Newport Beach approves formation of steering committee for comprehensive general plan update

A view from John Wayne Park in Newport Beach.
A view of Newport Beach from John Wayne Park. The City Council has decided to form a steering committee composed of three residents for the general plan.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

The Newport Beach City Council approved this week the formation of a small steering committee to help shape the scope and oversee a future policy advisory committee for the general plan — a policy blueprint for the city that covers elements such as land use, traffic circulation, housing, public safety and open space.

Community development director Seimone Jurjis said at Tuesday’s meeting the formation of the committee will help begin the process for the general plan update and that having such a group will be helpful to city staff.

Newport Beach, along with other Orange County cities, was expected to complete and adopt its housing element by mid-October, but the state provides a 120-day grace period.


A staff report prepared for Tuesday’s meeting noted resources needed to be shifted from the comprehensive update of the general plan to focus on the housing element, due to its upcoming deadline and the challenges involved in updating it, which includes accounting for the city’s regional housing needs assessment.

With that task nearing completion, Newport Beach will be returning its attention to the nearly three-year-long process of outlining the city’s development. That process was initially launched in 2019.

The last comprehensive update to the city’s general plan was in 2006, and city staff said a number of changes in state planning law and shifts in community desire have occurred since that time.

Jurjis clarified that though the process will begin with a three-member committee, there would likely be a recommendation to form a larger policy advisory committee or separate subcommittees where residents will be allowed to get involved.

“Everything is driven by the community’s involvement,” said Jurjis.

Committee members must be residents of Newport Beach, registered voters and appointed by the mayor.

Councilman Will O’Neill, who served on the general plan update ad hoc committee with Councilman Brad Avery and Councilwoman Joy Brenner, said he remembered talks about how they wanted to have the steering committee be a citizen-driven effort.

“When you put a council member on a committee, they tend to dominate the committee,” said O’Neill. “There’s good reason for it, but that’s just how it is. Coming out of the subcommittee, our recommendation was three residents [who are] not council members.”

The steering committee will be asked to provide bimonthly updates to keep the dais apprised of its work.

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