Newport council to tackle BBC, Balboa Theater

After a monthlong summer recess, the Newport Beach City Council will resume business Tuesday.

The council plans to vote on the city's leases with the Balboa Bay Club & Resort and the Balboa Theater, discuss moving the police headquarters across town and consider changing the harbor's speed limit to accommodate racing boaters.

In August, International Bay Clubs Inc. announced it had sold the BBC, which sits on public land managed by the city. Now the council may reassign the lease to the new owner, Chinese businessman Winston Chung's company Seven-One Capital-Business Inc.

According to a city staff report, the BBC paid $2.7 million to lease the city land in 2010. That pegged the value of the resort at about $45 million, according to the city's consultant.

Chung reportedly purchased the property with all cash.

An unaudited financial statement estimates Chung's net worth at $553 million, according to a city report.

Much of that is attributed to his battery inventions and manufacturing operations in China. His assets were difficult to ascertain, partially because his investments are channeled through a British Virgin Islands-based corporation, the city report says.

Besides the BBC land, other city assets will be up for discussion. As the council debates what to do with the current City Hall site, its members have asked for an analysis of city assets in West Newport.

One idea previously floated was to relocate the police headquarters from the Newport Center area to some property near Newport Boulevard and 16th Street.

The council is set to review its options during the study session.

Another city-owned property is the Balboa Theater at 707 E. Balboa Blvd. As the nonprofit Balboa Performing Arts Theater Foundation works to restore the theater, the city may revise the group's lease.

If approved, the new lease would require the foundation to report certain financial information annually. It would also waive all building permit and planning fees during construction and would increase the lease term from 25 to 50 years.

Increasing another city limit — the harbor speed limit — is sure to please some boaters if the council passes a resolution under consideration. In April, the Harbor Commission approved changes to the speed limit that would allow sailors and rowers to break the current limit if they were part of a sanctioned regatta, or practicing for one.

On Tuesday, the council will discuss — but not vote — on those proposed changes. Also part of the proposal is making the general speed limit 5 mph to be consistent with county law. Currently, the city's limit is 5 nautical miles per hour, which is equivalent to about 5.75 mph.

The study session will begin at 3:30 p.m. and the regular meeting will begin at 7 p.m., both in Council Chambers at City Hall, 3300 Newport Blvd.

Twitter: @mreicher

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