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NEWPORT BEACH : Limit on Building Heights Rejected

The City Council this week narrowly defeated a plan to regulate building heights in the Corona Highlands neighborhood, despite a petition and a survey showing that homeowners favored the proposed ordinance.

The vote outraged some homeowners and Mayor Phil Sansone, who called on his council colleagues to “reconsider and think of your constituents and not these harebrained ideas you have come up with.”

The ordinance would have set height limits at 16 feet from the highest spot on individual properties in the neighborhood, and would have forced developers to appeal to City Hall if they wanted to build higher.

The council voted 4 to 3 against the ordinance. Sansone, Evelyn R. Hart and Jean H. Watt had supported the proposal.

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“Everybody’s real disappointed,” said Mark S. Cardelucci, president of the Corona Highlands Property Owners Assn., which supported the plan and brought it to the council for approval. More than 100 residents signed a petition in favor of the ordinance, and a survey showed that 70% of residents supported the proposed law.

Currently, the homeowners group recommends a 16-foot height limit, but the city allows structures of up to 29 feet high.

Supporters said a city ordinance was necessary because the group had no power to enforce its own regulations. They charged that developers have exceeded height limits and ruined the view of mountains and the ocean that surrounds the community.

“This ordinance would probably be the most restrictive ordinance on residential property in Newport Beach,” said Hal Woods, a resident who said he has friends building in the area. “Views are very important, but so are individual property rights.”

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