Hill, Henn recuse from revitalization talks

Because he owns property near two areas slated for revitalization, Newport Beach City Councilman Rush Hill recently recused himself from discussions about Mariner's Mile and West Newport Beach.

Hill follows fellow Councilman Mike Henn, who removed himself from Lido Village talks because of a perceived financial conflict of interest.

Their recusals take away some of those neighborhoods' strongest proponents for change. Hill ran for City Council in 2010 partially because he wanted to improve the long-struggling Mariner's Mile commercial district. Henn has advocated for renovating the Lido Village retail area, but when an August Daily Pilot report detailed his connections to business owners there, he mostly stepped aside from talks.

State law prohibits officials from voting on or "influencing" the outcome of issues where they have a financial stake. This includes owning property within 500 feet of a project.

Hill owns a mixed-use commercial building close to the Newport Pier, and the building falls within 500 feet of newly proposed street landscaping. He also lives on the bluff above Mariner's Mile, which will likely undergo a major planning effort in 2012 to address land uses, traffic circulation, parking and economic vitality.

"It was a major disappointment," Hill said about stepping aside on Mariner's Mile.

He still plans to attend meetings of the Mariner's Mile Assn., a collection of business owners and other stakeholders. That group will most likely have a representative on the city's Neighborhood Revitalization Committee, but Hill said he cannot participate at that level.

Both Hill and Henn announced at the last Neighborhood Revitalization Committee meeting on Dec. 15 that they were sitting out talks on West Newport and Lido, respectively.

While Henn is now distancing himself from the project, he spearheaded the initial Lido revitalization discussions. Since summer, however, he hasn't been publicly involved in Lido Village talks, except for leading a public meeting in October.

When reached Tuesday, Henn declined to comment. He stepped aside, despite getting clearance from former City Attorney David Hunt. Hunt was replaced in September.

"The perception of a conflict was too great, and the project was too important, that [Henn] decided to recuse himself," Hill said.


Twitter: @mreicher

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