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Mailbag: A new ballot measure in Newport Beach prompts a question

A measure asking N.B. voters whether or not they want to elect the city's mayor has been approved by the City Council.
A ballot measure asking Newport Beach voters whether or not they want to elect the city’s mayor has been approved by the City Council.
(Raul Roa)

Now that Newport Beach City Councilman Will O’Neill has gotten his wish and convinced three of his council buddies to vote and put the “Elect Our Mayor” initiative on a June ballot for voters to decide if Newport Beach needs a full-time mayor, and all the new expenses that it brings, it begs the question: WHY?

Let’s me be perfectly clear here. It isn’t like we had incompetent city managers over the years ... NO. Or incompetent City Council members over the years … NO. Or the city of Newport Beach is in such dire straits that it’s crying out for help … NO.

What we have just witnessed is a blatant political power grab from people who want nothing more than to advance their own political careers at the expense of a city, plain and simple. And if they deny it, as I said at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, “they have peaked in high school.”

I sincerely thank council members Joy Brenner, Brad Avery and Diane Dixon who showed their love and respect for the city and its history by dissenting.

Roy Englebrecht
Newport Beach

Elect mayor campaign is about power

I can think of no greater reason to question the viability of changing our system of governing in Newport Beach than the fact that it is the brainchild of one person only. It is not the result of criticism by residents, community leaders, or outside pressure. Newport Beach has the same system of government as other cities of the same size in Orange County, the “Council Manager” configuration. With the exception of Stanton, cities of our size have governments similar to ours. They do not elect their mayor.

The larger cities in Orange County who do elect their mayor also have a council that is elected directly using district voting, not “at large” elections such as ours. If there is an argument to be made that electing mayors is more democratic than appointing them by council, than we should be willing to say equally that it is more democratic to have district elections, because then our residents would vote directly for the council person who represents their district, as well as the mayor.

The other greatest argument for district voting are that more people would run for office because the expense of campaigning in one district is so much less than doing so in the whole city, and there would be more autonomy for individual council members.

At present our council members are too easily influenced by powerful individuals and politics. This is evidenced by the case at hand. Even though the other members of council were not involved in the naissance of the proposal to directly appoint the mayor, they feel pressured to go along with the idea because of the “assumed” political power behind it.

There are many other reasons that directly electing a mayor for Newport is such a bad idea: the potential costs of an election, the lack of support from the leaders of the community, the possibility that one person could potentially be in power for 16 years, the opportunity of outside moneyed power players having more power than they do now, the fact that it gives way too much power to one person, and perhaps most importantly, there has been absolutely no public debate.

What this is is an audacious power grab.

Lynn Lorenz
Newport Heights

New store makes little sense

Old Corona del Mar residents better start monitoring their Newport Beach city commissions more frequently. At their October public meeting our Planning Commission gave their OK to allow a 7/Eleven-style store being added onto the Union 76 gas station at Pacific Coast Highway and Avocado Avenue. This makes no sense at all after receiving “hundreds of letters” opposing the project, according to one dissenting commission member.

The gas station is located next door to longtime family-owned Korker Liquor, which is operated daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. The Planning Commission voted to allow the proposed store to operate from 6 a.m. until midnight with liquor sales being cut off at 11 p.m.

What were they thinking? Stores selling liquor situated next door to each other? A residential neighborhood surrounds the gas station on both sides. Northbound PCH and left-turning traffic at Avocado Avenue already creates a traffic problem with vehicles wanting to U-turn in order to access the service station.

And what about the possibility of homeless people wanting to hang out at the 7/Eleven during and after business hours like at other locations we’ve observed? It’s a recipe for problems with the busy pedestrian traffic and young kids walking home from school. What about maintaining property values, cleanliness and handling late night traffic noise?

Please remember that this is a special old Corona del Mar residential neighborhood, not a crowded commercial zone. Please call all of our City Council representatives and your neighbors and vigorously oppose this ill-advised Planning Commission ruling.

Kent S. Moore
Corona del Mar

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