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Decades-old Balboa Peninsula flagpole is removed

People on bicycles ride by flagpole
The Newport Beach Public Works Department in June posted a removal notice on a flagpole on the boardwalk near Adams Street by the Balboa Pier.
(Scott Smeltzer / Times Community News)

Old Glory will no longer sway in the breeze near a portion of the oceanfront Newport-Balboa Bike Trail where a flagpole stood for decades.

The pole was the subject of civic scrutiny in June, when residents discovered that Newport Beach’s Code Enforcement Division had marked it with a removal tag. The matter was brought to the city’s attention via a complaint from a resident.

Neighbors say the flagpole stood near Adams Street for at least 50 years. Officials say they aren’t sure when it was put up or who was responsible for its installation years ago. The pole was initially set to be removed in June, but that action was paused while the city investigated its origins and studied whether the land it was on belonged to the city or state.

Residents said the pole was removed one morning last week; city officials confirmed its removal.

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City spokesman John Pope said the city posted the removal tag in hopes that someone would claim ownership of the pole, and a resident eventually did. Pope said the city determined that the pole lacked a permit and encroached on beach property.

He said the city reached out to the owner and offered two options for compliance with regulations: The owner could acquire a permit, which would require a number of steps before it would arrive before the City Council and eventually the state Coastal Commission, or it could be moved onto the owner’s property at the city’s expense.

“We wanted to give the owner ... plenty of time to be able to respond. Initially, she had said no to our permit request, and we came back and called her several times and left several messages about the alternative,” Pope said. “Once we didn’t hear back, we felt like we really reached out several times to make sure we could connect and give her time, but we needed to move forward at that point.”

The decision was made in mid-August to remove the pole.

“Our position is that it was an unpermitted beach encroachment, regardless of the type of property,” Pope said. “It’s illegal. It raises concerns about liability and public access. There’s the matter of the Coastal Commission as well.”

He added: “We have about 30 flagpoles in public areas throughout the city at fire departments, parks, piers. Those are maintained by the city. We have a lot of flags out there, but ultimately this was one that was unpermitted and illegal, and after discussing alternatives, we took the step of removal.”

The flagpole owner could not be reached for comment.

Nguyen writes for Times Community News.


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