City talks yearly goals

CORONA DEL MAR — The saying goes that you're not supposed to let any good crisis go to waste, and Newport Beach city leaders are taking it to heart.

At their annual goal-setting workshop Saturday morning at the OASIS Senior Center, Newport Beach City Manager Dave Kiff announced the city will adopt a whole new philosophy when it comes to short- and long-term goal setting: increased accountability through quarterly, public reports on city projects and finances.

"The rhetoric is that government should be run more like a private business, I think this is the step," said Councilman Rush Hill.

Sure, the city looks at its goals and priorities every year and has survived the recession, officials acknowledged. But sometimes, Kiff said, the city's targets get bogged down in bureaucracy or a changing financial landscape and can get kicked down the road.

Of the major priorities Kiff and the council laid out Saturday for 2011, adopting a mentality of increased accountability and making tough decisions — sacrificing funding in one area to spend more in another — was the clear theme.

Officials kept the goals general Saturday, with the details to be laid out at future council meetings.

Newport Beach will continue to lead the chorus against John Wayne Airport's expansion. In 2011, city officials plan on reaching out to cities in the airport's corridor who share concerns on annual passenger limits, noise levels and flight curfews.

"We're trying to assemble an army, but we're on point," Mayor Mike Henn said.

Revitalization will remain a priority, particularly in West Newport, officials said. Improving sidewalks, islands and the city's aesthetics does more than make Newport Beach the "shining city on the bay," Police Chief Jay Johnson said.

"You see the highest crime in the areas that don't pay attention to those details," he said.

City officials will try to organize the governance and goals of the Newport Beach tidelands, which includes the coast and harbor.

Councilwoman Leslie Daigle suggested the city approach the Army Corps of Engineers with a one-and-done proposal for dredging the harbor. The concept is to get the federal government to dredge the harbor just this once at their expense — it's their jurisdiction anyway — and then leave it to Newport to maintain forever.

The city's last two goals for 2011, pension reform and restructuring, are broad. The city wants to push reform within the state PERS pension system because Newport Beach's contribution is going to grow, Kiff explained.

When it comes to restructuring, Kiff cautioned, that's where city and community leaders will have to balance what they city wants and need with how they'll pay for it.

"This is where the rubber meets the road," he said.

Council members are expected to have restructuring suggestions at the Feb. 22 council meeting.

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