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Zoning changes expected to pass

After a month of contentious public hearings and debate, the Newport Beach Planning Commission is expected to approve sweeping changes to the city’s zoning code this week.

If later adopted by the City Council, the changes could alter the makeup of the city’s streets and where people live. They include restrictions on home facades, designated space for condos on Mariner’s Mile and other changes beget by the 2006 general plan update.

The most controversial provision would limit how large someone can build a home and, through a complicated numerical formula, determine how the front of that home must look. This proposed change brought residents from Balboa Island, Corona del Mar, West Newport and the Peninsula to Planning Commission public hearings and information sessions, where they registered their concerns.

“The perspectives differ as much as the neighborhoods differ,” said Planning Director David Lepo.


Residents from Corona del Mar worried that the rules could mean larger homes in their quaint “village,” while owners on the Peninsula protested because they might be required to build smaller homes, Lepo said.

Essentially, property owners throughout the city would be required to build patios or, by some other means, vary the depth of a new home’s front. The rule, recommended by a city-commissioned panel of architects, is intended to prevent monolithic home facades and to reduce the volume of some future homes.

Though residents’ interpretations of the rule varied greatly, the planning department estimated that it could mean up to 90-square-feet less on some Peninsula homes. Also, it could mean less enclosed space fronting the ocean.

“They would prefer to have one solid expanse of glass,” Lepo said of Peninsula property owners.


Interestingly, owners on Balboa Island will be exempt from the new volume limits, but those in other neighborhoods would have to abide by the rules.

The planning commission is scheduled to vote on the zoning code Tuesday night, but the meeting may be postponed until Thursday, Lepo said, if the commission does not meet quorum. Tuesday’s meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers at City Hall, 3300 Newport Blvd.