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Newport Approves Cannery Village Plan : Citizens Heatedly Oppose Lido Isle Shopping Center Development

Times Staff Writer

Despite the strong objections of Lido Isle residents, the Newport Beach City Council on Monday night approved a massive development plan for the city’s Cannery Village-McFadden Square area on the waterfront.

The keystone of the city’s controversial plan would be a specialty retail shopping center with a parking structure. Surrounding this core of retail shops would be other shops, offices and marine-related light industrial businesses.

Cannery Village-McFadden Square now includes a mix of commercial, industrial, residential, office and retail properties. The proposal would allow the same mix, but “in a more orderly fashion,” by spurring revitalization of the area by developers, city planners said.

“We’ve waited years to see some improvement in this area. At least we are making some strides to clean up an absolute mess. I get awfully tired off putting things off,” said Mayor Philip Maurer.

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Further Congestion Predicted

However, residents contended that the quaint waterfront area does not need a face lift and predicted that Balboa Peninsula streets will suffer further traffic congestion if the 40-acre area is developed as proposed.

“Turning Cannery Village into an end-destination tourist attraction with malls, promenades, hotels and chic shops and boutiques with phony nautical facades is just what we don’t need,” said Bill Palmer, president of the Lido Isle Community Assn.

“We believe the Cannery Village section of the plan needs serious rethinking before you embark on such an ambitious and expensive development plan,” he added.

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Judy Rosener, a 25-year resident of Lido Isle and former member of the California Coastal Commission, said Newport Beach has been transformed from a resort city to a commercial center.

She disputed city planners, who suggested that the development would actually ease traffic congestion.

“Have you ever seen more development cause less traffic? It’s a joke,” Rosener told the council.

Other residents said funds are needed for street, sidewalk and flood-control improvements before the project should be allowed.

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The estimated cost for the Cannery Village-McFadden Square project is $13.5 million, which would go for street improvements and a parking structure. However, more than half of that money must come from local property owners, who would first have to agree to assess themselves a fee to pay for the improvements.

Bruce Blackman, who has owned a jewelry business in Lido Village since 1959, said high turnover in businesses there, as well as empty stores, do not justify the new development.

“You should look at the turnover of businesses and how successful they really have been. Only three businesses have been there since the beginning and others have had eight to 10 turnovers. Now you’re talking about putting in a large retail center,” Blackman said.

‘Service or Disservice?’

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“Are we doing those people a service or a disservice? Businesses that serve the community seem to survive. Those that serve tourists don’t seem to survive. I question whether this project (would help the area),” he said.

Before the city can proceed with the proposed development, however, the plan would need the approval of the California Coastal Commission.

Also, the city would have to purchase a dozen businesses and privately owned lots to make way for a parking structure and some street rights of way. Residential structures would not be affected by the plan.

Voting in favor of the project were council members Bill Agee, John Cox, Evelyn Hart, Jackie Heather, Ruthelyn Plummer and Maurer. The lone vote against the project was Councilman Donald Strauss, who argued unsuccessfully to have the matter continued another two weeks.

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In a separate action earlier, the council voted to withdraw its proposal to condemn three lots located at 411-415 30th St. for a parking structure to serve the Cannery Village area. The council said it would now look elsewhere for parking space.


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