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Newport Beach takes another crack at Balboa Village parking relief

The newly erected archway for Newport Beach’s Balboa Village near the Balboa Fun Zone on the Balboa
The Newport Beach Planning Commission approved the Balboa Village Parking Management Overlay District to try to relieve some businesses of providing dedicated parking along a visitor-heavy stretch of Balboa Boulevard, pending City Council and state approval.
(File Photo)

Parking management in Newport Beach’s Balboa Village is back before the city’s decision-makers and is as complex as ever.

The city Planning Commission’s approval Thursday of a move to establish the Balboa Village Parking Management Overlay District in the state-sanctioned Local Coastal Program is the latest in at least four years of on-and-off work to implement a framework to relieve some businesses of providing dedicated parking along the visitor-heavy stretch of Balboa Boulevard between Adams and A streets.

The proposal now goes to the City Council and, potentially, the California Coastal Commission for final approval.

City planning program manager Patrick Alford said much of the idea is to protect “village character” by reducing parking congestion and encouraging continued pedestrian use of the traditional storefronts steps from the beaches.

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Origins of the Balboa Village Parking Management Overlay District go back to at least 2015, when the City Council established the district in a zoning code. Later that year, it included the Balboa parking strategy in its comprehensive Local Coastal Program proposal for approval by the California Coastal Commission before it could be enforced. The Coastal Commission grants LCPs to allow cities to issue permits for development on land close to shore.

The state approved Newport’s LCP, which went into effect in 2017, but not with the Balboa parking district, as Coastal Commission staff did not think there was sufficient time or information to adopt it. The state left open the possibility for the city to add the parking plan to its LCP in the future, which it is trying to do now.

The district is intended to eliminate required off-street parking for offices, retail and restaurants, maintain existing off-street parking facilities and allow shared use of parking facilities in the densely developed corner of the Balboa Peninsula. It would not exempt some uses — such as churches, schools, hotels, yacht clubs, boat yards and boat charters — that the city says typically have a high demand for parking. It also would not apply to residential uses.

The Planning Commission’s vote Thursday was 4-0, with Chairman Peter Zak and members Lauren Kleiman and Kory Kramer absent.

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