Dozens of people went to Newport Beach City Hall on Tuesday night expecting a debate, maybe even a confrontation, but what they got in the end was a compromise.
At issue was the Village Inn, a longtime restaurant along Marine Avenue, Balboa Island’s main street. In November, the city Planning Commission gave approval for the establishment to build a permanent 200-square-foot outdoor dining patio on the Marine Avenue public sidewalk.The decision was appealed to the City Council by Marine Avenue resident Mike Sullivan, who lives two doors down.
Sullivan, representing an association of his neighbors, argued that the patio would exacerbate noise from the restaurant, among other issues.
On Tuesday, Councilman Scott Peotter, an architect by trade, presented a plan he had worked out before the meeting that would allow the Village Inn to have its Marine Avenue outdoor dining space, but on a smaller section of the sidewalk. In exchange, the business would be allowed other patio space on the sidewalk on its Park Avenue side.
That was acceptable to Sullivan and Dan Miller, the Village Inn’s owner since 2012, and the council voted 6-0 in favor of it. Councilman Jeff Herdman, whose District 5 includes Balboa Island, recused himself because he owns property nearby.
The compromise also appeared acceptable to the dozens of Village Inn supporters who attended the hearing bearing green signs that read “Village Inn yes!”
They contended that helping the Village Inn, established in 1933, benefits the community at large.
“The most important thing for the island is to keep a very viable business,” said Jack Callahan, a member of the Balboa Island Improvement Assn.
Tommy Crosson, an island resident since 1954, called the Village Inn a true family restaurant.
“It’s had its ups and downs over the years,” he said. “Mr. Miller has made it a class place to go.”
Because Peotter’s plan involved significant changes to the one the Planning Commission approved and was not available to the council or the public before Tuesday’s meeting, the matter will return to the council for a second vote, though as a consent calendar item, meaning it likely will pass with little or no discussion.
Jim Mosher, a frequent council critic, was skeptical of the plan, which he called “dining on a public sidewalk,” not “outdoor dining.”
He noted that the Village Inn is not paying the city to use public property for private gain.
Carol McDermott, a Village Inn representative, said the restaurant is taking significant steps to reduce noise from its live entertainment, including installing double-paned windows and sound-barrier curtains.
The portion of the Marine Avenue sidewalk where Village Inn’s patio would be contains city bike racks. About half of those are expected to be moved to another area of Marine, with the Village Inn paying $6,000 of the cost.
Councilwoman Diane Dixon complimented Peotter for reaching out to all parties.
“Congratulations for bringing these forces together,” she said.
Planning Commission meetings to be video-recorded
In other business, the council unanimously approved a motion for Planning Commission meetings to be video-recorded and shown on NBTV and online.
Newport Beach & Co., the city’s marketing organization, will perform the service, like it does for City Council meetings.
Recording Planning Commission meetings was among the priorities Mayor Kevin Muldoon announced in December, when he was appointed to the post.
The seven-member commission meets once or twice a month on Thursdays preceding council meetings.