Newport Beach City Manager Homer Bludau has given himself a long list
of tasks for the coming fiscal year, and he hopes to top it with a
feat of political deal-making.
His highest priority has been in the works for about three years
-- forging an agreement with Orange County to give the city more
control over John Wayne Airport, take over the Santa Ana Heights
Redevelopment Agency and annex West Santa Ana Heights, become the
owner of the closed Coyote Canyon landfill, and take on maintenance
and other duties in the Back Bay.
An agreement on so-called "sphere issues" will be first on the
city's to-do list, Bludau told the City Council on Tuesday. For the
last four years, he's given the council a rundown of city
management's top priorities, and this time he urged the council to
focus on the list because it's one of the most ambitious.
"I think in the past we've had a tendency that whatever comes up,
whatever seems to be a hot button for the public, we rush out and try
and solve it," Bludau said.
Second on the list is getting the state Coastal Commission to
certify the city's local coastal plan, which will govern future
development along the city's coastline, and that is followed by the
general plan update, which will govern most other aspects of
development in Newport Beach for years to come.
The general plan update likely won't be finished this year, but
Bludau said he wants to have it ready to put on the ballot in
Deciding how to use the Marinapark property is No. 4 on the list.
An ad hoc committee has been meeting for several months to explore
suggestions including a park and a boat marina.
Building a new City Hall -- which was the top priority on last
year's list -- is only at No. 5, possibly because the city already
has taken public input. The council has chosen a design and is
awaiting detailed architectural drawings.
Planning for and celebrating the city's centennial come next,
followed by an assessment of the city's public safety facilities to
see what needs renovation or replacement.
Facilities figure heavily in the priority list. Finishing
construction of the Mariner's branch library, starting to build
community centers in Newport Coast and Santa Ana Heights, and raising
a fire station and fire training center in Santa Ana Heights fill out
the lower half of the list.
Other priorities include completing either the lease or purchase
of the Sunset Ridge Park property, which is tied up in state
bureaucracy, and creating a plan to foster talent and develop leaders
among city staff who can move into top management roles when current
"This is the most aggressive priority list I've seen," Councilman
John Heffernan said, adding that it might be difficult to make
progress on everything while also relocating city operations while a
new City Hall is built.
"I question whether the list is too long," he said.
City officials haven't always finished everything on past years'
lists, and those have generally included 10 items, while this year
there are 12 priorities.
"Some of these have been priorities for the last three or four
years," Bludau said.
* ALICIA ROBINSON covers government and politics. She may be
reached at (714) 966-4626 or by e-mail at alicia.robinson