usage.

The Harbor Seniors Bridge Club used the small rooms 51 times. Twenty-six other groups also used those small rooms — many using them monthly. Again, these report data do not include any added municipal usage. Note that the city elected officials likely had also received this report. Hence the mayor's statement that the NCC has seen little usage is surprising!

In a recent local gathering, I briefly raised the topic of the potential loss of the NCC. This brought out a surprising, almost-total support of the large group for the saving of the NCC. The City Council should stop the contemplated abandonment of this valuable major Neighborhood Community Center for our city.

Frank Forbath

Costa Mesa


Respect the flag and our traditions

With Flag Day having just passed June 14, I had to impart some pieces of observance.

First off, I am totally miffed by the disregard people have for our flag and the protocol associated with our national anthem. Case in point, at recent baseball games and other public events when the national anthem is played, people are sitting in their seats chatting or texting. Those who show the civility to stand do not remove their hats, do not place their hands over their heart and just bounce around.

Soldiers have and are giving their lives for this freedom and the least the civilians should do is follow the protocol and time honored tradition in honor of our nation and flag. This was not added after 9/11; it has been the protocol since 1776. The added salt in the wound is when parents let their kids run amuck during the anthem, let alone their own disrespectful behavior.

Tradition is tradition, as is the protocol associated with it. If we start tossing that out then we are throwing all that our country should embrace under the bus.

Happy Flag Day and think of it and those who sacrificed.

Drew Kovacs

Huntington Beach


Thanks for the good letter

Re. "It's OK to fence Adams Elementary" (May 4): I was so happy to read the letter from Margaret Mooney in Sunday's paper. I was heartened by her willingness to come to the campus when invited by Principal Gabe Del Real and school board trustee Vicki Snell, and by her open-minded willingness to re-consider the issue. She made excellent, valid and rational points in her letter. As someone who works at Adams Elementary School, I've always been on the side of fencing the full school property. I only hope her letter will encourage any of her neighbors who still oppose the full-fence layout to reconsider their views in light of what's best for the school-children of Adams.

Deborah Lucas

Newport Beach

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