Newport Beach Planning Commission receives progress report on general plan update

Newport Beach Civic Center.
The Newport Beach Planning Commission received a report on the general plan update, which began in 2019 but was postponed in favor of prioritizing the housing element.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Newport Beach planning commissioners received a progress report on the general plan earlier this month, addressing and noting what still remains to be done for a comprehensive update of the city’s blueprint.

The city launched efforts to conduct a comprehensive update to its general plan in 2019, though those efforts were shifted to focus predominantly on the city’s housing and circulation element. With that now in the hands of the California Department of Housing and Community Development, city staff now are turning their efforts toward the general plan as a whole.

Assistant planner Melinda Whelan said such an update hasn’t been performed since 2006. A tentative schedule suggests a full update will take at least two years.

That update will include making changes to the land use element to match changes to the housing element and bringing other parts of the framework into conformance with existing city code and state law.

The formation of a steering committee to help guide that update was approved in January by the City Council, though Whelan said the appointments have not yet been formally made.

The presentation primarily still focused on the housing element, which though adopted has not been formally finalized as the state will issue comments by mid-April. Those comments then need to be heard by the City Council. Whelan expects public hearings for the circulation element to take place in the summer.

According to city staff, there were 16 very low-income affordable entitlements and 359 moderate- to above-moderate income entitlements granted in 2021 for major housing projects such as the Residences at Newport Center, Residences at Von Karman and 2510 West Coast Highway.

Most recently, the city granted entitlements to another housing project, Residences at 1300 Bristol St.

In terms of permitted units, 44 were produced in total last year, which deputy community development director Jim Campbell said to commissioners was “actually pretty good.

“Within the housing element, our anticipation over the next eight years is to produce 240. Originally, we wanted to go in with over a thousand, but the state said, ‘No, that’s too aggressive.’ But within the first year, we’ve got 50 that we can count towards meeting our [regional housing needs assessment] goal so that’s a good start in the first year.”

Newport Beach is expected to allow for more than 4,000 additional housing units by the time the next housing cycle comes around in eight years.

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