Candidates for Newport Beach City Council pitched their positions on airport noise, government spending, business licenses and other issues Thursday morning during a forum presented by the Corona del Mar Chamber of Commerce at the Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club.
The four incumbents made their case that they’ve smartly planned the city’s growth while supporting local businesses and keeping government as small as possible. Their challengers said change is needed to restore an out-of-touch council to one that listens and bases it actions on the will of the residents.
“If you’re playing for the Angels and can’t hit, you get replaced,” said fight promoter Roy Englebrecht, who is running against Councilman Kevin Muldoon in District 4.
Englebrecht said he is skeptical of Measure T, an initiative on the November ballot that will ask local voters to amend the city charter to require 55% voter approval whenever the council wants to spend at least $50 million on capital projects using a financing method known as certificates of participation, or COP. Such a large amount could go to construction of a new police station.
Muldoon said he sees the value in getting the public to weigh in on borrowing large sums for important city projects that would be impossible to fund from the operating budget.
Businessman Tim Stoaks, who is running against Mayor Marshall “Duffy” Duffield in District 3, said he was dissatisfied with the process of getting the initiative on the ballot, saying the city Finance Committee didn’t have sufficient opportunity to study its implications.
There was agreement among the candidates that more needs to be done about noise and air pollution from John Wayne Airport and that the city must maintain its settlement agreement that prohibits planes from flying late at night and early in the morning.
Joy Brenner, a former president of the Corona del Mar Residents Assn. who is running against Councilman Scott Peotter in District 7, said it is important for the council to continue to be transparent with the public about how it is handling the airport.
“The solutions have always been citizen-driven on this,” she said.
Another topic was the prospect of eliminating the business license tax, which brings the city $4 million annually.
“As a businessman, I’m taxed and taxed. … I don’t know how it morphed into this thing,” said Duffield, founder of Duffy Electric Boat Co. “At the end of the day, there’s no reason to have a business tax or fee.”
Peotter said it’s a burden for a commercial office owner to be required to get business licenses for all its buildings or for the owner of a short-term-rental home to apply for a business license. He would like to see some of the fees collected from business licenses returned to business owners, he said.
Councilwoman Diane Dixon, who is running for reelection against small-business owner Mike Glenn in District 1, said she is open to looking at the business license requirements but expressed concern about cutting $4 million in annual revenue.
Other candidate forums are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Friday at the Oasis Senior Center, 801 Narcissus Ave. in Corona del Mar, and 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Community Room at the Newport Beach Civic Center, 100 Civic Center Drive.