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Commentary: There’s congestion in Measure Y traffic argument

 

I am writing to share my intense frustration over the so-called impartial ballot statement approved by the Newport Beach City Council.

Measure Y has been placed on the ballot by the City Council to allow residents to vote on increases in traffic and density.

Measure Y will take entitlements in the Newport Coast area and reassign them to Newport Center. The entitlements in Newport Coast are in the general plan, but it is widely believed that they will never be built. They don’t exist, so the traffic associated with them doesn’t exist and will probably never exist.

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The council is removing 375,000 square feet of these entitlements from Newport Coast and assigning them to Newport Center, where is it highly likely that construction will take place and the traffic associated with these new buildings will affect our streets. The total new entitlement for Newport Center is 500,000 square feet of new development.

The estimates of the actual traffic trips generated by this new development are all over the board, with the city’s own initial staff report concluding that this change would cause an increase of 1,000 morning peak traffic trips and 1,500 evening peak traffic trips. This is even after subtracting the Newport Coast.

So let’s see how the City Council has decided to present this to the residents of Newport Beach. Remember, the election code requires that the city attorney give a true and impartial statement of the purpose of the measure.

The ballot summary reads as follows: “Shall the land use element of the Newport Beach General Plan be amended to provide for a reduction of non-residential development by 375,000 square feet, while concurrently increasing the number of residential dwelling units by 138 units, resulting in a reduction of an estimated 2,900 average daily vehicle trips?”

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Did you miss the part about the 500,000 square feet of development in Newport Center, which is a huge part of what this measure would allow? That would be because it isn’t in the ballot summary. Did you hear the description of a decrease in traffic trips? It doesn’t mention that the trips that are being “removed” don’t exist or that there is more than one traffic analysis with conflicting information.

This is at best disingenuous and at worst deceitful. The city has a moral and legal responsibility to present this ballot measure in an impartial way that allows the people to understand what they are actually voting for, and it has failed miserably to do so.

Respect must be earned. I call upon this council to regain my respect by withdrawing this ballot summary and submitting a fair and impartial one in its stead.

Susan Skinner

Newport Beach


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