Newport council scraps RV parking idea

While Newport Beach City Council members disagreed Tuesday night about various aspects of the Balboa Village Master Plan — including its name — there was one idea floated in it that they were all willing to let sink: recreational vehicle parking in the Balboa Pier parking lot.

The council voted 5 to 1 to accept the 289-page document with the caveats that the half-page item suggesting an off-season-only RV parking program be scrapped, and that it be called a "master plan," as opposed to an "implementation plan." With that vote, the council also approved the creation of the Balboa Village Advisory Committee.

The plan also includes recommendations for tenant attraction incentives, streetscape improvements and a residential permit parking program.

Councilman Mike Henn praised the report, which he said was about a year in the making.

"This has been one of my highest personal priorities: for there to be revitalization in Balboa Village," he said. "I'm especially thankful that this is a citizen-driven set of recommendations."

But Mayor Nancy Gardner, who voted against accepting the plan, expressed concern that the document's suggestions were vague and relied too much on city funding.

"I don't feel comfortable with this," she said. "I think of a blueprint as something that we'll move forward. There are too many elements that need further study."

Councilwoman Leslie Daigle originally voted against the plan with Gardner, but changed her mind in a second vote.

The council opted not to act on a controversial model lease template for commercial marinas. Another spate of speakers vehemently denounced the proposed changes, which would increase the rents that business owners and mooring holders pay the city to use public tidelands.

"We're wading further into morass with this lease," said Mayor Pro Tem Keith Curry.

Proponents have said the current leases are remnants of simpler times, while critics of the changes claimed implementing the new lease as is would be akin to exercising eminent domain.

The council asked that residents put their concerns in writing for further consideration at the next meeting.


New plans for City Hall site

A hotel and residential development are both still on the table for Newport's current City Hall site, which will be vacated in a couple of months once the Civic Center near Fashion Island is complete.

The council voted to solicit proposals for multiple types of developments, despite the fiscal analyses and neighbor support in favor of building of a boutique hotel on the publicly owned parcel.

"I hope that we get a good hotel proposal," Councilman Ed Selich said, "but we can't count on it."


Memorial for killed cyclists

In other business, the council announced a fundraising memorial ride for two cyclists recently killed in Newport Beach. The money raised would go toward bicycle safety improvements.

The city pledged to match money raised three to one, with a cap of $450,000 total raised by the city and cyclists. The ride will take place at 8 a.m. Oct. 28.

An earlier version of this story said the ride would be Oct. 30. It will actually be Oct. 28.

Citizens Bicycle Safety Committee member Frank Peters kicked off fundraising by donating $10,000 to the city's bicycle safety improvement fund.


Paddleboarding lanes, military flyovers fizzle

As the marathon meeting wound down, the council took up the issues of increased paddleboarding traffic and a potential ordinance requiring that the city be notified in advance of military flyovers. Both issues were dropped.

Although Harbor Commission chairman Doug West stepped forward during a public comment period to say that the commission could certainly look into what kind of dangers unregulated paddleboard traffic causes, he said the commission would prefer not to conduct a study the council wasn't interested in.

The council voted not to formally ask the Harbor Commission to study the matter, but to recognize that the commission may decide to revisit paddleboarding rules on its own.

Councilman Steven Rosansky said the council's consideration of a new rule regarding military flyovers was, similarly, "a solution without a problem."

The aviation issue was added to the council agenda after a March funeral flyover for a World War II Marine caused some confusion among residents and city officials. The Federal Aviation Administration recently responded to the city's concerns in a letter, explaining that cities can "regulate or restrict" military flyovers if they enact rules to that effect.

The council voted 5 to 1 to let the matter fly. Gardner alone voted against that motion, saying that in "today's post-9/11 world," it's worth exploring ways for the city to be informed of aviation activities that could otherwise take residents by surprise.

Twitter: @jillcowan

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