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
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
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 email@example.com .