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Local coastal plan amendment for short-term rentals on Newport Island delayed

A woman walks her dog
A woman walks her dog past a waterfront short-term rental on Newport Island.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

The Newport Beach City Council voted unanimously this month to delay discussion of a potential amendment to the city’s local coastal program in favor of providing city staff with more time to collaborate with the state Coastal Commission on the issue.

In July, city officials approved reforms to short-term rental regulations throughout the city. They also approved additional requirements for rental properties in October.

According to a city staff report, Newport Beach has 1,500 active short-term lodging permits, including 1,436 on coastal zone properties and 64 on non-coastal zone properties.

Newport Island was not included in the sweeping reforms. It is tucked into the northwest corner of Newport Harbor and has only six roads. There are about 110 homes there and at least 18 of them are permitted vacation rentals.

Frustration over short-term rentals on Newport Island has continued as residents contend with noise, illegal parking and discourteous driving, with neighbors calling for a moratorium on vacation rental permits last spring.

Residents citywide have made similar complaints, emphasizing a need for enforcement, while some operators of the rentals have balked at the “second phase” of reforms approved in October.

But that month, as part of the vote for reforms to short-term rentals in Newport Beach as a whole, the City Council voted to have city staff return with options that could possibly freeze issuance of permits on Newport Island and transition to owner-occupied and owner-operated short-term rental units there over a 12-month period, after approval by the state Coastal Commission.

The Planning Commission in December was given a presentation on the possible amendment to the local coastal program and voted then to recommend the City Council to deny the amendment as written.

The proposed amendment is now in the hands of city staff to be reworked. John Pope, a spokesman for Newport Beach, said Thursday that it is uncertain when the item will return before City Council.

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