Coastal Commission extends ruling on Newport Beach flood zones

A temporary sandbag seawall set up to prevent flooding during high tide.
A temporary seawall was set up to prevent flooding during high tide in Newport Beach in 2017.
(Drew A. Kelley)
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The deadline for a decision on whether or not Newport Beach will be allowed to establish new development standards for 166 properties between 24th and 48th streets as part of its local coastal program has been postponed another year.

The state Coastal Commission approved an extension Friday as part of a consent action item. The application was filed by the city in September, and without the extension’s approval a decision would have been required to be made by July. Commission staff said they needed more time to review the proposed amendments in full before they could make a recommendation.

The application is split into two parts: The first would update minimum off-street parking requirements for commercial uses and the second would modify standards for properties identified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as “special flood hazard areas” in the city. The Newport Beach City Council voted for submission of the amendments in June 2023.


In a report prepared for last June’s meeting, city staff said compliance with new standards set forward by the federal agency would present challenges for new developments. FEMA requires those and substantial remodels to use pilings, posts or columns to raise main residential structures 3 to 5 feet above the ground to allow for water to flow under the property without damaging the foundation in a wave event.

Compliance with those standards presented challenges for those properties and limited the means of access to them and the usability of outdoor areas.

“With those properties between 24th and 48th Street, they have to be raised above grade by 5 feet. If you were to build a house above grade, you would need stairs to get access. And if you want some outdoor space, you would build an exterior deck that you cantilever out a little,” Assistant City Manager Seimone Jurjis explained in an email Friday. “Both of those — stairs and deck — would violate our zoning because they are structures that sit in the setback. So, we changed the code to allow those encroachments for those properties between 24th and 48th.”

The amendment overlay, if approved, would allow for those structures to encroach varying distances into property setbacks.