Should Newport Beach remain a residential and beach community with a
high quality of life or become a high-density, congested city like
The latest proposed update to the city's general plan calls for
extensive developments and density increases that will turn us into
another Santa Monica. The current plan will create more than 20
unsatisfactory intersections in the city. Your trips to the
supermarket or to visit friends in the city will become increasingly
The city's actions appear to violate the intent of state law and
court rulings, including Concerned Citizens of Calaveras County vs.
the Board of Supervisors of Calaveras County (166 Cal App 3rd 90,
1985). The court ruled that Calaveras County could not proceed with
proposed new developments because its street system couldn't support
Why doesn't Newport Beach follow the court's ruling?
The city's approach to high density and traffic congestion in the
city also runs counter to a poll of 1,000 residents and 150
businesses. Those surveyed overwhelmingly desired to preserve the
city as a high-quality-of-life residential and beach community. Poll
respondents were opposed to enlarging the street system by creating
overpasses and wider, high-speed roads. Unfortunately, the city's
general plan update has taken no account of residents' wishes and in
fact is doing just the opposite of what is desired by the people.
In the year 2000, the Greenlight law was passed to stop 40,000
additional car trips per day from congesting our streets. The
Greenlight law has worked. The developments proposed at that time
were not needed and did not benefit the city. None of them have been
built, and you can still go to the supermarket or drive your children
to school in the city without being subjected to undue traffic
According to a traffic study prepared by city-retained traffic
engineers, the general-plan update projected by the city would add
approximately 190,000 average daily auto trips -- a 24% increase to
our already congested streets. That makes the proposed general plan
update five times worse than the previously proposed developments
rejected by voters.
Recently the city government was caught trying to avoid the
Greenlight law and bypass your right to vote on major projects
requiring a general-plan amendment. It took a lawsuit financed by
residents' contributions to stop them.
Now the city is trying a different way of bypassing this
growth-control law. The city is claiming that the current general
plan's authorized auto daily trips are reduced by 3.5% by their plan.
This is not a valid comparison because the authorized auto trips
under the current general plan are primarily in outlying or
For example, the Banning Ranch has 2,735 dwelling units
authorized. This area on the far edge of the city has inadequate road
service, and because of pollution, environmental and other factors,
it will not be fully developed. The general-plan update proposes to
transfer hundreds of authorized Banning Ranch dwelling units to areas
such as Mariners Mile and Newport Center. The brunt of the additional
traffic would fall on already congested Pacific Coast Highway and
Newport Boulevard, as well as on MacArthur Boulevard and Jamboree
Road. We will all be subjected to that additional traffic congestion.
Transferring unused allowances under the present general plan to
already congested areas of the city is the basis for claims by the
city that it is actually reducing traffic. This is not a valid
What is needed is for the general plan update to zero out the
unused entitlements in the current general plan and then add a few
developments that are beneficial to the city -- for example, medical
offices for Hoag Hospital.
We in Newport Beach have a precious environmental jewel that we
should be preserving for our children and grandchildren, not turning
into another Santa Monica to benefit developers. Your actions to
oppose the general plan update and inform your neighbors of your
concerns are needed.
* PHILIP ARST is the spokesman for the Greenlight Residents'
Group. Further information may be obtained from