NEWPORT BEACH -- They worried about noise and an invasion of privacy
and pleaded with the City Council for support.
Now, after months of discussions, Linda Isle residents are ready to
try again to reach a compromise with operators of the Newport Riverboat
Restaurant over the use of the boat's decks.
Planning commissioners are expected to vote on a use permit for the
restaurant at their meeting tonight.
The controversy began when the restaurant's former manager asked city
officials to allow outdoor dining on the boat's bow and stern decks. That
idea wasn't welcomed by those living on the exclusive island, where the
closest lot sits just 157 feet from the boat's bow deck.
Clayton Shurley, who owned the restaurant at the time, said he needed
to add outdoor dining to stay in business. But when Shurley sold the
restaurant to Anthony Pesci and Cheryl L. Minemier in March, the new
owners decided they'd make ends meet without much of what Shurley had
The restaurateur duo's "request is a lot less intense," said Wayne
Eggleston, who is the executive director for the Newport Harbor Nautical
Museum. The museum owns and occupies the boat and also leases the
Eggleston added that the new owners felt that expanding the restaurant
would not create more revenue.
"It's expensive to put on all these activities," Eggleston said,
adding that he had been involved in discussions with Linda Isle residents
to resolve the matter. Pesci and Minemier could not be reached for
Margo O'Connor, who serves as the Linda Isle Community Assn.'s board
president and opposed Shurley's plans, said both sides seemed to have
come up with an agreeable position but added that she had not read the
Other than a "holiday event period" from Dec. 1 to Jan. 5, the new
owners only want to use the bow deck to set up a buffet table during
large functions on the adjacent Texas deck inside. While Pesci and
Minemier do not want to install a 6-foot plexiglass wall on the bow deck
-- a step commissioners had required at an earlier meeting -- they'll set
up a screen during events so residents' privacy will not be disturbed.
Outside dining would only take place on the stern deck, which looks
out over the Back Bay Bridge. Hours of operations would be limited to 10
a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
Eggleston said the new proposal fell in line with the boat's primary
"This is a museum first and a restaurant second," he said. "We're
going to make certain that activities from the restaurant are in
compliance with the city's codes."
When Shurley owned the restaurant, he had music on the decks,
"We don't plan that at all," he said.
City officials said they weren't sure if Shurley had permits to make
use of the decks.
"In my mind, it's unclear whether we authorized" outdoor activities
such as weekend brunches, said James Campbell, a senior planner with the
He added that Shurley's operation didn't comply with the restaurant's
original use permit.
The Planning Commission will meets at 6:30 p.m. tonight at City Hall,
3300 Newport Blvd.