Marina Park closer to fruition

The Newport Beach City Council took another incremental step Thursday night toward approving Marina Park on the Balboa Peninsula.

With a unanimous vote after no new public input, the council authorized the amendments made to its coastal development permit for the park, a facility to be located between 15th and 18th streets that will take up nearly 10 harborside acres.

The amendments from the California Coastal Commission earlier this year allow the park to have a faux lighthouse rising no higher than 73 feet — a height close to what civic planners had originally sought but were denied.

In June 2012, the statewide regulatory commission approved the park but gave the city a 35-foot limit on the lighthouse. The 35-foot height complies with the limit for the area, though city planners, intending the towering structure to be an icon and beacon of sorts for Newport Harbor, countered that the height didn't suit the community's needs.

A compromise was suggested by the Coastal Commission for a 55-foot tower that would have been tall enough for a tsunami warning siren, though Newport officials maintained their desire for their original, taller option, which they got after an 8-2 vote by the commission in San Diego in March.

The commission's amendments only give a height exception to the lighthouse and not to other architectural features, such as solar equipment or flag poles.

Marina Park, projected last year to cost $20 million, is also designed to have a community center, parking lot, restrooms, park space, a building for Girl Scouts and a marina with slips.

In other business, through its unanimous approval of the consent calendar, the council chose June 11 as the public hearing date for Newport's proposed budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year.

The council also approved a $132,785 contract with Alta Planning + Design. The Los Angeles-based firm will prepare a citywide bicycle master plan that aims to make the city safer for cyclists and promote responsible cycling.

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