Council takes on planning

Other than the Banning Ranch property, there aren't many areas around

Newport Beach with nearly 500 acres of largely undeveloped land.

Some environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, have urged

that the land be reserved as open space and have even talked about

buying it.

Under the city of Newport Beach's existing general plan, about

2,700 units of housing and 235,000 square feet of office space, plus

industrial and commercial space, could be built on the land.

That situation could begin to change tonight when the planning

commission and City Council discuss the future of Banning Ranch. The

proposal preferred by an ad hoc committee would permit mainly open

space, along with about 875 housing units.

The council is likely to choose which land-use options to include

in an environmental report that's required before the general plan

can officially be changed.

What happens on the property is more complicated than just the

council's decision, however.

Although Banning Ranch is in the city's "sphere of influence,"

most of the 518-acre property is unincorporated county land, so the

Orange County Supervisors have the final say on zoning, Newport Beach

Assistant City Manager Sharon Wood said.

"We're supposed to plan for it in our general plan, but we don't

have any land-use authority," she said.

As a result, changes to what is allowed must be approved by the

county. The county's zoning is for agricultural and open-space uses

with some high-density housing, said Angela Burrell, a spokeswoman

for the county's resources and development management department.

What the property's owners want also will come into play. Most of

the acreage is owned by two partnerships, Aera Energy and RSP

Partners.

Plans for the property will likely include the consolidation of

some oil production and the abandonment and clean-up of some wells,

as well as preservation of open space and the construction of less

housing than the city's general plan now allows, said George Basye,

vice president of Aera Energy.

"That was the direction that the owners were going when the plans

were set aside for a little bit," he said. "We understand that [open

space] is an issue of importance to the community."

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Meetings on Newport Beach's general plan

WHEN: Planning commission, 4 p.m.; City Council, 7 p.m.

WHERE: Council chambers, City Hall, 3300 Newport Blvd.

INFO: Visit the city's website at www.city.newport-beach.ca.us and

click on today's meetings on the city calendar for a report

* ALICIA ROBINSON covers government and politics. She may be

reached at (714) 966-4626 or at o7alicia.robinson@latimes.comf7.

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
57°