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Mailbag: Project would add too much density to Newport Beach

The Newport Beach City Council will soon consider the 26-story, 504,000-square-foot Museum House condominium tower proposed to replace the Orange County Museum of Art in Newport Center. I would like to point out that this approval is completely discretionary, meaning that this property has no entitlement to build anything beyond the structure that is currently there.

If our City Council decides to approve this project, it will be continuing its pattern of approving development after development without giving heed to its constituents’ desire for preserving a certain standard of livability in Newport Beach, such as not allowing our beautiful beach town to become choked with traffic and demands on our resources that we are ill-prepared to meet. Our City Council needs to represent the wishes of the citizens who elected them — a good start would be to say “no” to the Museum House project.

Susan Seely
Newport Beach

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Presentation slanted toward developer

I sat next to a Daily Pilot writer who covered the Museum House meeting. I am not questioning the facts that were published in the Daily Pilot article. The newspaper did not say anything wrong. It just chose not to tell the whole story. I am completely disappointed in our hometown newspaper. We have been a subscriber for 50 years. That has now become a question mark.

I am not a professional writer. I know what was said in the presentation. I listened to all of the speakers in the audience. I heard all of the questions. I clearly heard all of the responses.

The presentation was given by the designer and builder of the proposed condominium project in Newport Center. I would estimate that there was in excess of 200 people in attendance. Nearly all of the attendees were opposed to the project and all who spoke were most definitely opposed. Only the developer spoke, and his small staff went completely unnoticed.

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The slide presentation was large and well organized to give a different look to the project that stands as it is. It was shrewdly designed to promote the developer’s views and not necessarily the facts as they are. He was called on this by several members in the audience with minimal response by him.

He stated, on several occasions, that he has no interest in making any modifications to his proposal. And he would not consider moving his project to a different location in the city.

Jim Warren
Newport Beach

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Candidate showed leadership

I am very proud of those who celebrate our city and those who care enough to engage and step into the arena of leadership. A few weeks ago, Costa Mesa Parks Commissioner Julie Mercurio bowed out of the race for City Council. I believe Mercurio represents the silent majority of Costa Mesa. She has harnessed social media, to make their reasonable voices heard providing a platform for debate, civic information and the empowerment of the heretofore silent majority. The Facebook group, Costa Mesa Public Square, now has over 7,550 members.

Mercurio is the future of Costa Mesa. She’s a single mom raising two children who wants a safe city they can grow up in. Mercurio is a long-time Costa Mesan who wants improvement and values civility over disparagement.

Possessing the rare combination of charisma, an ability to communicate effectively, thoughtfulness and the courage to articulate her positions on issues, Mercurio embodies the wind of change blowing through our city.

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I hope Julie stays involved. So often we only hear from those that only care to criticize. Mercurio breaks that mold and let’s hope she continues to add her brand to our city. Mercurio’s infectious smile and positive message is contagious. I want to thank her and hope public service is in her future.

Mayor Steve Mensinger
Costa Mesa

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Residents should get to vote on Banning Ranch

I wish the local residents could vote and decide whether to allow the Banning Ranch development. It’s so obvious who benefits: the developers. Those who live in the surrounding community have to make room, in terms of road use and water use, and have to put up with the added pollution during construction. Those who think that nature should have a say, that endangered species should be given a space to live, could add their vote also.

The developers could vote too, if they lived here. That’s democracy. But that isn’t the current case.

Development of our coast is not a democratic decision. It is a big money and politics decision. Banning Ranch is the last, large parcel of undeveloped coastal property left in Orange County and would provide a unique wildlife corridor throughout adjoining parks along the Santa Ana River. It is also unique for its coastal mesa, bluffs, arroyos and coastal salt marsh. What a treasure.

Once developed, you can’t bring it back; it’ll be lost forever. The only voice we have to protect this rare environment is through letters and attending Coastal Commission meetings, which is why I am writing this. There’s one coming up Sept. 7 to 9, right here in Newport Beach at the Civic Center. It’s a rare opportunity to influence the right decision for today and our future generations.

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Philip Chipman
Costa Mesa

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Irvine should stay out of Banning Ranch

I’m responding to a letter from Dennis Gimian of Irvine. The only people who have the right to voice their opinions on Banning Ranch are residents of Costa Mesa, Newport Beach and Huntington Beach. Mr. Gimian, why don’t you and the rest of Irvine residents continue to put your efforts into your “Great Park” and leave Banning Ranch to people who are actually affected by it.

David Martinson
Costa Mesa

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Have we seen the last of Michael Phelps?

Regarding Michael Phelps more or less retiring you just never know what motivations people have regarding future events. Leaving the 2016 Olympic Games with 28 total Olympic medals — of which 23 are gold —he is the most decorated Olympian ever, and will probably remain that way for at least a century.

Phelps, however, might get the itch a few years from now regarding the 2020 games in Tokyo. He will be 35 in 2020, the same age as American swimmer Anthony Ervin, who took the gold in the 50-meter men’s swimming freestyle a few days ago. So it may indeed be a case of never say never again, or come 2020 in Tokyo, the world might see a bit of more splashing in the pool by Phelps.

Bill Spitalnick
Newport Beach

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Singapore is a model of math education

One of the best newspapers in Britain is London’s Financial Times (FT). It keeps track of financial health in London and around the world.

Like many people it is dawning on the British that there is a causal relationship between high school math scores and financial dominance. If people have trouble counting, they probably have trouble counting money.

Who wants a banker who can’t count?

Therefore, the FT recently visited a little island just east of the Indian Ocean: Singapore. Why? Because Singaporean high school students routinely score at the top of the world in international math tests. And Singapore’s economy is booming. The FT wanted to learn the Singaporean secret.

Here’s how Singapore does it:

The parents are aware and involved. They have high academic expectations of their children, and let their children know it. The children take their parents’ expectations very, very seriously.

The teachers are quite calm. They are perfectly clear about what they want. If the students are inattentive, the teachers get a little sharp. They never yell. But it’s not much of an issue. The students take their teachers very, very seriously.

All students are expected to do well. Talent is secondary. Effort is primary.

The core of the Singaporean curriculum is math and science. Singaporeans get a lot of quantitative training. They don’t just learn procedures. They learn to think like mathematicians. They become excellent problem-solvers.

Once they master the basics, then they can get creative.

Students are competitive with each other, but in a fun, encouraging way.

The entire culture is pro-education. Singaporeans accept that freedom is based on prosperity, and prosperity is based on academic excellence. Therefore, school and work are closely linked. When Singaporeans get their diplomas—the jobs are ready for the graduates, and the graduates are ready for the jobs.

It’s good Singapore is as small as it is, or we might be in trouble.

Steve Davidson
Newport Beach


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