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Mayor’s fee-waiver idea to be heard

Mayor’s fee-waiver idea to be heard
Early plans for two possible sites for a new community center in West Newport Beach, which the City Council will discuss during a study session Tuesday.
(City of Newport Beach)

The Newport Beach City Council on Tuesday will discuss whether to waive residential building permit fees on projects for the remainder of the year, an idea championed by Mayor Rush Hill.

Be it for a bedroom addition or a roof re-do, Hill proposed that permit fees for the first $1 million in project value could be waived, which would save residents up to roughly $11,000.


The city, with $130 million in reserves, could afford to do so and would expect to earn back revenue long-term, he said.

“While it costs the city a little to begin with, it comes back,” Hill said Thursday morning at the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce’s Wake Up Newport event at the Newport Beach Public Library.


Waiving the fees would encourage people to engage in projects, which would in turn lead to construction jobs and the sale of items like carpeting and light fixtures, he said.

Also, a member of his staff said, improved homes will likely go up in assessed value, generating more in property taxes for the city.

Still, the details remain to be hammered out.

“This is government,” he said. “You never know what’s going to come out the other end.”


Hill’s initiative to convert the Coyote Canyon landfill into a golf course is also moving forward, he said, and the Harbor Commission will take up the mayor’s charge to investigate the ideas of floating docks and water taxis at its meeting Wednesday.

The ideas come as part of an ongoing celebration of city life that Hill has made the hallmark of his year-long term.

He reviewed the aspects of city life he has already made a point to publicly compliment, including senior services, local restaurants and a new pickleball fad.

At the chamber event, he further praised the city’s strong financial, school and medical systems.


Even if the economy dips, quality of service is always protected, he said.

“We live in a city that has a very high quality of life,” he said. “We enjoy that.”

Hill listed ongoing projects in the city, including Marina and Sunset Ridge parks, affirming that work remains to be done.

At Tuesday’s study session, the council will discuss the location for a new West Newport community center, Hill said.

Early ideas for the center include a gym, youth gymnastics room, art room and indoor climbing wall, among other indoor amenities. A pool and community garden area could be built outside.

Possible locations include the 64-space pay parking lot near West Coast Highway and Superior Avenue or the corporate yard on 16th Street.

A preliminary concept for the former imagines connectivity to Sunset Ridge Park by way of a pedestrian bridge. A 300-space parking structure would also be constructed, likely built into the hillside with a pickleball courts or a dog park on its rooftop.

The latter would require a yard consolidation effort. It is adjacent to the future Banning Ranch development, a park, commercial and residential development project that would provide open park space but might affect the view, according to the staff report.

The underground reservoir with its pump station would also continue to operate but a parking lot could be built on top.

Staff will consider whether to move the police headquarters to this location.

Both possible sites would require approval from the California Coastal Commission.

The study sessions starts at 4:30 p.m. at the Civic Center, 100 Civic Center Drive.