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Newport begins 3-year process to update general plan

Newport begins 3-year process to update general plan
The future of the stretch of West Coast Highway known as Mariner’s Mile is expected to be part of Newport Beach’s general plan update. (File Photo)

The Newport Beach City Council held a general plan update meeting Tuesday, its first in what is estimated to be a three-year process of outlining the city’s long-term development strategy.

The general plan is the city’s planning blueprint, covering elements such as land use, traffic circulation, housing, public safety and open space. Newport last comprehensively updated its plan in 2006.

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To kick off the effort, the city will appoint a five-member citizen steering committee that will give input on a request for consultants’ proposals. The consultant that will author the plan should be in place this summer, according to Deputy Community Development Director Jim Campbell.

The city will spend about a year on “listen and learn” outreach before the consultant begins writing a plan, Campbell said. Public input will be gathered throughout the overall process, he said.

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A separate 25-member general plan advisory committee, also composed of residents, will help guide the document.

The plan update is expected to cost about $2.5 million, Campbell said.

Mayor Diane Dixon said the process will be transparent and community-driven.

“The general plan is a document created and established by the community for the community,” she said. “The document does not exist without the public’s input of your thoughts, your ideas and, most important, your vision of the future.”

“Listen and learn” forums generally cover land use, housing and traffic, along with sea level rise, sustainability and, specifically, the future of development in the John Wayne Airport area, Banning Ranch, Mariner’s Mile, Newport Center, and the harbor and bay.

Video contract

The council went against a staff recommendation to change contractors for the city’s NBTV television channel, voting 5-2 to stay with Newport Beach & Co., which has had the video production contract for four years.

Staff suggested Red 88 Media, a Monrovia-based video agency that specializes in government programming, for a one-year contract with potential extensions. Its $139,680-per-year bid was about $20,000 less than that of Newport Beach & Co., which also manages the nonprofit visitors bureau Visit Newport Beach and separately contracts with the city to promote it to tourists.

NBTV shows City Council meetings, public service announcements and original programming such as the environmentally themed “The Village Green” and the talk show “NB Talk.” Programs are broadcast on cable TV and online.

Red 88 Media owner Travis Gray said he has more than a decade of experience in governmental broadcasting, which he augments with features such as 3-D modeling and animation.

“Delivering public meetings to residents is a passion of ours,” he said.

But Councilman Kevin Muldoon wanted to stick with Newport Beach & Co., using reasoning that “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”

“They are a huge supporter of our city,” Councilman Jeff Herdman said. “We are a huge supporter of them.”

Gary Sherwin, president and chief executive of Newport Beach & Co., said the City Council, staff and residents don’t have a clear, consistent understanding of the city’s vision for NBTV. He said that’s a challenge for a vendor and that he wants to review what the people and city management want and how to deliver it.

Dixon and Mayor Pro Tem Will O’Neill dissented in the council’s vote.

O’Neill supported Red 88 Media for its lower bid.

Dixon said she respects Newport Beach & Co.’s work in marketing the city but wasn’t sure whether local communications are its strength.

“You are the best thing that has ever happened to marketing Newport Beach, but I don’t know if video production for a local audience is the core competency,” she told Sherwin. “You have greater competencies to market to the world.”

The council awarded the contract to Newport Beach & Co. without extensions so it can review NBTV goals after the one-year term is up.

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