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City Manager’s Updates

From the desk of Grace Leung

Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) – On Thursday, Nov. 7, the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) Regional Council reviewed and approved a final draft RHNA allocation methodology. A new alternative methodology submitted by the County of Riverside, which redistributes regional housing units from inland to coastal areas, gained traction and was approved by the Regional Council. This alternative methodology results in an increase for Newport Beach’s allocation from the SCAG staff recommended allocation of 2,751 units to 4,832 units. Most cities in Orange County see a significant increase in units under this new alternative methodology. SCAG will now release the approved methodology to the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) for their review and comments. Once HCD makes a final decision on the methodology, there will be an opportunity to appeal. 

Community Members Invited to Workshops on a Future General Plan Update – The City recently launched a new engagement effort called Newport, Together and is hosting a series of interactive workshops to engage community members on their values and how those may relate to the General Plan. Workshops will be held in each City Council District from November to December 2019, for a total of seven workshops this year. Residents and community members will be asked to share community values and assess what’s working and what’s not working in the current General Plan. 

These are the first workshops in a series of community fairs, workshops, pop-up events, and community dialogues to listen and learn from the Newport Beach community about the General Plan and its future update. 

The Newport, Together workshops will begin after Veterans Day with workshops in District 2 on November 12 at the 16th Street Recreation Center and in District 3 on November 14 at the Back Bay Science Center. Through these workshops, community members will gain a better understanding on what the General Plan is and why it’s important to the community and can share the community values with the City and whether the values are reflected in the current General Plan. All activities hosted in person will also take place online on the City’s Newport, Together interactive www.NewportTogether.com. For a full schedule of workshops and for more information, click here. 

Over the next year, the City will host more opportunities for the Newport Beach community to explore and assess the current City of Newport Beach General Plan in preparation for a future General Plan Update. The Newport, Together listen and learn process is led by the General Plan Update Steering Committee, which was appointed by City Council earlier this year. 

CDD Third Quarter Activity Report (July – September 2019) – The Community Development Department third quarter activity report is now available at www.newportbeachca.gov/cdd. The report compiles operational statistics to illustrate the volume of business activity that the department handles on a quarterly basis. Over the summer months, the Building Division reporting numbers decreased slightly from last quarter, but the public Development Services counter remained very busy. During this time, Code Enforcement maintained their response time service levels with increased new case workload, inspections, notices and citations. Planning Division also maintained their service levels by reviewing and completing 80 percent of their plan checks at the public counter. Lastly, the Systems and Administration Division answered 5,902 phone calls, which equates to 88 percent of all call volume answered by a live person and digitally archiving 136,764 plans and documents to the City’s document management system. Past reports are also available at the website listed above. 

Highlights of the Orange County Council of Governments Technical Advisory Committee – Last Tuesday, Planning staff attended the Orange County Council of Governments Technical Advisory Committee (OCCOG TAC). Important items discussed included the following: 

Connect SoCal Forecast 

A representative from the Center of Demographics Research (CDR) provided an overview of the SCAG recent request sent to all cities in the region. SCAG is requesting each jurisdiction to review their growth forecast to be used in SCAG’s Connect SoCal plan (2020-2045 Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy) and verify that all current entitlements are accurately reflected in the draft forecast. 

Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) 

An update was provided that SCAG will not pursue litigation against HCD regarding regional housing need determination of 1,341,827 units for the region. SCAG legal counsel determined that there are no legal grounds to pursue the litigation and that HCD did comply with State Law. 

General Plan Housing Element Update Timeline – While the City is currently undergoing a community-wide engagement and outreach effort as part of the future update of the General Plan, it is becoming apparent that the Housing Element will need to be reviewed and updated in advance of any bigger update. 

The Housing Element was last submitted to and approved by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) in October 2013. State housing-element law requires the General Plan Housing Element to be updated and approved by HCD every eight years. As such, the next due date is October 15, 2021. With the recent vote by the SCAG Regional Council on the RHNA allocation, the City would be required to plan for approximately 4,832 units during the upcoming eight-year cycle. With this potential requirement, it is anticipated the Land Use and Circulation Elements will also require updating. If significant Land Use Element changes are included, a vote of the electorate will be necessary due to the City’s “Greenlight” initiative outlined in Charter Section 423. This special election would add approximately three months to the timeline and means that the City must start reviewing and updating its Housing Element as soon as possible. 

November 6 GPUSC Meeting Recap – The General Plan Update Steering Committee (GPUSC) met on Wednesday, Nov. 6, in the City Council Chambers. The GPUSC recapped the Newport, Together community fair event that occurred on October 26. Approximately 300 to 400 community members attended and at least 150 people registered to participate and receive updates. Beyond the physical presence, the City saw over 90,000 impressions from news media including the Daily Pilot, Stu News Newport, and the Newport Beach Independent. Along with this increased presence came an uptick in www.NewportTogether.com visits with approximately 900 unique visitors in the last 30 days. 

The GPUSC also received an overview of the upcoming Listen & Learn workshops that will be occurring within each council district and provided feedback on the overall format, as well as the content of the workshops. It was determined that an emphasis should be placed on the potential production of new housing since the State-mandated regional housing needs assessment (RHNA) will be close to finalized. The RHNA will dictate how many new housing units the community must plan for during the next cycle, so community members will participate in activities relating to the suggested location and type of new housing in the City. 

As a continuation of that discussion, the GPUSC also discussed a tentative timeline showing the Housing Element due date of October 2021 and backing in the necessary steps to get there. The GPUSC agreed that the timeline was very aggressive, but necessary to meet the State-mandated deadline. As such, it was recommended that staff draft a request for proposals (RFP) related to the update of the General Plan with an emphasis on the Housing Element, Land Use Element, and the Circulation Element. The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, December 4 at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers. 

For additional information, the Committee’s page is found here. You can also check out the General Plan Update webpage at www.newportbeachca.gov/gpupdate

Harbor Department Launches “Get Ship Shape” Program – Earlier this week the Harbor Department introduced a new trial offering to its off-shore mooring permittees, the “Get Ship Shape” program. Effective immediately, Sundays through Thursdays, on a space available basis, individuals who store their boats in Newport Harbor at one of the City permitted off-shore moorings, may schedule complimentary three-hour use of a guest slip at Marina Park. While making use of the slip, boat owners may perform vessel wash downs or other cleaning, host appointments with service providers, load and unload supplies or conduct similar activities that would otherwise be difficult to organize from the off-shore moorings. Use of water is free. Use of shore power is subject to a $12 fee plus metered use. 

This amenity is intended to assist City mooring permittees with keeping their vessels clean and well cared for while in Newport Harbor. The program is not intended for conducting maintenance activities which could be disruptive to other marina guests, or which are better suited for a work-dock setting. Additional information about the trial program is available by calling the Harbor Department at 949.270.8159. 

Beach Maintenance Crews Prepare for the Winter Season – As part of Public Works winter season preparation, wind-fencing was installed at multiple locations along the beach including the oceanfront street ends adjacent to the Newport Pier parking lot, the west side of the Newport Pier parking lot, and other various locations. The fencing prevents wind-blown sand from overwhelming oceanfront parking lots, bike trails, walkways, and street ends. Beach crews will continue to monitor the fencing throughout the winter during regular maintenance and clean up schedules. The fencing will come down before the Memorial Day weekend. 

Additionally, as part of winter season activities, the log boom was also installed at the Aquatic Center coordinated by our Beach Maintenance staff with our contractor Chuck South. The log boom collects and traps trash and debris that come down the San Diego Creek on its way to our beaches. It is typically cleaned twice during the winter season and will also be removed before the Memorial Day weekend. 

Recent Shred Event Update – On Saturday, Nov. 2, the City’s Refuse Division held a shred event at the Corporation Yard located at 592 Superior Avenue from 8 a.m. until noon. City staff unloaded bags and boxes for shredding from 196 vehicles, as CR&R crews conducted the shredding services. Staff welcomed residents, checked identification and inquired where residents learned of the event. This information can be helpful for effectively communicating with residents regarding these types of events in the future. 

The Newport Beach residential refuse contract with CR&R provides two annual shred events for our residents, held in May and November. The next shred event is May 9, 2020. 

Underground Utility Assessment District Construction – Civil construction work for the undergrounding of utilities in West Newport Beach continues to progress. The contractor has completed all work for AD 116 and is just about wrapped up with AD 116B. The contractor is currently working in the alley between 46th and 45th Street south of Balboa Boulevard. The work for this last alley should be finished by next week after which the contractor will work on installing mainline crossings for Balboa Boulevard. 

Public Works Receives APWA 2019 B.E.S.T. Award – The American Public Works Association (APWA) awarded the Public Works Department the 2019 Building Excellence Shaping Tomorrow (B.E.S.T) award for their work on Bayside Drive Road Improvements. 

The award category was for Traffic, Mobility and Beautification. Mark Thomas provided engineering services for this project that included traffic calming measures to increase safety as well as landscape elements to beautify this scenic drive along Promontory Bay. Bayside Drive provides the main access to multiple neighborhoods, a retail center, and Balboa Island. The corridor experiences a high volume of bicycles and pedestrians. The project included traffic signal improvements, improvements to bicycle and pedestrian facilities, retaining walls, landscaping, and pavement rehabilitation. 

A portion of Bayside Drive is located at the busy intersection/entrance to Balboa Island. Balboa Island is home to many residents and is a popular tourist destination. Aside from the ferry, the corridor currently serves as the only vehicular entrance to Balboa Island, so special construction considerations were taken into account. The majority of the work was scheduled in winter months to reduce conflicts with residents and tourists during the busy summer season. This helped to minimize impacts to local businesses, residents, cyclists, and pedestrians that regularly access this community. The City of Newport Beach scheduled night work while paving the bridge to maintain access to the Island. The bridge was paved in a single night to expedite restoring full access to the Island. 

This Public Works project improved circulation for pedestrians by linking a new sidewalk segment to a mid-block crossing to access a retail center. Traffic calming improvements included enhanced buffered bike lane striping with high visibility legends, curb bulb-outs and new striping to narrow traffic lanes, new landscaped medians to beautify the neighborhood, and new decorative median striping. The project also modernized the traffic signal operation at Bayside Drive/Marine Avenue intersection and the Bayside Drive mid-block crossing. This crossing also implemented an updated angled pedestrian refuge area for enhanced visibility. The B.E.S.T. Awards will be presented at a luncheon scheduled for early December. 

AQMD Reimbursement for CNG Vehicle – In 2015, the Utilities Department purchased a Compressed Natural Gas Vactor heavy-duty Truck aka Sewer Cleaning Truck. Staff applied for a grant at that time and (finally) the City has just recently received a reimbursement check for $30,000 from the South Coast Air Quality Management District as part of their Mobile Source Reduction Control (MSRC) grant program. The big yellow CNG Sewer Vactor truck has been in operation since February 2016 and plays a vital role in keeping our sewer system clean and keeping our environment healthy.