Coastal Commission to review two Newport parks

The California Coastal Commission will review proposals for Newport Beach's Marina Park and Sunset Ridge Park during its meeting in Huntington Beach next week.

The commission's approval is the last major step in the Marina Park permitting process, which has dragged on for almost five years.

In a report, the commission staff recommends approving Marina Park under 20 conditions. One is that a marquee element — a 71-foot ornamental lighthouse — would have to be about half that height to protect "public views and community character."

A staff report also says that the city cannot have two tennis courts on the Balboa Peninsula site, as was originally planned. Other environmental measures in the report seek to protect wildlife and water quality.

Today, 57 mobile homes occupy the property, and if the commission approves the plans, residents would get a 90-day notice to vacate, said city Deputy Public Works Director Dave Webb. He expects construction to begin around January.

However, residents there have seen construction dates come and go.

"It has been very difficult for residents (the oldest being in their 90s) to not know how long we'll have to live there," resident Karen Whitaker wrote in an email. "[We are] just waiting until the sledgehammer crashes down on us."

The project — consisting of a proposed community center, park and 23-slip marina — has been delayed by the various agencies that need to approve waterfront development.

Sunset Ridge Park will have its second hearing before the commission.

Environmental concerns about an access road scuttled the city's first application in November. Since then, city planners removed the road from the drawings. They have proposed using a parking lot across Superior Avenue from the sports complex.

Some residents complained that crossing Superior would be dangerous, but Webb said that traffic engineers studied the issue and did not have any serious concerns.

Twitter: @mreicher

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