Residents push forward appeal of controversial Mariners Mile project to Coastal Commission
It appears that the end is not yet in sight for the developers of the 2510 W. Coast Highway Project.
After the Newport Beach City Council voted to uphold a February decision by the city’s planning commission to approve the mixed-use development on Mariners Mile, residents have said they will file an appeal of the project to the state Coastal Commission.
Since February, the 2510 W. Coast Highway project has undergone significant changes. Its initial proposal to develop a 11,266-square-foot boutique auto showroom was scrapped in favor of a 5,096-square-foot office space and its exterior architecture was likewise altered to mirror the style of the Lido House Hotel.
Residences were also bumped up to 36, with three to be affordable.
James Carlson, chairman of the Coalition to Protect Mariners Mile that is seeking appeal of the project, said that while the overall style of the project is now more in line with residents’ vision for Mariners Mile, the height of it — proposed to be at a maximum of 35 feet — still remains a point of contention due to its impacts on John Wayne Park.
“All they would have to do is take it down about four feet, slope it down a little and it’d be acceptable. It’s really about the height and the view impact from the park,” Carlson said, adding that residents wanted to see story poles put up and that the coalition felt that view simulations done by the developer were not accurate.
“That park is so unique that you could sit in your car, in a bench, on the grass and get a great view,” said Carlson. “The views are difficult to simulate because there’s so many of them.
“That park technically goes down to Avon Street, so you can stand on the bottom step and be totally blocked from the view you have now. There’s benches on another level and people sit on those benches. You go up another set of steps and there’s a parking lot. People park their cars, eat their lunch, their dinners, look at the ocean and grass,” said Carlson. “There’s so many different vantage points.”
Community development director Seimone Jurjis said that Coastal Commission staff found that a portion of the 2510 W. Coast Highway project falls within the commission’s appealable jurisdiction. That portion is the front 10 feet of the property on Pacific Coast Highway.
Jurjis said that appeals to the Coastal Commission are two-step processes.
What comes next is a “substantial issue” hearing, in which commissioners will determine if there is a substantial issue with the 10-foot area. Jurjis said that means commissioners will only be considering what is within that portion, which is the street dedication, landscaping, the public sidewalk and driveway.
“The proposed building sits outside the appealable area, therefore we don’t think it would be considered in the substantial issue hearing,” said Jurjis in an e-mail. “If the Coastal Commissioners find ‘no substantial issue’ then the project as the City Council approved stands.”
“If Coastal Commissioners find that a ‘substantial issue’ exists in that 10-foot portion, then the appeal moves to the next step, which is a full appeal hearing. In an appeal hearing the entire project, which would include the building, is subject to review,” he added.
Carlson said the coalition believes there is enough evidence on their side for the Coastal Commission to pick up the appeal of the project. To that end, a campaign with an Aug. 15 deadline is underway to secure signatures of concerned residents willing to show their support for the cause.
But Mark Moshayedi, the applicant for the project, argued that it’s just not possible to lower the building height as residents have asked.
“Avon Street, in the back, has to slope and meet [Americans with Disabilities Act] requirements and then there’s Pacific Coast Highway on the other side,” said Moshayedi. “If we go down four feet, we’re going to have to pump any rain water out of it and we won’t meet the slope requirements.”
“We’ve taken it down as far as possible. We’ve shared that with city staff. Short of us going subterranean, which would completely change the economics all together. You can’t even build it. It wouldn’t be affordable anymore to build,” he added.
Moshayedi said the project was built within the guidelines of the city and that residents should direct their grievances at city code, adding that he spent $500,000 to redesign the 2510 W. Coast Highway project.
“If I want to build a tent on the property, they will appeal it to whatever they can appeal it to to at least slow down the project. It is what it is,” said Moshayedi. “I’m a long-term resident of Newport Beach. We’re not going anywhere.
“The land is not going anywhere. Eventually, we’re going to prevail and we’ll be able to build what has been allowed by the city of Newport Beach,” Moshayedi said.
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