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Guest Column

Dave Kiff

An insider’s look at what’s going on in and around City Hall

Dave Kiff

Newport Beach City Manager Dave Kiff

We’re decked out in Balboa Peninsula Trolley Red today for this version of a slightly shorter Insider’s Guide because the Council meeting planned for June 27th might also be a tad shorter than most. It’s summertime, the Budget’s adopted, and the City can tend to hunker down into a busy operational mode (managing traffic, keeping the place tidy as best we can, keeping you and our visitors safe from big waves, crime, and fire, and running busy libraries and recreational programs) versus administrative items.

So on to the Agenda for the meeting. Remember that I don’t summarize every item on the agenda, so make sure you look at the City Clerk’s agenda page to read the whole agenda if you’d like.

Study Session starts at 4 p.m., and has a handful of items:

Updating the Council about recent changes to State law that obligate us to change our Franchise Agreements with the 35 or so commercial trash haulers that work in Newport Beach. These are the haulers used by apartments, restaurants, businesses, schools and more. They can provide daily or weekly service (or something in between) and provide “roll-offs” for construction debris.

Updating the Council on our activities involving Short-Term Lodgings, like Airbnb and HomeAway. In short, we’ve been trying to work on improving compliance with our codes for those persons operating vacation rentals without a permit. Sometimes that means telling a homeowner that they cannot rent short-term lodgings at all, if the home is in the R-1 zone and does not have a pre-existing short-term lodging permit.

Our yearly summary of what to expect on July 4. Which is a Tuesday this year, not a Wednesday as I wrote last time. Sorry about that mistake, but kudos to the dozen or so folks that read that far and caught it. Anyway, expect pretty much the usual stuff for July 4 – lots of traffic, our West Newport special enforcement zone w/”LUGO” fines if groups get crazy, but also some great fireworks shows and fun parades and family stuff. A couple of new things – know that the Balboa Rolley will be operating that day and please DO NOT bring in or use fireworks. Our PD will be more aggressive this year in trying to catch you if you do. The past years have seen too many uses of fireworks on our local streets, which can be dangerous for you and your property and subject you to fines and penalties.

The evening’s Regular Session is at 7 p.m. There are only these items that I’ll call attention to:

Council will consider appointments to lots of Boards and Commissions. As always, Council has a great list of worthy candidates to consider. Thank you to all who made the commitment to apply. While not everyone can get an appointment the first or even second time, eventually it happens. 

From our Community Development Department, some contracts with various private sector firms that provide plan check, technical, and inspection services to you if you’re remodeling or newly constructing a home, business, or similar. We have both in-house staff who can do this and outside plan checkers – actually, you generally can choose which path you’d like. But sometimes plan reviews are shipped to outside contractors if we’re overloaded with the workload internally. 

Calendar and other notes include:

The Trolley again. Give it a try on any weekend day or July 4 through Sunday, Sept 3rd. It’s free and a fun way to navigate around the busy Peninsula. Limited parking is available at Hoag Hospital’s lower campus (PCH and Hoag Drive – see map) if you want to send guests there. To download the Trolley Tracker app, go to the App Store and look for “Ride Systems” then select “Newport Beach” (I just tested it and it works).

Can I ring my usual Summer bell about just biker and pedestrian safety in general? It’s our busy season, so that means more people – and more people who aren’t familiar with town. Plus some of them are probably walking or biking while texting. And Junior Guards starts on Tuesday, June 27th. So remember that a gazillion younger folks on bikes in their JG uniforms (with fins and backpacks) will be on the streets and sidewalks getting to and from two shifts of JGs each Monday through Thursday through August 10th. Please look out for all of them. It makes so much sense for us to drive a little more slowly and cautiously down Balboa, on Bayside, on Dover, on Newport Boulevard and more – and across crosswalks, through intersections, and around alleyways. Let’s all survive the summer with life and limbs intact.

Starting on Saturday, July 1, expect to see a few new Newport Beach boats in the Harbor under the direction of our new Harbormaster, Dennis Durgan. Dennis and his crew of harbor ambassadors will be out in the Harbor performing some (but not all) of the functions that the OC Sheriff has done in the past. For any Harbor issue not involving an emergency, call the new Harbor phone number at 949.270.8159, or email them at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The website there is www.newportharbor.org.

Finally, this is my chance to congratulate and say goodbye to Deputy City Manager Rob Houston, who is leaving us soon to become the City Manager of Fountain Valley (“a nice place to live” – and it is). I wish Rob the best in this new endeavor, as the region needs good city managers, I thank Rob for his years of service to the City. 

Have a safe and sane July 4th, and as always, thanks for reading. Please forward this Guide to family, friends and members of your HOA if you represent one. I always like hearing from you, too, so please don’t hesitate to ask a question or offer a comment. 

Sincerely,

Dave Kiff

City Manager

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949-644-3001

Letters to the Editor:

Peotter has some explaining to do 

As citizens have reviewed and examined the record of Councilmember Scott Peotter, several distributing questions have arisen. Scott Peotter owes the community answers to these questions.

In 2015, Peotter reported $10,000-$100,000 income from Capitol Ministries, a religious organization whose web site indicates “ministers… must be capable of raising funds for their ministries”… Did Peotter solicit donations from undisclosed parties to support his living expenses? If so, from whom and how much did they provide for Peotter’s personal expenses?

During his four years on the Planning Commission, Peotter reported no income, including, spousal income, investments, investment income or gifts. Yet, during this time frame, he qualified for, and received, two loans, one for $7 million and one for $13 million that repaid the first loan. Shortly thereafter, Peotter defaulted on the second loan. How was Peotter able to qualify for a loan of this size while on the Planning Commission, with no reportable income?

In 2015 and 2016, Peotter reported an ownership interest in 14972 Culver Drive, Irvine. A search on Google maps shows that there is no such address. Why did he report a false address for his Irvine property?

Despite allegedly being the President of Aslan Companies in Irvine since 1992, why does Peotter not have a valid Irvine Business License?

In an April 13, 2015 email to the city manager, Peotter raised questions as to the status of the city tow contract, and specifically Southside Towing, a firm not under contract to the city. On January 26, 2016, Peotter made a substitute motion that overturned the recommendation of the Newport Beach Police Department and awarded a lucrative police towing contract to Southside. Southside is represented by Steve Baric, Peotter’s campaign lawyer and a donor to Independent Expenditure Committees linked to Team Newport. What is Peotter’s relationship to Southside Towing?

In July of 2014, Peotter was cited by the City Clerk for accepting contributions in excess of the legal limit from persons associated with Woody’s Wharf restaurant. Why did Peotter then schedule a September 2014 fundraiser at Woody’s and fail to report the expenses associated with that fundraiser until cited by a resident in 2015? Peotter was later the deciding vote in reversing a prior decision on Woody’s Wharf and settling litigation on terms highly favorable to Woody’s.  

When it was clear that the public rejected Museum House, why did Peotter refuse to rescind the approvals of the project and why did he oppose efforts to require his campaign manager Dave Ellis to disclose his relationship with the project developer?

Peotter should provide clear and complete answers to the public or he should resign.

Kristin M. Cano

Newport Beach

 

The Recall of Scott Peotter is necessary and is a worthy effort

WHY? His record speaks for itself. Consider this:

I. His business, Aslan Companies is functioning without a business license in the city of Irvine. 

II. Scott Peotter, president of Aslan Companies is subject to a $13 Million court judgement and makes $1,667 monthly restitution payments.

III. A recent complaint to the Fair Political Practices Commission shows he submitted a false address for property in Irvine, failed to report ANY economic interests during four years on the planning commission and has been raising private, undisclosed cash donations for living expenses.

IV. He is currently under investigation by the FPPC for violating campaign contributions limits.

V. He recommended the city take funds designated for pension cost reduction and instead 

speculate in the stock market.

VI. He recommended a refinancing of city hall debt; City’s financial advisors said this would cost $20 million more!

VII. He violated the Brown Act and was forced to read a public apology (his actions could have exposed the city to liability).

VIII. He changed the rules so that a man later convicted of embezzlement was appointed to oversee city finances. 

Peotter has demonstrated time and again that State laws don’t apply to him and he does not grasp or understand City issues. He supports high density and high-rise development, stating there should be high rises on Lido Island. He voted twice for the Museum House tower condominium project, among other development. Thanks Scott, for that 3,760-page petition.

If this recall is delayed until the 2018 election, Scott Peotter will be involved in two additional budget cycles and a revision of our General Plan. This will give him the opportunity to cause the city irreparable harm with his careless decisions. 

The number of bad decisions he makes - in his personal life and professional life - clearly demonstrate that he is ill informed and lacks judgement; he does not uphold the city goals and directions.  

He does not understand and is not guided by what is in the best interest of our community.

Do you really want a man of his caliber making important, long lasting city decisions for you and your community? 

Go to recallscottpeotter.com to sign the petition.

Marilyn Brewer, California State Assembly (retired)

Newport Beach


Letter to the Editor:

Coalition to protect Mariner’s Mile has “simple” message 

Thank you for being a part of our Community Outreach Event this past Monday. We hope you realize how much our community appreciates your involvement to help inform and unite our residents who also treasure our bayside community.

The Coalition to Protect Mariner’s Mile message is very simple:

1. Protect the Property Owners 

The City along with Cal Trans intends to expand PCH and to accomplish the widening, they would have to take 12 feet of property away on the inland side from Dover to The Arches Bridge.

The City and Cal Trans call it ‘dedication’ or ‘master opportunity’, we call it eminent domain.

2. Protect our Local Merchants

The local merchants and businesses along PCH could lose their businesses, if the expansion of PCH occurs. There are 44 curb cuts on the inland side of this 1.3 mile stretch of road, it is a very dangerous stretch of highway, accidents occur almost on a daily basis. Making PCH a six-lane highway is not a good investment for the businesses and would potentially reroute traffic from the 405 freeway into the heart our town.

3. Protect our Children and Residents

We have 4,300 children attending school in Newport Heights and 1,500 Junior Lifeguards crossing PCH to get to and from the peninsula. We have four sailing and seamanship schools along this corridor that is summer camp to thousands of children. Why would we ever want to jeopardize lives, by adding more lanes to PCH that children travel across everyday?

The Coalition for Mariner’s Mile is looking forward to a smart, thoughtful and responsible development with the revitalization plan for Mariner’s Mile. We also need to make certain that we maintain our current 35-foot height limit, our views, our property values and qualities of our bayside town.

Thank you for those folks that made a donation at our event, your money will be going towards more community awareness, printed collateral and most importantly for our Protect Mariner’s Mile newly retained attorney firm. We are now a 501c3 tax exempt organization and your donations are tax deductible.

For more information or to make tax deductible donation or sign the petition, please visit our website: www.nopchfreeway.com or 

www.protectmarinersmile.com.

We truly appreciate your support. If you should have any additional questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Peggy V. Palmer

Newport Beach


Guest Column

Hon. Diane Dixon

Hon. Will O’Neill

Promises Made, Promises Kept

Newport Beach enjoys extraordinary blessings, including weather, location, fiscal prosperity and community stewards, to name just a handful. Our City Council Members and dedicated citizen members have worked hard through public outreach and committee work to ensure that our budget meets community expectations.  

Newport Beach remains fiscally strong in the short-term, but has looming concerns in the long-term. At the positive end, we project another balanced budget, steady revenue sources, consistent surpluses, infrastructure maintenance on schedule and healthy reserves. Long-term, though, we remain concerned about pension liability, large infrastructure projects like sea wall rehabilitation, a structural deficit in our wastewater enterprise fund, and ongoing civic center debt payments.

Our current budget balances the community’s short-term goals with these long-term concerns. For example, we devote more than half of our general fund spending to our number one priority: public safety. Nearly $109 million out of our General Fund’s projected $202 million expenditures will go toward police, fire and lifeguards. We devote substantial resources from diverse external funds toward our Capital Improvement Program, including allocations to rebuild the fire stations in Lido Village and in Corona del Mar (yes, including the library, too).  

Seniors who frequent OASIS will continue to enjoy the extraordinary services and programs provided by top-class staff. Families who use our community centers and parks can expect clean facilities, safe parks and innovative programming. And everyone in between can drive our streets free of potholes with increasingly drought-friendly yet attractive median landscaping.

We have also followed promises made by setting aside more money toward our Harbor and pension liability than ever before. Last year’s budget surplus has afforded an additional $6 million be spent toward deferred harbor infrastructure, including sea walls.  

We will also spend an additional $9.1 million to pay down the City’s unfunded pension liability faster. This approach accelerates the CalPERS discount rate reduction and should save $15 million over 20 years. Our employees remain committed to helping pay their share of pension liability by contributing $10 million this year toward their “normal” cost. 

As more money is required toward pension liabilities, less money is available for important expenditures in our community. Infrastructure spending, for example, will be increasingly challenged as increasing pension liability and decreasing developer fee funds squeeze our ability to spend at expected levels.  

The City Council and our City’s Finance Committee remain vigilant to find the proper fiscal balance. 

We publicly thank our citizen Finance Committee members for their dozens and dozens of hours crafting fiscal policy and offering unvarnished and well-informed opinions about future liabilities such as pension and civic center debt. These members include Larry Tucker, Patti Gorczyca, Joe Stapleton and Bill Collopy. We also thank John Warner for his prior work.

July 1, 2017 starts our new fiscal year and the planning for the next budget. We invite increased public participation. We also look forward to continuing to serve you and keeping our promises.

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