Finding a bit of vision

Young Chang

Greenlight activists, Back Bay preservationists, theater enthusiasts

and people concerned about everything from water quality to land use

swarmed into a room Saturday to speak up about everything and anything

Newport Beach related

The Newport Beach Vision Festival, held in Hoag Hospital's conference

room, drew more than 220 visitors during just its morning session.

Gathered to help update the city's general plan, which was adopted in the

early '70s, residents jotted down their hopes for the city and posted

their words along specifically-designated walls.

For the last 30 years, the general plan has been tweaked and reviewed,

but city officials are only now conducting their first thorough update

and asking residents for help.

"Newport Beach has always been a very pro-active community," said

Councilman Steve Bromberg. "Yes, it's an affluent community, and it's

also an incredibly intelligent community. People want to be heard."

Saturday's conference, catered with foccaccia sandwiches and corn

salad, garnered the public's input on the city's future, its challenges

and its current condition. Booths manned by groups including the Airport

Working Group and the Surfrider Foundation offered free brochures on

community organizations.

Mayor Tod Ridgeway opened the morning session with a welcome speech

that thanked attendants for being interested and urged them to go out and

share their activism with those would didn't attend.

Bromberg opened the afternoon session with a similar welcome, and

Assistant City Manager Sharon Wood gave an overview of the visioning

process and general plan during both the morning and afternoon slots.

An audience from all walks of Newport listened.

"This doesn't seem limited to just one people or group," Bromberg

said.

But the real color in the room was created by red, blue, green and

yellow stickers stuck along all three of the conference room's walls.

Called activity stations, nine bulletin boards addressing issues

including transportation systems and funding priorities enticed visitors

to mark their positions with the dots.

Station 3 posed the question, "How should the city encourage and help

housing for the people who work here?" The most popular answer, indicated

by a dense blotch of blue stickers, was "Allow for the development of

buildings that integrate housing on the second and higher floor of

retail, commercial and office structures."

Station 4 asked, "Should the city better utilize its harbors and

beaches as a visual, recreational and economic resource? If so, how?" One

morning visitor apparently wasn't satisfied with the choice of answers

offered and instead posted a note beneath the "other" category which read

"Reduce huge tourist cattle boats. They pollute and are hideous to see

and smell and hear."

Newport resident Bobbi Hope stood before Station 2, which addressed

the city's current identity, and stuck on stickers to indicate that she

considers Newport Beach to be a residential town.

In an adjacent category designated for what people prefer Newport

Beach to eventually be or not be, Hope marked that she would not want the

city to become a corporate center.

"I like small, intimate, eclectic, artistic," she said. "When it

becomes corporate, we lose that."

Other stations addressed such issues as retail development in Fashion

Island, the expansion or retention of the city's employment centers and

improvements in transportation.

Newport resident Lynn Cathcart said she spent part of her Saturday at

the conference to speak up about the things she doesn't like.

"If you don't participate, you can't complain," she said.

The comments and complaints were warmly welcomed, and Bromberg, who

was all smiles during most of the day, added "Newport Beach is the kind

of city where one person can make a difference if they really want to."

-- Young Chang writes features. She may be reached at (949) 574-4268

or by e-mail at o7 young.chang@latimes.comf7 .

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