After reading Susan Skinner’s letter last month in the Daily Pilot, and being aware of the upcoming Koll Center Residences project in the John Wayne Airport area, I decided to find out more about it.
I opposed the Museum House and Banning Ranch developments, as did many of my friends. All of us are longtime Newport Beach residents (44 years for me).
Yet after talking it over, we agreed that the Koll Center Residences looks like a reasonable solution to the need for more housing. It should not affect Coast Highway traffic nor pose many of the problems we saw with Museum House and Banning Ranch.
In addition, it seems to exactly fit into Newport Beach’s general plan. The Koll Center Residences project just make sense.
Koll Center project is responsible development for Newport
In her December letter to the editor, Susan Skinner attempts to frame approval of the Koll Center Residences project as a referendum between Newport Beach City Council and Newport Beach residents, stating, “The City Council will have a choice: Stand with developers or stand with the residents, but it cannot do both.”
She also states, “This culture of permissive development emanates from the City Council and permeates the city’s actions.”
While these are clearly the writer’s personal opinions, they fail to acknowledge several facts important to an objective narrative.
First, the Koll residences project is in full compliance with the current Newport Beach general plan, which was developed over years and opportunities for significant resident input, after which it was approved by a majority of Newport Beach voters.
Second, the project scope and building heights for the Koll residences are compatible with those in the John Wayne Airport area where it would be located. Skinner infers that rejection of the Museum House project proposed for the Newport Center area set a precedent which applies to the Koll Center Residences. The general plan requirements for Newport Center differ from those applicable to the airport area. Thus, Skinner’s inference is invalid.
Third, the Koll residences project fits a removal and replacement category to ensure it does not generate traffic that overloads the existing road network. Professional traffic studies indicate that the current road system can accommodate the Koll project.
Fourth, the project contains numerous amenities of value to the community, such as a 1.17-acre public park.
As a longtime resident of Newport Beach I am interested in keeping the city fresh and vibrant through prudent, responsible redevelopment to meet the evolving needs of the city. The current general plan was written and approved to provide responsible planning guidance, and the Koll residences project complies with the general plan. Even though some residents have the opinion that the project should be rejected, doing so would be tantamount to moving the goalposts late in the game and should not be allowed.
I urge the City Council to approve this project.
Thomas R. Damiani
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