July holiday was 'more peaceful'

NEWPORT BEACH — With the dust long settled from another Fourth of July on the Balboa Peninsula, most residents in West Newport Beach considered the Police Department's new tactics a success, members of the area's homeowners association said Friday.

"It was quieter, more peaceful," said Craig Batley, president of the West Newport Beach Assn. "Some residents are going to disagree because they were impacted more. But overall, it was an improvement."

Police and city officials met at City Council chambers this week to review the Fourth of July weekend's problems and successes for police and residents.

Newport Beach applied the same enforcement tactics for the holiday as usual – closing streets, tripling fines, increasing officer presence – but also closed a traditional entrance to the Balboa Peninsula.

For the first time, cars, pedestrians and bicyclists were not permitted to enter the Peninsula from Balboa Boulevard and Coast Highway, instead being rerouted up the highway to Newport Boulevard.

"There were concerns that people were trespassing and jumping walls to get into West Newport," said association member George Schroeder. "There was some criticism, but overall I think there was support that the changes helped to manage the size of the crowds and in a way the behavior of the crowds."

Police on the Fourth of July said crowds were bigger than last year, but arrests were down. Officers arrested 103 people and had 882 calls for service, mostly in West Newport. The streets were also reopened to traffic two hours earlier, forcing the crowds to disperse.

"What the Police Department wants to do and the city wants to do is get the word out that Newport Beach is not a place to come and cause mayhem," Batley said.

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