Land-use panel drafts suggestions

A Newport Beach committee is moving forward in reviewing possible changes to the land-use portion of the city's general plan, a state-mandated guide for development that was last updated in 2006.

The panel is awaiting results of an environmental impact report, which is being conducted by Santa Ana-based urban planning and design firm Planning Center, after having suggested modifications to the size and kind of land developments in about 20 locations in the city, including Newport Coast Center, the Bluffs and Fashion Island.

The Land Use Element Amendment Advisory Committee — composed of two council members, two planning commissioners and five residents — decided to shrink or increase various development capacities and determined what could be developed at the locations when members finalized a draft Oct. 1.

Rather than consider the suggested changes on a case-by-case basis, members decided that reviewing the entire land-use element — the "driving force" of the general plan — allows for a more comprehensive look at city growth, said committee Chairman Ed Selich.

Commercial space in Westcliff Plaza, for example, might be reduced by about 15,500 square feet, but Harbor Day School may be able to accommodate a total of 480 students, up from 408. Promontory Point Apartments could also be increased by 50 units.

Meanwhile, a carwash at 150 Newport Center Drive may be replaced with a hotel of up to 125 rooms, while the Newport Sports Museum could be allowed to increase by 15,000 square feet.

Of particular importance to committee members will be the traffic analysis.

The goal, Mayor Pro Tem Selich said, is for traffic levels to remain the same.

The report's results are expected to be released in early March for a 45-day public comment period, said Brenda Wisneski, deputy community development director.

"We're right on schedule," Selich said.

Committee members may tweak their suggestions before a second environmental impact report is conducted. More public meetings will also take place before voters can approve or reject the changes in November.

[Updated, 10:09 a.m. Jan. 22: Although the Irvine Company initially sought approval to increase the Promontory Point Apartments by 50 units, they no longer wish to do so and the item has been removed from the committee’s consideration]


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