Newport Beach won’t ask for gas-tax hike money to repair roads

Newport Beach will not apply for road-repair funds from the upcoming gas tax hike.

The City Council rejected the opportunity Tuesday to apply for proceeds from the new statewide tax on principle. Members didn’t want to appear supportive of the law, which will take effect Nov. 1 and fund road, bridge and transit projects.

The council voted 5-2 against a proposal to apply for about $480,000 that would have gone toward repaving MacArthur Boulevard/University Drive.

Council members Diane Dixon and Brad Avery voted yes, although their colleagues didn’t hold it against them.

“I actually understand why any council member on this dais would vote yes, and I was very tempted to do so,” said Mayor Kevin Muldoon. “I just don’t want to send a message that the way the government is running in Sacramento is acceptable. It’s not acceptable.”

City Manager Dave Kiff acknowledged that the new tax, which raises the base gas tax by 12 cents a gallon and increases vehicle license fees, isn’t universally embraced, but said staff had nothing to lose by designating potential projects. The money would have supplemented, not supplanted, existing funds.

Councilman Will O’Neill said there would have been good reasons to vote to pursue the money and didn’t believe that anybody who voted yes was endorsing the tax.

But he said the state Legislature would have used submissions as public relations fuel if there is a referendum to overturn the tax.

The gas tax divided the Legislature on party lines, and Republicans remain hopeful it can be repealed, possibly with a statewide referendum.

Granny flats

More Newport homeowners can add granny flats to their lots.

The council approved a final reading of rules that bring the city in line with a new state law intended to expand affordable-by-design housing stock by making the units, also known as accessory dwelling units, easier to build.

Newport Beach has long had restrictive rules on accessory dwelling units, which are small, complete homes built on the same lots as larger single-family houses.

Almost 19,000 Newport Beach home sites would be eligible to build an accessory unit, city staff has said.

The new law allows cities continued discretion on zoning, lot and unit size, and aesthetics. Also, the state law does not restrict homeowners associations from prohibiting accessory units within their own regulations.

‘Sanctuary state’ bill

In other business, the council signed on to a letter in opposition to the “sanctuary state” bill in the Legislature.

Kiff penned a letter to the bill’s author, state Senate leader Kevin de León, saying that Senate Bill 54 could make it more difficult to work with federal law enforcement to apprehend criminals.

The bill, opposed by law enforcement representatives around the state, would prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies from using resources to investigate, detain, report or arrest persons for the purposes of immigration enforcement.

Newport Beach Police Chief Jon Lewis told the council that public safety is the primary concern of local law enforcement, but providing that can require partnering with federal agencies.

A-frame signs

Lido Marina Village merchants can now use A-frame signs at the newly rejuvenated shopping center.

The city generally prohibits A-frame signs, with the exception of the Corona del Mar commercial district. The rules guiding A-frame signs at Lido Marina Village, allowed for a one-year trial period, will mirror those in CdM. These include a limit of one sign per business space, up to 48 inches tall with up to 10 square feet per sign face, and only displayed just outside the business entrance during operating hours.

Arts Commission appointments

The Arts Commission has two new members.

The council appointed Barbara Glabman and Marie Little to fill the seats recently vacated by Lynn Selich and Jennifer Van Bergh. The new members’ terms run through 2021 and 2020, respectively.

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