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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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