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Labor union’s environmental appeal targets Newport apartment project

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Newport Crossings, depicted in a rendering, was approved by the Newport Beach Planning Commission on Feb. 21. It would include 350 apartments, a 2,000-square-foot space for a casual restaurant, 5,500 square feet of retail space and a half-acre park.
(File Illustration)

A carpenters union has appealed the Newport Beach Planning Commission’s approval of an apartment and commercial project planned near John Wayne Airport, claiming inadequate environmental review.

The Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters filed a 10-page appeal this month with the City Council asking it to agree that the city-certified environmental impact report for the Newport Crossings complex did not sufficiently discuss the project’s potential effects on air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, cultural and paleontological resources, land use, and transportation and traffic. The appeal also claims the project exceeds density limits.

The appeal has not yet been scheduled for a council hearing.

The Planning Commission approved Newport Crossings on Feb. 21.

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“The Planning Commission erred in approving the EIR for the project,” the appeal states. “The EIR fails the substantive, procedural and informational requirements of [the California Environmental Quality Act], the city’s findings are not supported by substantial evidence and the EIR does not adopt all feasible mitigation measures. This failure to conduct adequate environmental review violates CEQA and invalidates the EIR. Furthermore, the project violates state and local planning laws.”

The five-story Newport Crossings, planned for the site of an aging, mostly empty shopping center near Birch Street and MacArthur Boulevard, would have 350 studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments, 78 of them deemed affordable.

The project also is to include a 2,000-square-foot space for a casual restaurant, 5,500 square feet of retail space and a half-acre park. Garage and surface parking would provide 740 spaces. A six-story parking garage, with one level below ground, would be surrounded by the buildings.

Newport-based Starboard Realty Partners is developing the complex.

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Icon Co., a Los Angeles real estate developer, sued the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters and Local 300 of the Laborers International Union of North America in January, accusing the unions of violating federal racketeering and antitrust laws as they tried to block a mixed-use complex in Panorama City using similar environmental concerns.

The Icon suit — which followed a lawsuit the carpenters filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court aiming to overturn the Los Angeles City Council’s approval of the Icon Panorama project — says union officials offered to drop their environmental challenge if Icon agreed to hire only unionized construction workers.


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