City Council to weigh in on conceptual drawings for Newport Beach Central Library Lecture Hall

A conceptual drawing for the exterior of the proposed Newport Beach Library Lecture Hall project.
(Courtesy of the Newport Beach Public Library Foundation)

The Central Library Lecture Hall project is coming back to the Newport Beach City Council this upcoming Tuesday, this time for approvals of the conceptual drawings and a memorandum of understanding with the Newport Beach Public Library Assn.

The project dates back to 2019, but the Public Works, Library Lecture Hall Design Committee and Library Foundation gave a presentation of the conceptual designs for council members during a September study session.

The library was built in 1994 and was later expanded in 2013. Most events are held in the library’s Friends Room, which is an estimated 2,646 square feet. Library staff estimate annual participation in programming has increased from about 28,000 participants in 2009-10 to over 72,000 by 2018-19.

Supporters of the plan for a new lecture hall say that the city has long outgrown that space, thus necessitating the need for a library lecture hall with better sight lines and audiovisual equipment.

The proposed lecture hall will encompass about 9,500 square feet and be located near the Central Library building. A staff report prepared for Tuesday’s meeting notes the hall, if approved as planned, will be able to host up to 299 people and include a green room, storage and audiovisual control room.

Current estimates place the project at a cost of $12.8 million with the price to be split evenly — $6.5 million each — between the city and the Newport Beach Public Library Foundation. Original estimates carried an $8-million price tag.

The Newport Beach City Council will be reviewing the memorandum of understanding between the city and the foundation, the project and its costs, and, if approved, directing staff to prepare and complete the construction documents for the lecture hall before putting it out to bid.

Code amendments to be considered

Additionally, council members will be looking at two code amendments related to tattoo establishments and short-term lodging, both citywide and on Newport Island.

The code amendments for tattoo parlors are intended to bring current city development standards to be consistent with state and case law. Meanwhile, the code amendments for short-term lodging deal with establishing a maximum cap of 1,550 permits and a minimum stay of two consecutive nights.

Newport Island would see a maximum of 20 permits with the requirement that those short-term lodgings be owner-occupied and managed. Approvals would also establish a maximum daytime and overnight occupancy limit, restrict rentals to one renter per week and establishing minimum parking requirements.

The short-term lodging amendments were approved by the City Council in October and were then submitted to the California Coastal Commission. A staff report prepared for the item said the commission accepted the proposals as written with minor modifications that council members will either need to fully accept or reject at Tuesday night’s public hearing.

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