Resort plan raises questions, tempers

No. This debacle we now have on our hands could have been handled

better by the city to have never allowed public parkland and

environmental open space to be given away for private hotel

development in the first place. Trading a park for a time share hotel

is not the legacy we should be leaving to our children and the

community.

Next, Councilman Steve Bromberg spoke about how there were plenty

of hearings on the project. It was not the quantity of hearings but

the lack of quality in the city's response to the various committees,

experts and residents that weighed in on the project. In so many

cases, the city's response to the egregious problems identified were

grossly inadequate, and often they responded "comment noted," which

is no comment. It was all too obvious that our city officials were on

a mission to approve the hotel Environmental Impact Report at all

costs. It raises a lot of questions as to their motive.

TOM BILLINGS

Newport Beach

No, the city has not done its part. In fact, it is a citizens

group that is designing the aquatic center that should properly be

here.

The city is more interested in fat salaries at City Hall than in

the residents of Newport Beach, so it has deliberately ignored the

aquatic center proposal and tries to pretend it doesn't exist.

It is very difficult for ordinary people to reach the water and

enjoy the harbor that is the center of our recreation, our fame and

our property values. A third of a mile of city-owned waterfront

should be used to give citizens access to the water, not used for

private profit.

How could the issue have been handled better? The city should have

encouraged design of the aquatic center, the developer should have

bowed out before wasting money on a bad idea, and the residents

should have gotten started sooner on developing the design.

ALLAN BEEK

Newport Beach

The city continues its dumb course, determined to give Steve

Sutherland his retirement fund. This "five-star" hotel will not only

not survive on its own, it will directly compete with the city's only

other bayside luxury hotel, the Balboa Bay Club.

It is not as though the Balboa Bay Club has people beating down

its doors to get in. The market niche being addressed by the new

hotel being subsidized by our government is the same one on which the

club relies for survival. Both these hotels will occupy tidelands,

which are owned by the people of California -- not the city

government. Therefore, our investment is being squandered by a

council that does not give credence to any of the people's warnings

as to the economic viability of this project and does not care,

either, that they are giving away beautiful, peaceful parkland for

the sake of money that will most likely never materialize.

STEWART BERKSHIRE

Newport Beach

I'm concerned that if the general plan amendment presented to the

voters in November passes with a "yes" vote, it will take away this

precious parkland and recreation open space for our children and

their children after them.

I've played on that basketball court for the past 40 years and am

shocked there could be plans to destroy it. Too little park and

recreation space is left for our children to enjoy on the bay-front,

and this is the last one that is simply too precious to lose. We must

fight for a "no" vote for our children.

Did I understand the City Council on Tuesday night when they

explained this developer gets the sole rights to the proceeds of the

12 bay-front time shares? How much is that worth? Millions, no doubt.

What does he give the city in exchange? The same amount of rent

currently being received by the mobile home park? And he gets the

opportunity to leverage this public land because of the value of the

"time shares" with a lender in order to build the entire hotel

project, using the city's land as his equity?

What a sweetheart deal. City of Newport Beach, put me on your

mailing list for the next project.

MIKE GILBERT

Costa Mesa

I absolutely support the City Council's decision to certify the

environmental report for the Marinapark project. I have been through

a presentation on the project and can't wait for it to open. I

absolutely support this project and the City Council's decision.

Newport Beach needs this, badly, and especially that area needs this

project.

LARRY MORGAN

Newport Beach

It's apparent that the City Council is constrained by the

agreement signed several years ago, which gave Sutherland exclusive

negotiating rights. Conversion of parkland to commercial use sounded

like a good idea seven or eight years ago when the city was broke.

The city's revenue situation has improved considerably since then,

but they're backed into a corner and have created all kinds of

potential problems for themselves by appearing to be insensitive to

an open-space giveaway, effectively brokering a refurbishment and

lease-extension to the American Legion, etc.

What we've got here is a responsibility cop-out.

How you can admit to errors amounting to 40% of projected revenue

in the morning, then approve the document in the evening requires

quite a leap of faith.

I think their handling of this matter was as shabby as anything

I've seen in 30 years of council-watching. Mayor Tod Ridgeway was

often rude to public speakers (particularly the women who spoke),

appeared insensitive, inattentive and disinterested, giving the

general impression that his mind was made up.

JOSEPH F. O'HORA

Newport Beach

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