Newport Beach : City, Wheelworks Try for Compromise on Food

Visitors to the Balboa Peninsula who rent bicycles for touring the beach area soon may be able to order burgers to go from the same shop if a compromise can be worked out with the city and representatives of the Ocean Front Wheelworks.

Ocean Front Wheelworks, which rents roller skates and bicycles to beach-goers, appealed to the City Council to overturn the Planning Commission’s denial of a permit that would allow the shop to begin selling hamburgers, hot dogs and other fast food.

Although the commission rejected the plan because it said selling food would further intensify use of the building near the Balboa Pier, the council voted Monday to delay a final decision to give both sides a chance to work out a compromise.

The council will reconsider the appeal Sept. 23.

City Atty. Robert Burnham said a compromise could include restrictions on the hours of operation and type of food that Ocean Front Wheelworks could sell and having the business reimburse the city for the use of some municipal parking spaces.

The main thing the city wants, Burnham said, is to maintain some control over how the bike shop uses its building.


“Over the years they’ve kind of expanded the nature of the operation from a skate rental shop to a place that rents bicycles and now they want to sell food,” Burnham said. “I think that what we want to do is to ensure that there are some limits on what they can do.”

David McDonnell, an attorney representing the bike shop, said its owners are willing to compromise, but the shop needs to sell food in order to stay in business.

“It’s a definite survival issue,” he said, blaming the shop’s downturn on the recently enacted 10 p.m. Newport Beach juvenile curfew, a cooling of the roller-skating craze and a city ordinance adopted this year banning three-wheeled bikes from city sidewalks.

Additionally, the bike shop’s youthful clientele also may be part of the reason, McDonnell said, accusing some local businesses of seeking to replace the teen-agers who hang out on the peninsula with an older and wealthier crowd.

“Certain people in this city don’t want to see our business in business at all,” he said.