Greenlight fires off new charges

James Meier

NEWPORT BEACH -- Much like comedian Rodney Dangerfield, members of the

Greenlight group are again claiming they get no respect.

Greenlighters have already said they're underrepresented on a

committee designed to update the city's general plan -- the crucial

building guide that will regulate the city's future development.

And on Monday, they sent a letter to the City Council saying that an

application for an advisory committee relating to that general plan

update also potentially stifles their cause.

Among the questions are two that ask applicants to specify their age

category and whether they work in Newport Beach.

Phil Arst, in his letter on behalf of Greenlight, wrote that age

"potentially discriminates against the many seniors and other older

residents who have long-term roots in the community, vote and are

knowledgeable on community issues."

But Assistant City Manager Sharon Wood, who noted that a consultant

and the General Plan Update Committee created the application, said age

will help diversify the advisory committee's 32 to 37 members.

"The reason we want age is because we want a cross-section of the

community," Wood said. "There was a fair amount of discussion about that

[at an update committee meeting] . . . and people said if they don't want

to fill it out, they don't have to."

Arst said the age factor targets Greenlighters.

"The issue is why is age being used as a picking factor," he said. "We

believe it's stacking the deck against Greenlight members.

Arst also said people who don't live in the city should not be allowed

to join the committee and charged that allowing them would be illegal.

"The council may give specific reasons for including people on the

committee, but they didn't do that on the application," he said. "They

are in violation of city law."

City Manager Homer Bludau said the City Council, which will appoint

advisory committee members, want an accurate representation of the

community.

"We wanted to open it to people who had a stake in the community,"

Bludau said.

Among those the city wants to include are business owners who may not

necessarily live in Newport Beach, Wood said, adding that only three

members of the committee will be business owners.

Other groups included will relate to the environment, religion,

schools, sports and boating world.

"There was a lot of discussion about wanting to have balance

geographically," Wood said.

Allan Beek, a Greenlight member on the 11-member update committee,

said businesses should not dictate how the city is run.

"The function of the businesses is to serve the residents," he said.

"Asking the businesses is like asking your car where it wants to go."

Barry Eaton, also an update committee member, said if the advisory

committee is balanced, it will have to include business owners.

The update committee, which will make advisory committee

recommendations to the City Council on Feb. 12, will meet Monday to look

over the 170 or so applications received so far. The application deadline

is Friday.

* James Meier is the assistant city editor. He can be reached at (949)

764-4324 or by e-mail at o7 james.meier@latimes.comf7 .

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