Newport council agenda includes fire map, 'lounging' at library

Some Corona del Mar and Newport Coast property owners will be exempt from special building and landscaping requirements if the Newport Beach City Council adopts a revised map outlining areas with high fire risk.

The map is one of the items on Tuesday's 7 p.m. meeting agenda. A study session starts at 4 p.m.

The first map proposed by state fire regulators included the Pelican Hill Resort and Golf Course, all of Newport Coast, Cameo Shores and part of Corona del Mar. After analysis, the Fire Department recommends excluding some of those areas.


Solutions sought to help problems at library

Library administrators want to restrict people from "lounging" on furniture and limit where people can lock up their bikes, shopping carts and other wheeled belongings.

The council will review proposed changes to library policy, including a prohibition on "lying down on the furniture or propping feet on chairs, sofas or tables."

Transients often spend the entire day at the library and rest inside. Some also park their shopping carts or bicycles, loaded with personal effects, near the library entrance instead of in designated bike racks.

A staff report says people have complained about the bikes and of people hogging multiple seats. Also, the report says that some of the bikes and carts damage granite walls and plants.


Council's pay could be changed on charter

The council may vote to change how council members are paid and other provisions of the city charter. In the new charter passage, the council members would be "compensated" instead of "reimbursed."

That is intended to reflect the current policy where council members are reimbursed for expenses while traveling on official business, plus a $15,000 annual stipend — including a $6,000 annual bump for the mayor. They also receive health and retirement benefits.

The Charter Update Committee reviewed about 40 sections of the charter, which was adopted in 1954, and recommended minor and substantial changes. Voters would have to ratify any changes in the November election.

In one suggested change, the Board of Library Trustees would have different powers. Today it has the authority to confirm or deny the appointment, suspension or firing of the library services director. A proposed change would allow the board to advise on those matters, but the ultimate authority would rest with the city manager.

Also, the committee recommended the charter require only one council meeting in August and December, instead of two as required now. Council critic Jim Mosher has consistently complained that the council doesn't follow its own policy when it skips those meetings.


Taxes on 'comped' hotel rooms to be discussed

The city's hotel executives want to stop paying taxes on rooms that they provide for free, according to a city staff report. Some of those "comped" rooms are given to hotel employees, disgruntled guests, meeting planners and nonprofits.

While the hotels receive no payment for the rooms, they are still required to pay the city 10% of the room rate in taxes and fees. The majority of that tax revenue is used for general city services, such as police, fire and street maintenance.

Hotel executives say free rooms for meeting planners pay off in future tax revenue from paying guests.

A city survey found that some California cities exempt comped rooms from taxes, while others do not. The council will discuss the proposed tax changes in its afternoon study session.

In addition, it will review the annual budget for the city's tourism and convention marketing organization, Visit Newport Beach. It receives 18% of all city hotel bed tax, which in fiscal year 2013 is expected to equate to a $3.3-million budget.

About one-third of that is planned to be spent on salaries and benefits. Its organizational chart lists 17 in-house jobs. An additional $900,000 of salary is paid by a consortium of Newport Beach hotels.


'Sharrows' up for council approval

The council may approve new bicycle road makings on East Coast Highway in Corona del Mar. Called "sharrows," the painted arrows are intended to remind drivers that they are required to share the right traffic lane with cyclists when there is no bike lane. The markings would be 10 feet long and about 3 feet wide, and be placed between MacArthur Boulevard and Poppy Avenue.

Twitter: @mreicher

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