Fair Game

By TOM JOHNSON

Museum House passes but Line in the Sand challenge awaits

The City Council approved the Museum House residential project planned for Newport Center on Tuesday night with a 6-1 vote, with only Councilman Tony Petros dissenting.

Speakers and observers filled not only the City Council Chambers but overflowed into the Community Room next door. 

Me, I chose to sit this one out and instead watched the meeting at home on Newport Beach Television.

To refresh, the Museum House is a 100-unit upscale condominium project planned on the current site of the Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA).

Opponents argue against “traffic implications” and the changing city skyline with more of a “Century City look” with another high-rise dotting the landscape.

Supporters cite the “exquisite design, the need for a real-estate project of this magnitude and the millions of dollars that will eventually find their way into City coffers through development fees.” They also deny the claims of any huge traffic implications.

So where do we go from here? When does building start?

Not so fast. 

Line in the Sand, a local political action committee, is expected to begin gathering signatures immediately asking for a referendum requiring a community vote on the project.

On the Line in the Sand website it is acknowledged that “change is inevitable but change should benefit all of us, not just a select few. We will be vigilant in working to protect our town and all that makes it so special to those who call it home. We will engage voters and City leaders in a conversation about these issues. We will monitor new projects, zoning code exceptions and amendments to our voter-approved General Plan.”

Several speakers throughout the course of the evening asking the council to consider bringing the issue to “their constituents” for a community vote, but it fell upon deaf ears.

Expect the Museum House to continue to dominate the local political scene in the weeks and months to come.

A new council will be seated on December 13th with Will O’Neill, Brad Avery and Jeff Herdman being sworn in. Don’t expect any change with the next council on the Museum House vote.

Also worthy of note in watching NBTV the other night: I appreciate Allen Beek taking part and speaking out against the Museum House. But Allen, c’mon, if you’re going to sit directly behind the speaker’s podium you need to stay awake, or at least bring a blanket and a pillow.

Fred Ameri, as promised, is not going away quietly. Ameri spoke in public comments Tuesday night angrily denouncing Mayor Diane Dixon’s position against Councilman Keith Curry’s “proposed resolution on the bigoted Farsi campaign signs.”

Dixon repeatedly banged her gavel and warned Ameri that “he was out of order.”

Who knew local television could be so good?