Newport Beach’s Measure Y, which aimed to update the city’s general plan to allow more development in the main business district and limit it along the more residential coast, was defeated in Tuesday’s election, collecting just 30.5% of the vote.
Measure Y would have allowed the Irvine Co. to increase multifamily housing in and around Newport Center in exchange for agreeing to surrender approved hotel entitlements along Newport Coast.
The referendum called for 550,000 square feet of office and commercial space and about 500 residential units. The development required voter approval because of the city’s Greenlight Initiative, which mandates a citywide referendum on major developments.
Supporters of the measure, including the City Council, argued that Y would decrease overall traffic in the city. Opponents argued just the opposite, that the measure would lead to more congestion.
The idea, those behind Y said, is that increased housing at Newport Center would make for an increasingly walkable community, where residents could get from apartment homes to Fashion Island to eat and shop while leaving their cars behind.
But opponents, including the influential Stop Polluting Our Newport group, said that part of town is already too crowded and that the new residents would jam major thoroughfares such as Jamboree Road and MacArthur Boulevard on their way to and from work.