Commissioner admits park permit could have been handled better

At a Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce breakfast Wednesday morning, California Coastal Commissioner Steve Kinsey offered something of a mea culpa for the state agency's handling of the city's planned Sunset Ridge Park.

"That's an example of something we could do better," Kinsey said at the monthly Wake Up! Newport event. "It took us three tries for something that was absolutely an appropriate use [of coastal land]."

After years of back-and-forth with the city, the commission recently issued a Coastal Development Permit for the 14-acre park, and bids for construction can begin, according to city staff reports.

Kinsey, who is also a Marin County supervisor, briefly addressed members of Newport's business community at the Central Library before heading into the nearby council chambers for the commission's monthly meeting.

There, he had a long day ahead of him listening to debate over a controversial desalination plant proposed for Huntington Beach.

Kinsey acknowledged that the commission's relationships with coastal cities — including Newport — can get testy at times.

"Californians love our coast," he said. "I'm not so sure they love our Coastal Commission."

But Kinsey said the agency plays an important role in protecting one of California's biggest assets: an accessible coastline.

He said he expected proposed development at Banning Ranch to be a major issue facing the city and the commission in coming years. Sea level rise, too, he said was another major issue on the commission's radar.

Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce President Steve Rosansky said Newport Mayor Keith Curry was slated to speak at the next Wake Up! Newport breakfast. He will look back on his year-long term as mayor, Rosansky said.

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