NEWPORT BEACH : Planners to Weigh Home Addition Rule

The Planning Commission is considering an ordinance governing new and existing balconies, decks, patio covers and other encroachments on Ocean Front Walk properties.

The commission is expected to approve the draft ordinance Thursday. A public hearing is scheduled for Sept. 22.

East and West Ocean Front walks present a patchwork of facades built in different eras and under different rules. The ordinance would allow property owners to build some encroachments extending up to three feet into each property’s required front yard area, which ranges from five to 10 feet.

Under the proposed rules, homeowners would be allowed to build balconies, decks, patio covers and other extensions using transparent materials. Opaque materials also would be allowed if the extension’s design is 40% open so it does not mar neighbors’ views.


“For those people who extend more than three feet or who have more (than 60% view obstruction), then they would have to apply for a modification permit,” Planning Director James Hewicker said. “There are probably over 100 front yards with balconies, decks and in some cases, room additions.”

More than half of the encroachments along both West Ocean Front and East Ocean Front are balconies, usually added with sliding glass doors, according to a report by Senior Planner W. William Ward.

Hewicker said the City Council in 1992 sought the new policy after approving two balcony permits, one of which had been granted by the city’s Modifications Committee, the other denied.

Ward’s report indicates the Modifications Committee “is reluctant to approve any encroachment absent clear council direction on the matter.”


For existing additions, the council asked that the policy target for possible destruction only those properties where the owner never got a building or modification permit.

“The possibility exists that there may have been permits issued for which the city has no record. Those permits, for those people with paperwork, will be honored,” Hewicker said.

City Atty. Robert Burnham noted in a memo that many oceanfront homes are 50 years old or older; any of those properties found in violation of the new rules would be allowed to remain intact until they are redeveloped.