Newport moves ahead with sculpture project

The Newport Beach City Council launched an effort Tuesday night to find art for a sculpture exhibition at the Civic Center park and moved to outsource some maintenance services.

In light of the city's push to increase public art, the council decided to move forward with a plan to gather submissions for a temporary sculpture exhibition, set to open close to the new civic center's first anniversary.

City arts commissioners Caroline Logan and Carole Boller told the council the group would focus on soliciting submissions from local artists to fit the theme "The Inherent Magic of Newport Beach."

Mayor Keith Curry, who in his state of the city address earlier this year set public art as a priority, called the move Tuesday "a great step forward."

The unanimous vote also ended a prior agreement with the Orange County Museum of Art, which after discussions with the city determined that it doesn't have the type of sculpture that the project would need, Curry said.

The council also approved three agreements to outsource maintenance of some landscaping and facilities, sewer video inspection services and some streetlight electrical repair.

The council also opted to have city staff members look into a possible ordinance that would limit or prevent picketing at individuals' homes.

Councilwoman Nancy Gardner alluded to an incident last month during which a group of anti-abortion protesters targeted the home of a Newport obstetrician, shouting slurs and writing obscenities using chalk on the sidewalk outside his house.

She said that for the sake of neighbors who were disturbed during the protest, "I would like to see us provide better protection in residential areas."


In a study session before the regular council meeting, the council heard a recap of Fourth of July activities.

The city has, over the past several years, tried to shift celebrations away from the kind of wild partying for which the Balboa Peninsula had become known on the holiday in favor of mellower, family friendly fun.

At the study session, council members and residents thanked city staff members for continuing to move in the right direction this year.

Longtime West Newport resident George Schroeder said that previously, he'd biked through town taking photos of illegal or untoward behavior. He'd then bring the pictures to a council meeting.

"I'm happy to say I didn't bring any [photos] this year," he told the council.

David McGill, deputy chief of the Newport Beach Police Department, ran down statistics from the day and said that the department considered the multiagency strategy this year a success though with room for improvement.

McGill cited as an example the early appearance of the sun on the holiday. "Crowds developed a little earlier than usual," he said. "That made us a little nervous." Seashore Drive, which for the first time remained open, saw a lot of traffic, and that proved to be a challenge, he added.

Next year, McGill said, the department will work on enforcing fireworks laws throughout the city. The number of calls about illegal fireworks increased this year, he said.

McGill said that another potential area of improvement may be the enforcement of the city's Loud and Unruly Gathering Ordinance.

The city wrote one LUGO citation this year, down from four in 2012 and 16 in 2011 — the first year that the law was enforced.

He said he planned to "take a real hard look" at when that ordinance — versus other types of enforcement measures — should be used to quiet down a party house.

In any case, Councilman Mik Henn said, the overall decreases in LUGO citations and in the number of calls reporting parties — down to 81 this year from 153 in 2010, before LUGO was implemented — were solid indicators that the city's efforts are working.

"To me, [the number of July 4 arrests] is not a meaningful statistic," he said. "To me, this is a meaningful statistic."

McGill said 124 arrests were made, 59% of which were for public drunkenness. The vast majority of those arrested were men, and most live outside of Newport. The majority of those arrested were between the ages of 18 and 20, with the 21-to-23 age bracket closely following.

In other business, the council held its annual Public Facilities Corp. meeting — a kind of housekeeping measure for the entity that technically owns city property.

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