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Development in Mariners Mile inches along with Newport Planning Commission approvals

A view of Mariners Mile
A view of Mariners Mile looking south along Pacific Coast Highway.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

A proposed mixed-use project on Mariners Mile moved closer to fruition after receiving a round of permit approvals from the Newport Beach Planning Commission on Thursday, to the dismay of some concerned residents.

Mariners Mile is a 1.3-mile-long stretch of Pacific Coast Highway between Newport Boulevard and Dover Drive.

The commission approved on a 5-1 vote a resolution that includes a coastal development permit, conditional use permit, site development review and a tentative parcel map. Planning Commission Chair Erik Weigand dissented and Commissioner Lauren Kleiman was absent.

The proposed project would replace an existing marine sales facility with a development that is expected to consist of three stories of 35 residential units and a one-story 11,266-square-foot boutique auto showroom, according to a city staff report. At least three of those residential units will be priced for low-income households.

It will be located at 2510 and 2530 West Coast Highway.

Principal planner Matt Schneider said Thursday in his presentation that the marine sales facility was established in 1960, but later expanded into the adjacent 2530 West Coast Highway property in 2001. In total, the project will account for 45,372-square-feet.

A view of Mariners Mile looking south along Pacific Coast Highway.
A view of Mariners Mile looking south along Pacific Coast Highway.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

City staff said discussion of the project was scheduled for January, but it was delayed after residents requested additional time to review the project. Those attending a February Zoom meeting on the project raised concerns to applicant Mark Moshayedi about the obstruction of views and increased traffic along Coast Highway and Tustin Avenue, where the project is located.

Similar concerns arose again during the nearly three-hour-long public hearing this week on the project, with residents filling the community room to voice their concerns about the development proposed for Mariners Mile.

This is not related to the Newport Village project, which is a mixed-use development expected to take up a third of Mariners Mile.

Sue Leal, a Newport Beach resident who lives on Tustin Avenue, said she was extremely disappointed and frustrated by the decision. She spoke during public comment during the meeting Thursday. Leal said she was concerned about traffic and safety for pedestrians.

“I am very concerned that this project will set a precedence for the rest of Mariners Mile projects,” Leal said in an email to a reporter Friday, adding that she was worried about those regular pedestrians and children who use the street to walk to and from school. “We lost our battle.”

A view of Mariners Mile looking south along Pacific Coast Highway.
A view of Mariners Mile looking south along Pacific Coast Highway.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Peggy Palmer, a treasurer for the Coalition to Protect Mariner’s Mile, said in phone interview Friday that the organization isn’t against development, but wants the city to be more transparent. Palmer said she felt there should have been more community outreach and that the concerns of residents weren’t being heard.

“We realize Mariners Mile needs a facelift, but this project has no added value to the community. This project does more harm than good,” Palmer said. “Mariners Mile shouldn’t become Miami Mile.”

Plans to revitalize Mariners Mile were stalled in 2017, but the item may return after the completion of the update to the city’s general plan, an overall policy document that guides long-term local planning and zoning decisions. That process began in the fall of 2019.

There has not yet been a decision by the coalition on whether or not to appeal the project to City Council, said Palmer.

“As we proceed with the growth of Mariners Mile, we just want to make sure that we have a community consensus that this is a project that is going to be compatible and be enjoyed by residents, tourists and guests all alike,” she said.

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