Group seeking to recall Newport Councilman Peotter begins gathering petition signatures

Newport Beach residents seeking City Councilman Scott Peotter’s recall started gathering petition signatures Friday.

Susan Skinner, who had a booth outside the Central Library on Avocado Avenue, said she collected 18 signatures in the first hour of her afternoon shift — nearly double the pace she had expected.

The Committee to Recall Scott Peotter, which seeks a special election on the matter, has cited several issues of policy and civility — from Peotter’s support of development to complaints that he has insulted residents and colleagues.

Peotter has said he’s being targeted for being “politically incorrect” and that policy disagreements should be addressed when he’s up for reelection next year.

Voters who signed the petition Friday frequently mentioned Peotter’s votes related to the Museum House project, a proposed 25-story condominium tower in Newport Center that the City Council approved in November before rescinding that support in February when faced with the possibility of a referendum challenging the project.

Peotter and Councilman Will O’Neill voted against revoking the approval, saying they wanted Museum House to go to a public vote, as opponents intended.

Recall petition signers didn’t like Peotter’s support of the high-density development or that he voted, with other council members, in favor of requiring the Museum House referendum petitions to have about 1,000 pages of supporting documents.

“This city is so beautiful, and I think we are better with more low-rise than high-rises,” said petition signer Billie Quinette.

Skinner said many people who passed by her table didn’t sign because they said they weren’t Newport residents or didn’t know enough about the issues.

Others asked why Peotter’s opponents don’t wait until the first-term councilman is up for reelection in 2018. The answer, Skinner said, is that there are two budget votes and a city general plan update coming before then.

“I don’t think I’ve had one person … say to me, ‘I like him as a politician,’ ” Skinner said.

The recall group has until Oct. 30 to gather enough valid signatures — at least 15% of the city’s registered voters, or about 8,500 names — to take the matter to a public vote.

Volunteers said they plan to be at the library and the Oasis Senior Center through the weekend and expect to be at shopping centers next week.

Twitter: @Daily_PilotHD