Planners change restrictions to allow for Marina Park lighthouse

In a unanimous decision, the Newport Beach Planning Commission voted Thursday to allow a 73-foot lighthouse at the planned Marina Park, making an exception to the city's bayfront height restrictions.

City administrators are hoping that they can return to the California Coastal Commission, which rejected the tower in June, and show that they narrowly tailored the exception to the Marina Park site. Some of the coastal commissioners said they didn't want to set a bad precedent.

While the Coastal Commission nixed a 71-foot lighthouse, planning commissioners voted to allow an extra two feet, in case the tower's design changed. The development's environmental impact report studied a 73-foot tower.

The lighthouse, which would have low-voltage lights, is designed to be an "iconic" feature of the $6.8-million community center for the park planned to be between 15th and 18th streets on the Balboa Peninsula. Some peninsula residents oppose the tower, however.

The City Council will have to approve the amendment to the city's coastal land-use plan before the tower can go before the Coastal Commission. The council hearing could be in late July or early August, said city Community Development Director Kim Brandt.

— Mike Reicher

Twitter: @mreicher

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