Council holds off on possible post office move

The Newport Beach City Council isn't ready to send off its Mariner's Mile post office just yet.

Council members unanimously voted to delay a decision Tuesday on whether to rezone the property where the Bay Station Post Office stands, so staff can prepare the proper documentation for denial of the request. The council urged staff to return with the paperwork at its next meeting, April 22.

An international architecture and design firm, Gensler, had applied for a zoning change for 191 Riverside Ave. to mixed use from a public facility.

A firm representative said no specific plans were in store for the Mariner's Mile commercial district site, but the city was notified on March 25 that the lease on the post office had not been renewed.

"Currently the owner of the property has no designs or future plans for the building," the representative said. "He's simply trying to rezone it from a public facility to a mixed-use facility."

Councilman Tony Petros said he thinks there is a plan and it isn't something the community will want.

"While there might not be a project here before us, the applicant has hired one of the preeminent architects in Southern California to represent them," Petros said. "They didn't hire a community outreach person. They didn't hire a planner or a government relations person. They hired an architect, which tells me there are plans afoot to make the change."

The post office pays $350,400 a year to rent two spaces in the shopping center that total 11,535 square feet, said U.S. Postal Service spokesman Richard Maher.

One space is a stand-alone building, and another is in a corner with a series of storefronts behind it.

The Postal Service is hoping to find a nearby location with about 5,100 square feet, Maher said.

If the council approves the requested amendments for the current site, the post office could continue to operate there if its lease is renewed, but many more uses would also become permissible, noted Patrick Alford, the city's planning manager.

Still, Petros said, other uses would provide greater opportunity to a property owner.


Solid waste collection

In other business, the council updated the municipal code to reflect the transition for trash collection services from public employees to private company CR&R.; The amendments excluded language that would allow trash containers to be stored against a home or garage if they could not fit in a garage, sideyard or other enclosure.


Landscaping contract

Council members approved a nearly $413,000 contract with Nuvis Landscape and Planning of Costa Mesa to complete the documents necessary for the planned landscaping on West Coast Highway, between the Santa Ana River and Newport Boulevard.


For the bikers

The council cleared the way for 50 bike racks to be installed along East Coast Highway in Corona del Mar, an initiative of the Corona del Mar Business Improvement District.

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