Even before being sworn in as City Councilman, Dick Nichols has
already exhibited a style of wading boldly into controversy.
At the Nov. 12 council meeting, just as previously warring parties
had found a harmonious compromise on the size of a Mormon temple
steeple, Nichols rehashed the matter by saying he thought the steeple
was too short.
"Architecturally, it would have been prettier if it was 10 feet
higher," Nichols said Tuesday, reaffirming his objection to lowering
the steeple from about 100 to 90 feet. It was a politically risky
move, especially in council chambers packed with residents who had
fought passionately to keep the steeple as short as possible.
Nichols drew fire during the campaign by referring to a motorist
as a Mexican, even though he did not have any information about the
man's citizenship or country of origin.
Such moves will likely set the tone for Nichols' next four years
on the dais. The Corona del Mar resident says he will have no qualms
about speaking his mind, especially when it comes to honesty in
"When people make a statement, I expect it to mean something,"
He will hold his colleagues, staff members and residents doing
business with the city to the same standard of honesty, he said, and
people will be able to expect honesty from him, if not always
"If the item is something I believe either that people do not
understand or I think they should understand, I will try to clarify
that and make it clear what the council's voting on," he said.
At other times, such as the city's recent lease negotiations with
the American Legion, there's no point in publicly airing all the
potentially contentious details.
"I met with the people at the American Legion and asked if they
were satisfied with the deal and they said they were, so in a case
like that, there's no reason to bring controversy into the chamber,"
said Nichols, who will be sworn in as a council member on Tuesday.
Other issues, though, are certain to be controversial in Nichols'
For example, he said he plans to make known to Councilman Steve
Bromberg that he believes something should be done about the Village
Inn. The restaurant, in Bromberg's district, has drawn numerous
complaints and even a court case from neighbors upset about the noise
"Until that is changed, I'm going to stick it to Bromberg every
once in a while," Nichols said.
Nichols' pet issue, property rights, will be central to his
service to the city. He said he plans to keep a close watch on the
general plan update, which he believes probably goes too far in
trying to overhaul the entire document. And he made a bold vow on
behalf of all property owners.
"I will not change anybody's zoning unless the adjacent property
owners are aware of what's happening and take part in it," Nichols
said. "I know that's a strong statement. I mean it."
* JUNE CASAGRANDE covers Newport Beach and John Wayne Airport.
She may be reached at (949) 574-4232 or by e-mail at