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Letters to the Editor

County urged not to sell “surplus” land for dramatically undervalued price

The OC Board of Supervisors will vote on whether or not to sell 0.32 “surplus” acres of the Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve abutting 2600 Mesa Drive to a private homeowner for only $13,000. SPON strongly opposes this and urges the Board of Supervisors to vote “No” on Item 46 on the Supervisors’ May 11 agenda. 

SPON further urges the Board of Supervisors to direct county staff to promptly remove the private fence encroaching into dedicated parkland. 

At the January 7 OC Parks Commission hearing, county staff said this parcel is “not needed” for park purposes. SPON disagrees. The parcel proposed for abandonment intrudes significantly into the open space buffer separating the main paved park trail from the estates on Mesa Drive. The fence impairs the public’s enjoyment, complicates conservation efforts and blocks the flow of wildlife. The fact that a private fence has been allowed to stand on this area dedicated to the public for 30 years, restricting access to only the private homeowner, is troubling; the idea that the county would even consider selling the public land it encloses is even more troubling. 

The homeowner-determined price of $13,000 is vastly undervalued. The county itself assesses the land value of the similar adjacent landlocked 0.36 acres at $1,186,852. If this homeowner through this sale were able to establish a “fair market” value of $13,000 for “his” nearly identical parcel, he would be adding roughly $1 million to the future resale value of his land for an annual property tax payment to the county of just $130. That does not seem right.

The preservation of the Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve and Nature Preserve for future generations was the result of a hard-fought battle over 30 years ago, which SPON ardently supported. The public properties won in that struggle should not be lightly lost to the public for all time.

Bruce Bartram, President 

SPON

Help stop the taking of parkland by “politically influential” homeowner

Please help me shine a bright light on the very odiferous deal being worked by the politically influential homeowner at 2600 Mesa Drive, who has convinced the OC Board of Supervisors (championed by Michelle Steel) to sell him 0.32 acres of dedicated Back Bay parkland adjacent to his house for a mere $13,000. In comparison, smaller lots nearby sell for well over a million dollars. When asked how the price was determined, the County Counsel noted that the homeowner had done an appraisal and the county had accepted it, effectively allowing the homeowner to set his own price.

Adding insult to injury, there is a new locked chain link fence around this property, keeping the public off of their own parkland. The homeowner is now asking the county to declare the park “abandoned” to sell it to him and the Board of Supervisors is one meeting away from doing so.

Fortunately, for those of us who use the Back Bay walking trail, the 1959 Park Abandonment Law states that if 200 registered voters in the county sign a petition objecting to the park abandonment, this action is prohibited without a vote of the people. 

Please join me in signing the petition to prevent this ridiculous sale and protect the Back Bay park. To sign the petition, contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Susan Skinner

Newport Beach

Common sense and common ground

(The accompanying letter was sent to the Newport Beach City Council)

Mariners’ Mile is at a crossroads: Will the City Council sustain the character, charm and Newport style development by assuring Mariners’ Mile becomes a “Village,” or will our community’s foundational core values be eroded by high-density development that is out of character and not in harmony with the surrounding villages on Newport Bay?

The Stu News article by Sara Hall is an excellent recap of the Tuesday, March 27, 2021 review by the City Council. The City Council’s fact-finding questions and statements indicate an understanding that our community is stronger together, especially when stakeholders, developers and the City work together to support each other based upon a common consensus and understanding. The correspondence sent to the City Council before Tuesday’s review and the presentations made at the meeting were overwhelmingly against the 2510 West Coast Highway Development Project’s proposed size, density, design and configuration. At the meeting, other than the developer’s team, not a single comment was in favor of the proposed development.

Community comments, the developer’s willingness for a continuance and Mayor Brad Avery’s understanding about community aspirations “…for a Mariners’ Mile that sort of meets the dream, if you will, and the dream isn’t perfect, but it is going to get built,” indicate common ground that can be built upon to facilitate the development of a Mariners’ Mile Village. 

Working separately and apart, the result will be high-density development along a high-speed crosstown freeway that nobody truly wants. Community stakeholders are asking the City Council for a Mariners’ Mile vision and the City to lay out all the Mariners’ Mile proposed and pending development projects together so we can study and understand how everything ties together. 

To facilitate this, the Collation to Protect Mariners’ Mile proposed that a Mariners’ Mile Steering Committee be created that is composed of stakeholders to shape the future of Mariners’ Mile as a Newport style “Village” (Caltrans, property owners, local merchants and residents).

Planning Commission: On February 18, 2021, during the hearing for 2510 West Coast Highway Development Project, the Planning Commission recognized the need for a Mariners’ Mile Master Plan. Also, during the City Council review, Mayor Brad Avery stated, “We could do a better job from the very beginning of the planning process.” 

As stakeholders, each of us care about Newport Beach and are involved in the decisions that impact our quality of life, safety, health and welfare. As I stated to the City Council on Tuesday, we desire a Newport style “Village” design in harmony with our community’s character, community norms and core values without adversely impacting the surrounding area. 

Working together, let’s imagine the possibilities to build a coastal city for people to enjoy now and in the future.

Patrick Gormley 

Newport Beach